For the past 7 days we have spent this hiking the incredible Mount Kilimanjaro, and guess what?? WE MADE IT TO THE SUMMIT! Kilimanjaro is not only Africa’s tallest peak, but also the world’s tallest free-standing mountain. The summit, named Uhuru Point, is 5,895 meters (19,341 feet) above sea level. It was also the highest we have ever hiked after Cotopaxi in Ecuador back in May reaching 16,500ft.
I literally have so much to write, so many thoughts going on in my head about the experience as a whole as it was quite honestly, one of - if not thee best experiences of both our lives. However, it was also the most challenging experience both physically and mentally along with the temperatures and lack of oxygen - it was really bloody hard to hike!
I will try and condense the experience as best as I can and split into categories but expect me to go off in a tangent when I start getting excited about a specific topic along the way.
BACKGROUND: Kilimanjaro (loosely meaning ‘White mountain’) located in Tanzania is actually on the Equator line and is composed of 3 different volcanoes. The journey to the summit is like going from the equator to Antarctica. This is no lie – the summit was -20 degrees Celsius when we eventually reached it and I felt like I could freeze to death. While climbing Kilimanjaro, we experienced five distinct ecological zones on their way to the top. These included:
THE COMPANY: We researched who to do this with for a while. We knew we had to go with a reputable company that was mid-ranged priced as Africa has blown our budget out the water but eventually we chose ‘Monkey Adventures’ . We chose the Lemosho track which was a 7-day track and spent a lot of time acclimatizing to the altitude. Honestly, if you plan to do this, take the extra time and do it properly. More than 50% who attempt Kilimanjaro fail due to Altitude sickness. Their itinerary sounded fun, has great reviews, extremely well-planned, and exciting. I especially liked their efforts to only work with local guides and porter companies that are certified under Kilimanjaro Porters Association Project (KPAP). (If you choose to climb Kili, make sure your company follows the KPAP rules and regulations)
THE ROUTE: The Lemosho Route is widely considered to be the best route on Mount Kilimanjaro due to its beauty, remoteness and success rate. In short, it maximizes the chances that a climber will reach the summit and enjoy the experience overall. This is why we chose this route. If we were paying all this money to hike our asses up this giant mountain, I wanted it to not only be the most stunningly beautiful route but also increase the chance of me making the summit!
THE GEAR: OK, so when we first booked this, we reckoned we would be sufficient with a few layers, a puffer jacket and reasonable hiking shoes…WRONG! Holy hell, we rented everything. Thank god for Fred and his team at AT Rentals. It is expensive to rent but overall way cheaper than buying everything which let’s be honest you probably will never wear again. This was important especially for us on this trip as we are off to Asia for the next 4 months and undoubtedly will not need ski pants! ( or at least I hope not!)
We rented the following:
This was to add to the clothes we already had – Puffer jacket, leggings, socks, hats, buffs, balaclava and gloves. Believe me…the summit was -20 DEGREES. This is needed! The gear cost us $344USD which is way cheaper than buying it and you get a 15% discount if traveling with Monkey adventures so that was a win win and saved us $60USD! Beers for after the trip I reckon!
FITNESS: If you keep up to date with my travels you will know that we are both pretty fit. We have trained hard, we hike a lot and we gym as much as we can. Each day we try to get about 6-10km’s walk in as well while on the road. However, nothing fitness wise can prepare you for hiking in altitude. On the ground we are fit…up there we were just like any average Joe. It was hard. For this climb you need to be mentally fit more than physical for sure.
THE PRICE: Yikes…here we go! So, the price was $1599USD pp for the hike which included food, transport, tent, guides and porters. On top of that you will need to rent your gear which I have mentioned above and also the tip at the end of the trip. (At first, I was a bit peeved at how much the tip should be but after doing the hike, if I could have afforded it, I would have paid double). Overall for the trip + gear rental + tip it cost us $2000USD pp. ($3005NZD)
Now on to the fun stuff! In the next 2 blog posts I will be writing about the climb itself! She was a RIPPER!