If you are thinking about climbing Kilimanjaro, here are some items you need to know as you prepare for your trip. I have personally climbed Mount Everest to the top and Kilimanjaro more than 35 times. Our head guide has climbed over 200 times and voted Kilimanjaro’s Number one Guide. I really want to see people have the best available information when deciding how to approach their Kilimanjaro climb. Check out our Kilimanjaro page and upcoming trips.
Preparing to Climb Kilimanjaro
I will list the 20 most effective ways to prepare for climbing Kilimanjaro in order of there importance. As you start ticking off the your list of things that need to be done in your preparation for climbing Kilimanjaro you can also check out out TOP 50 TIPS for climbing Kilimanjaro. Everyone has different concerns and questions, so if you are looking for specific information feel free to CONTACT ME. We are a world leader in managing quality run Kilimanjaro climbs to the highest level.
1). Have a Minimum of 8 Days
Yes, some people can climb Kilimanjaro in 6 or 7 days. I have climbed Kilimanjaro in less time. From my extensive experience and watching thousands of people trying to climb Kilimanjaro I can tell you that 40% of people do not make it to the summit. If you want to give yourself the best chance at the summit you need to pick a minimum of 8 days on the mountain with using Kosovo Camp as your launching pad for the summit. Our 8 day climbs are giving people 100% success on most of our trips.
For me Kilimanjaro is an experience of a lifetime, even life changing for a lot of people. Why would you cut out days of critical acclimatization. I know it costs a lot more for each day you are on the mountain. Cutting out days will cost you the summit. In my opinion you should have a minimum of 8 days on the mountain. Any less an you run the high risk of getting AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness). Your chances of success go down drastically. Having the best acclimatization should be your number one concern.
2). Strength and Endurance Training
Specific physical conditioning is really important. After 20 years of experience of high altitude mountaineering I can tell you that carrying a weighted back pack building up the weight you carry should be at the core of our training. My highest recommendation is to build up to carrying double the weight you will carry on the mountain. Along with building up to maintaining an endurance based heart rate for 1 hour and 30 minutes in your training. LEARN MORE.
If you do not have access to hills you need to be using a stair master machine in the gym or stairs wherever you can find them. You can come back here and LEARN MORE about my specific recommendations for the correct training for Kilimanjaro. You are not running a marathon, you are hiking up and down the side of a big mountain with weight on your back in a low oxygen environment. Some days are longer than others. Check out the daily distances on out 8 day climbs.
Your endurance training and leg strength is far more valuable than fitness. I have no problem mixing up your training but running should not be your core focus. You need to put on a weighted back pack, building up the weight you will carry and we training 4 to 5 times a week. You can read our training advice on the linked page but I can tell you most people fail to reach the summit because of two things. Not enough days on the mountain and not doing the specific training that Kilimanjaro demands.
3). Understand the Daily Elevation Gains
It is important to understand the elevation gains each day on Kilimanjaro so that you can build this into your training plan. Think about this a little more. If you have the daily distances, daily elevation gains for your Kilimanjaro climb you have the information you need to develop the correct training plan. For example if you know you will be hiking up 500m/ 1,640 feet every day on the trail and you will be carrying a back pack with 6kg/ 13 lbs. Well you now know how much training you need to be doing.
On our trips we aim to summit from Kosovo camp 4,900m/ 16,076 feet. This means your summit night will entail a 1,000m/ 3,280 feet ascent and descent. After a break you will also have a further 1,800m/ 5,905 feet decent back to Mweka Camp. If you will be hiking up and down these types of elevations you need to be doing this in your training. The benefit of carrying extra weight helps you strengthen your legs and muscles to be able to perform with 30% to 50% less oxygen in your body. Hiking and daily sessions doing these sort of elevation gains in your training help you come conditioned and ready for the climb. Remember the daily elevation gains give you the information you need in preparation for the trip.
4). Build the Right Training Program
How do you build the right training program when you do not have hills? You live in a city and can not go out hiking every weekend. You need to access a number factors. Your biggest asset will be in the gym. It is not ideal nor does it simulate what it is like on the side of Kilimanjaro. Hours spent on a stair master with a back pack carrying weight will work. When I was training to climb Kilimanjaro the first time and Mount Everest I spent a lot of time daily on the stair master building up the weight I was carrying.
Now I am in my 40’s, I keep my heart rate consistently at 140 beats per minute. When I am doing this type of endurance based training carrying weight I like to keep my heart rate between 125 to 150 beats per minute. This will vary from person to person, so seeking out a personal trainer or gym instructor will help you understand your training zones.
