Few things in life are as rewarding as reaching the summit of Kilimanjaro. The scenery at the roof of Africa is breathtaking, and the sense of accomplishment that rushes over you as you perch above the clouds is truly inspiring. But making it to the top is not easy; it takes strength, stamina, and determination – it takes everything you’ve got.
Do You Hike or Climb Kilimanjaro?
Conquering Mount Kilimanjaro is sometimes referred to as a hike, but that doesn’t give you a complete picture of what to expect. There is a lot of physical exertion involved that far exceeds the toll that an ordinary hike takes on your body. Let’s look at a few definitions of the words hike and climb to see which best fits the challenge of Mount Kilimanjaro.
“A long walk, especially in the country or wilderness.” – Oxford
“To walk a long distance especially for pleasure or exercise.” – Merriam-Webster
“An ascent, especially of a mountain or hill, by climbing.” – Oxford
“A process in which you move up towards a place, using a lot of effort.” – Longman
So is it a hike or a climb? It’s both. All of the above are correct, but “climb” makes Kilimanjaro seem more intense, which it is. More so than what some might think of as a hike. Describing the climb as a series of lengthy, rigorous day hikes can give a clearer picture of what to expect.
Not a Walk in the Park
While our Mount Kilimanjaro experience is not a technical climb, the obstacles you face as you make your way up the mountain make it physically and mentally demanding. Altitude presents the biggest challenge. Hikers can have elevation gains of 2,000 feet or more in one day. Your body is exposed to decreasing oxygen levels, which can bring on symptoms like nausea, headaches, breathlessness, and fatigue. This is known as altitude sickness (acute mountain sickness). The changing weather and rough terrain present additional challenges as you climb the mountain.
Training Is a Must
You need to prepare physically and mentally to hike up Kilimanjaro. Depending on the route and day, you can spend up to 9 hours a day trekking. To prepare your body for the climb and prevent injuries, you should train for at least two months before the hike. Your training program should incorporate aerobic exercise, strength training, and hiking.
You Need Protective Clothing and Equipment
You will also need the right gear to climb Kilimanjaro, including: protective clothing; daypack; sleeping bag; and trekking poles. In fact, there are 6 things you absolutely must bring. The weather changes frequently as you trek up the mountain, and you’ll need to be prepared with gear for heat, rain, wind, cold and the possibility of snow.
At 19,340 feet, climbing Kilimanjaro is no walk in the park. But as you hike up to the top, you will be rewarded with unforgettable scenery that is nothing less than spectacular.
So, do you hike or climb Kilimanjaro? You decide.