Climbing the highest peak of Africa is a journey filled with excitement, determination and stamina. If you are one of those adventure enthusiasts or someone who wants to take up this challenge, we are sure you have a burning passion to stand proud on the peak and are already imaging yourself hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro.
So are you prepared…?
Certainly this is a question you always ask yourself until the day you begin the hike. While you will spend months building up the physical and mental ability, there is often something that you may have overlooked. Are you fully equipped with the right gear? Did you know that how to layer up on the last night? Can you wear sport shoes on the mountain?
We have compiled some befitting tips drawn from our first hand experience; essentially rewarding packing lessons we learnt by ourselves.
Pack 2 bags
One will be your light backpack with all items of personal use which you will carry while hiking. From everything important to your passports and money to the little things which you may need often such as wipes, water bottle and snacks will be in your personal backpack.
The bigger backpack which is carried by the porter will consist of things which you will require eventually. Extra layers, warmers, gloves, socks etc shall be all packed in this bag.
It is ideal to divide your backpacks before you begin the hike. Your guide will be happy to help you revise your packing and leave behind some items that you may really not need to travel light.
You need not own all the essential equipment.
Do not panic if you do not have mountain sticks, gloves, drinking bottles or a head torch. Owning all equipment may scare you as it just adds up to the hiking cost. Most equipment can be rented in Moshi. It is ideal to inform your tour operator of equipment that you were not able to source and which is available at a small renting fee. We recommend carry your own gloves, hats, jackets, warmers for hygiene purpose and follow this list to decide better.
Not just your ordinary socks
What you wear really determines the success of your climb. Do not compromise on the quality of your apparels including your socks. While it is preferable to wear high quality woolen socks, DO NOT FORGET to pack hiking socks which you will require two nights before summiting the mountain. Poor quality socks often cause serious injuries such as blisters, frost bites and you are at a risk of losing your toe nails. Invest in high quality mountain socks for a safe and comfortable climb and double check if you packed them.
Buy Your Own Hiking Shoes
You are at an advantage for a number of reasons when you buy your own hiking shoes. Besides hygiene, finding the right size is the number one factor to ensure smooth ascends and descend. Hiking shoes are slightly heavy from the ordinary sport shoes so practicing in your own shoes will ensure that you are wearing the right size and you can get comfortable and break in well before the hike. Having your own hiking shoes means you can use them anytime in the future and these are the shoes of your choice and comfort.
More warm layers and less t-shirts
It will always get colder and colder on the mountain and layering up well is another important factor to determine your comfort. Instead of carrying too many t-shirts we suggest you carry a few tank tops or vests, 2-3 pairs of t-shirts and 4-5 layers of long sleeves warmers. While you may not have the chance to change your clothing every day, if your body is sweating, you are advised to wear a fresh layer and avoid mixing temperatures that may cause you to shiver and feel cold. Always make sure your body is warm and have carried enough warm clothing which an always be adjusted when the climate is changing.
Shameless bag of energy bars and chocolates
Instead of packing shampoos, numerous bottles of deodorants and more than two books, we highly recommend carrying as many snack and energy bard as possible. You will be served three meals per day and will find yourself walking for at least for 10 continuous hours on an average. Keeping chocolates, nuts, dry fruits, health bars and other light snacks handy are very useful to boost your energy levels and keep you moving especially during the summit night. These products are light and easy to carry and it is great to share with friends who need them at the most crucial moment.
Water bladders and non-plastic bottles
Out of the three secrets to a successful summit; walking slowly, thinking positive and drinking water often, the latter one is the most crucial. However, do not make the mistake of not showing your guide what kind of bottles you are carrying. Plastic bottles are not allowed on Mt. Kilimanjaro. Buy a good quality bottles in steel or which is non-plastic. Ideally it is nice to carry water bladders with long pipes without having the need to halt every time you feel thirsty.
No hi-the fancy cameras
Carrying a DSLR on a mountain is a strenuous task as it adds to the weight. Also, as beautiful and photo worthy the scenery looks, after some time you find yourself lagging way behind for waiting for taking a great shot. We advise you to carry a light weight and small camera or use your phones. With that comes an inevitable reminder to carry extra batteries and power banks. Unless you are a profession, not carrying a highly technical camera is highly advisable to avoid damage and theft to expensive equipment.
Tissues and Wet Wipes
You will need plenty of these but you are to use them without polluting the mountain. Tissues and wet wipes are very handy for toilet breaks, if you are sweating and to simply tidy up yourself during a long day. You will also need these during night leaks. Keep them handy; however ensure that you use them when required. Keep saving as you will need more and more when you climb higher.
Extra pair of gloves, bandanas and hats
This does not mean that you overload yourself with the above items. It is quite easy to lose your hat or a hand glove especially after a tiring hike. If you are traveling in a group, you can have 2-3 extra pair of gloves and hats or you and keep it in your second bag and use it in case a pair turns dirty or you are not able to find the previous one. Remember no one can afford to be kind enough to borrow their pair of gloves or hats unless it is extra. Be wise and careful of not losing your belongings while hiking.
4-5 pairs of bottoms
Do not carry jeans, leggings or any kind of uncomfortable clothing that adds up to your weight. You need at least 4-5 layers of bottoms. We ideally recommend leggings, track pant and 2 pairs of warmers. You may have to change your bottoms only once or twice. Carry a good mix of thin and warm bottoms that keep you warm throughout the journey. Do not continue to wear the bottom if wet or if you are sweaty. As hard as it is to delayer, it is always advisable to feel fresh and comfortable.
You will not get a chance to shower on the mountain and change your clothes too often. So it is essential to carry enough of inner clothing including vests, bras and underwear. It is ideal for women to wear 3-4 pairs of sports bra and panty liners which are easy to change. Man can change their vests when possible but not very often to avoid catching a cold, only if you are sweating.
In case the rains
One always has to be ready for the drifting climatic conditions on the mountain. It usually rains during Marh-April- May and light showers in November-December on Mt. Kilimanjaro. Carry gaiters, rain coats and ponchos to avoid getting wet and catching a cold. Irrespective of the weather it is also highly recommended to use a water-proof bag to keep your belongings dry and avoid any damage.
A pair of inexpensive polarized glasses
It is also sunny on Mt. Kilimanjaro despite the snow and the cold weather. It is highly recommended to carry a pair of polarized sunglasses to avoid damage to your eyes and also feel comfortable while climbing. This may be your only pair so be careful and keep them in a safe place when not in use. Having a pair of sunglasses is just as important as wearing gloves during a chilly weather.
From the most important Diamox to prevent headaches and vomiting to sprays for backache relief and muscular pain, having your own medical kit will save you from much small discomfort. Make sure you will all the mediation you think you will personally need. With few days of sunshine and dropping temperatures, your skin is prone to get dry and peel. Carrying petroleum jelly, ideally Vaseline will help you to avoid the discomfort while providing some nourishment to your skin.
Do you have more questions to ask? We will be delighted to offer you free some more tips and if you now feel ready, why not book your life-transforming trip to Mt. Kilimanjaro today?