You also need to consider weight training for your upper and lower body. I also also recommend doing yoga or flexibility exercises and along adding interval type training in the last few months of your preparation. Remember if you have access to hills and mountains this will be the best type of training and preparation. Why not schedule a FREE CONSULTATION! today and kick start getting professional advice from experts. All our office staff have climbed Kilimanjaro multiple times.
5). Having the Wrong Gear can Ruin Your Trip
Make sure you have the right clothing. I can not tell how many times I have seen people in jeans and trainers at the Kilimanjaro entrance gate and then it rains for 2 days and I see them sitting at the rangers station in Shira 2 waiting for evacuation. Having the right clothing is really important I like Merino T-shirts and merino layers. I like to have a warm comfortable down sleeping bag and quality air mattress as all these items are important for a comfortable experience on Kilimanjaro.
Remember you spend most of your time either in the dinning tent or sleeping tent. I also recommend a good down jacket. You can watch our VIDEO on having the correct down jacket for Kilimanjaro. Here is our Kilimanjaro packing video. We filmed this in 2013 and we will be filming a new video which we will share soon. If you are signing up to one of our trips we send you a 40 page document with an itemized kit list.
We are available 5 days a week to help you understand the items needed. If you are concerned about a specific piece of kit you can email us. We can help you to make sure you are getting the right gear and clothing. We only use quality tents and equipment on the mountain. We use Mountain Hard wear 4 person tents for 2 people and comfortable North Face 2 person tents for our single tent option.
6). Picking the Correct Trekking Boots
There is no one size fits all for trekking boots. I have tried a lot of boots on over the years and my personal favorites right now are the Sportiva Trango GTX. They fit my feet shape perfectly, they are comfortable, warm and light. They have great ankle support and a more rigid sole. Here are the TREKKING BOOTS that we have used and recommend for your Kilimanjaro trip.
My biggest piece of advice when trying on boots is wear them in the store for 20 minutes with the different socks types you will use on Kilimanjaro. If the store have stairs or an angled ramp to walk on use them and ask them to match the boots to your feet. Some trekking boots are narrow so you really need to make your time as you picking the right boots for you.
Once you have the boots make sure you are using them. You do not need to be using them in the gym all the time. If you are not getting out hiking as much as you would like use them at home, around the house and make sure they are molding well to the shape of your foot. Buy your trekking boots early and break them in. This is really important for a comfortable journey on Kilimanjaro. If you need further assistance feel free to get in touch with us and we can help.
7). Fueling Your Climb
I can tell you from experience you need to have the right food on your Kilimanjaro trip. You also need some supplements before and during the trip. I highly recommend coming with a strong immune system. I always have a multi-vitamin for each day on the trail, garlic supplement, vitamin c, beta carotine and b complex and I usually that these before the trip and during the trip.
You should always consult a nutritionist or your doctor before taking any additional supplements. I also bring some hydration tablets for my water and some additional hyper hydrating for the summit night. I am happy to chat with you more about this. In additional to all this I bring summit snacks that can be held in a small zip lock bag. I bring Clif shot bloks and small amount of trail mix.
On an Ian Taylor Trekking trip you are served three, three course meals per day. We have an amazing chef who works with us on all our climbs. The chef and and his support team of 4/6 staff produce amazing food each day. We have developed a menu over the past 10 years that works well for our the daily demands on Kilimanjaro. Trust me, fueling your Kilimanjaro adventure with quality food is really important. We also have runners coming up the mountain on different days bring fresh produce. Check out our menu.
8). Make Sure you Have the Right Vaccinations
You have the choice of getting vaccination or not getting any vaccinations. You really should consider our list of recommended vaccinations. You most certainly should consider having medication that protects against Malaria. Your doctor will recommend certain medication that you will need to bring with you on your Kilimanjaro climb. We include all recommended medications in our 40 page dossier which we share with you on signing up. Check out our list of recommended vaccinations that you need to consider for your Kilimanjaro climb.
9). Watch Footage From Each day on the Mountain
We have high quality footage from each day on Kilimanjaro. We have put together some raw footage from each day on the Lemosho route up Kilimanjaro for you to study. Watch Day 1 and see the rain forest and route up to Big tree camp at 2,800m/ 9,186 feet. Watch Day 2 and see the amazing light through the rain forest before coming up onto the Shira plateau to Shira camp 1 at 3,500m/ 11,482 feet.
Watch Day 3 as we cross the amazing Shira Plateau. We cross the emergency evacuation road, then pass Simba camp and continue past ground cell trees and up into Shira camp 2 at 3,900m/ 12,795 feet. The view back down to the Shira volcano is truly spectacular, especially at sunset. Watch Day 4 as we move up out of Shira camp 2 crossing over 2 ridge lines before reaching the Lava Tower at 4,600m/ 15,091 feet enjoy an amazing lunch before dropping down 700m/2,296 feet into Baranco camp at 3,900m/ 12,795 feet.
