I want to share a few tips, important things I learned during my 6 day hike to the Summit.
The tips are in no particular order, I hope they help. Here goes;
* TIPPING: tipping was a common topic of conversation between individuals and groups, especially how much to tip each person? It really depends on your budget and your experience with your team. Make sure you ask the tour booking company about this when you make reservations. Nyange Tours, the local tour operator I traveled with, provides a sheet with the suggested amounts. Of course in the end you tip what you can. Just keep in mind, tips are a large part of the team’s income.
* CLOTHING: pick warm clothes, especially for the hike to base camp and of course for summit day which is FREEZING! Take advantage of the clothing rentals. My Tour Operator included it in the price. Really important, check that your items are in good condition (zippers working, two gloves etc).
Being a relatively new hiker, I wanted to look at least semi cute. I soon forgot about looking any kind of cute when I experienced the severe cold during the climb. I was so happy that my guides pushed me towards renting the Pillsbury dough-boy jacket.
*SPEED: Listen to the guides, “POLE POLE”, slowly slowly, it is not a race so just pace yourselves, even if you are last in your group. If you go too fast you won’t allow your body to get used to the elevation, resulting in the likelihood of at least some altitude sickness.
*ACCLIMATE: If you are worried about altitude sickness, not used to being at high elevations, I suggest you do the 6 day route which allows you at day 3 to acclimate at 4,150 meters.
*ACCLIMATE: During my hike through the Inca Trail we were told to drink coca tea regularly. I thought it might help so I brought some to Kili with me. Several other people had the same idea and brought coca tea, plus yummy coca candy. These hikers claimed to suffer minimal to no symptoms of altitude sickness. I also had minimal altitude sickness. On the other hand, my climbing partner suffered a lot. So I am not sure if it works, how it works, or even if it works for everybody but it is worth a try.
*ENERGY: The higher I climbed the less hungry I got. But try to eat as much as possible. You need energy for the next day’s climb. If you do not eat all of your food, you face the possibility of your guide calling you “shy lazy girl” (when I couldn’t eat all my 2 bowls of porridge, 3 eggs, 2 hot dogs, fruit salad, and tea 🙂
*BLADDER: So on a daily basis I am a bad girl when it comes to drinking water. If I can get away with not drinking more than one glass a day, I would be perfectly happy (it has NO TASTE). But for the purposes of the climb get used to drinking a minimum of 3 liters per day. The results of going from 1-3 glasses a day to 3 litters means having to stop every five minutes on the trail to pee, and oh, what a challenge to find a spot far away from curious eyes. They say drinking the 3 litters also helps lessen altitude sickness.
*POTTY: This is simple, carry toilet paper with you at all times. This isn’t the sexiest tip but not having anything to wipe with, is also not very sexy. The hiking days can be long and sometimes, well, most of the time, there is no bathroom around. Other days/nights you may find an actual bathroom but there is no toilet paper.
*HYGIENE: Bring wipes if you are concerned with your smell, or personal hygiene. On the Coca Cola Route, (the most common route), there are three camps. There are showers in the first camp, but none after that. Basically, the majority of your time on the mountain will be without a shower. The porters will bring you a bowl of warm water before breakfast to wash. Then another bowl before dinner. The warm water along with a few wipes, and you are practically ready to be in a beauty pageant.
*LEARN: Learn about the team that is helping you get up the mountain. I still keep in touch with my guides on Facebook. They even took me out and showed me their homes where I met their families. They showed me great local places to eat, they kept me company, helped me bargain shop, and they taught me some very must know Swahili words like “mama kubwa” Big/Vuluptious Woman, or “wowowo” Big Butt. Yes, I know, very useful expressions 🙂
*BE STRONG: You will meet many climbers on your way up and you will hear many stories about the difficulty, don’t let it discourage you. Just because someone else was unable to summit does not mean you can’t. If you are in decent physical health, you will be fine. After you have conquered altitude sickness, it is more of a mental thing, just be strong and believe you can do it and soon enough you will be at Gilmans Point.
As the Tanzanians say HAKUNA MATATA NO WORRIES
I wish you a happy hike