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Mount Kilimanjaro ADVICE??!

Travel Forums Africa and The Middle East Mount Kilimanjaro ADVICE??!

1. Posted by Eefs (Budding Member 77 posts) 8y

Eefs has indicated that this thread is about Tanzania

Hi there

I am thinking of travlling from ireland to Tanzania to Climb Mt Kilimanjaro with my boyfriend in Mid July. Firstly i am worried if it is wise, hopefully we will egg each other on and not squabble!

Is this a good time of year to climb? What route do we take? How many days do we need? o we need to book in advance for accommodation/guide or just arrive at the bottom? How much training do we need tgo do beforehand (we are both mid twenties and fairly fit though we both have desk jobs!). So many questions! Any advice would be reeeeeeeeeeally appreciated!

Thank!

Aoife

2. Posted by stevieh (Respected Member 612 posts) 8y

Hi,
Kili' is fantastic but you will need to support each other rather than squabble! Sort that out before you go!
You shouldn't have any problems with general fitness, although a little training will help. Nobody can predict how altitude will affect you, except that it almost certainly will at some point. It's at that stage when you need your partners support. I would suggest you go as part of a group - it's good to have the moral support of a group of people, encouraging each other along.

There is one factor about trips up Kili' that they daren't print in the brochures, but will affect most of us. In a group, or even as a couple, fitness levels vary and altitude affects us at different times. On the Marangu (easy) route, the first few days walking are a doddle - slow and steady - and there is no problem with different levels of fitness. But on the summit day, those differences show up and you can end up in a group (or with a partner) who is feeling much better, or worse, than you. It's entirely possible that your group will have to turn around - and not make it to the summit - because of its weakest member. Nobody prepared me for that and I almost didn't get there. As luck would have it, another group was passing when my group had to turn around, so I tagged along with them. Back then you weren't allowed on Kili' without a guide - hence the need to turn back. I'm fairly sure that hasn't changed - if anything it may have got stricter. You and your partner need to talk about what to do if one of you becomes ill and has to go down - whether you're in a group or on your own may differ.

As for just 'arriving', if you're going to do that I'd recommend Arusha, the biggest town and where the airport it. I'm sure you'll find guides/groups there. There's also Moshi which is nearer to the start of the Marangu route. I don't think there'll be a shortage of information.
But I really would recommend the group thing - you'll enjoy the camaraderie and it will smooth out any rough days between the two of you. And you'll make friends for life too.

3. Posted by Kamwari (Inactive 5 posts) 8y

Dear Aoife

i think i have just have to give you the fauna and the raise of the Kilimanjaro its self

All routes are very ok but just like to advice you to make a point of acclaimatizing for your summit

Introduction to the mountain

Located on the Northern border of Tanzania, Kilimanjaro is Africa’s highest mountain at 5895m (19340ft). It is
also one of the world’s highest free standing mountains with it’s bulk looming 4800m above an undulating plain that averages around 1000m above sea level. The mountain measures about 60kms across and 40kms wide. There is much confusion surrounding the name Kilimanjaro. Names translated from various dialects of Tanzanian and Maasai people are "Small Hill", "Caravan Hill" and "Mountain of Water", none of which can be confirmed as the original source.
Possibly the best thing about Kilimanjaro is the ability for the average man to experience the beauty of this natural monumental structure. Various routes are available for climbers ranging from novice to experienced.

Climbers
Kilimanjaro experiences about 11,500 climbers each year of which there is about a 65% success rate for those to reach the summit. The chances of success are more than doubled if climbers decide to take an extra day to climb the mountain. This allows the body to acclimatize and therefore there is less reaction to the harsh conditions. Children aged 12 years old have successfully reached the summit, but this does not mean that potential climbers should take the task at hand less seriously, because the whole process is extremely tough, but well worth it.


The Slopes
The journey to the summit of Kilimanjaro involves long strenuous walks through 5 distinct zones. These are:
• The Cultivation Zone (800m or 6000ft)
• Forest (2700m or 9000ft)
• Moorland (4000m or 13000ft)
• High Desert (5000m or 16500ft)
• Summit (6000m or 20000ft)
Each zone is approximately 1000m and a temperature drop of 1 °C for every 200m should be experienced. There is a strange interaction between altitude, rainfall, temperature, plants and wildlife that can be felt and seen as you ascend to the top.


Cultivation Zone
Altitude: 800m to 1800m
Rainfall: 500mm/yr on plains and 1800mm/yr on the forest border
Most of this zone is like walking through a tropical farmland where local people use the land for livestock to graze and cultivated farmlands. There are no large wild animals, but many smaller one’s such as Galagos and the Tree Hyrax. If you are lucky you may also see a genet. By not buying hyrax blankets, you will be helping with the conservation of this area. Bird life is abundant here with species such as the Bronze Sunbird and Tropical Boubou.


The Forest
Altitude: 1800m to 2800m
Rainfall: +/- 2000mm/yr on the southern slopes and less than 1000mm.yr on the western and northern sides.
This is by far the richest zone on the mountain where beautiful montane forest encircles the whole of Kilimanjaro. Much of the rain that falls is absorbed by the thick carpet of leaves and percolates through the soil and porous lava rock, to emerge as springs lower down the mountain. 96% of the water on the mountain originates through the forest zone. Due to all the moisture wide bands of cloud form around this zone, thus preventing evaporation and promotes areas of high humidity. In the forest you are most likely to see some wildlife as this is the most inhabited area. Monkeys are the most common with many Blue Monkeys, Black and White Colobus Monkeys found in most parks. If you are very lucky you will come across leopard and the occasional civet or genet. Buck are common in the area, the most popular species being Duiker, Suni, Bushbuck and Klipspringer.


