- 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 aerobics are good for strengthening the cardiovascular system. Generally, any exercise that increases the heart rate for 20 minutes is helpful but don’t overdo it just before the climb.Altitude and Acclimatisation
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 swelling of ankles and fingers.
These mild forms are not serious and will normally disappear within 48 hours.Photography
- Cameras whether digital, 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, batteries and memory cards as these 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. Remember that there are no electrical outlets on the mountain to use for charging equipment.