Insiders Guide to Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro

Recently an intrepid team of ladies travelled with Real Africa to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania for charity. They all reached the top successfully and raised lots of money for charity  in the process. Congratulations Fiona and co! I also have three different friends who have climbed it in the past year alone, my brother conquered it a few years ago and its popularity seems to be continually increasing. So just what is the attraction of Mount Kili?

Firstly the Tanzanian scenery is just awe-inspiring. Watching the sunrise at dawn over the African continent spread out before your feet is just one of those epic moments in life.  Mount Kilimanjaro is the tallest mountain on the African continent at 20,000 feet and the highest free-standing mountain in the world. It is actually made up of three separate volcanic peaks, Mawenzi, Shira and Kibo. The first two are extinct but Kibo is merely dormant and could possibly erupt again one day.  Standing in snow in the middle of Africa is a pretty amazing experience.  Although this may not be the case for ever as the snow cap is shrinking every year due to global warming and could be gone in as little as 20 years time.

Secondly the physical challenge. The trip usually takes around 10-12 days and you climb for about 9 of them. You climb through every kind of terrain on the trip starting with cultivated farmland, through rain forest, then onto heath and moorland, before reaching the alpine desert and finally the arctic summit. It starts off very hot and proceeds to get very cold which can be challenging in itself.  However spare a thought for South African Bernard Goosen who has climbed Mt Kili in a specially adapted wheelchair! Approximately 25,000 people attempt to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro annually and roughly two-thirds are successful. The people that don’t make it have usually been affected by bad altitude sickness. However it is recommended that you only attempt the trip if fit or after having done some kind of aerobic training to ensure that you get the most from your trip.

Thirdly the organised expedition means you have help every step of the way. Porters carry all the camping equipment you will need and guide you up the tricky parts of the climb. Usually a team of around 15-25 porters will accompany a small group and they will carry everything for you. They go ahead to set up camp each night making sure everything is ready and in place by the time you reach them. You are looked after extremely well, in fact a recent group complained that the food cooked for them was so good they didn’t lose any weight at all hiking up the mountain!

Finally, did you know that almost every climber who has reached the Uhuru Peak, the highest summit on Kibo’s crater rim, has recorded a note in a book that is stored in a wooden box at the top of the mountain? Now that would be a truly fascinating read!