Watch Day 5 as one of our group climb up the Baranco wall and cross Kilimanjaro to Karanga camp at 4,010m/ 13,156 feet. Watch Day 6 as you make the 4 hour hike up to high camp and rest before the long summit night and day.
Watch Day 7 as you head off at midnight aiming to be on the summit of Kilimanjaro by 7am in the morning. We would hope to be back in high camp by 9/10am before resting, packing have brunch and continue back down the mountain to Mweka camp 3,100m/ 10,170 feet. This is a long day. Watch Day 8 and the final hike back down through the rain forest to the Mweka gate. We have our final lunch together and then return to Arusha in the afternoon.
10). The Top 50 Tips for climbing Kilimanjaro
After helping over 3,000 people reach the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro we have developed our Top 50 Tips for a safe and successful ascent. We started 8 years ago with our Top 10 Tips and this has slow moved into our Top 50 Tips. We have written this information to help you have as much information before you step foot on the side of the mountain.
These are the tips that work, time and time again. I can not emphasize enough the the two main reasons people are not successful climbing Kilimanjaro. The first is the lack of proper acclimatization. Secondly the lack of proper or specific training that is needed to be safe and successful. There are other things that come into play but we hope our top tips are helpful as useful as you prepare for your Kilimanjaro trip.
11). Hydration is so Important on Kilimanjaro
I know I need more water at high altitude. I also know I need to getting used to drinking more water right before the trip. We recommend that you drinking 4 to 5 liters per day on the mountain. READ MORE about why hydration is critical in low oxygen environments. Making sure you are well hydrated, staying out of the sun and not getting sun burned. These are all really important things to remember on your Kilimanjaro climb. I always use a sun hat and stay as hydrated as possible.
When I wake up in the morning usually at 6am I try and drink 1 liter of water by the time I start hiking at 8am. While I am at breakfast our amazing staff will take my camel Bak 2 liter hydration system and fill it. I will try and drink 2 more liters before lunch. At Lunch I can get another liter or 2 liters to drink. We will be providing you with warm soup for lunch and dinner on Kilimanjaro and this will add to your hydration. I like to be finished my hydration by 4pm each day so I am not getting out of the tent every hour to use the toilet.
12). Why the Pace Needs to be Slow
We have developed a pace that helps our teams before more successful. Keeping heart rates as low as possible is our goal through your whole time on Kilimanjaro. Getting the pace correct can make all the difference. Our team knows how to get you successfully to the summit of Kilimanjaro and back down with energy to spare. This does not mean you can show up unprepared. You need to come fully trained and prepared for this climb.
Trust me coming down is a lot harder than going up the mountain. Leg strength and endurance training are super important. We can help you get the right training information for your Kilimanjaro climb. This is why pacing at high altitude is really important. Think about physical activity at sea level. You can train hard and then go home rest and 100% oxygen. This recover at sea level helps your body, muscles recover so you can get up again the next day and train.
On Kilimanjaro with 30% to 40% less oxygen in the lower part of the mountain and less than 50% oxygen getting to your muscles above 5,500m/ 18,000 feet. You need to minimize damage each day on the mountain. So the pace we move at and keeping your heart rate as low as possible it critical for your safety and success. Let all the other people pass you by lower down the trail. You enjoy the views as our goal is to get from point A to point B doing as little as possible. You need to keep your heart rate as low as possible. Minimize the the damage to your muscles on a daily basis. Acclimatize slowly and you give yourself the best chance of making it safety up and down Kilimanjaro. Pole Pole Pole!
13). We Look After our Team
It’s official, Ian Taylor Trekking have the best Mountain Guide on Kilimanjaro. You need to consider having the best available team in support of your climb. All our teams have one to one support on all our teams going to the summit. We always have more guides and staff on all our trips. Our team and developed and grown over the years. We have managed to keep same team working for us on the mountain for 10 years. A number of our porters have qualified to be guides through our support. Some of our staff have been on our treks and climbs in the Himalaya’s.
Each staff member knows us and we know them. We have trained our staff over years and they get continued education and support from us. We also pay our staff and guides more than other companies and we are invested in their future. You can just ask our staff for yourself. This costs more and we only want to run quality ethical trips that help our staff support their families and get ahead. We have hundreds of local people contact us monthly looking to join our team on the mountain. Read some Reviews from our trips.
