Are you thinking about your next family vacation? Is your family an adventurous bunch? Are the kid’s teenagers or older? Well then, we have an amazing idea for your next summer vacation. You should book a family vacation to Kilimanjaro.
You may be saying to yourself, “hell no!” I don’t want to spend two weeks traveling with my moody teenagers. There is no wifi on the mountain they will just complain the entire time. Or on safari, they will just play on their electronic devices and not even look at the animals. Why should I spend all this money, fly halfway around the world, train for months for my unappreciative family…
We hear you. We have teenagers of our own. But take it from us, they will appreciate it. They will love it. It will be a highlight of their childhood. Think about it. What do you remember about your childhood? You remember the good and you remember the bad. You don’t remember the boring. Trekking to the highest peak in Africa is definitely not boring. Imagine all the fun you’ll have. It will be a great bonding experience that’ll you will struggle with together. You will have many amazing moments together as you climb. Image standing on the roof of Africa hugging your child as you accomplished such an amazing feat. Trust us, you’ll never be prouder of them. It will be a cherished memory for the rest of your life. And picture your relatives as they open their Christmas card that year…
We just covered why a family vacation on Kilimanjaro is a great idea, but what are the age restrictions. This is more about climbing with your teenagers. Mount Kilimanjaro National Park does not allow children under the age of 10 to climb unless they have special permits. Additionally, Peak Planet generally does not allow children under 14 to climb except under special circumstances. Feel free to contact us and we will discuss your child’s ability.
So what do you need to know regarding climbing Kilimanjaro with your teenagers? First of all, they get bored easily so make sure they have enough batteries for their smartphone or tablets. Have them bring a book. There is downtime at camp each afternoon. They will need something to do. Get them a camera so they can take pictures. They won’t be able to Snapchat—there is no wifi 🙁 However, they can shoot video or photos of their experience and share it on social media once they are on their way home or in the lobby of the hotel or on safari. Our safari vehicles are equipped with wifi. You can have them download WhatsApp so they can share photos with their friends when they have wifi. Their friends would also need to have WhatsApp to receive texts, calls (what teen makes calls these days) and photos.
You need to prepare your teen to be able to handle the hiking each day. Start hiking with them. It is rewarding to take them on hikes despite the headache of getting them to leave the house in the first place. When choosing your hikes, make sure it is to places like waterfalls, peaks or something of interest. A loop hike through the trees is awesome for adults to get away and enjoy nature. But for a teen, it is just not that interesting. Have them help with the route or download the GPS tracks to their phone so they can lead the hike. Make it more about them leading it then about the hike itself. Empower them. Help build their confidence. They shouldn’t have any problems with the hike itself. It’ll be easier on them than on you. The challenge with them is the monotony and the elements that will be hard on them. But that is where our cheerful guides come in. They will talk to your child if they get mentally or emotionally fatigued. They will sing and lift their spirits.
Best Time to Climb
First of all, when should you climb? Obviously, you have to work around school. So here is where it gets tricky. Let’s break down traveling limitations. Spring and fall break are out unless you are ok with them missing a couple of days of school. Fall break is usually in October. October is a good time to climb. Spring break roughly falls in March or possibly April. March through the end of May is the rainy season. That would not be a good time to climb. That leaves winter and summer break. Winter break is good if you don’t plan on visiting family during the holidays. Unfortunately, airfare tends to run higher during the holidays. When purchasing tickets for an entire family, that can get pricey. So that leaves summer. We recommend booking your climb from the end of June through August. September is also a good month, but they are usually back in school.
If we are recommending climbing during the summer in the U.S. That would mean it is the winter in Tanzania. Regardless, of the time of year, the weather in Tanzania doesn’t vary that much since it is close to the equator. In fact, Mount Kilimanjaro is only 200 miles south of the equator. Despite Tanzania’s weather not varying much, Kilimanjaro is altogether another story. Very tall mountains are known for creating their own weather pattern. Additionally, the mountain is surrounded by a rainforest. You will travel through five distinct climate zones as you ascend and subsequently descend from the summit. You’ll need to dress in layers to be able to handle the varying degrees of temperatures through the day and night. You can watch a video on how to dress here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJRkuspvkNo
Choosing the right operator is also important. Choose one that has high levels of success. One whose guides are medically trained. Guides that perform daily health checks. And make sure it is a reputable company. The last thing you want is for something to go wrong. But if it does, make sure you are with an operator that has been trained to handle every situation that can arise. An operator whose guides are able to spot the symptoms of altitude sickness and are able to act quickly to make sure everyone is safe.
Once you have stood on Uhuru Peak with your family, the best way to follow it up is by adding on a safari. We recommend at least a 4-day safari. That way you get to see the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater. A 5-day safari would be better so you aren’t rushing the Serengeti experience. Bringing it back to what we mentioned earlier, there will be times when the safari is boring. But once you get to see a lion stalk a gazelle or a pack of hyenas scare off vultures as they munch on their prey, you’ll be hooked. It is fascinating to see the wildlife. Like parking right next to a lion lounging in the shade. You can watch giraffes eating the leaves off the tall acacia trees. And who wouldn’t enjoy watching hippos fling their feces at each other as they wallow around in their own filth? Priceless.
Finally, we know it’ll be difficult to convince your teens to leave their PlayStations, Tablets, Snapchat, and Instagram for a few days. But if you somehow manage to do it, we feel that booking this adventure of a lifetime would be the highlight of their youth. We would love to guide your family on Kilimanjaro. Start now to build memories that will last the rest your families lifetime.
Also published on Medium.