How To Train For Kilimanjaro (What I Did)

Climbing Kilimanjaro is a challenging and rewarding experience. It requires physical and mental preparation, as well as careful planning and attention to detail. In this blog post, I will share my personal experience of training for Kilimanjaro and offer tips and advice for those who are considering undertaking this incredible adventure.

How Hard Is It To Climb Kili?

One of the most common questions people ask when considering climbing Kilimanjaro is how hard it is. The answer is that it depends on a number of factors, including your level of fitness, your experience with high-altitude trekking, and your mental toughness. That being said, Kilimanjaro is not an impossible mountain to climb, and with the right preparation and attitude, it is an achievable goal for most people.

Can a beginner climb Kilimanjaro?

Yes, a beginner can climb Kilimanjaro. However, it is important to note that Kilimanjaro is a challenging mountain, and it is important to be physically and mentally prepared for the climb. It is also important to choose a route that is suitable for your level of fitness and experience.

Can I climb Kilimanjaro without training?

It is not recommended to attempt to climb Kilimanjaro without any training. Climbing Kilimanjaro requires a high level of physical fitness, as well as experience with high-altitude trekking. It is important to prepare your body and mind for the challenge ahead.

How much training is needed for Kilimanjaro?

The amount of training required for Kilimanjaro varies from person to person, depending on their level of fitness and experience. However, it is recommended to start training at least 3-6 months before your climb. It is important to focus on cardiovascular conditioning, strength training, and high-altitude simulation.

How do I prepare for hiking Mount Kilimanjaro?

Preparing for hiking Mount Kilimanjaro requires a combination of physical and mental preparation, as well as careful planning and attention to detail. Here are some tips to help you prepare for your climb:

Physical Preparation

  • Cardiovascular conditioning: Focus on building endurance through activities such as running, cycling, or swimming.
  • Strength training: Focus on building strength in your legs, core, and upper body through weightlifting or bodyweight exercises.
  • High-altitude simulation: Train at high elevations to simulate the conditions you will face on Kilimanjaro.

Mental Preparation

  • Develop a positive attitude: Climbing Kilimanjaro requires mental toughness and a positive attitude. Focus on building your confidence and mental resilience.
  • Visualize success: Visualize yourself successfully summiting Kilimanjaro to build your confidence and motivation.

Planning and Logistics

  • Choose the right route: There are several routes to the summit of Kilimanjaro, each with its own unique challenges and requirements. Choose a route that is suitable for your level of fitness and experience.
  • Plan your itinerary: Plan your itinerary carefully to allow for acclimatization and rest days.
  • Pack appropriately: Pack appropriate clothing and gear for the conditions you will face on Kilimanjaro.

What’s Involved (The Challenge)

Climbing Kilimanjaro is a challenging adventure that requires physical and mental toughness, as well as careful planning and attention to detail. Here are some of the challenges you will face on the mountain:

Oxygen at Various Altitudes

One of the biggest challenges of climbing Kilimanjaro is the effect of high altitude on the body. As you climb higher, the air gets thinner, which can lead to altitude sickness, a serious condition that can be life-threatening.

Duration on the mountain

The duration of your climb will depend on the route you choose, but most climbs take between 5 and 9 days. This means spending several days in a remote and challenging environment, which can be mentally and physically taxing.

Hours Of Walking

You will be walking for several hours each day, often in challenging terrain and weather conditions. This requires a high level of physical fitness and endurance.

The Cold

Temperatures on Kilimanjaro can drop to well below freezing at night, which can be challenging for even the most experienced climbers.

The Heat

During the day, temperatures can soar, especially at lower altitudes. It is important to stay hydrated and protect yourself from the sun.

The terrain

The terrain on Kilimanjaro is varied and challenging, ranging from rocky trails to steep scree slopes. It is important to be prepared for all types of terrain.

Walking with a pack on

You will be carrying a backpack with all your gear and supplies, which can add extra weight and make walking more challenging.

How to Prepare for High Altitude?

Preparing for high altitude is one of the most important aspects of training for Kilimanjaro. Here are some tips to help you prepare for the high altitude:

  • Train at high elevations: Train at elevations above 2000 meters to simulate the conditions you will face on Kilimanjaro.
  • Use a high-altitude training mask: A high-altitude training mask can help simulate the reduced oxygen levels you will experience on Kilimanjaro.
  • Take it slow: It is important to acclimatize slowly to the altitude to avoid altitude sickness.

What is the best Kilimanjaro training plan?

The best Kilimanjaro training plan will depend on your level of fitness and experience. Here are some components to include in your training plan:

Physical Conditioning

  • Cardiovascular conditioning: Focus on building endurance through activities such as running, cycling, or swimming.
  • Strength training: Focus on building strength in your legs, core, and upper body through weightlifting or bodyweight exercises.
  • Flexibility conditioning: Focus on improving your flexibility through activities such as yoga or stretching.

Climbing Conditioning

  • High-altitude simulation: Train at high elevations to simulate the conditions you will face on Kilimanjaro.
  • Hill training: Focus on building strength and endurance by running or walking up hills and stairs.

Strength Conditioning

  • Weightlifting: Focus on building strength in your legs, core, and upper body through weightlifting or bodyweight exercises.

Cardiovascular Conditioning

  • Running, cycling or swimming: Focus on building endurance through activities such as running, cycling, or swimming.

Simulate High Altitude

  • Use a high-altitude training mask: A high-altitude training mask can help simulate the reduced oxygen levels you will experience on Kilimanjaro.
  • Train at high elevations: Train at elevations above 2000 meters to simulate the conditions you will face on Kilimanjaro.

