Your trek may be right around the corner or months down the line, but it’s never too early to start getting ready. We could give tips on everything from which boots to buy to which songs to download (hey, it matters!), but no matter what, we’d tell all our guests to make sure they’ve done the following before boarding the plane to Tanzania:
1.) Sleep Outside in a Tent
If you’ve done this before, it can’t hurt to remind yourself what to expect during your trek; it will help you determine the right gear to bring (you may realize you sleep warm, or cold, and want to change your sleeping bag options accordingly, for example), mentally prepare you for the experience on the mountain, and get you excited about your wilderness adventure!
If you’ve never done this before it’s even more important that you experience honest-to-goodness camping before your trek. Remember, you can make adjustments before your trek to what you bring, or what kind of add-ons you may want for personal comfort (Grand Traverse treks, for example, include cot beds). Once you’re on the mountain, though, it’s too late to make those changes. Give yourself the best shot at success by knowing what to expect!
Photo: Thomson Safaris guest, Andy Liu
2.) Practice the Rest Step
It’s essential for conserving energy on the mountain, but it takes a while to master. Make sure you work on your rest step while you’re revving up to go!
3.) Hike Up AND Down…
People equate “downhill” with easy, but many trekkers actually find the descent to be the most challenging part of their treks!
Even if you don’t live next door to a serious trail , you can work the muscles you’ll need on the mountain: stairs, or even a treadmill set at a steep incline, are both good alternatives.
And remember, don’t push yourself to go too fast; pole, pole (slowly, slowly) are the magic words for success on Kilimanjaro.
Trekking into the Barranco Valley
Photo: Thomson Safaris staffer, Amy Czarnecki
4.)…With All of Your Gear On
Fill up your water bottles, put everything into your day pack that you’d need on the mountain, and try on all the clothing and outerwear you expect to bring with you on Kili, then head outside.
Not only is it important to train your body to what you’ll actually be doing on the mountain (i.e., carrying the things you’ll need on your back and/or switching between layers as the weather changes), it’s important to test your gear before you go; it’s easy to get a better-fitting pair of hiking pants or a different type of socks before you go…but not so much once you’re on the mountain!
Photo: Thomson Safaris guest, Shelly Kidney
5.) Wear Your Hiking Boots as Much as Possible
Yes, we know we already told you to head out with your gear on, a category which should include your hiking boots.
But you really, REALLY need to be wearing your hiking boots. Walk around the back yard in them. Wear them on the treadmill. Strap into them for your next grocery run. Just wear them!
Breaking in your boots before your trek is one of the most important things you can do, and it’s not one you can fudge; if you haven’t hiked a few hundred flights of stairs you might still be fine, but if your boots haven’t been broken in you’re looking at a lot of painful blisters that might wreck your entire trek!
“Go Up” by flickr user Matthew Hillier licensed under CC BY 2.0
Doing all these things well in advance of your departure date won’t turn Kili into a walk in the park…but it will help you feel ready to take it on!