We always encourage our clients to train to the best of their ability before arriving in Tanzania.
Obviously, the more prepared a climber is, the more they will enjoy it! Mount Kilimanjaro has many different routes, with some more demanding than others. None of the routes we lead on the mountain could be considered technical, but the extreme environment at high altitude will add levels of stress to your system that are different than your day-to-day life.
Many people feel the first day and the summit day are both the hardest of their climb, and for good reason. Obviously, summit is the most extreme day due to altitude and distance, but the Day 1 surprises many people. Everything is new, you may still be jetlagged from international travel, or you may be adjusting from life at much lower elevation. Even the adrenaline of starting a new adventure can wear you out!
We suggest that climbers begin training 60 days beforehand, starting with simple daily walks each day. Due to the extremely remote area, the resources to extract injured people from the mountain are limited to true emergencies. Short of a major emergency, if you walk in, you’re walking out! Why is this important? Because nothing takes the fun out of a climb more than blistered feet! Do your best to avoid them by training with the socks and boots you will use for your expedition so you can break them in ahead of time.
After a week or so, a hiker should begin to train with the weight that they will carry on the mountain. While most of each climber’s camp gear will be distributed amongst the porters, each climber will want to carry the basics between camps (rain gear, water, extra socks, head lamp, snacks, etc.), so it is best to be well accustomed to your load before you arrive. We recommend a pack weight between 15-20 pounds and to begin with small “shake out” hikes to see how everything rides on your back. If the weight seems too much, we recommend decreasing the time you hike under load rather than decreasing the weight. If you were walking five miles per day unladen, perhaps switch to two miles for the first week to see how your body responds and gradually increase it from there. Remember to rest once a week!
Even though the climb is not technical, it is certainly recommended to incorporate as much training as possible on trails with elevation gain. While many people do successfully train on treadmills and stair masters for Kilimanjaro, training in an environment that closely resembles the true hike is always best!