Before trekking Kilimanjaro, the experts at Thomson Safaris provide insight on how to train, what gear to buy and what to expect on your climb to the Roof of Africa.
What kind of training do you need to summit Kilimanjaro? There are many answers, as Kili climbers come from a range of backgrounds and fitness levels; some are runners, swimmers, cyclists, walking enthusiasts or just generally active people, and all do great on the trail! You’ll want to develop a good cardiovascular base and focus on Kili-specific strength training like squats, lunges, and calf raises. Try one of our favorite leg-strengthening and stability moves!
Whether you’re on a 6 or 10 day trek to the summit on Kilimanjaro, you’re going to be covering a lot of uphill ground! Luckily, there are some important tricks of the trade to conserve energy and save your legs for the final summit push. The rest step is one of the most effective ways to transition your body weight to your bones from your muscles. You’ll want to lock your knees at the top of each step, putting your weight on your skeleton and not your quads and calves, while your other foot swings around for the next step.
Sound confusing? Check out the short video below, then try it on your next hike or walk up the stairs! Bonus – this will also slow down your pace, so you’ll be hiking Pole Pole to the summit.
Proper hydration is crucial to succeeding on Kilimanjaro as it helps climbers better adjust to the elevation. Your crew will provide unlimited purified water on the trip, and you should plan to drink 4-5 liters each day to help with the altitude. Bring along powdered drink mixes with electrolytes, or bouillon cubes to change up the flavor so you can keep drinking!
Our revolutionary PUR water system was first pioneered on MTV’s Summit on the Summit charity climb featuring celebrities trekking to raise awareness for the global clean water crisis. Another organization climbing for clean water, WaterCan, returns for their second trek with us this coming March!
Photo courtesy of Michael Muller
How exactly do you safely climb to 19,341 feet? You’ll want to take your time to let your body properly adjust to the elevation; hiking at steady pace and choosing a longer climb will greatly increase your ability to acclimatize.
Trekkers on longer routes, 9 or 10 days, will have enough acclimatization time under their belt to safely stay at higher elevations, which opens up the opportunity to summit during the day. This is our favorite approach to Uhuru Peak, as you’ll have a full night’s sleep, encouraging daylight and fewer climbers on the trail. In fact, you’ll have two chances to stand atop Kilimanjaro; in the afternoon of your ascent, or the following morning before you start heading back down!
Why are some summit attempts made during the night? Kilimanjaro trekkers who are on the mountain for 6-8 days have less acclimatization time so they need to stay at a lower campsite before and after reaching the summit.
Donning headlamps and heavy layers, trekkers will start the final summit push just after midnight, reaching Uhuru Peak as the sun rises. Summit photos in hand, they’ll then spend the day trekking down to their last campsite, about 15 hours in all. It’s a challenging and unforgettable experience!
See the sun rise