Top tips for getting to the top of Kilimanjaro

There’s no doubt about it: getting to the top of Kilimanjaro is largely a matter of luck. After all, the main reason why people fail to get to the top is due to altitude sickness. And whether you contract this or not is largely down to chance. Nevertheless, if you’re going to climb the Roof of Africa, you may as well do your best to get to the top. The following are top tips for getting to the top of Kilimanjaro.

Some are more effective than others, perhaps, but it’s worth following them all if you want to increase your chances of getting that certificate…

The eight golden rules for maximising your chances of getting to the summit of Kilimanjaro

1) Walk slowly

Emulate the deliberate, careful tread of an elderly, cautious elephant. Or a jaunty tortoise. Taking time as you climb gives your body more time to acclimatise. This, in turn, will help you avoid altitude sickness – the #1 reason why people fail to reach the summit. 

Follow this link to find out more about altitude sickness

2) Drink plenty

Aim for at least three litres per day. Water, not beer. Some experts say that drinking plenty of fluids has only a negligible effect on how well you acclimatise. Others say it’s vital. So better to play it safe and drink plenty and often. 

Click on the following link to find out more about drink on Kilimanjaro

3) Eat well

Don’t worry, it’s very unlikely you’ll gain weight on your trek on the mountain. Indeed, your body works so hard on Kili just to keep you functioning normally in spite of the lack of oxygen. So in all probability you’ll lose weight on Kili, even if you do nothing!

So even if the altitude is causing you to lose your appetite, make sure you tuck in!

Click on the following link to find out more about food on Kilimanjaro

4) Take as long as you can

Six days minimum, seven better, eight best! Don’t do five days unless your budget means you can’t afford anything else – it’s just too dangerous and your chances of reaching the top are significantly lower too. 

To find out the length of each route, visit our Routes on Kilimanjaro page

5) Climb up to high altitude before you arrive

If you’ve got a mountain in your back garden, now’s the time to climb it.  The number one reason why people fail to get to the summit is altitude sickness, of course.  So any preparations you can do that help with acclimatisation will reduce your chances of failure. And there is no better way of making sure you are acclimatised properly on Kili than by climbing to altitude beforehand.

How high? Well, as high as possible, really. Put it this way: if you climb a mountain that’s as high as Kili beforehand, then you should be fully acclimatised for Kili. (As long as you the gap you leave between climbing the mountains is less than a week.)

6) Get fit before the climb

True, the main reason people fail to get to the top is altitude sickness, and even the fittest people can contract that. But there are a few people every week who fail to reach the top because they simply don’t have the stamina. So if nothing else, getting fit for Kili will make you more confident that you’ll reach the summit. And we think that’s a huge contributor towards your success on the mountain. Find out what exercises are best when getting Kili-ready by visiting our Fitness for Kilimanjaro page

7) Choose your company carefully

There’s only so much that a company can do to maximise your chances of getting to the top. But there’s plenty they could do to reduce your chances. On this website we discuss in fairly great detail what you should look for in your company. We also look at what you can expect for your money, and other aspects of booking your Kilimanjaro climb. Follow this link to visit our guide to booking your Kilimanjaro trek. While for reviews on all the major companies working on the mountain, check out our Kilimanjaro guide book. It’s the best resource there is for choosing a trekking company. Or save yourself all that hassle and just go to the best, Kilimanjaro Experts – you won’t be sorry. 

8) Take drugs

Some people may call it cheating. Others doubt their efficacy, and believe that rather than ward off altitude sickness, they just mask the symptoms. But in my opinion it’s clear that drugs such as Diamox are a pretty surefire way of avoiding altitude sickness. Whether taken prophylactically, or as a cure, they seem to work. For more details on this ‘wonder drug, visit our Diamox page.