As I have written previously, climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro is one of the most rewarding experiences us average city slickers can do. However how do you go about it? What types of things do you need to do in order to make your expedition a success?
Luckily for the normal guys out there, this adventure is not out of reach of almost anyone. Unlike Mt. Everest or countless other mountains, you don’t have to be an advanced mountaineer to climb it.
In fact, Mt. Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in the world that you can reach without the need of any climbing equipment. Basically it’s one long hike, with only a few rocky patches that you have to climb over.
How should I prepare?
While going up Mt. Kilimanjaro is not something super, super hard, you do need to be fit in order to do it. There are two important things that you need to get ready for.
1) You need to be prepared for long hikes in challenging terrain
If you do a lot of hiking on your free time, then you are set to go. However if you are a sit-on-your ass desk jockey, then you will need to spend some time to get your ass up to speed.
The first thing you need to do is to work on your stamina. Get your ass to the gym and start doing some cardio, whether on the treadmill, on a stepper, or on one of those static ski machine thingies. Or better yet alternate all of them!
You can also join some group classes where they do endurance work. One of the things I did to prepare was join a group of people who were doing cardio circuits. It’s a fun way to get in shape, but also meet some new people in the process.
The best way to prepare is to start going on actual hikes though. Start off slow and then gradually keep on building up, increasing the distance, varying the terrain and going higher and higher in altitude.
2) You need to be prepared for the altitude
And this is the key part of the preparation. No matter how fit you are, the altitude can get you. That’s why you need special preparation to address this issue.
If you are like most people, then you probably live at lower altitudes. In higher altitudes, there is lower pressure and less oxygen, which could create adverse effects in people who are not used to this. In extreme cases, this can even result in death.
The good news is that your body gradually adapts to higher altitudes. That’s why during the trip to Kilimanjaro, you spend several days hiking around the mountain, hiking high and then sleeping in lower altitudes. This gives your body time to adapt.
However, if you want to significantly lower your chance of your body breaking down while at Kilimanjaro, you should spend some time in higher altitudes before going there. That way, your body is already prepared.