Fitness for Kilimanjaro Trekking
Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa. With all the information you have, added to being physically prepared, your chances of reaching the summit is substantially increased. The tests of physical endurance and mental stamina will determine, to great extend, whether you will be successful in your quest to conquer the Roof of Africa. Being physically prepared for the trek will also greatly contribute and make a world of difference to the most valuable benefit of your preparation– your mental confidence and strength!
How fit do you have to be
The type of fitness is more important than the degree of fitness. Kilimanjaro is a hike, so the best preparation you can do, is to hike, preferably under simulated conditions. While running helps to some degree, it does not fully prepare your muscles for a strenuous 6-day hike. We suggest that you spend some of your training time by simply walking. Going for walks, in addition to regular gym work in order to also stimulate some muscle development, has proven to be the most successful preparation. Try to do a one or two day local hiking trial in your area, which will not only be an excellent way of preparation, but also most enjoyable.
We have therefore developed a practical (in terms of time and costs) fitness preparation guideline, which we will assist you greatly in preparing your body for your Kilimanjaro summit attempt. This guideline contains both a gym as well as a hiking program which should be followed simultaneously over an 8 week period.
Important points to remember before you start.
Before embarking on a fitness program, it is always wise to seek the approval of your family doctor. By all means show him this program so that he can see exactly what you are talking about. Chances are that he will be delighted that you will be exercising regularly.
In essence this gym fitness program consists of regular performance of progressive resistance exercises with either free weights (barbells and dumbbells) or free weight machines as found in gymnasiums. The idea behind progressive resistance is that your exercise can be tailored to your age, conditioned and strength and progressing to higher resistance or weights as you develop.
Because progressive resistance movements are tailored to your strength levels the program is potentially safe. However it is essential that all the exercises are performed correctly and that the basic safety procedures are followed. It is always a good idea to invest in a book on physical fitness or to ask the local gymnasium instructor to show you how to perform each exercise correctly and safely.
You should always warm up your muscles before any exercising routine. This means putting your body through a variety of stretches to warm up, strengthen and progressively challenge the tendons, ligaments, joints and muscles. Stretching is very important; it’s the best way to prepare yourself for an injury-free workout.
It is advisable to go for frequent walks which should include some uphill and down hills sections. Take your daypack with you and carry at least three litres of water or three kilograms with you. This will simulate the conditions you will encounter. As mentioned before, doing a one or two day local hiking trial in your area is not only an excellent way of preparation but also most enjoyable. We have developed an adequate hiking program of least 8 weeks to ensure an adequate level of fitness.
If your local weather conditions do not always permit outdoor activities, you can do part of it on a treadmill and simulate the flat, uphill (inclined) and downhill (declined) sections. Terminate your hiking program at least 4 days before you’re the start of your summit attempt to ensure sufficient rest before the climb.
Getting to Kilimanjaro
We have two Major Airports which act as Tanzania gate ways that most visitors use when coming to our beautiful country, the biggest being the Dar es salaam International Airport located at the coast and the second being the Kilimanjaro International Airport located just about 45 km from Arusha town, these airports receive different carriers from different parts of the world, like KLM Royal Dutch Airlines from Europe via Amsterdam, British Airways from London-Heathrow, Air Condor from Germany, Swiss International Airlines form Zurich, Emirates from Dubai, Qatar Airways from Doha, South African Airways from Johannesburg, Ethiopian Airlines from Addis Ababa, Kenya Airways from Nairobi, Air Uganda from Entebbe, and Air Malawi from Blantyre.
All our Mt Kilimanjaro climb Tours start and finish in Arusha or in Moshi. We mostly advice our clients to take their flight to Kilimanjaro International Airport which is much closer to Arusha and moshi other than the Dar Airport,
Since the KLM flights after landing in Kilimanjaro International Airport continue to Dar es Salaam, it is possible to arrange an itinerary with arrival into Kilimanjaro and departure from Dar or visa versa. This is particularly useful for those wishing to include a visit to Zanzibar or the Southern reserves in their schedule.
