5 years ago we went to Africa to do a safari. As soon as we landed we saw the highest mountain in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro. That day we said, “next time we will be up there”. At that point I thought it was just a joke…let’s say I was not the most physically fit person. But clearly, if you want you can!
Training for Mount Kilimanjaro
Doing physical quests has never been on my wishlist. But something inside me changed last year before becoming FIRE. I wanted to challenge myself in a different way and then I remembered that “joke” of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, the tallest free-standing mountain in the world and the highest one in all Africa. Why not start there?
Mount Kilimanjaro is not a technical climb and it’s considered a hike. That’s why we started training in South California hiking every mountain around us. Every weekend we did a hike, starting from short ones (3-5 hours) with low weight in our backpacks, and ended hiking the tallest mountains in SoCal with backpacks of ~25 – 35 lbs and 8-10 hours of duration.
Our final training quest was doing the 9-day Path of Peace hike in the Dolimite Alps. That was actually harder than Kilimanjaro in terms of walking hours per day and elevation gain. In case you want to check it out, we followed this itinerary!
Who to Climb Mount Kilimanjaro With?
You can’t climb Mount Kilimanjaro without guides and we did a thorough research of all agencies that provided guided services. We found very expensive and very cheap companies, all apparently offering the same services. After hours of research and reading hundreds of reviews we chose UltimateKilimanjaro.
Oh gosh, that was a great decision! We chose them for several reasons:
- Fantastic reviews on TripAdvisor
- Focused on safety and twice-a-day medical checks
- Great price – quality ratio
Everything was excellent, from the really experienced and knowledgeable guides to the amazing porters and excellent food. Totally recommended!
What route to take?
There are seven main routes to climb Mount Kilimanjaro that go from 5 to 9 days, though usually, the recommendation is to take at least 6-7 days to have enough time to acclimatize. The route you choose will vastly depend on how much time you have and how well you think you can acclimatize to the high altitude.
We were debating between the Lemosho and the Northern Route based on the recommendations we got from the service provider. We finally chose to take the longest and least traveled route, the Northern Circuit. Maximizing the time to get acclimatized as well as avoiding crowds were our ultimate drivers!
Additionally, the Northern Circuit allows you to see Mount Kilimanjaro from every axis as well as extraordinary views of the Mwenzi Peak.
What should you bring?
On the UltimateKilimanjaro website, you can find a list of recommended gear to bring to Mount Kilimanjaro. On top of what they suggested, we added several other things that we found really useful and we have created our own list of things to bring. Especially useful were the following items:
- Small blanket. Nights are very cold and it can be useful in many situations. I recommend bringing your flight blanket!
- Additional comfortable shoes or sandals to use at camp after hiking
- Powerbanks. We used them to charge our phones during the expedition
- Laxatives / antidiarrheal / antiacid. You won’t be eating your normal diet so that can potentially affect your digestion
Download our Mount Kilimanjaro gear checklist and customize it for you!
What will you eat?
You will be surprised how well you will be eating in the middle of the mountain! Our amazing cook prepared everything you can imagine, from pizza, hamburgers, and noodles to a cake and tiramisu! Everything is done with a camping gas. You won’t get hungry and you will have a wide variety of delicious dishes for every meal. See below some pictures of what we ate.
How much does it cost to climb Mount Kilimanjaro?
Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is not cheap, though totally worth it. See below a summary of our expenses for 2 people:
- Flights: ~$1,200
- Expedition: $6,598 ($3,299 each)
- Tips: $750 (we ended being just 3 people in the group which made tips higher than usual)
- Gear rental: $100 (2 sleeping bags for the whole expedition)
- Food in Moshi: ~$150 (5 meals for 2 people)
The total cost for 2 people was ~$8,800.
Should you use Diamox?
Our answer is clear. Absolutely yes! We started taking Diamox the first day we arrived on Moshi (one day before starting the expedition) and took it every day until we completely descended. We didn’t have any signs of Altitude Sickness and had great oxygen readings!
Maximizing the chances of summiting taking Diamox was a no-brainer!
Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is an experience you will never forget! And you don’t need to be a professional mountaineer or athlete to get to the top. It will be not only a physical quest but also a mental challenge.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact us!