What it’s like on Kilimanjaro

Climbing Kilimanjaro is fun. It really is. Sure, the last push to the summit is hard, as some of the quotes we use in the guide book clearly indicate, but don’t let that put you off – Kilimanjaro is a delightful mountain to climb

But we had much to compensate us for all we had to give up. The charm of the mountain scenery, the clear, crisp atmosphere, the tonic of ‘a labour we delight in’ and the consciousness now and again of success achieved, all went far to make our fortnight’s arduous toil a happy sequence of red-letter days. Hans Meyer, the first man to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro; quoted from his book Across East African Glaciers

The days are spent walking through spectacular landscapes which change every day as you pass through different vegetation zones; the pace is never exhausting, as you have to walk slowly in order to give yourself a chance to acclimatize. What’s more, at the end of the day, while the guides are cooking your dinner, you are free to wander around the campsite; and, as you bump into the same people time and again over the course of the trek, a sense of community soon develops. Then as night falls, and you tuck into the huge plates of food cooked by your crew, the stars come out, stunning everyone into silence. This is the favourite time of day for most people: rested, replete with food and with a day of satisfactory walking behind and a good night’s sleep ahead, it’s natural to feel a sense of comfort and contentment, with the thought of wild animals possibly lying nearby serving to add a pleasing frisson of excitement.

Bed? It’s too early. I feel too good. Aaah, I wonder if there’ll ever be another time as good as this.
Gregory Peck, in the film version of The Snows of Kilimanjaro

Of course, walking up from around 1800m to 5892.55m or thereabouts does, as you can probably imagine, take a lot of effort and the night walk to the summit of Kilimanjaro is unarguably tough. But short of actually carrying you up, your crew will do everything in their power to make your entire experience as comfortable as possible. In fact, they’ll spoil you: not only do they carry your bag, but at the end of the day’s walk you’ll turn up at camp to find your tent has already been erected, with a bowl of hot water lying nearby for you to wash away the grime of the day. A few minutes later and a large plate of popcorn and biscuits will be served with a mug of steaming hot tea or coffee.

So don’t worry about how you’ll cope on Kili. Sure, you do have to be careful about altitude sickness. But when it comes to living on the mountain, your crew will try to make it as comfortable and relaxing as possible – allowing you to get on with the job of actually climbing the mountain!