How fit do you have to be to climb Kilimanjaro? The easy answer is to be in the best shape of your life. But keep reading to find out more.
Climbing Kilimanjaro is no easy task. There are many obstacles that can prevent you from making the summit. Many of them are out of your control. Some of these unforeseen obstacles are things like:
- Flight cancellations
- Flight delays
- Lost or delayed luggage
- The weather
Below are helpful travel and preparation tips you can do to prevent or at least prepare for these items.
Flights & Travel
To minimize your chance of missing out on your climb due to flight cancelations and delays, we recommend you arrive a day earlier than your scheduled day. Our group climbs have an arrival day built it. So for example, your itinerary shows an arrival date of the 4th and a climb date of the 5th. However, to allow for the flight problems and in case of lost or delayed luggage, we recommend you arrive on the 3rd. This will also give you time to recover from your long flight.
Lost or Delayed Luggage
If you arrive at Kilimanjaro International Airport and your bags do not, let our driver know immediately. Someone from our staff will track down your bags. If your bags are lost, we will help you rent replacement gear.
Another helpful packing tip is to use your 35-liter daypack as a carry-on to minimize the impact lost luggage will have on your climb. In it should be everything you need for the first couple of days on the mountain. Watch the video below for more information.
We can’t control the weather, but you can be prepared for it. Make sure you have plenty of layers to add or subtract depending on the temperature. Generally, in the rainforest, it is hot, humid and wet. In the Heather/Moorland zone, it is cold at night and warm during the day. The Alpine Desert zone is the same way—only colder at night and not as warm during the day. The Summit zone is usually cold, windy, and potentially snowy at night and cold, windy, and snowy during the day. Watch the following video on what to wear on Kilimanjaro.
Illness and Injury
You can’t really prepare for injury. Hopefully, you don’t have any issues on the mountain. However, if you do, our guides are medically trained to handle any situation. They are Wilderness First Responder Certified and have been trained by IFREMMONT on evacuation procedures as well as how to perform medical checks. When you book with Peak Planet you are covered by AMREF Flying Doctors Evacuation Insurance. So if the need arises, you can be airlifted by helicopter and flow to the hospital.
Why are we discussing all of these issues when the article is titled “How fit do you have to be to climb Kilimanjaro?” That’s simple. Because everything we have mentioned to this point is out of your control. But being fit is something you can control.
How Fit Should I Be?
Fit. You should be in the best shape you can be. Not only is hiking Kilimanjaro easier when you have trained for it, but studies have also shown that you are less likely to struggle with the elevation gain and therefore, less likely to have problems with Acute Mountain Sickness.
Hiking Kilimanjaro is no easy task. Most people who attempt it have never hiked for so many days in their life. This can take a toll both physically and mentally. One of the techniques we use to help you acclimate better is to hike at a very slow pace. This is so your body can adapt to the extreme elevation change. And—other than summit day—you only hike for a few hours each day. Most days, you’ll arrive at camp in the early afternoon. This will give you many hours to recover. Take the time to nap or at least try to lie down. Eat and drink plenty of food and water an give yourself time to recover. Take the time to tend to any issues, like hot spots or blisters.
In the months leading up to your Kilimanjaro trip, we recommend training for a minimum of 12 weeks. Hike as much as you can. Hiking should be the basis of your training. Even if you don’t have hills or mountains, walk on a greenbelt, path, or up and down stairs. As the hiking becomes easier, add a backpack. With each week add more weight to the pack. Your daypack on Kilimanjaro should weight no more than 15 pounds, but train with more weight.
In addition to hiking or walking, you should also hit the gym. At the gym, you should focus on using the Stairmaster. You can also do leg workouts with light weights. With your climb dates approaching, you should add more intensity to your workout and add more weight. Your hiking should be more frequent with longer more difficult hikes.
Furthermore, your hikes should work into overnight backpacks. The more you sleep on the ground in a tent, with a sleeping pad in a sleeping bag, the quicker you’ll get used to it. Which in turn will make sleeping easier on Kilimanjaro. Of note, there are no trees to hang from once you are out of the rainforest, so hammocking is not an option.
To see our more in-depth workout, go here: https://peakplanet.com/climb-preparation/#training
What age should be considered too old to climb Kilimanjaro? Age is just a number. You can climb with us regardless of your age. We had Dr. Fred Distelhorst break the world record for oldest person to summit Kilimanjaro. He was 88 the time. Just check with your doctor first and train hard for the adventure ahead.