Arusha is a great deal closer to Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, than it is to Dar es Salaam. The number of airlines and frequency of flights into Nairobi is much greater than those into Dar, and the prices more competitive. For these reasons, 50% of safari visitors to Northern Tanzania fly into Nairobi.
Some airlines, such as Kenya Airways, offer inexpensive add-on connections to Kilimanjaro which can be purchased with international flights.
Nairobi to Arusha Shuttle
There is an inexpensive shuttle bus running twice daily between Nairobi and Arusha which Vic Consult Tours & Safaris can book on behalf of clients.
The shuttle bus from Nairobi has one early morning departure (08:00 am) and one afternoon departure (02:00pm). The terminals are at Parkside in Nairobi and the Bella Luna Restaurant in Arusha. The journey takes at least 4 and 1/2 hours, dependent on road conditions and subject to formalities at the border crossing at Namanga.
Nairobi to Arusha or Mwanza Private Transport.
Clients do have the option of arranging private transportation with us from Nairobi to Arusha or Mwanza and return at a supplementary charge.
Nairobi to Arusha flights
There are several daily flights available from Nairobi’s two airports to Kilimanjaro airport. Some of these flights have onward connections to Lake Manyara and Serengeti National Park.
ZanAir, Auric Air, Flight link, Coastal Air, Regional Air Services, Air Excel and Precision Air run scheduled flights between Dar es Salaam, Arusha, Zanzibar and various other regional airports and airstrips. In the Northern area Regional Air Services, Auric Air and Air Excel have twice daily flights from Arusha visiting several game park airstrips and returning to Arusha.
In addition to the scheduled flights on light aircraft, there are charter airlines who can arrange flights between any of the destinations.
Items we can rent to you, Item price per trip
- Sleeping bags USD30
- Sleeping pads USD10
- Warm Jackets USD 15
- Rain Jackets USD 15
- Rain Trousers USD 15
- Warm Trousers USD 15
- Pair of Socks USD 5
- Pair of warm gloves USD 10
- Climbing boots USD20
- Barclava USD 10
- Pair of walking poles USD20
- Sunglasses USD10
- Hat USD10
- Sweater USD10
- Rucksack USD20
- Day pack USD 10
- Pair of Gaitors USD10
- Trousers USD15
- You can always request for any equipment that is not mentioned above.
Sizes available: Small, Medium, Large& X-large.
Rental terms and conditions applicable in Tanzania:
- All equipment rental is subject to demand and the availability of rental equipment or specific sizes cannot be guaranteed. To avoid disappointment it is strongly recommended that all your rental equipment is booked well in advance of your planned trip.
- Payment for gear in cash US $ only no credit card or travelers check payments.
Important! Please note that NO equipment must be washed by the clients under any circumstances.
Tips and planning for Success Summit.
What to know
Vic Consult Tours & Safaris has more than 10 years of experience in leading hikers and climbers to the summit of Kilimanjaro. Our experienced guides have a proud summit success rate averaging between 96% – 98% and have safely guided alot of clients to the top of the mountain. This internet guide aims to provide the potential Kilimanjaro climber with valuable and accurate information on climbing Kilimanjaro, which will hopefully contribute towards increasing your chances of a successful summit attempt. We have compiled this information over years of experience as well as from feedback from previous clients. From all the information provided in this guide, the tips listed on this page is probably the most important.
Before the climb
Be well equipped
An essential part of your preparation will be to ensure that you are well equipped for your summit attempt. Print our final checklist and mark it off, to ensure that you are.
Be physically prepared
It is important that your body is adequately prepared for the physical challenges of Mount Kilimanjaro. We have developed a fitness training program which will assist you in getting your body in shape for your Kilimanjaro summit expedition.
