Climbing the tallest free-standing mountain in the world is an unforgettable, once in a lifetime experience! It is the highest peak in Africa and the easiest of the seven summits to conquer. And with the mountains ice cap shrinking and predicted to vanish in the next 15 years, there is no better time than now to climb Mount Kilimanjaro! However, before you book your plane ticket, there are a few things that every woman should know about Mount Kilimanjaro. From training to Kilimanjaro toilets and packing light - we give you the full rundown to help you summit Africa’s rooftop!
Mount Kilimanjaro is known as "Every man's mountain" because it does not require the same special equipment or training like the other seven summits. However, that does not mean you can trek to the summit wholly unprepared. Conditioning your body before you tackle the real deal will help to build endurance and prepare you for the 6 to 8 hour days on the mountain. Spend your weekends exploring nearby hiking trails and gradually work yourself up to full day, overnight and even multiple day hikes. Train with your hiking boots and bring along your 12 lbs pack to help you get used to the weight you will be carrying for a week. Building up this stamina and your quad muscles will help your body deal with the altitude and put you in a better position to avoid getting altitude sickness.
Women on Kilimanjaro. Summit Glacier on Mt Kili Tanzania. Photo by M
Don't forget to taper off on your training in the last two weeks leading up to your trip. You want to give your body a chance to rest and recover before it is pushed to the limits on Mount Kilimanjaro. Here is an article on training for Kilimanjaro.
Learning how to breathe correctly for your climb is a skill all women hikers to Kilimanjaro need to learn. By practicing breathing techniques like Rest Step and Pressure Breathing, you can lower your risk of developing altitude sickness. Pressure Breathing is a technique to use when you start to feel nauseous above 7, 500 feet. By pursing your lips and exhaling with force, you let the carbon dioxide in your lungs escape and allow the thinner oxygen air to enter. While using this technique you should also switch to Rest Step, which allows the skeleton to take on the weight rather than the muscles.
Women climbing Kilimanjaro. Breathing correctly is essential to summit the mountain. Photo by Steve
Incorporating both of these techniques will help you avoid climbing too quickly, save energy and prevent you from pushing your body beyond its limits.
Acclimatizing to the altitude on Mount Kilimanjaro is no joke. Whether or not you have heart or breathing issues, it is a good idea for you to invest in renting an oxygen tank. Having that extra oxygen might be what you need to make that final push to Kibu Hut base camp. It can also help prevent altitude sickness and your brain from swelling from the higher altitudes.
Buy the right hiking gear for women. When deciding on what gear to buy for your trip, your boots and pack are the two most important items. Shop around and find a pack that is designed specifically for women. This way your trek up Kilimanjaro will be comfortable and won't leave you with aching shoulders and backs. Also, the best boots for climbing Kilimanjaro are the ones that are durable, breathable, lightweight, have traction and are comfortable. Don't forget to break them in before your trip to avoid blisters!
While trekking to Mount Kilimanjaro, you are going to be packing and unpacking as you move from one base to another. Female hikers to Kilimanjaro swear by packing cubes to save space in their pack and keep it organized. Save yourself time and hassle by labeling your cubes and make it easier to find the items you need.
Packing for Kilimanjaro is different from packing for a vacation. You do not need a new outfit for each day of the climb. With no showers on the mountain, everyone is going to be just as smelly and wearing the same clothes more than once will save space in your pack.
Being properly dressed is essential for Women climbing Kilimanjaro. Photo by M
When deciding what to bring, make sure you have light, breathable clothes for the heat at the base of the mountain and warm clothes as you start to ascend. Use this ultimate Kilimanjaro packing list for women or this list to make sure you do not forget anything.
For women hiking up Kilimanjaro, bringing along facial wipes can be life savers. There are no showers on the mountain, so wipes will be the only way to keep yourself as clean as possible for the next six to ten days. Panty liners are useful in helping you to wear the same pair of underwear for longer while keeping clean in between all the sweating and peeing.
Portable pee funnels are easy to use, reusable, earth friendly and a must for all women hikers. Urinary devices like SheWee and Go Girl can make it easier to go to the toilet as you trek Kilimanjaro where bathrooms are few and far between. If you do not want to go to the squat toilet at base camp during the night, bring along a pee bottle and use that instead without leaving the comfort of your tent.
While it is possible to climb Mount Kilimanjaro pregnant, it is not recommended. If you are planning a Kilimanjaro trek and safari while pregnant, it is best to talk to your local GP to understand the risks to you and your baby. As you ascend the mountain, the minimal oxygen available to you and the increase of blood flow may affect you carrying a healthy pregnancy full term. It is essential that you consult your Doctor if you are pregnant before embarking on ANY trek. On the other hand, if you are not participating in the trek, it is certainly possible to take the Safaris in Tanzania, depending on your stage of pregnancy and the doctor’s recommendation. Don't let your fears stop you from climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. If a woman in her 80's can make it to the Kilimanjaro summit, so can you! You can also read about Chaeli here, the first female quadriplegic to summit Kili. Follow the above tips, book your trip and do something that most people only dream about, but never end up achieving!