Although Kilimanjaro is not a technical mountain climb, it is a major challenge and the rigors of altitude should not be underestimated. Remember that Uhuru peak is 500m higher than Everest Base Camp!! The pace of your ascent coupled with good acclimatization will help you on the climb but it is essential to be mentally and physically prepared before you start. Regular hikes are one of the best ways to prepare, increasing frequency and length, as you get closer to the trek. All aerobic exercises such as cycling, running, swimming and funnily enough aerobics are good for strengthening the cardiovascular system. Generally, any exercise that increases the heart rate for 20 minutes is helpful but don’t over do it just before the climb.
ALTITUDE AND ACCLIMITIZATION
Altitudes are generally defined as follows:-
High altitude 2,400m – 4,200m Very high altitude 4,200m – 5,400m Extreme altitude above 5,400m (Uhuru peak is 5,895m)
During the trek it is likely that all climbers will experience at least some form of mild altitude sickness. It is caused by the failure of the body to adapt quickly enough to the reduced level of oxygen in the air at an increased altitude. There are many different symptoms but the most common are headaches, light-headedness, nausea, loss of appetite, tingling in the extremities (toes, fingers) and a mild swell of ankles and fingers. These mild forms are not serious and will normally disappear within 48 hours.
All contact lens wearers should take care to remove the lenses at night, as the eye needs to absorb oxygen from the atmosphere. The rarefied conditions of altitude reduce oxygen levels and in extreme cases a Corneal Oedema can develop.
PERSONAL FIRST AID KIT
The following first aid materials are important: - Painkillers (asprin/paracetamol) Antihistamines Blister treatment Imodium or other antidiarrhoeal tablets Plaster/Band aids Antiseptic wipes Dressings, especially pressure relief for blisters Talcum powder Malaria tablets Sun block for skin and lips Antacids Cold cure sachets Oral rehydration salts/sachets Insect repellent Sanitary towels Etc.
Be prepared for different physical extremes.
- In the Lowlands, shade temperatures can reach 35C and shade may sometimes be scarce
- In the Highlands it may freeze at night. Fine weather can change very quickly to fog or rain. To keep you warm, wool and synthetics are better than cotton, but to keep you cool, cotton is best.
- Always protect yourself from the sun. A hat reduces the risk of sunstroke.
Protect your eyes with dark grasses. Protect your skin with clothes or sun block lotion.
- Be aware of plants like stinging nettles, ask your guide to point them out. These plants cause a temporary painful irritation to bare skin, and
may even sting through clothes. Shorts are not recommended where these occur.
- Ants can also cause irritation. There are small shiny brown ants that move rapidly in dense columns trails. They are carnivores and if you step in them they crawl up your legs and start chewing. Tuck your trouser cuffs into to your socks, and watch where you step.
Cameras whether Video or film, need to be protected against the severe cold weather either in warm pouch or the interior pockets of your clothing. Do not keep in your backpack at higher elevations. A selection of lenses will aid the final results although weight and bulk will obviously influence your selection. A polarized or neutral density filter is recommended, as is slide film rather than print. Bring your own film as it can be hard to find and expensive in Tanzania. For digital equipment, check with the manufacturer’s specifications for temperature range (especially battery life), water tightness and general hardiness.
PARK ENVIRONMENT & PEOPLE
- Avoid any interaction with wildlife whilst on foot. Wild animals particularly buffalo and elephants may attack if surprised or provoked.
- Please observes all the park rules, your guide will explain to, but you can also read them at the park gate.
- Waste Disposal: Pack it in, Pack it out is the standing policy. Litter is not only ugly but can be harmful to people & animals. Buried litter may be dug up by animals, and burning it is illegal, so please Pack it in – Pack it out until the appropriate disposal area is reached at the end of your climb.
- You are the guest of the locals and Tanzanians in general. Please treat them with respect.
- Always ask your guide to seek permission before photographing people before photographing people or anything.
- Avoid roadside photographic deals. They encourage resident people to harass tour vehicles. Never give anything to children from a car or by the roadside – you could cause the death of a child who runs out into the road to beg from cars.