Moments like this made the hike worth all the effort.
In addition to having all those items to make the journey better consider these actions:
- Sleep when you can. You may not get good sleep at night, so nap and rest whenever you feel tired. Don’t worry about whether you will be up all night if you nap late in the day. You might be up all night anyway and then you won’t have slept at all. Plus, during the day when the sun is on the tent it’s so warm and nice to curl up and take a break.
- Start each day with one liter of water. Water is the medicine of the mountain. You can’t drink enough. I found drinking a liter before I got moving made me feel considerably better.
- Take Diamox at dinner. My doctor prescribed two 125mg pills twice per day. At first I was taking it when I woke up and went to bed. At night I started taking it earlier with dinner in hopes that I wouldn’t have to get up and pee three times a night. It seemed to help. This may have been mind over matter or exhaustion, but consider taking the pill with dinner instead of at bedtime. In addition, to help reduce the nightly bladder wake up calls, stop drinking, or at least limit fluid intake, after dinner.
- Stay Warm. This may seem obvious, but I made the mistake in the beginning of rationing my warm clothes for when it really got cold. This was a huge mistake. I had plenty of warm clothes. I didn’t need to ration anything and being warm helped me sleep and feel less miserable. Bring enough warm hands (those packets that heat up with oxygen exposure) so that you can throw a couple in your sleeping bag each night. Don’t let anyone throw you off what you know you need. I get cold really easily. At the first camp a ranger told me I shouldn’t need the gloves he saw me putting on because this “was a warm camp.” I let that get in my head. He didn’t need the gloves. Good for him. I did. Do what you need to keep warm.
- Know Your Limits. I personally don’t think anyone should hike Mt. Kilimanjaro unless they know they will be willing to turn back if they start having problems. You can push through a lot, but the consequences of altitude sickness can be pretty severe. They affect everyone differently. Listen to your body and the guides to make the best decision possible as you hike.
- Consider prepping for the trip by seeing how you feel somewhere high. I’m talking about 13 or 14K feet high.
Everyone on this mountain has a different experience. I met a 75-year-old who reached the top. I met a thirty-year-old who didn’t take Diamox and said the last hour was “kind of a challenge.” Someone in my group said it was worth it, but she thought she took a couple years off her life. Matt, my boyfriend, said it was the hardest physical thing he’d ever done. I had to turn back around 17,800-feet. It was a painful decision, but it was also no decision. I want to live to hike another mountain. Though I didn’t make it to the top, I don’t regret going. If you are going to hike Kili, be prepared for the worst and hope for the best. As they say on the mountain, Hakuna Matata.
(Note: I’m not paid by anyone or item I recommend here about tips for hiking Mt Kilimanjaro. Just offering what helped me and providing specifics on details if I thought it was worth it.)
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