It is possible to summit Kilimanjaro successfully. Many before you have succeeded. This should be topmost in your mind when preparing for the summit attempt. You should always remain in a positive state of mind, but not overly arrogant. Try to anticipate various different scenarios, which you may possibly encounter on the mountain and try to work out the most suitable course of action, mentally by yourself or even as a group. Your mental stamina will, without a doubt, make the really difficult sections, like from Kibo to Uhuru or from Barafu to Uhuru, easier to complete. Remember if you are properly equipped, you have taken everything as indicated on the final checklist, you are physically prepared and have all the knowledge gained from this internet guide – you will be mentally confident for the physical part of Kilimanjaro.
Adequate travel insurance
Make sure that you have adequate travel and medical insurance, which will also provide you with cover for the climb up Kilimanjaro.
On The Mountain
Go slowly – “Pole Pole” as they say in Swahili! This is also very important during your first days of climbing. Even if you feel well, slow down and enjoy the scenery. The biggest cause of altitude sickness is ascending too high too fast! The slower you hike to more time you give your body to acclimatize.
Drink enough water
Make sure that you drink at least 3 – 4 litres of liquid a day – preferably water. For your first day it is recommended that you take along fresh water, which may be purchased at the hotel in Moshi before your climb. Try to get the bottles with the screw tops, this way you will also have containers in which to take water further up the mountain. Running water on the mountain is safe to drink from day-2 onwards, but care should still be taken. If you are not used to fresh water in nature, prevent any inconvenience by using water purification tablets. REMEMBER! A functioning “body water balance” is one of the keys to a successful climb!
Walk high – sleep low
If possible and especially on your acclimatization day “walk high – sleep low” Try to do a short evening stroll to a higher altitude and then descend to sleep at the camp at a lower altitude. This is essential on your acclimatization day.
Climb as lightly as possible; this becomes even more important on your summit night. Extra weight will slow you down and will also make breathing more difficult.
Remember that you will be on the mountain for at least 5 or 6 days. You need to take enough clothing, especially socks to last for this period. Due to frequent rainfall as well as numerous streams on the routes, it is advisable to pack items individually in your bag. These individually packed items should be wrapped in plastic bags to prevent them from getting wet in case of rain or of being accidentally dropped in a stream.
You will require the correct underwear, thermal hiking socks, gloves (preferably mittens), warm head protection, rain coat, sunglasses and sun protection cream. Also remember your hiking boots, hiking/running shoes (it is not necessary to walk with boots or climbers shoes until the last sections where scree and rocks are encountered), and very importantly, a walking stick / ski-pole. One of the most critical items of clothing is an outer jacket. You want it to perform the functions of keeping you warm, protect you at temperatures of as low as minus 25 degrees Celsius, keep the wind out and yet still “breath”. Try to avoid tight fitting clothing or underwear. This will hamper circulation, causing either cold or discomfort on the mountain. A balaclava is a must, as it will protect your face against cold, wind, sun and snow. Other clothing like shorts, sweaters and T-shirts are strongly recommended, especially during hiking on the lower slopes, when the day temperatures are still high.
The only way to ensure that you are dressed warmly is to follow the principal of wearing the correct clothing layers, starting from against the body. A common mistake made by climbers is to wear almost everything they have and to start off with cotton against the skin. Cotton absorbs moisture perfectly, and moisture trapped against the skin will result in a definite lowering of the body temperature, which could even lead to hypothermia. It is therefore very important to use proper thermal underwear with “wicking” properties (a fabric which has the ability to draw moisture away from the body) and thus enabling it to evaporate to the outside. The middle layer should provide the insulation and a product like polar fleece will be adequate in this regard. The outer layer should be windproof, waterproof and breathable. Products like Ventex, Goretex or Jeantex offer these properties. Short of altitude and physical exertion, cold is one of the most serious obstacles when attempting to summit Kilimanjaro. After securing your booking with us, you’ll receive a comprehensive document, to guide you through the steps of purchasing the correct gear.
