Climbing Kilimanjaro isn’t easy by any means, but it can be done; as many ordinary people and a group of celebrities (including Chris Moyles and Cheryl Cole) have proven. There are 6 official summit trails, and there are also a few easier trails for those who are less confident. 20,000 people attempt to make the Kilimanjaro climb every year, although a third don’t manage to complete it. This isn’t anybodies fault – altitude sickness or acute mountain sickness is usually the cause and there’s nothing that can be done. It doesn’t matter how young, fit, determined, or experienced you are; if you get altitude/acute mountain sickness you may have to abort the climb. Plus, 10-15 people die per year due to a variety of reasons. Continue reading to find out what to expect:
At first, you’ll come across lots of children dressed in rags, although they will all say hello to you as you go by. You’ll then meet with your guides and learn the basics; slow and steady is the key to reaching the summit, and 3-4 litres of water a day to try to combat acute mountain sickness. You’ll be amazed at how quickly the porters can move with your belongings on their backs, even though they do it so often. By the late afternoon of the first day you’ll likely reach the first camp and be able to use the toilet, an old drum with an ancient wooden toilet seat. You can’t complain at the meal you’ll be given; fried fish with potatoes and fruit salad.
The temperature falls very quickly around this time, so you’ll want to listen to the guides and learn about keeping yourself warm.
Sleeping shouldn’t be too much trouble, unless you have any snorers in your camping party that is. In the morning your porters will bring you a bowl of hot water to wash with, at around 6.30 am (so you’ll need a good nights sleep).
As you continue to ascend the mountain you’ll see more and more of the great views and scenery, although if you have an altitude headache at this point you probably couldn’t care less.
When you get to 12,470 ft, it’s likely the majority of your camp will feel at least a little bit sick. The pace will probably slow, and you may need to guzzle down ginger tea to help you if you feel ill. You’ll need to wrap up very warm for bed as it’ll be freezing.
Your group will be preparing to reach the summit at this point and will probably either feel sick or tired (or both).
As you’ll be up quite high by now, breathing will take a bit more effort. The paths will get higher, steeper, and more narrow; so you’ll need to go slower and concentrate. Soon you’ll reach Gillman’s point which will likely get everybody excited – although the real summit is Uhuru.
The views will be stunning, but you might not be able to bring yourself to take them in as you’ll be concentrating hard. As you reach the top you could maybe manage a weak cheer after the 8 hours it’s taken you to get there, but it won’t be long before you’re making your way back down. Your feet are probably going to kill.
As you near the end of your climb you’ll probably start to feel much better, even euphoric about what you have achieved. The sense of achievement you get from the climb is definitely worth all of the sickness and pain!