Along with Mount Everest and Machu Picchu in Peru, Kilimanjaro is a well-known peak that many aspire to climb in order to claim the distinction of Africa’s tallest mountain. Superlatives such as the largest, tallest, and oldest are beloved by us humans. However, don’t let anyone trick you into believing that it would be easy since so many others have done it before you. Whoa, this is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. But I really couldn’t suggest it more.
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I studied every blog post about altitude sickness before my trip, trying to figure out what the symptoms were and how to avoid it. To save you the trouble, I’ll give you my best advice: take it easy. I knew I couldn’t go much slower because I would wait until everyone had moved forward and join the queue at the rear.
You should move more slowly since the altitude causes your body to exert more energy. There is less oxygen in the air and less air to breathe. You will hear the porters say “pole, pole,” which translates to “slowly, slowly.” Recall the story of the tortoise and the hare. Take the role of the turtle. Your body will appreciate you taking it more slowly as you walk than usual.
Such hikes are not competitions. The fact that hiking is not a competitive activity is really one of my favorite things about it. Actually, it’s the opposite—everyone wants the other person to succeed. Therefore, don’t feel bad about being at the back as I did. Along with not experiencing altitude sickness, I became close friends with the porter who was in charge of bringing up the rear. Among the earliest porters to labor on the mountain was his grandpa. If I was pacing in the front, I wouldn’t be aware of that.
Have lots of drinks.
Additionally, staying hydrated will prevent altitude sickness. Make sure you have a CamelPak or Platypus with you rather than a bottle so you can always get water while you walk. You don’t want to be removing your gloves to unscrew a bottle cap while your hands are chilly. It’s also a bother to have to stop every time you take a sip to get a bottle out of your backpack, even if you should be consuming three liters of water every day.
Consider using hydration salts in addition to water. Every day, I directly insert one sachet into my CamelPak to ensure that I was very hydrated. Salts such as Dioralyte are your greatest friend if you have diarrhea, which is frequent at altitude and generally if your body is getting used to being abroad.
Obtain the necessary equipment.
I was devastated to meet someone who had recently climbed Kilimanjaro and was not shocked when she told me why she didn’t enjoy the trip. She was utterly unprepared, which is why she doesn’t sigh nostalgically over how amazing and life-altering the night was. For the hike, she lacked the appropriate amount and kind of clothes. To top it all off, she had to climb in sneakers because she unintentionally left her walking boots at a gas station on the way to the starting site. I cannot fathom how horrible it had to have been.
You will detest every minute of it, even if you have the best physical and mental preparation imaginable for the mountain yet lack walking boots or warm clothing. Even with a heavy-duty sleeping bag, thermal layers, two pairs of gloves, a hat, scarf, and a down jacket, I shivered at night.
Hence, invest in high-quality thermal clothing, an adequate number of layers (made of suitable materials like fleece rather than cotton, which becomes heavy with perspiration), a four-season sleeping bag, hand warmers, and a down jacket. To keep your clothing somewhat warm in the morning, tuck them inside the bottom of your sleeping bag every night.
Don’t forget to bring sunblock and a hat. I was sunburned on the first day, and let me tell you, it’s not enjoyable when chilly winds blow on burned flesh. In addition, bring a head lamp with extra batteries for your camp, bathroom breaks, and summit night.
Sing and have fun.
These are methods that have been shown by science to increase endorphins and make you happy, which is crucial when engaging in such intensive activity.
Morale was poor at the start of day four, when some members of our party were seriously suffering from the altitude. We were sheltered from the sun, so it was really chilly when we woke up. To put it mildly, there were many trips to the restroom. However, as soon as we began to move, we began to sing. Whether it was Hakuna Matata from The Lion King or Lose Yourself by Eminem, both of which were fitting for the circumstances, morale quickly increased.
You cannot ascend this mountain by yourself, that much is certain. Climbing Kilimanjaro is the one moment when you will definitely require assistance from others. They must watch out for you. When I say “look out for you,” I mean to physically stand watch over you while you urinate behind a rock in the absence of nearby restrooms—that is, whenever you are not in a camp.