Trek to the Summit of Africa’s Highest Mountain

What the Trip is Like

This trip is rated Level 7, our most strenuous rating. A trek to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro is one of the world’s great adventures, and every climb of this mountain is a true expedition. Despite the fact that the Kilimanjaro climb doesn’t require climbing equipment or technical skills, it is extremely challenging and considered a real physical test. All trip members must be in excellent shape—both physically and mentally!

There are dangers inherent in any expedition to high altitude—in this case, 19,340 feet, with an overnight at 18,500 feet. These dangers include everything from rock falls to the possibility of a serious fall, accident, or sickness without access to a means of rapid evacuation, adequate medical supplies, or adequate medical attention once provided. Although we carry oxygen and Gamow bags on every climb, it is important that all participants understand that the climb is very challenging. Our Trip Leaders and crew are experienced veterans of the mountain, but it takes cooperation and flexibility from each participant to ensure a successful ascent.

The hiking times we quote in this itinerary are approximate times for a fit person in good weather conditions. Normally, some trip members hike faster than others. Our climbing groups are accompanied by highly experienced Kilimanjaro mountain guides in addition to the Wilderness Travel Trip Leader so that we can divide into smaller groups, each hiking at their own pace and each with its own guide. It is impossible to predict how you will do at altitude, but if at any time on the ascent you find yourself stopping because you are out of breath, you are hiking too fast and you should slow down to a pace you can maintain. You should only attempt a climb of Kilimanjaro in full realization that you or other people in your group may not be able to make it to the summit. We have enough guides and porters along to escort you down if this should happen. Those who have chosen not to proceed higher have still found the experience of hiking on Kilimanjaro very worthwhile.

On the Kilimanjaro climb, porters carry the group gear and you carry a daypack for your wind/rain jacket, water bottle, and camera (depending on your equipment, this can weigh approximately 10 pounds). The camp crew sets up camp each day and we are served dinner in a dining tent with tables and chairs. We use American-made mountaineering tents rated by the manufacturer as 3-person tents but we use them for only two people, ensuring a fair amount of space for sleeping. Fires are not allowed on the mountain so there are no hot showers available at camps (hot showers are available at all of our safari camps). Our food is cooked with the use of propane.  While there are certainly limits as to what can be done in such a setting, our past trip members have remarked on the high quality and variety of the food served on the mountain.

Getting in Shape for the Climb:
Begin training at least five or six months before departure. Start gradually by doing hikes, running, using a stairmaster, or riding bikes. The objective is to improve your overall level of fitness and aerobic capacity and get your legs and lungs in shape for the nearly 50 miles of trails you will be hiking on Kili. We descend 13,000 feet in two days, a feat that is extremely challenging on the body, especially the knees. This is where strengthening up those quads really pays off. As the time for departure approaches, try to climb a high peak near you. Past trip members have hiked up Mount Whitney, Mount Shasta, or the volcanoes in Hawaii. If you do not have high mountains nearby, then try to increase the length and intensity of your training regime. A backpacking trip can give you an excellent idea of what this trip is like and is great for conditioning and aerobic capacity. Backpacking also gives you experience in organizing and testing your equipment and in proper walking technique. Most importantly, take care of yourself and exercise regularly to improve your aerobic capacity, but do not overexert yourself before departure.

Environmental Concerns on Kili:
From our Kilimanjaro camps, we try to carry out every item of trash that we cannot burn easily. Toilet paper, which is put in a can beside the chemical toilet, is burned by the crew before leaving each camp and some small easily burnable items can be given to them to burn at the same time. For pit stops on the trail, carry toilet paper back to camp in a plastic bag. Please keep your own trash in a trash bag and pack it in your porter duffel for removal from the mountain. Take chemical or toxic trash (such as dead batteries) back to the US with you so they can be disposed of properly.

Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.

References

We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.

Contact our Africa Specialists

Africa travel agents sitting on bench

Our Africa specialists are your single point of contact and will be happy to answer any questions about our trips, help you choose the journey that’s right for you, and assist with any extensions you may be interested in. They even have great advice on what to pack! You’ll be in good hands, from the time of your first call to your departure on this adventure of a lifetime.