Top tips to hike Kilimanjaro

As many of you know, the EverTrek Yetis started making a second home in Tanzania, Africa. In fact, we have chosen to hang our proverbial hats on the biggest free-standing mountain in the world, Mt Kilimanjaro! 

Myself and Head Yeti Andy joined a group of brave EverTrekers to our first summit in February 2020.

Although I have spent a lot of time at high altitude, It was a huge learning curve for me personally. Whilst on the way down from the summit of Kilimanjaro, it got me thinking.  I thought to myself, what things would I have liked to have known before climbing Kilimanjaro? What would have made it that little bit easier? 

These are 10 things (Well 11 as I snuck in one I didn’t want to leave out) so you can enjoy and use what it took me a lot of pain to discover….only joking, it was really just a moderate amount of pain!

Top Tip No.1

Pack for all four seasons. Kilimanjaro is so vast that it has five distinct “zones” and you can experience all four seasons in one day. 

The ‘Cultivated zone’, The ‘Montane Forest Zone’, the ‘Bush and moorland zone’, ‘Semi Desert Zone’ and the ‘Glacial Zone’

The weather will also tend to change with each zone so you will experience high temperatures, low temperatures, wind, rain and snow. You can download the Kilimanjaro Kit tick list here


Top Tip No.2

Hand Sanitiser. Now, I should say that at the time of writing I am locked away in self isolation due to the dreaded Coronavirus, so the words “hand sanitiser” brings to mind an image of Fort Knox. However instead of gold bars it’s bottles of this life saving nectar. Now assuming the world didn’t end and you want to climb Kilimanjaro, definitely get some. The two main reasons people don’t reach the summit of Kilimanjaro are poor acclimatisation and sickness & diarrhea. 

Hand sanitiser will greatly reduce the risk of the latter. 

Top Tip No.3

Power Banks. When you climb Kilimanjaro the scenery will be breath-taking and you will want to record the experience for the rest of your life. So, it goes without saying that you will take hundreds if not thousands of photos so running out of juice can be a genuine fear. 

I take at least two Anker Power Bank 26800mAh and they do the trick. Some of the campsites do have power but it's in high demand, expensive and not very reliable. Therefore bringing your own power is the best choice. 

Note - Remember to carry your power banks in your hand luggage when flying. If they are found in your checked bags, your bag may go on an unscheduled trip all on its own.


Top Tip No.5

Ear plugs. There is no getting around it, camping on the side of a mountain can be very very noisy. It’s really important to get a good night’s sleep to maintain your energy levels and to keep your mind positive and in the right place. Ear plugs will make a huge difference. 

We all know how infuriating snorers can be ( Well, I worked it out by all the looks I got most mornings)

Secret Hack - Take some noise cancelling headphones. A decent pair will block out EVERYTHING and some music, audio books or even a podcast will mean you get some good sleep and wake up fresh as a daisy each morning.

Top Tip No.6

Inflatable Air Bed. You will get a sleeping mat when camping on the trip but it's fair to say that the standard mats are not the softest. Taking an inflatable blow up mat with you on the trek will mean a more comfortable sleep. I took along a Thermo Rest blow up mat. Blowing this up above 3000m each day was tough so might be worth taking a pump with you if you can squeeze it in your duffel bag. 

Top Tip No.4

Snacks and Sweets. Climbing at altitude can be tough, especially on Kilimanjaro so every now and then when you’re not feeling 100% it's nice to have a pick me up both mentally and physically. That’s why bringing along some of your favourite sweets or chocolate can be a real game changer. 

I took some beef jerky, Haribo Tangtastics, SIS energy gels, Snickers and other sweets. These certainly did the trick when I was low on energy. Another great idea from one our EverTrekkers, Roisin. She packed a goodie bag full of sweets for each day of the trek which included a daily positive message! Awesome idea. Don’t forget to share with your guides and porters. They will love you for it.


Top Tip No.7

Suncream. Massively important but easy to forget. Tanzania, gets very hot and this added to the fact that at high altitude, more UV rays sneak through means the sun be even more intense. Avoiding the sun with protective clothes and a factor 50 suncream will keep your skin in good condition, assisting your chances of summiting Kilimanjaro and your long term health. 

Top Tip No.8

Dry Sacks. Climbing Kilimanjaro can be very dusty. The dust and dirt will stick to everything so you will need a place to keep your clean clothes away from your dirty sweaty clothes. 

Dry sacks are great for this. 

They are also good for collecting your litter such as wet wipes and sweet wrappers. Please be responsible and take all of your rubbish back down off the mountain with you. (There’s a bin at the hotel)

Top Tip No.9

Squash. Kilimanjaro stands at 5895m which is high, very high. The most important rule of any trek at extreme high altitude is to keep hydrated. At altitude your body will dehydrate much quicker than at sea level and we always recommend drinking around four to five litres of water daily. Drinking this amount of water can be challenging for some people, including me. Adding a dash of fruit squash makes it so much easier to drink. You can also add an electrolyte tablet to further replace any lost fluids. 


Top Tip No.10

Learn some Swahili. There’s nothing quite like getting involved and speaking a little of the local lingo. The guides and porters will always greet you with a friendly “Mambo” so it's nice to reciprocate, here are some helpful phrases:

  • Mambo: What’s Up
  • Poa: Cool, I’m good. 
  • Habari Gani: How are you?
  • Mzuri Sana: I’m good thanks
  • Pole Pole: Slowly, Slowly
  • Twende: Let's Go
  • Asante Sana: Thank you very much
  • Karibu: You’re Welcome
  • Hakuna Matata: It means no worries, for the rest of your days, it’s our problem free, philosophy. 

Life Hack No.11

Enjoy yourself. This is THE most important thing. Enjoy yourself, think positively, focus on the reason why you are on Kilimanjaro and smile all the way to the summit. 

As our guide Yesse Lima says:

“Strong Mind, Strong Heart, Just Dream it, Don’t Think it”

Written By

David Carpenter

Head of Ops & Painted Yeti