Training for Kilimanjaro

The ascent of Kilimanjaro should only be attempted by reasonably fit people, and inexperienced hikers might consider embarking on a training schedule to improve the chances of a successful climb. This needn’t be too arduous. Running and cycling will improve your aerobic fitness, and weightlifting might help build core strength, but the best like-for-like training for a Kili climb is hiking, ideally in hilly terrain and/or at altitude. Aim to build up to the point where you can comfortably hike for four to five hours with a light pack on your back. And do use these training hikes as an opportunity to break in the hiking boots you intend to wear on Kilimanjaro, and to get used to the day pack you plan to carry.

trekking kilimanjaro tour

The main health risks on Kilimanjaro are related to altitude and to a lesser extent exposure, exacerbated by exhaustion. Uhuru Peak stands at a higher altitude than the base camps on Mount Everest, but the ascent involves a very rapid transition from below 1,000m to above 5,000m, and some people - particularly those who normally reside close to sea level - will have difficulty acclimatising in the space of a few days. Indeed, almost everybody who attempts the climb experiences some altitude-related symptoms, which range from shortness of breath, headaches and sleeplessness to nausea and swollen the hands or feet. If these symptoms become severe, or the sufferer starts coughing up saliva or blood, or displaying loss of a coordination, or experiences disorientation or hallucinations, the potentially fatal conditions called pulmonary or cerebral oedemas are indicated. Experienced guides will recognise these conditions, the only (and usually highly effective) remedy for which is immediate descent.

The risk of altitude-related illness is greatly reduced by extra acclimatisation - that is, allowing an additional day or two for the ascent - and by walking at a relaxed, steady pace. Many people feel a loss of appetite at high altitude but it is vital to eat properly, concentrating on easily digested foodstuffs, especially carbohydrates and fruit. Drink at least three litres of water daily. A drug called Acetazolamide can be prescribed to help prevent or reduce symptoms of altitude-sickness.

rongai route mount kilimanjaro

Prolonged exposure to the cold and wet conditions often experienced on Kilimanjaro can result in hypothermia, which occurs when the body temperature drops below 35°C (95°F) and usually results in uncontrollable shivering before progressing to more severe symptoms if neglected. Hypothermia can be avoided by carrying plenty of warm, waterproof clothing designed for sub-zero conditions, and by dressing in layers so you can regulate your body temperature and sweat by removing or adding clothes as required. Severe hypothermia can be fatal, so if you experience heavy shivering, you should change into warm dry clothes and huddle up in a sleeping bag until the symptoms dissipate.

A rescue fee is paid by all climbers upon entering the national park, but the rescue team only focuses on the Marangu Route. Its services must be arranged in advance for other routes.


Our Recommended Itinerary

Two Peak Challenge: Mount Meru and Kilimanjaro (13 days)

day 1

day 2

Momella Gate (1500 m) – Miriakamba Hut (2500 m)

day 3

Miriakamba Hut (2 500 m) – Saddle Hut (3 550 m)

day 4

Saddle Hut (3 550 m) – Socialist Peak (4 562 m) –

day 5

Miriakamba Hut (2 500 m) – Momella Gate (1 500 m)

day 6

day 7

Arusha – Machame Gate (1 790 m) – Machame Camp (3

day 8

Machame Camp (3 010 m) – New Shira Camp (3 845 m)

day 9

New Shira Camp (3 845 m) – Lava Tower (4 640 m) –

day 10

Barranco Camp (3 960 m) – Barafu Camp (4 640 m)

day 11

Barafu Camp (4 640 m) – Uhuru Peak (5,895 m) – Mwe

day 12

Mweka Camp (3 080 m) – Mweka Gate (1 630 m) – Arus

day 13

Departure

View Full Itinerary

You might also like

Climbing Kilimanjaro in March

Early March, like February, is a great time to climb Kilimanjaro the weather is quite dry, relatively cool, and very quiet. Nocturnal temperatures drop below freezing at higher altitudes, as is the case all year though, and the risk of rain increases as the month progresses. ...

Climbing Kilimanjaro in February

February is an optimum month for climbing Kilimanjaro. Tourist volumes are lower than during the main hiking season of August to September, and the weather is quite dry and relatively cool, which improves the likelihood of extensive snow on the peaks. That said, it gets extremely cold at higher altitudes throughout the year, and hikers should be prepared for subzero temperatures and…

Best time to climb Kilimanjaro

As might be expected of an isolated massif of its immense magnitude, Kilimanjaro supports a microclimate - indeed, several different altitude- and rainfall-related microclimates - that bears little resemblance to conditions on the surrounding plains. Precipitation is largely associated with moist trade winds that blow inland from the Indian Ocean towards Kilimanjaro’s southeastern…

Climbing Kilimanjaro in May

Credit: Modern Day Marco May is very wet and although rainfall is lower than April, the ground may be waterlogged and forest trails will still be very slippery. Climbing Kilimanjaro is best avoided in May, though it does have the advantage of being very uncrowded. If you do hike at this time of year, best to choose the Rongai Route, which ascends the dryer northern slopes. Even then,…

Luxury Kilimanjaro tours

Luxury is a relative term when applied to a Kilimanjaro climb. Overnight options boil down to hunkering down in a sleeping bag in a hiking tent or a basic mountain hut, and if you want to summit the great mountain, there is no escaping the steep uphill hikes, nor the cold on the upper slopes, nor the likely affects of altitude. In one sense, the most luxurious way to climb the mountain is…

Climbing Kilimanjaro on a budget

High park fees and logistical costs mean there is no such thing as a cheap Kilimanjaro climb. The best way to keep down costs is to form or join a group of four or more like-minded hikers, and to stick to the Marangu Route, which is more popular and busy than the other options, but also less logistically complicated. Even so, a Kilimanjaro climb is likely to seem pretty expensive by my…

Popular Kilimanjaro National Park Safaris

These popular itineraries can be customised to match your budget and travel dates

Ready to start your adventure?

+27 (0)21 422 3498
   discover.africa
    info@discoverafrica.com
    Mon - Fri: 8AM - 9PM GMT+2