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Training for Kilimanjaro: How to Prepare to Climb The Highest Mount in Africa

Table of content

Mount Kilimanjaro is the tallest mountain in the whole African continent at 5,895 meters. As you can guess, climbing is not going to be an easy feat, although a Kilimanjaro climb via the Machame route can be surprisingly quick for such a tall ascent. To complete your trek successfully, you will need to prepare your body and mind accordingly, and we will discuss exactly how to do the next Four steps that you should follow to prepare to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. Take a look at this article to learn about Mount Kilimanjaro.

So, by now 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 take 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.

Trees and mount kilimanjaro
Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa

What to do BEFORE Climbing the Mt Kilimanjaro?

Hiking

The single most important exercise that you can do to prepare yourself for a Kilimanjaro climb via Machame route is practice hiking. The idea is to hike as much as you possibly can, starting at least two-three months before you attempt the final hike on the Whiskey Route.

Find the nearest hilly or mountainous hiking trails and trek through them as often as possible. Just in case you do not have access to hiking trails nearby, try going for very long walks daily. Drive to the nearest trail for a hiking experience on the weekends.

Master the Stair Master Machine

Find a gym that has a stair master machine and use it religiously on a daily basis. In case you do not have access to a trail, the machine can be an excellent indoor replacement for that, or you can do both for building added endurance. The general idea is to be able to hold a speed of 30steps/minute on the stair master for at least an hour or two, while having a 20lb bag on your back. Once you are able to do that, you are mostly ready for the trek.

People on top of mt kilimanjaro
People on top of mt kilimanjaro

Prepare for High Altitude

You might be in peak physical condition, but unless you know how your body will behave at a certain height, there’s no way of telling how you will do on the hike. There are two ways to prepare yourself for altitude training and they’re as follows.
• Go and stay in a high-altitude environment for a while to acclimatize your body with the changes
• Sign up for a high-altitude training program which puts you through the necessary acclimatization processes

Get Yourself Checked

It is not only important but also mandatory, for anyone who wishes to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro to go through medical examinations and produce the required certificates of fitness. If you have any of the following health disorders, you may need to reconsider your decision.
• Blood circulation problems
• Asthma
• Hypertension/hypotension
• Hypoglycaemia
• Diabetes
• Concussion
• Intestinal disorders
• Seizures and other CNS disorders
• Heart conditions
• Visual/auditory impairment
• Hernia
• Dislocated joints or heavy sprains
• Cancers

Keep in mind that exceptions can still be made, but you will need special provisions, so the party you are going with must be informed in advance.

Common Questions

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.

How much time to spend in Tanzania?

It’s highly recommended to spend at least 9 days in Tanzania if you won’t get to the peak of the mountain in safe conditions. If you push yourself too hard, you are at risk to experience high altitude sickness, a condition that can ruin your climb. Acclimatizing 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.

The Best Time to Climb Mount Kilimanjaro

How to Train for Climbing the MT. Kilimanjaro?

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 the physical effort. Do not try to climb the summit like Karl Egloff, hike slowly when on low reaches, it will help your body get acclimatized 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.

Trekking

The year before your trip, you should practice trekking. 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.

Recommended Read: The Best Time to Climb Mount Kilimanjaro 

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 them 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.

Useful Tips for Climbing Kilimanjaro

Keep your clothes ready

After a certain altitude, when the weather gets significantly cold, a small but very useful tip would be to tuck in the next day’s clothes into your sleeping bag while you sleep. This way you will not have to jump into a freezing pair of clothes the next morning.

It can get dry and dusty

It is important to note that as you ascend higher, the atmosphere gets drier and less humid. This can affect your throat and nose; therefore, it is vital that you bring the right gear to protect your face from the dust. Hot beverages and lozenges can also relieve any symptoms caused.

Have a positive attitude

When it comes to strength, we need both mental and physical strength to get to the top. You may be fit and well-trained to climb the mountain, but it is also important to train your mind. Stay positive and believe that you can fight through every obstacle and make it to your destination. This applies to all aspects of life too. Here is an interesting quote: “Always strive to aim for the highest peak of the goals in life you have set, this way if you manage to reach even halfway toward a goal, landing in the middle is not such a bad place to end up.” ― Victoria Addino.

Choose the right route

Choosing the 8-day climb is recommended. There are 7 routes up the mountain, but it is better to choose a longer route to help you acclimatize to the mountain. This way you can achieve your goal and also enjoy the climb. We personally recommend the Lemosho route.

Hydration is a top priority

Naturally, you will be dehydrated faster at higher altitudes. This is why we urge you to stay hydrated throughout the climb. Set yourself a target of four to five liters in a day. Try to start your morning with one bottle and progress as the day goes by.

Conclusion

Kilimanjaro is a thrilling adventure that you will most likely remember for the rest of your life. It is up to you to accept this challenge, make the most of it, and put in your very best whenever and wherever you can. Best of luck!

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 the sense of achievement you will experience when you reach the peak is incredible and incomparable.

Now that you have taken care of the most important part of the preparation, it is time to gather the mountaineering gear and of course, the necessary documents. Fortunately, all you will need in terms of official documents are a valid visa, a pass, and a resident permit to begin the trek; all of which are quite easy to obtain.

 

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