5 Essentials for Tackling Kilimanjaro

Around 35,000 people take on Mount Kilimanjaro each year, lured by the icy glaciers at its peak, its cheeky black and white colobus monkeys, other worldly landscapes and the sheer challenge itself.

After all, at 5,895 metres this is Africa’s tallest peak and the highest free-standing mountain in the world. The sight of that vast extinct volcano, towering over the East African plains with elephants and giraffes roaming freely at its feet, has been etched into many an adventurer’s daydream with more and more people opting to take the plunge and give it a go.

But despite the popularity of the climb, it remains a major undertaking and preparation is key. Training for months before the climb is highly recommended, but it’s also important to make sure that you have the right gear. A decent set of hiking boots, warm clothing and a sleeping bag make the list, but here are a few other essentials that may be a little less obvious but are still well worth popping in your pack.

1. Baby wipes

Don’t underestimate the amount of baby wipes that you’ll need. With no showers to be found at the majority of camps located on the mountainside, you’ll need these to keep offensive odours at bay and ensure basic hygiene is maintained. Your guides will present you with a bowl of warm water each morning for a quick scrub down, but it’s hard to get into those nooks and crannies with minimal fuss.

2. Hand sanitiser

With a continuation of the hygiene theme, hand sanitizer is a must to stave off bacteria after those portaloo visits and also any impromptu piddles in amongst the scrub. The last thing you want is to get a stomach bug on the side of this beast of a mountain – the climb is hard enough as it is, and it’ll be tough for you to get down.

3. Urinating aids

If you’re a lady, then I would definitely recommend taking a she-wee or similar urinary device with you. Even if you’ve had one sitting at home for years doubting its usefulness, this is the time. Temperatures in the middle of the night can fall below freezing so you’ll be loath to leave your tent. Plus it’s pitch black out there and making a trip to the toilet a bit of an ordeal even with the aid of a torch. In addition, you’ll require an empty plastic water bottle – this works for the guys too. You can figure out what to do with it.

4. A good book

There are no TV’s up on Kilimanjaro, and the likelihood is that the altitude and exertion will see everyone heading for their sleeping bags at a pretty early hour. So a good book will help you while away those lonely hours which can otherwise get a little emotional. Trust me.

5. Cereal bars

Thanks to our wonderful chef, we dined well on our way up and back down that mountain. He even managed to rustle up a birthday cake for one of our intrepid team members at very short notice. But long days and chilly temperatures mean hunger can creep up on you in the blink of an eye and there are no vending machines to help you stave off those pangs. Take a bunch of cereal bars in your bag. Even if you don’t want them, someone else will.

Did Kilimanjaro whet your appetite for adventure?  Maybe it’s time to add a few challenges to your list – check out this guide to 7 terrifying trails you won’t want to miss.  

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