Climbing Kilimanjaro – Guidelines to Train for the Summit

If you have decided to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, then you deserve congratulations because the experience will probably change your life. It’s the highest peak in Africa so there’s no surprise that people refer to it as The Roof of Africa. Preparing to ascend the summit requires both physical and mental training. Physical endurance is essential because you will hike from 5 to 10 miles daily. The entire journey will probably last 9 days if you prefer the long route and taking time to admire the beauty of your surroundings. Mental stamina is also vital because you will experience physically challenging moments, when only your subconscious will help push yourself harder and continue.

Climbing Kilimanjaro – Guidelines to Train for the Summit

Kilimanjaro may not be the highest peak in the world, but the number of people who manage to complete the journey is relatively low. Altitude sickness and lack of preparation are the main reason why not everyone reaches the top, so here are some tips to help you plan your journey and be in the best shape.

How to Train for Climbing Kilimanjaro 

When should you plan the trip?

You should time your trip to ascend the Roof of Africa in January, February, July, August, September or October. In January and February, the temperatures are warm and there are small chances of rain. In July and August, the temperatures are low, but there are moderate chances of rain and you will find it easier to breathe than during warmer months. In September and October, the weather is warm, there are low chances of rain and few clouds, so you will probably enjoy your trip the most if you choose this period.

Spend more than a week in Tanzania

It’s highly recommended to spend at least 9 days in Tanzania if you want get to the peak of the mountain in safety conditions. If you push yourself too hard, you are at risk to experience high altitude sickness, a condition that can ruin your climb. Acclimatising your body should be your main goal. You should arrive in Africa a couple of days ahead climbing the mounting, to help your body and mind prepare for the trek.

How long does it take to actually climb Kilimanjaro?

First, it’s important to know that it’s forbidden to climb the mountain without being accompanied by a registered guide. The guide will decide the itinerary, and the trip can last from 5 to 9 days. Second, it’s advisable to get a longer trip to grow your chances to succeed. If you will ascend the mountain faster, you will spend the spare day at the peak enjoying the view. Karl Egloff recorded the fastest ascent and descent, he ran to the up and down in around 7 hours. It’s not advisable to try something similar, it can badly affect your health condition.

Climbing Kilimanjaro – Guidelines to Train for the Summit

Training for the great climb

Once you complete the organizational part, you should start training yourself to successfully complete the trip.

Cardio training

Aerobic exercises will help your body use oxygen adequately to meet the energy demands of the activities you perform. You will start with light exercises like running, cycling, and indoor climbing. They can help you boost your body’s resistance. It’s important to build a strong cardiovascular system if you want to reach the peak, it will help your lungs to better process oxygen when doing physical effort. Do not try to climb the summit like Karl Egloff, hike slowly when on low reaches, it will help your body get acclimatize to the high altitude you are reaching.

Anaerobic training

Train your lower and upper body to be ready for the physical challenges climbing a mountain comes with. You should include in your workouts squats, lunges, shoulder press exercises, sit-ups, shoulder and back flies, and front leg curls. You need a fit body to climb Kilimanjaro because you will carry a backpack and walk for around 6 or 7 hours daily.


The year before your trip, you should practice hiking. Climbing Kilimanjaro is similar to other long hikes, so you should hike regularly to be ready when you arrive in Africa. It’s advisable to do around some long mountain hikes before heading to Tanzania because they will help you understand what challenges you will face when you trek on difficult paths, and what parts of your body take the battering. Make sure you wear the same pair of boots you want to use when climbing Kilimanjaro; an uncomfortable pair of shoes is the last thing you want when ascending the mountain.

Prepare your mind

The ones who climbed Kilimanjaro state that the real battle is in your subconscious. It will be difficult to maintain the end goal in your mind when you will have trouble breathing. We will not lie to you, there will be moments when you will want to stop, or even worse to go back down. Being able to gather your strength and remember why you are there, will help you overcome the challenges, and continue on the path you’ve started. Ask your family and friends to write encouraging messages and keep them in your bag. Every time you want to quit, you should stop, take a deep breath and read their words. It will help you continue your road.

Create a motivational playlist

Music is something that helps us overcome the greatest challenges in our life. It’s known that it has a positive impact on negative emotions, and music therapy is used since the oldest times to help people recover from depression. You should create a list with motivational songs, or songs you love and listen to it while trekking the paths of Kilimanjaro. Put some spare batteries in your backpack to power your device. It’s advisable to invest in a device that is powered by solar energy.

Climbing Kilimanjaro is a trip everyone should take at least once in their lifetime. The feeling you get when you are above the clouds cannot be described in words. We said that this trip will change your life, and it will definitely do it because of the sense of achievement you will experience when you reach the peak is incredible and incomparable.

About Marina Villatoro

Marina Kuperman Villatoro CEO of, a travel resource site to inspire families to travel with kids of all ages. Marina has been an expat 20+ years in Central America raising 2 boys in a multicultural, trilingual household. She travels all over the world with her family to give first hand experiences of where to eat, stay and play with kids. Needless to say, it’s never boring! Join Marina on Facebook and Twitter for more unique and boutique family travel!

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