Mental Stamina

  • Develop a positive attitude: Climbing Kilimanjaro requires mental toughness and a positive attitude. Focus on building your confidence and mental resilience.
  • Visualize success: Visualize yourself successfully summiting Kilimanjaro to build your confidence and motivation.

Can A Normal Person Climb Kilimanjaro?

Yes, a normal person can climb Kilimanjaro. However, it is important to be physically and mentally prepared for the climb, as well as to choose a route that is suitable for your level of fitness and experience. It is also important to follow a proper training plan and to take the necessary precautions to ensure your safety on the mountain.

Before You Go: Other Considerations

Before embarking on your Kilimanjaro adventure, there are several other considerations to keep in mind:

Medical Check

It is important to undergo a medical check before attempting to climb Kilimanjaro to ensure that you are physically fit and healthy.

Vaccinations & Medications

Make sure you are up-to-date with all necessary vaccinations, and take any necessary medications to prevent altitude sickness and other illnesses.

For me to travel from New Zealand, i needed to get a yellow fever vaccine and carry my vaccination passport ( a little yellow book). this wasn’t checked getting into Africa, but was check my officials in New Zealand when i tried to get home.

Travel Insurance

Make sure you have appropriate travel insurance that covers high-altitude trekking and medical emergencies.

Tanzania Entry Requirements

Make sure you have all the necessary documents and visas to enter Tanzania and familiarize yourself with the country’s entry requirements.

Summary

In conclusion, climbing Kilimanjaro is a challenging and rewarding adventure that requires careful preparation and planning. By following a proper training plan, preparing for high altitude, and taking the necessary precautions, you can increase your chances of successfully summiting Kilimanjaro and enjoying the experience of a lifetime.

Kilimanjaro Travel Planning Cheatsheet

 

🚑 Should I buy travel insurance for Tanzania?

100% YES! — Tanzania has now introduceed “free” healthcare but it’s only for citizens! Tourists need travel insurance in case anything happens on your visit. Also be aware many policies won't cover high altitude hiking as it's a high risk activity!

(that's right, check the t&c's on your complimentary credit card insurance

I highly recommend World Nomads as you can get specific add-ons for high altitude hiking UP TO 6000m (Which most travel insurance companies don't offer!)

🎫 Do I need a visa for Tanzania?

Probably not — Tanzania now provide a visa on arrival (VoA) for most western countires which allows you stay for up to 90 days. However, some other countries do need a pre-approved eVisa (check here!). VoAs cost $50 USD for a single entry - Note, US Citizens are required to get a Multi-Entry visa which costs $100 USD. (View visa prices here)

If transiting through Kenya (a lot of people fly via Nairobi), you'll need a Kenyan visa too. Visa's cost $20 for a 3 day transit visa and $50 for a toursit visa

(By the way, on both my interactions with the imigration officers in kenya they tried to scam me, so know what your obliged to pay and BRING THE EXACT CASH for the visa!)

💉Do I need any vaccinations for Tanzania?

YES! Make sure you are up-to-date with all your vaccines. Common travel vaccines include Hep A/B + Typhoid, and Diphtheria + Tetanus.

A yellow fever vaccination isn't a requirment to visit Kilimanjaro but is for neighbouring areas in East Africa. In reality, you will might not be allowed back into your home country on your return (I was asked for proof of vaccination upon returning to Australia) so getting this jab prior made for good peace of mind. 

Rabies is an issue in Tanzania but the vaccine is expensive and ineffective as a preventative measure (it only lasts a few years and you'll need to get them again if you require treatment). If bitten by a stray dog seek immediate medical attention!

As always, talk to your GP or specialised travel doctor a few weeks BEFORE you leave.

🏩 What’s the best Kilimanjaro Tour operators?

Your only realy two options here are Kumano Travel and Booking.com. Its a complicated process so I wrote this guide here on the best kumano kodo accomodation options

If you don't want to figure it all out (it's meant to be a holiday after all) you can book a package tour. Here are my recommendations for both guided and self-guided.

🚌 What's the public transport like in Tanzania?

There is a good basic network of local and inter-city busses in Tanzania and travel this way is very cheap. Domestic flight are also very affordable and a far more comfortable option. Checkout Busbora for booking bus tickets online.

📲 How do I get internet/data/wifi in Tanzania and on the mountain?

This one needs a whole nother article, but the short version is prepaid SIM cards are cheap and availible to tourists and locals alike (You don't need a pricey tourst SIM!)

Your cheapest option is buying a physical sim card on the street corner once landed and getting the shop assistant to help you set it up. I went with Vodacom and had generally good coverage, even up on Kili!

Another option if you're visiting other African countries is the Nomad eSIM. This is a little more expensive but gives you connectivity across 14 neighbouring African Countries!

✈️ What’s the best site to buy flights to Tanzania?

For finding cheap flights, I recommend Skyscanner. Once you find the flight you're looking for, I'd then suggest booking directly with the carrier (even if it costs a few $$ more than with one of the agreggators/agencies).

💧Can you drink the water in Tanzania?

Safest not to — tap water in Tanzania may be OK (the locals drink it) but is generally untreated and not reccommended for tourists. Purchase bottled water for drinking and teeth brushing.

🏔️💧Can you drink the water on Mount Kilimanjaro?

Yes — Your tour company with ensure the water provided to you is safe to drink by either carrying in bottled water, or by treating stream water with purification tablets or by boiling it. If you want to drink water from the rivers and streams you generally can but should do so at your own risk. ALWAYS follow best practice and drink from fast flowing water as far up stream as possible. I'd also recommend a Brita Water Bottle for rehydrating on the trail safely. 

 

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