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Top 5 Tips for Climbing Kilimanjaro

September 22, 2010

I read everything there was to do with climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and I took some of the advice with a grain of salt. For anyone who is thinking about making the climb, here is my top 5 tips from an average person.

  1. If you are a women, consider the ‘pee funnel.’ This device, also known as the female urination aid, was a life-saver. No kidding. The toilets of Kilimanjaro are legendary but I’ll save you the description. Trust me, it’s bad. If you can avoid them even half that time you’ll be thankful.
  2. Always carry an extra layer of clothing in your daypack. On day 3 I started the day wearing shorts and a light sweater. By the afternoon I was freezing! Fortunately for me my bag was waiting for me at lunch. I changed into thermals, a winter jacket, warm hat and mittans in order to keep warm.
  3. Don’t skimp on the winter rating for your sleeping bag. We brought 0C rated bags to Kilimanjaro because they were super-light and we were worried about the weight restriction. I rationalized that summit night would be cold but we would just sleep in all our winter gear. What I didn’t know is that it gets REALLY cold at night even at much lower altitudes. Our coldest night was day 2 because we were unprepared.
  4. Waterproof also means dustproof. Lemosho route is very, very dusty. Actually most of Tanzania is dusty in the dry season. Do not underestimate the dust. My husband had waterproof hiking boots and I didn’t. His socks and feet were virtually dust-feet while mine were filthy. This also goes for gaiters. We didn’t buy/rent gaiters since I figured there isn’ t really any mud in the dry season. Those with knee-length gaiters were far cleaner than I was. 
  5. Drink lots of water. Okay this one is obvious but I had trouble downing the recommended 4 litres/day. When I was suffering from nausea due to altitude sickness I found the water tasted like last night’s dinner. This made drinking water revolting. The only way that I got through it was to eat a jelly bean afterwards to take away the taste.
3 Comments leave one →
  1. September 23, 2010 9:23 pm

    Ahh! Great tips!! I didn’t think waterproof meant dustproof, but now I know! I can’t wait to do Kilimanjaro now.. I have a time line of 3 years before I do it though (want to do it before I turn 30).

    The Pee Funnel is a fantastic invention. I saw it at my local outdoors store. A friend of mine (their group) paid for a toilet to be brought up!! I think they were thankful they did.. but that seems a bit excessive.

    Beautiful pictures, thanks for sharing!

    • September 23, 2010 10:00 pm

      Kilimanjaro was a great experience – I highly recommend!

      For what it’s worth we did the climb with Good Earth Tours. They are a small company so it was just us (and nine staff). They really took care of us and made accomidations without complaint. We were even refunded $220 (for park fees) for coming down from the mountain a day early. Who does that? But if you want to be social and hang out with others I would check out the maximum number of people for the tour. Some of the other tour groups were gigantic!

      I think the portable toilet would have only been an extra $100 (plus tips for the extra porter) for the whole group. Unless they build the luxurious toilets like at Shira 2 campsite everywhere else I would consider this option. It might seem a little princessy but it’s worth it.


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