Getting ready for Mt. Kilimanjaro

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of December 1-7, 1995

Getting ready for Mt. Kilimanjaro
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Getting ready for Mt. Kilimanjaro
Q: I plan on doing Kilimanjaro in late 1996. I am interested in any planning tips, outfitters, costs, gear, and general suggestions. What type of cardiovascular training should you do to handle the 19,000-plus hike? I plan to trek around the Colorado Rockies as a warm-up.
Tucson, AZ
[email protected]

A: Plenty of outfitters run full-service, non-technical treks up Kilimanjaro--all you have to decide is how many days you want to spend on the mountain and which route you want to take. The most popular trek takes climbers up the Marangu route, a four- to five-day hike up from Arusha, Tanzania, to the summit at 19,342 feet. While you'll travel in small, two- to six-person groups, be prepared to see up to 50 other climbers en route. Porters will carry your personal gear, and at night you'll stay in bunkroom-style huts along the way. Your third night on the mountain, you'll rise at 2 a.m. to make the final ascent to Gilman's Point on the rim of the crater just in time to watch the sunrise. From there, you have the option of continuing around the rim to Ulhuru Peak, Kilimanjaro's true summit.

Africa Adventure Company (800-882-9453) runs a seven-day trek (four nights on the mountain) for $1,025 per person; round-trip airfare to Arusha will cost you extra. Abercrombie & Kent's six-day/five-night trek will run you $1,190, not including airfare (800-323-7308). Wilderness Travel offers an eight-day Kili ascent along the Shira Plateau Route--a longer, less-traveled trail out of Arusha designed to give you more time to acclimatize to the rarefied, high-altitude air. There are no huts along this route, so you'll camp overnight in tents provided by the outfitter. Summiting via the Shira Plateau trail means you won't have to get up in the middle of the night. It's a short, three-hour hike from your camp at 18,500 feet to Ulhuru Peak. Expect to pay a land cost of $2,795 per person if you sign on with Wilderness Travel. You can also combine your trek with a nine-day wildlife safari for a total cost of $3,595 per person. For more information, contact Wilderness Travel at 800-368-2794.

As for pre-trip conditioning, your plan to hike the Colorado Rockies is exactly what the outfitters recommend. For best results, start your high-altitude training about three to four months before the trek, but be careful not to overstrain yourself in the weeks immediately prior to the climb.

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