From the obvious to the not so obvious, there was plenty of advice that I was very grateful to receive, or wish I had received. Therefore I decided to pull together a brief but handy guide to climbing Kilimanjaro. Written by a very real girl with very real experience.
NB. Some tips may also be useful for boys too but beware of references to periods and girls weeing
With such an awful toilet situation (think hole in the floor that is never EVER cleared out, just left to fester and added to every day), never will you be required to squat so much in your life. Men have it so easy when it comes to weeing in bushes. But at least we’ll have great bums by the end of it!
BE PERIOD PREPARED
Even if you take birth control the power of altitude can still overrule. Thankfully I was lucky enough for this not to happen to me. However, many girls have warned me that spontaneous periods are an unfortunate symptom of altitude.
Not only are these going to be your sole equivalent of a shower for the entirety of the expedition, they are also extremely essential for those moments where you will inevitably need to use the provided toilets. When the need arises, ensure you have a wet wipe firmly secured over your nose and mouth. I’m not really sure how to put the horror of the mountain toilets into words. Although if I told you that two girls in my group vomited, not from altitude sickness, but from the mere nauseating smell of the toilets, that may give a good indication. Nothing will eliminate the smell (unless you’re super good at holding your breath), but jamming a wet wipe under your nose is at least a minimal requirement if you want to retain your lunch or dinner.
DON’T LOOK DOWN.
This is another toilet reference. Just don’t look down. Ever.
You need it. Obviously – but easy to forget.
Sounds obvious, but a common symptom of altitude sickness is to not want to eat. Thankfully I did not get this until summit night but it is so dangerous if you don’t eat enough. You won’t have enough energy and it will make the expedition an exhausting nightmare.
DRINK LOTS OF WATER
Again, sounds obvious, but I really struggled with this one. As you have to use water purification tablets, the water takes like pool water. It really is awful but it is so important to drink, and drink lots.
PACK REALLY GOOD THERMALS
As a girl who managed to get frostbite on a skiing holiday in April (yup, really), I do seem to be particularly susceptible to the cold. However, even the most warm-blooded of people will feel the cold at -20C with the added addition of strong bitter winds. So make sure you pack super good thermals, especially socks and gloves.
DON’T LOSE YOUR CAMERA
Now this is a touchy subject for me. Before I left for Africa I spent my hard earned cash on a GoPro. I filmed my entire climb, lots of beautiful, wonderful footage. And then I lost it. It fell of my rucksack on the descent, never to be seen again. I did try to find it – I hiked 1,000 vertical metres back up the mountain searching for it. Stupid, I know, and I never found it. So the moral of that story is: don’t lose your GoPro kids!
I really hope my guide to climbing Kilimanjaro will help someone even just a little bit, so do let me know if you’re planning on attempting the climb yourself! For more information on my Kilimanjaro climb, have a read of my previous blogposts which document my tough but wonderful experience: