If you are considering Kilimanjaro, I have two pieces of advice. One-this mountain is challenging and pre-climb conditioning will be tested. There will be unexpected challenges on the mountain. Like many climbers, this was the hardest physical and mental activity that I have attempted. Secondly-Go with Peak Planet. The summit rate is > 90%. Along our 8 day route, it was clear to me that Peak Planet stood out from the outfitters. The focus on medical safety (including daily medical check ups), slow aclimization, fair treatment of porters, high quality tents and sleeping bags, and daily side hikes was unique. The price point for the trip was appropriate. You will find other companies that are more expensive, but I didn’t see any other benefits they were offering. In fact, many groups seem to be envious of our party. I was very impressed with the quality and collegiality of our guides. Given our lead guide had summited over 400 times, I felt that his advice should be the law on the mountain. Although I am a physician (off the mountain), your chief guide is the physician of the mountain. Follow his advice. Additionally, there is an opportunity to donate gear to the porter team following the summit. After successful summit, you will likely find yourself to be quite grateful and desirous to help the supporting team. Looking back, I wished I had brought a few more items from the US to donate to the porters.
On summit day you will awaken at 11pm and begin a 4000 foot ascent by midnight. This degree of mental and physical effort is almost overwhelming. I climbed with my three sons. My youngest son (who previously was one of the best hikers), certainly struggled early on summit morning. I was impressed with how well the PP team was able to provide medical care and counseling for him. Within 30 minutes, he rejoined the team and had no further issues. Along the path our guides repeated chanted uplifting and spiritual African songs as they gentled rocked back and forth in subtle dance. At this point in the ascent, motivation is critical. Once you make it to Stella Point, expect an emotional release. The mixture of extreme physical exhaustion combined with incredible self pride is overwhelming. To have your sons next to you makes it even sweeter. The next 45 minutes to Uhuru Peak is gradual and well worth the effort.
My sons and I just returned from Africa last night. This experience is a mixture of brutal and beautiful. I’m proud that we were all successful. I’m thankful that Peak Planet optimized that chance of success. We now have life long memory. I would high recommend going on a Safari following the climb. Exploring the national parks is exciting and refreshing but also the safari gives you an opportunity to unwind and get your body back. I remain impressed with the quality of resorts and dining in these remote safari locations, not to mention the wildlife. Between traditionally lodges, tent camps and hybrid lodge/tent camp facilities, I was truly amazed with the services offered. On our last day of Safari, a large herd of elephants invaded our resort. That’s pretty cool.