The Highest Free Standing Mountain In the World
When you think of Africa mountain climbing, many people imagine Mt. Kilimanjaro with its snowy white cones seated in a crisp green valley. Elephant, zebra, and giraffes lingering in the savannah at the base of the mountain; eating the fresh leaves from the tips of the Boabab trees. Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is a dream for so many. But what if it could be your reality?
Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in all of Africa; standing at an astonishing 4,900 meters from its base. In total, Mount Kilimanjaro is 5,895 meters above sea level. The mountain is part of the Kilimanjaro National Park and is one of the top travel destinations in the world. At the base of the mountain is the city of Moshi. From this location, Mount Kilimanjaro seems to almost scrap the sky. It is the focal point of the city and people travel from far and wide to view the three-snow covered volcanic cones. The three volcanic cones are Kibo, Mawenzi, and Shira. Kibo is the only cone that has the potential to erupt again. Mount Kilimanjaro is a dormant volcano and scientists are actively studying the rapidly shrinking glaciers and disappearing ice fields.
Mount Kilimanjaro has two rainy seasons stretching from March to May and again in November. Northern slopes experience far less rain fall each year than southers slopes. Temperatures at the summit average around -7 C (19 F). There are seven mapped trekking routes. These are the routes that are advised to all climbers. They are named Lemosho, Machame, Marangu, Mweka, Rongai, Shira, and Umbwe. The most scenic routes are the Machame and Lemosho routes which are located on the northern side of the mountain. However, these are also the steepest routes. The Rongai route is the least scenic of all the routes; but it is also the easiest the climb. Most routes can be completed within six to eight days. Surprisingly, it takes only one day to climb from the summit to the base of the mountain because it is steep, and climbers can move quickly downhill.
If climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is a dream that you wish to make reality, here are a few tips to take with you!
One of the biggest mistakes you can make while climbing is trying to climb too quickly. Your guide will encourage you to walk slowly and not overly exert yourself. Each day, you will have a preset route to follow to reach your overnight camp. Your guide has set this route with the understanding that you should walk slowly. As you climb higher and higher the altitude steadily rises causing there to be less oxygen in quickly thinning air. A high percentage (Approx. 70%) of all climbers will experience mild to severe altitude sickness. This will cause flu like symptoms. But, by trekking slowly, your chances of getting severe altitude sickness decreases. Even so, talk to your health care provider before making the journey.
While climbing, ensure that you are drinking plenty of liquids. The best liquids to carry with you are water and Pedialyte. Although many hikers carry Gatorade or similar drinks, it is not advised because it is high in sugar. Your guide will often ask you to stop and have a drink to ensure that you do not get dehydrated while climbing.
Pack the Right Gear
Packing the right hiking gear is essential! You need to ensure that you have heavy duty hiking books that are lined and comfortable to walk in for extended periods. Additionally, it is suggested to bring thick socks, thermal underclothing, waterproof gloves, a warm tightfitting hat that covers your ears, and a warm waterproof coat. Many hikers also opt to bring hiking poles to help with the steep uneven terrain. Some climbing guides do provide with the right, receommended gear.
Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is no easy feat. Even the most experienced hikers have hard moments of doubt and exhaustion. It has been proven that singing, laughing, and conversing with others can help you to complete the trek more easily. If there is ever a time that you need companionship, this is the moment! Find joy in the tired moments, in the moments when you are unsure if you can make it. What did you do well? What do you want to accomplish? And how can you make yourself achieve that dream?
Preparation is a key part of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. Before signing up to climb Mount Kilimanjaro your tour guild will enquire about your fitness and suggest ways to prepare both mentally and physically. In the months leading up to your climb, make sure that you are pushing yourself to hike for a few hours regularly. Increase your hikes time and distance as you prepare. It is also advised that you try to hike on routes at high elevations. Mental preparation is essential as well. Write down why you want to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. What do you want to remind yourself in those moments of exhaustion? How will you reward your daily accomplishments on the mountain? Write these ideas down and put them in your backpack to take with you. Consider packing your favorite candy as a reward for when you reach base camp each evening.
All in all, Mount Kilimanjaro is magnificent, and its glory is just waiting for you to explore. Routes have progressed over the years and more and more people are making the climb. I encourage you to ask yourself what you want to see? How would you feel standing at the top of Africa overlooking a savannah filled with exotic animals and breathtaking agriculture? What could you learn about yourself by pushing yourself to fulfil your dreams and climb the largest free-standing mountain in the world?
Have you ever considered climbing Mount Kilimanjaro? Tell me what excites you most about this astonishing journey in the comment section below.
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