Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro – Africa’s tallest mountain – is often at the top of people’s bucket lists. Once the initial excitement of booking the adventure cools down, many people are left feeling overwhelmed and have an endless amount of questions. The good news is thousands of people climb Mount Kilimanjaro every year, and when done so in a safe way, reaching the summit is one of the most rewarding experiences of a lifetime. 


By Erasmus Kamugisha (Wikimedia Commons)

Mount Kilimanjaro is a huge mystery. Even though it lies very close to the equator, it is covered with ice. No special training or skills are explicitly required to climb this incredible giant. In fact, people of all age groups and fitness levels have successfully reached the summit! Despite this, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is no walk in the park, and there are several things to consider before starting the climb.




Perhaps the most important part of climbing this mountain is to choose a knowledgeable and experienced guide. There are hundreds of tour operators to choose from, but picking one with clear safety guidelines will help you feel more at ease. Mount Kilimanjaro has seven routes to the top, and not all routes are created equal. Keep in mind your fitness level, endurance, and time when selecting the route to embark on. The longer you can stay on the mountain, the better chance you have at acclimatizing to the high altitude, and the more comfortable your journey will be. It is very important to tell your guide if you are not feeling well or think you are experiencing altitude sickness. Common signs include headaches, dizziness, fatigue, and loss of appetite. Drinking plenty of water is one way to reduce the risk of altitude sickness. 


By Erasmus Kamugisha (Wikimedia Commons)

Experts caution against climbing during the rainy season – the end of March to early June – whenever possible. Your tour operator will provide a list of gear that is needed for the climb. Typical equipment includes clothes for all climates, water bottles, and reliable trekking shoes. Most of your gear will be carried by porters, who are usually from local communities around the mountain. Finding an operator that advocates for responsible travel and pays the porters well is very important. After all, they are making your job easier by carrying the bulk of your weight. Some people prefer to train months in advance in preparation for the hike, and others opt to prepare mentally. Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is just as much of a mental challenge as it is a physical one. 



When you finally reach the summit and take in the incredible views, all of the trip preparation and climbing will have been worth it. After completing your descent, treat yourself to a few days of relaxation by the beach – you have definitely earned it!