7 secrets for Kilimanjaro trekkers you have never known before
I had been eager to trek Kilimanjaro for quite a long time and in 2017 I finally had a chance to join a group of tourists. We opted for the Lemosho route, for as we thought, it was the most picturesque one. 80% of climbers usually reach the summit on the route. Unfortunately, I was in the other 20%. Someday, I am sure, I will go back and step on the peak of Kilimanjaro, but as for now, I’d like to share my experiences of this challenging adventure.
At the time I tried hiking Kilimanjaro, I was in superb shape. The way you get used to high altitudes is by walking slowly and adjusting to the climate. But I’m used to walking fast and as I usually do I thought I was just doing well. People who are very fit are usually more competitive and walking in slow rhythm is not for them. That is why there are a lot of young people who are in shape but have little success with this trek. On the other hand, mostly the older people are surprisingly successful in trekking Kilimanjaro. At the time I reached the summit a 68 year old woman had completed it.
Losing appetite is common at high altitudes of Kilimanjaro and it happens to most people. Although you need food in order to get more energy, the higher you climb the mountain the more you don’t feel like eating since the taste of food sets the teeth on edge.
Of course, anyone wants privacy despite the circumstances. So the only place you can enjoy your privacy is the tent, but it’s not really the case, since all the things you used to do in privacy will now happen in public or at least with your guide watching. And of course the guide will be spying on you to make sure you finish your food to have enough strength for the climb. However, as you have no appetite you cannot eat all without wasting anything.
Trying to sleep with low oxygen is another challenge at high altitudes of Mount Kilimanjaro which made me turn in bed staring into the darkness. Being very tired and still unable to take a nap is a disaster.
One of the biggest problems of Kilimanjaro trek is the situation with toilets. The climbers have to use long drop toilets that are available on most of the tracks. Nothing fancy but a chair with a hole. However, toilet amenities vary from track to track, so that closer to the top they become less and less inviting. Actually, many of the outfitters choose to take portable toilets with them, but that creates additional problems of carrying weight. On this challenging route shame becomes the least concern, so that having the desire to pee you just get behind a rock. You have to drink almost 3 liters of water to prevent dehydration and that makes you pee more than 8 times a day, just like pregnant women do.
The end of the trek is at 19.340 feet. At over 10.000 feet, more than 75% of climbers feel Kilimanjaro altitude sickness and you are lucky if you have a good guide who will take care of you. Making your own decisions is your guide’s duty. On the third day as I had lost my sleep, appetite and got some of that so-called Acute Mountain Sickness, I obeyed my guide and did whatever he told me which was the best decision for that moment as I had bad headaches and nausea.
You should always choose the right guide who has extensive experience for this kind of difficult Kilimanjaro treks since whatever happens up there is under the guide’s supervision.