Climbing Kilimanjaro: Preparation, dedication and exhaustion
“Climbing Kilimanjaro, Africa’s tallest mountain, appears on the bucket lists of many would-be adventurers. ”
It’s a challenge that demands high levels of physical fitness, stamina and emotional strength, but one that’s rewarded by a terrific sense of achievement and, if you’re fortunate with the weather, stunning views.
Kilimanjaro may not be one of the highest peaks in the world, but don’t let this diminish the task at hand - its highest point, Uhuru Peak, is considerably taller than Everest Base Camp at 5,895 metres. And depending on which route you take, it can take up to two weeks to reach the summit.
Approximately 20,000 people attempt to reach the summit of Africa each year, but around one third don’t make it - just ask Roman Abramovich.
So what preparation do you need to take?
• Aerobic, anaerobic, strength and flexibility exercises should form part of your pre-climb regime.
• Start hill walking. Head to the Peak District or Snowdonia for the weekend and conquer the relatively modest peaks in the boots you plan on wearing for your Kilimanjaro climb.
• In terms of practicalities, you’ll need to apply for a visa to travel to Tanzania if you’re a UK or Irish national.
• Tanzanian authorities require tourists to present a yellow fever vaccination certificate, which can be obtained from a GP or a travel clinic.
• Climbers will trek through four climatic zones, so weather conditions are variable. The higher climbers get, the colder it becomes - so it’s important the right clothing is worn.
Choosing a route
Climbers have eight Kilimanjaro routes
to choose from. Each takes between five and eight days to complete and encompasses different gradients, scenery and accommodation. Here’s three of the most popular:
• Machame: More climbers choose this route for their Kilimanjaro trips
than any other. Approaching Kilimanjaro from the south, the route passes through humid rainforest before the ascent to the Shira Plateau. It’s then onwards to the notorious Barranco Wall - its steep cliffs and rocky outcrops providing a complete contrast to the rainforest below. The route to the summit takes in the Barafu base camp, with sunrise over Mawenzi Peak being one of the highlights.
• Shira: This seven-day trek approaches Kilimanjaro from the west before joining Barafu base camp and later Stella Point. The descent is via the Mweaka route and Millennium camp. One thing worth bearing in mind: the first camp is 3,500 metres high, so some climbers may feel the effects of high altitude early on.
• Western Breach: This infamous route is regarded as the toughest. The initial climb feels almost vertical in places, with much of it taking place along a lava flow hundreds of thousands of years old. A height of 4,000 metres is reached in just two days, with the route continuing north to Lava Tower and Arrow Glacier.
requires preparation, dedication and, like it or not, a degree of exhaustion. The good news is that there are number of routes to choose from - some relatively easy, others more challenging - but once you reach Kilimanjaro’s summit, that sense of exhilaration will be unrivalled.
Author - Michelle
Tags - climbing kilimanjaro, climb kilimanjaro, kilimanjaro routes, kilimanjaro, kilimanjaro challenge
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