While Mount Kilimanjaro is known to be more of a walking trip than a hiking trip, don’t let that fool you. It’s still a 19,341-foot trek. Additionally, the last six to eight hours to the summit is difficult, especially with weather that can plummet to -20 degrees Fahrenheit. Around 1,000 people are evacuated attempting this mountain every year, and several have even died. This trip isn’t for the faint of heart, but with the proper preparation and equipment, you too can conquer this monster mountain.
Before You Go Prep
Before you travel, make sure to check up on any travel advisories and get the proper medical check-ups to make sure you’re healthy enough for an extended hike in high altitudes and get any vaccinations you might need. For a trip to Tanzania, you’ll need to get vaccinated against Yellow Fever and pick up some anti-malarial and anti-diarrhea medications. Make sure you have all the prescription medication you may need, and I always grab some pain killers, allergy medication, and insect spray too. And then, of course, make sure you take the everyday things you would bring on an extended outdoor trip like a toothbrush and paste, hand sanitizer, sunblock, deodorant, and SPF lip balm.
This hike will take several days for you to get used to the altitude so you’re going to need some light gear toward the bottom of the mountain and some heavy-duty gear for the days near the summit. There are also several items that may not be strictly necessary but will make your hike in Tanzania easier. There’s no way that I can know exactly what things will make hiking Mount Kilimanjaro easiest for you, but you might want to check out lists like this Kilimanjaro gear list guide by Altezza Travel, a company that provides VIP tours of Tanzania. Having porters to carry all your heavy gear and guide you up the mountain will free you up to take in the beauty of this majestic mountain.
Essential Hiking Gear
Bring along a few pairs of light socks and a few thick pairs of hiking socks too. Make sure you ALWAYS wear proper hiking shoes while on the move, but pack a pair of comfy shoes for when you’re camping. I always take an extra pair of laces too, just in case the ones I have break. Bring at least two long thermal shirts and pairs of thermal pants, 2-3 pairs of hiking pants, a few t-shirts, one waterproof jacket, one light jacket, one heavy-duty winter coat, and a few pairs of gloves, ranging from thin to very thick. Several pairs of underwear are recommended for all hikers and good sports bras for those who need them. A brimmed hat is required for sun protection and a ski mask for wind and cold protection.
Essentials for a fun and safe trip
Now that we’ve got the bare minimum out of the way, here are a few things that will make your trip not only safer but a lot more comfortable. I always take my favorite healthy snacks, a water bladder, a cozy sleeping bag, and a solar-powered charger for all my electronic devices. Attaching a few safety pins on my duffle bag have come in handy on hiking trips, and I never leave home without a roll or two of toilet paper – just in case. And while sunglasses are a must, make sure to bring a high-quality pair that protect your eyes won’t break easily.
Whether this is your first mountain hike or you’re a seasoned pro, make sure you give this mountain the proper respect. It’s a wild place, and things could easily go wrong if you’re not prepared. My three biggest pieces of advice are to know your body, know your limits, and enjoy yourself. If you don’t feel well, stop, go back, and try again another day. You’re climbing a mountain! It should be challenging and rewarding, but also fun. Make sure to take your time and enjoy the beautiful scenery.