Take a ski – pole
A ski – pole is essential. Use of ski poles reduces external and internal loads on the knee joint by up to 20%. Using 1 ski pole is a must, but 2 poles are recommended. Buy one or hire one but take one
Replace your head lamp and camera batteries with new ones on your summit night.
Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)
AMS commonly affects people at high altitude, who are not accustomed to high altitude conditions. AMS can be lethal if not treated immediately or if its symptoms are ignored. Probably 70% of all people climbing Kilimanjaro will suffer to some extent from AMS. You should familiarize yourself with this condition and take preventative care.
Malaria occurs below 1800 meters and you should use the recommended prophylactics. Please consult your doctor about these. Currently, there are various preventative medication products available which will be effective against the malaria strains currently found in Tanzania. Women using oral contraceptives should consult their physicians before using prophylactics.
Other useful tips
There is no washing water at Barafu, Kibo and Arrow Glacier camps. Wet Wipes are very useful
Take enough snacks like energy bars etc. Avoid the toffee like energy bars (as they get very hard and difficult to eat in low temperatures) but rather but the cereal type energy bars.
Adequate sun protection
Wear a good quality pair of sunglasses (with UV protection) and use adequate sun protection cream with a protection factor of at least 20+.
Use a thermal flask for your water on the summit night, other water bottles might freeze solid.
Taking pictures with a fully automatic camera at the summit of Kilimanjaro is possible, and most people do this. The secret is to always have a new battery in your camera when going into cold areas at high altitude. A mechanical camera works just as well, provided you have the knowledge to operate it successfully. Cameras exposed to cold do not cease functioning, but remember that if you keep your camera inside your jacket and the lens becomes warm, chances are that it will form condensation when suddenly exposed to extreme cold. This condensation will freeze under conditions at the summit. Therefore, keep your camera dry at all times. Moisture will freeze at the summit which WILL cause your camera to stop functioning.
If using a Film camera
ASA 200 film is good for taking photographs in relatively little light. You might reach the summit just before sunrise and may not wish to wait due to the altitude and the cold. After sunrise, film with ASA 200 or 100 are fine. There are numerous classic photo opportunities, some of which are only available in low light conditions. If you can, and if you are a serious photographer, we recommend that you take a small, portable tri-pod with you. Also remember that it is sometimes so cold that you cannot hold the camera steady.
The stream water high on the mountain Kilimanjaro has been tested and has been found to be fit for drinking. However, we recommend that you be on the safe-side and use water purification tablets before drinking.
THE MOST IMPORTANT TIP OF ALL – ENJOY THIS ONCE IN A LIFE TIME EXPERIENCE!!!
Other useful tips:
- Make sure all your clothes and sleeping bag are packed in plastic bag inside the duffel bag, to ensure they stay dry in the event of rain, even if your duffel bag is waterproof. Once something gets wet on the mountain it is difficult, even impossible to dry!
- Something good Vaseline or Vicks Vaporub are good on the summit attempt.
Moist air coming from your noise or on your lips will freeze and become very uncomfortable
- Sound travel at night and many people snore on Kilimanjaro – bring some ear plugs to sleep with.
- The trail is very dusty and sinus congestion is a problem with many hikers. Bring a good decongestant spray or tablet.
- Female hikers suffer more from the cold than male hikers. Hand / feet warmers are a good idea (or even a hot water bottle – hot water is available during meal times) and will help keep you warmer in the sleeping bag (minus temperatures to be encountered from the first night onwards)
- Travel with your most important gear as hand luggage – e.g. wear your hiking boots in the plane – missing luggage is a common problem.
- Bring some blister plasters, Vaseline and liner socks. If you start to get blisters it will help a lot.
- There is mobile reception on most of the mountain (except the first days on the Rongai route). If you bring your mobile, make sure you activate international roaming. Because you cannot recharge the battery, only have the phone on an hour or two daily.