Pen is Mightier than the Mountain

We all keep important information in our head, but the older you get the cheat sheet becomes more useful. Cheat sheets come in several forms. It can be hand written and stuffed in your pack for ready reference or kept on your phone or laptop. Climbing Kilimanjaro can be daunting so keep things into manageable prospective with these cheat sheet items.

Tusker Trail's Kilimanjaro cheat sheet


S.W.A.T. is Eddie and Amy Frank’s acronym for self-care on any outdoor adventure and is especially important for Kilimanjaro. All trekkers should be a member of the S.W.A.T. team for a healthy and enjoyable adventure.

S is for SNACKS and that means regular snacking on gorp, power bars, candy, nuts and dried fruit that keeps the calories on board. Calories are essential for energy and keeping hypothermia at bay in cold weather.

W is for WATER as hydration is essential on a taxing trek. Your body needs water to survive. Every organ, tissue and cell needs water in order to function properly. Your body uses water to maintain a constant temperature, remove waste, and lubricate your joints. Without this homeostasis, your trek is doomed.

A is for ALWAYS CLEAN. Washing and/or disinfecting your hands keeps the bacteria at bay.  Intestinal bugs are the bane of adventure travel and will quickly end your trek.

T is for TEMPERATURE. Regulating your body temperature is essential to enjoying a healthy trip.  If you’re too cold, you get hypothermic – end of trip.  If you’re too hot, you get heat exhaustion – same result. Layering your clothing system, hydrating, and protecting from direct sun are the key elements to happy trekking.

One Liners

Key words in all caps can remind you how to do the most basic but overlooked things. BREATHE, SMALL STEPS, ENJOY THIS MOMENT, NEVER QUIT, THE JOURNEY, WEIGHT FORWARD, REST. When the going gets tough say them and always STAY POSITIVE.

Swahili Lesson

Your guides and porters are a big part of why you summit. If you think you’re having a tough day on the trek think about your porters who are carrying your stuff, yet invariably have a smile on their face. Adopt their can-do attitude and get to know these guys by learning some Swahili. On your cheat sheet write a few Swahili words so you can communicate with them. Learn what Habari, Nzuri, Asante, Kwaheri and Tafadhali mean and use them to make a new friend.

Mental State

Being mentally tough is big on Kilimanjaro. On your cheat sheet write a few motivational lines on why you want to get to the summit i.e. “for Mom” or “curing cancer” if you’re on a charity climb. Always remember that getting to the summit is more than just about you. The energy to get to the top can come from staying positive and not being singularly focused on you.

No Cheating

All cheat sheet tips aside, you can’t cheat Kilimanjaro. In all its looming glory, it will make an honest man or woman out of you. There is no substitute for the tears and sweat you surrender in a true test of your endurance and mental toughness. But keeping these simple tips in mind will help you enjoy the journey and make it to the summit.


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