10 things you should probably know before climbing Mt Kilimanjaro

While there are several checklists you will have gone through in preparation for climbing Kilimanjaro, there are a few things that they won’t list that only someone who has summited will know. So I’m letting you in on ten things you should know, before you set off on your trip!

1) Buy both data and voice airtime!
When they say there is signal on the mountain, it’s primarily for voice calls. My primary mode of communication is Whatsapp, so I figured all I needed was data and I’d be alright. There are some spots where you get data signal, but for most, especially as you get closer to the summit, you only get voice signal. So buy both data and airtime for calling and sms.

2) That trip is not one for trying new foods
Stick to what you know! I got so much advice on the best energy bars to have, the best sport nutrition and supplements to take. Stick to the things you like, you’ll eat more of them anyway, which will be a good thing on the mountain!

3) Bring flip flops that you can wear with thick socks
I read a few blogs that encourage wearing running shoes around camp, so I carried those. But then when you’re snug in your sleeping bag, then you need to head out to relieve yourself, putting on shoes is extremely annoying. Just bring slippers that you can wear with thick socks and you’ll be okay.

4) Braids are not a good idea
This one is for my women of colour. Fortunately, I was smart enough to get my braids done before buying my head gear so I knew it would fit. But what I didn’t think about was the heat and sweat they retain. I should’ve rather cornrowed my hair, then undid it after the climb before washing.

5) Keep the tags on any extra gear
If you’re worried you’ve bought too much, keep the tags on your gear. You can always return any unused items once you’re back from the climb. And if you end up using them on the mountain, you’ll be glad you had extras!

6) You can actually fly drones
Yes, that’s right. I left mine because I thought they were not allowed. Only to find out that they are with prior permission. You need to contact the park rangers beforehand and pay a fee of $200. Then you’re free to fly your drone.

7)Carry both hand sanitizer and hand wipes
I’m personally not a fan on hand sanitiser. I prefer using the wipes because then I can see the dirt coming off. But, when you’re hiking and you take a quick “bathroom” break, hand sanitiser is a lot more convenient.

8) Download some music for the hike
This is crucial for summit night. Sometimes you just need to concentrate on getting to the next camp, and so music can help distract you from the pain in your legs.

9)Bring some entertainment for camp
There are days when you are back at camp by lunchtime, and you have all afternoon to relax. Some cards would be great to keep the group entertained, or a book should you prefer some alone time.

10) Bring an inflatable pillow
This is the one thing everyone forgets to mention, but the last thing you want is a sore neck during this hike. They are very cheap and will make your nights a lot more pleasant!