What is it like to climb Kilimanjaro?

Renowned as the roof of Africa, and one of our planet’s last remaining natural wonders, Kilimanjaro is no doubt a fascinating mountainous view, with a plethora of scenic attractions. If you’ve never been to Africa’s highest peak, you cannot truly comprehend its wonders – a mountain covered in snow on the equator, amidst a wealth of green forest surrounded by dry grassy fields – the sight of Kilimanjaro is surely going to take anyone’s breath away. But, what does it really feels like climbing this mountain? Has anyone ever succeeded in their attempts to? Well, Climbing Kilimanjaro is big fun, even though the final push to the peak is quite daunting. Climbing this mountain can be likened to hiking from the equator to the North Pole within a week. En route to the summit, travelers will experience dramatic changes in wildlife and vegetation every step of the way. So, it’s always a lively experience when you go to Kilimanjaro because of the wildlife sights you get to enjoy along with other natural wonders. It’s like walking through a natural documentary where you also get a chance to experience five unique climate systems.

Weather and the routes

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Credit: fotosipsak

Beyond the physical challenges you have to endure when you climb Kilimanjaro, you also have to deal with drastic temperature changes too. So, it’s always advisable to go with thin and thick vests, wears, and other gears – so that you wouldn’t be troubled by the weather fluctuations. Also worthy of note is the altitude of Mount Kilimanjaro, which is not to be underestimated at all. Even though there are some routes on the mountain that offer wonderful acclimatization profile – such as: Machame and Lemosho route – one still needs to walk slowly and gently, while drinking plenty water, and having adjustments periods.

The reality

There are some mental and physical preparations that can prepare your mind and body before climbing the mountain, thereby increasing your chances of getting to the top, but as soon as you get close to the top, the reality sets in – which comes in the form of altitude sickness.

Acute mountain sickness

This is also known as altitude sickness, and it involves a number of symptoms that a climber may experience when climbing a mountain like Kilimanjaro. Common altitude sickness symptoms often experienced by climbers when they climb Kilimanjaro include nausea, headaches, difficulty sleeping, and general tiredness. In fact, it has been observed that at over 3,000 meters, more than 70% of climbers would experience at least one symptom of altitude sickness. Altitude sickness is nothing to worry about, although it could make your journey more challenging. So, it is important to take things “Pole, Pole” as the locals often advise, which means (slowly, slowly). Also, remember that altitude sickness can happen to anybody, and as such, you need not feel embarrassed about it.

Safety and timing

At 5,895m (19,341ft) above sea level, Kilimanjaro is practically a safe mountain. And you don’t need any technical climbing skills to reach its peak. However, it is important to note that the mountain would expose you to both physical and mental challenges. So, you need to prepare your mind and body before embarking on your trip to Kilimanjaro. On your way to the summit, expect to hike for approximately 5-7 hours per day, and on the summit day, expect to hike for about 10-14 hours. That’s may be daunting, even for the strongest of men, so you need to be prepared.

Life on the mountain

Life on Kilimanjaro is quite beautiful and exciting, if you are up for the challenge. There are challenges on the way to the top that you have to endure. While you are climbing the mountain, you are submerged in a whole new world which is different from your reality. Suddenly the usual worries we experience in our daily lives cease to matter, and our minds are somewhat enhanced. Kilimanjaro will make you look within yourself for that extra bit of strength to go further, and that extra belief to persevere. Introspection suddenly becomes a thing. This is why Kilimanjaro is a life-transforming experience.

Right time to climb Kilimanjaro

Kilimanjaro can be climbed any time of the year, but some seasons are just better than others. On your journey to climb Kilimanjaro, you will experience five different climate zones; Heath, Alpine Desert, Rainforest, Moorland, and Arctic. That’s crazy, right? This is why many people say climbing this mountain is like trekking from the equator to the North Pole.

By and large, while Kilimanjaro isn’t equivalent to climbing K2 or Mount Everest, one still needs to approach it with care. But in the end, isn’t it the challenge that makes it fun?


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