14). You Should Have Oxygen With you at all Times
You need to have access to oxygen each day and high on Kilimanjaro if it is required. As just so you know if you go on oxygen you are going down the mountain not up the mountain. We have one bottle of oxygen per 5 people. We carry this each day and throughout the climb. Every trip I am on, there is always a number of other teams and people looking to use our oxygen because their team did not bring any.
You absolutely need bottled oxygen on your Kilimanjaro climb and you should not climb with a team who does not have any with them. You also need to be evaluated each day, twice a day for heart rate and oxygen levels. On our Ian Taylor Trekking climbs we test your oxygen saturation in the morning at breakfast and in the evening at dinner time so we can evaluate how you are adapting to the lack of oxygen in your body and minimize the risk to you as we move higher on Kilimanjaro. This is really important from day 1 on the trip.
15). Emergency Road Access
Does the route you pick have emergency evacuation access? The Lemosho route has the best emergency evacuation road on Kilimanjaro. This evacuation road is situated between Shira camp 1 3,500m/ 11,482 feet and Shira camp 2 at 3,900m/ 12,795 feet. We have learned it is of the upmost importance to have more acclimatization not less acclimatization between 3,500m/ 11,482 feet and 4,500m/ 4,600/ 15,091 feet. That is why we have five nights built into all our itineraries giving you the safest and best chance at reach the summit of Kilimanjaro.
We use the Lemosho route as we have access to this emergency road. Our treks have Flying Doctor coverage and we can get you off the mountain as quickly as possible on this western side of Kilimanjaro. On our trips we will be checking your oxygen saturation daily, but if you are not coping with the lack of oxygen in your body we will see real indicators at this elevation and if you need to be taken off the mountain we have this road access to make it a smooth transition to a medical facility. This is a really important safety factor you need to consider and need to have on your Kilimanjaro climb.
16). Have a High Level of Support on Summit Night
Make sure you have 1 to 1 support on your summit climb. We sometimes need to help other people on Kilimanjaro. These people bring minimal support for their people and when people get in trouble we have to help them out. We have a maximum of 10 team members per group. Having smaller team aids in safety on Kilimanjaro. We will have 1 guide and support staff heading to the summit for each climber heading to the summit. You need to have this support just in case you or team members are struggling to get down the mountain as quickly as possible. You need to have this safety measure in place and minimize the risk you are taking on Kilimanjaro.
17). We have a Maximum of 10 people per Team
Small teams means you are better looked after and issues and concerns are easily spotted and seen on the mountain. Being part of a smaller team means you will have better access to our staff and our world class guides can get you know you better and spot altitude related issues a lot quicker.
Our guides will be able to spot subtle changes in your behavior and be able to react quickly. Smaller groups are more relaxed, safer and give you a more enjoyable experience on Kilimanjaro. We have found a maximum of 10 people makes a more successful and more enjoyable and positive overall experience for each team member.
18). Seek out Professional Advice
Your personal safety should be at the fore front of your decision making. You need to have the right information from professional before you go. Having access to people who have climbed Kilimanjaro on all routes, different times of year and have helped over 3,000 people to the summit is really important. When you sign up to an Ian Taylor Trekking team you will have access to expert staff 5 days a week how have climbed Kilimanjaro. We will answer all your questions, help you get excellent training advice and ready to assist you with professional first hand information which can mean the difference between success and failure.
19). The Right Breathing Techniques are Important
Practice the right breathing techniques needed for high altitude trekking. This is easier shown than me trying to write about it. In low oxygen environments you need to flood your body with oxygen. This means deep breaths in through your nose and fast out through you mouth. Think about it like this. Your body, muscles are being starved of oxygen on Kilimanjaro. So you need to force oxygen into your body.
You do not need to be doing this every step and it will vary from day 1 to summit night. This technique requires focus so it is good to practice in your training and while you are on the mountain. Trust me you will need this technique throughout your summit night to make sure you are giving your brain, lungs, heart and body enough oxygen to reach the summit and get back safely.
20). Contact our Team Today
Contact me today. Pick up the phone, remember we are in Colorado so -7 GMT. We can help you get all the information you need for your Kilimanjaro climbing adventure. Ian Taylor Trekking have helped train hundreds of people for Kilimanjaro. I have personally trained our team on the ground over the years, offering the highest levels of service.
I have climbed Kilimanjaro over 35 times and Ian Taylor Trekking have helped well over 3,000 people reach the summit of Kilimanjaro. We have the team, service, set up and only run quality, safe Kilimanjaro climbs. Drop me an E-MAIL TODAY, pick up the phone and I can help you take the right steps towards the summit of Kilimanjaro.