This time two years ago I was on an adventure climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. I thought I’d bring you back with me as I explain what the whole experience was like. I know people toy with the idea of doing it and then chicken out but it really was an amazing experience and something I will always be proud of.If you asked me would I do it again…. Even two years later…it’s a HELL NO but as a once in a life time experience it was amazing. I know many people go on and do Everest base camp after.. if annual leave and funds weren’t an issue I probably would give it a try. Maybe one day!maybe… Lol 😛
Kilimanjaro-the roof of Africa 5895m
I think what made it so amazing ( and less traumatic)is that we did it with a great Irish company –Pat Falvey. He knew what he was doing-they have led so many trips up Kili and have an amazing success rate. Feeling safe and trusting your guides is so important.
Pat Falvey is very passionate about the local community and they have a core group of trusted workers in Africa. These guys will become saviours to you, I literally gave them the (cleaned!) boots off my feet as thank you in the end as they are so amazing. As you struggle to walk they are encouraging, knowledgeable and… Well seriously, all round amazing!
Falvey adventures make sure you do it in enough days (7 climbing days in total) as to lower the chance of getting sick and they have cooks who provide nourishing and comforting food. Also… We didn’t realise this when we booked but they provide a toilet… Believe me when you see the options on the mountain this is the best ever lol the little things!
Fitness wise myself and Nicola weren’t over the top in training. At the end of the day the fitter you are the better, as you don’t want to be dealing with fatigue as well as altitude sickness. I trained with Phoenix trainers and I climbed Slievenamon once a week. But I definitely wasn’t my fittest there!
There’s loads of helpful blogs out there that guide you in what to bring and tips so I’m not gonna bore you with too much. I will give you the tips I had but if you have a decent company looking after you that’s most important.
(Not in any order… At all!)
- socks- make sure they are good lined, really recommend he ones lined to stop blisters. Bring plasters your feet will suffer but not much if you have worn in your shoes.
- ear buds- you want good sleep and there are lots of people in the campsite. Ear buds (and Panadol night lol) can make sure you get good rest. To be honest though you will be so tired you will sleep!
- September is a good month to go weather wise as its dry, therefore we avoided a lot of the rain agro so I can’t help you much with wet weather tips as we were blessed.
- use the walking poles, I’ve known a few people to not bring them and they always end up borrowing then- it takes pressure off your knees!
- I bought plastic shoe carriers on eBay to pack sweets, toiletries, socks neatly and to make them less likely to get drowned in weather
- if you can, see if you can get on a group with Pat as he goes on some trips. We didn’t realise it but we were on one he was leading and it was great to hear his stories. But if you aren’t don’t worry as all his team leaders are just as great I’m sure!
- altitude sickeness- you either get it or you don’t.. Bring the tablets anyway- they help! I had altitude sickness and it led to nosebleeds headaches and vomiting so be prepared- motillium for nausea. I’m embarrassed to say I went through the whole supply of paracetamol and ibuprofen..so just have a good stock of decent ones! Pat forces you to eat as you lose appetite so listen to him and eat what you can it goes away… Eventually :p
- have a hard water bottle, when the porters boil water at night for drinking get them to put it in this and have it in your sleeping bag. I also used a heat pack on my back. It can get very cold at night. Get a proper sleeping bag, a cheap one won’t cut it.
- Dioralyte sashets for your water are fantastic, not only do they help keep you hydrated they add flavour to the boiled water.
- bring a knee support for the walk back down he mountain.. I actually found this (almost) the hardest part as its all natural steps down for hours and almost all out knees were sore or totally gave out.
- sweets – worry about health food another time.. Fruit pastilles are ur friend. Choc will melt so keep it stored well and nuts are not comforting enough to be all you bring. Most enjoyment in out group came from jellies when we sat down. Those energy jellies are great too!
- charger, bring a booster for your phone if you are someone who likes to take photos on it. My iPhone lasted well on airport mode but I would have liked to take some more videos so a power pack would have been great. There is actually reception in a lot of the camps at start so for those that want to pop a progress report home you can. But you won’t be bothered mostly.
- summit night: layers of clothes- good wicking base layers, same under your trousers. I had two hats on. Make sure you have good gloves, I’ve never known cold like the stabbing cold in my fingers! Make sure your headtorch has enough battery for nights before and summit night. Watching all the flickering headtorches going up ahead is something I’ll never forget. Beautiful!
- I had a little iPod nano with me with a summit play list.. This was actually great! Zone out and step up and up with helpful music
- tips, look you are gonna want to tip your leaders and porters. Discuss with the organiser before what they recommend and make sure you have it organised. Let there be no doubt you will want to tip these guys for how they support you. Sometimes they can sell or use your gear too, if it’s something you aren’t going to use again and is in good nick-pay it forward.
- barrier cream and sun cream for your face. I wish I had protected my face more from all the changes in heat and the weather. Dermalogica do a great barrier cream that protects. Maybe it will save you the peeling skin and broken veins :p
- you are gonna look like crap for this whole thing! Look at the state of me, dirt, sunburn, swollen and peeling!! Fantastic haha
- dont be afraid to go alone, most people in the groups are going solo. You make great friends with lovely people.
- we booked a 3 day safari after Kili and I would actually recommend against this without getting some TLC first. You are too tired for all the driving, better to go get spa treatments. However the day in the Ngorongoro was AMAZING it’s not to be missed. I think it was enough for us and would all have been appreciated a bit more with a few massages before :p I didn’t believe my sister when she advised me on the same but I wish I had! The safari was still beautiful, I’ll share some photos in the next post.
Good luck if you are going to take the leap! Get in touch if you have any questions as I’ve only touched on things here.