With its iconic summit rising 19,341 feet above the African plains, Mount Kilimanjaro is the tallest freestanding mountain in the world and an incredible challenge for any hiker. Aspiring climbers have been drawn to the summit of Kilimanjaro since the late 19th century, and today it is one of the most popular and accessible mountain hikes in the world. Here’s everything you need to know about taking on the challenge of climbing Kilimanjaro.
Planning Your Trip
The first step to planning your Kilimanjaro climb is to decide which route you want to take. There are seven main routes up the mountain, each offering different levels of difficulty and different scenery. The standard route – the Marangu Route – is the easiest and most popular, but it is also the least interesting. The Machame and Lemosho routes are more scenic and challenging, while the Rongai and Umbwe routes are the most difficult. When choosing your route, consider your experience level and the amount of time you have available.
Once you’ve chosen your route, it’s time to book your trip. There are a number of companies that offer guided hikes up the mountain, many of which provide all the necessary gear, food, and support staff. It’s important to find a reputable company with experienced guides and a good safety record.
Preparing for the Climb
Before your trip, it’s important to prepare physically and mentally for the challenge ahead. Make sure you’re in good physical shape by engaging in regular exercise, such as running, swimming, and cycling, in the months leading up to your climb. It’s also important to acclimate yourself to the altitude by spending a few days at a lower elevation before beginning the climb.
On the Mountain
Once you’ve arrived at Kilimanjaro, the real challenge begins. The climb is divided into five or six days, depending on the route you take. On each day, you’ll ascend to a higher elevation, allowing your body to slowly acclimatize to the altitude. It’s important to take your time and not try to push too hard, as altitude sickness can be a serious risk.
The scenery along the way is stunning, with lush rainforest, barren moorland, and glacial fields. As you ascend, the air gets thinner and the temperature drops, making the hike increasingly difficult. But the views of the African plains below are worth the effort.
Reaching the Summit
The final push to the summit is a grueling overnight climb, beginning in the evening and ending with a sunrise climb to the summit. After a few hours of hiking in the darkness, you’ll begin to feel the thin air and the chill of the altitude. But when you reach the summit, the feeling of accomplishment and the views of the sunrise are worth the effort.
Descending from the Summit
After the triumphant summit climb, it’s time to begin the descent. The descent is just as difficult as the ascent, and it’s important to take your time and rest when you need to. You’ll need to take extra care on the steep sections and watch out for loose rocks and slippery sections.
Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is an incredible experience and a great challenge for any hiker. With careful planning and preparation, you can safely make the ascent and enjoy the spectacular views from the summit. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your Kilimanjaro climb today!