Moorland
Altitude: 2800m to 4000m
Rainfall: +/- 1000mm/yr

This area consists of two parts viz. Heath and Moorland. The heath is charcterised by the heather and heath-like scrubs. From Mandara Hut you will see the giant heather Erica Arborea. This whole area consists of strange vegetation, all unique and very beautiful. When entering the moorland you will see clusters of Giant Lobelias and Senecios. The Senecios have tall stems which act as reservoirs of water. Their cabbage like leaves protects them from the sub-zero temperatures. Some Senecios can grow up to 5m high. You are not likely to come across much wildlife in this area due to the cold temperatures and the altitude; however the vegetation is somewhat eerie but fascinating as it is unlike anything you have ever seen before.


Highlands’s desert
Altitude: 4000m to 5000m
Rainfall: 250mm/yr

The name says it all; this area is like a desert. There is intense radiation, high evaporation and huge daily fluctuations in temperatures with nights well below 0 °C and days in excess of 40 °C. Water is very scarce so the soil maintains very little moisture. The conditions are extreme and this makes it exceptionally difficult for any pant life to exist. Only about 55 species of higher plants live above the 4000m level Lichens are one of the most successful plants having the ability to live and encrust on the lava rocks. Animals are very rarely seen in the area, but leopard, eland and wild dogs have been spotted here. The desert itself is not very spectacular, but the view of the two great peaks is beyond your wildest imagination.


The Summit
Altitude: Above 5000m
Rainfall: Less than 100mm/yr

Extreme conditions dominate this arctic zone with temperatures well below freezing and intense burning sun during the day. Not much can survive here, except again for the lichens. These grow very slowly at not more than 1mm per year, so the grey and red one’s you will see are very old. The oxygen at this level is half that at sea level. There is virtually no liquid and the little that does, immediately enters the porous rock. The rest is locked up in snow and ice. Most people when climbing Kilimanjaro end off at Gilman’s Point. This however is not the end as there is still plenty more if you have the energy and is well worth the additional walk. Should you continue you would eventually reach the "real" summit, Kibo, where you can access Uhuru Peak, Reusch Crater, the Eastern Icefield and the Northern Icefield. Uhuru peak is the highest point at 5895m, Not many people go to the crater, as this is for serious and experienced climbers only. The view from here is truly spectacular, and as we said, is well worth the walk. Not so long ago, along your trek to the summit, you would be greeted by a huge icecap. Sadly global warming is melting this away and experts reckon in a couple of years there will be very little left. Possibly for those interested in climbing this gigantic beauty, it is well recommended that you go earlier than later.

Thankyou

4. Posted by mihon (Budding Member 6 posts) 8y

I do appropriate my fellow forum members have given you the general info of Mt. Kilimanjaro, but i think your basic question is How do you make to the summit at ease? From my experience of over fifty successful climbs as an outward Bound Schools trainer. Psychological preparedness is first important thing, second adhere to the basics of high altitude mountaineering. I would discourage you from using Marangu route the one considered the easiest. You will be bogged down by a lot of human traffic. I would propose to you the gentle and the most scenic Rongai route.Its quite, uncrowded, and the view of the mountain is at its best from this route and to top it up; the scenic Amboseli plains gives you breath taking views. Later you could descend via Marangu Route.
Note:The toughest day is the summiting day, you need some technical tips here. In case you need some let me know through this respected forum.

5. Posted by Cat253 (Inactive 13 posts) 8y

hi. myself and 2 others successfully climbed kili in august '02 - a fantastic experience but tough. overall did it in 6 days, would recommend the 6, some do it in 5 , cos the extra day helps with the adjustment to altitude. also, when we were there, the marangu (easy) route was also referred to as the Coca Cola route so best avoid. we did train before hand.. some hill walking, long distnace walking but were by no means super fit and we ended up ( on advice when got there) doing the macheme route which involves tents and is much more ( we were told) scenic and less busy than macheme. in fact, i do remeeber meeting ver y few others during the trek.
the biggest challenge of course is the altitude, this is a lottery really but you need to go very slowly and drink loads of water. i got a bad headache on the 2nd last night but took aspirin, went to bed very early and thankfully slept it off. the last stage takes place during the night (getting up at 12a.m.) and trying to get there by sunrise. we were VERY slow and didnt reach summit til 8a.m. but we didnt care cos we made it!! the last stretch is very tough as it is dark, freezing and the air so thin, but you can do it! in fact the last 200m is well documented as takingabout an hour ( i know...but it's true) but it IS WORTH IT! you'll get to the top, barely get a look around, take the keeper photos and get the hell back down again because ya don't spend too long at almost 6,000m, trust me!
but the BUZZ when you do it is amazing!
am excited for you, best of luck!
oh, and as a couple, you gotta make a plan about if one of you needs to descend and the other wants to keep going. my advice? if you have to go, you have to go, if one of you thinks you can make it, go for it!
catriona