Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Get to Know the Different Routes for Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro

unsplash-logoJoel Peel

If you were wondering how many routes there are to climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, this article will take you through the seven established routes. Because selecting a route is a pretty tough choice for most, to find the best route to climbing Kilimanjaro, you’ll want to consider the route's scenery, difficulty, foot traffic and its altitude acclimatization characteristics. The following are routes to choose from: Marangu, Machame, Lemosho, Shira, Rongai, Northern Circuit and Umbwe. The Marangu, Machame, and Umbwe routes all approach from the south of the mountain, with the Mweka route being used only for descending the mountain. The Lemosho, Shira and Northern Circuit routes approach the mountain from the west, while the Rongai route approaches from the north.

To help you decide the route that’s most suitable for you, you might want to look at some estimates in terms of percentage, on the routes tourists climbing Kilimanjaro take. The Machame route will be taken by 45% of tourists, whilst the Marangu route takes 40%. Lemosho is on 8%, Rongai 5%, Shira 1%, and the Northern Circuit shares 0% with Umbwe. Generally, the way to determine the most popular routes is by looking at those with the most favorable combination of high success rates, excellent scenery, and low foot traffic.

Otherwise known as the "Coca-Cola" route, the Marangu route is a classic Mount Kilimanjaro trek. It is certainly the oldest and most well established route. This particular route is favored by many because it is considered to be the easiest path on the mountain, given its gradual slope. It is also the only route which offers sleeping huts in dormitory style accommodations.

The minimum number of days required to climb Mount Kilimanjaro via this route is five, although the probability of successfully reaching the top in that time period is quite low. It is also highly recommended that you spend an extra day acclimatizing when climbing Kilimanjaro using the Marangu route.

Yes, the Marangu route is immensely popular but operators tend to avoid leading climbs on the Marangu route. The reason being, the route has the least scenic variety of all the routes because the ascent and descent are done on the same path, which makes it the most crowded route for that reason. Marangu is a favorable route during the rainy season, where hut accommodations are preferred over wet ground; and for those with five days to kill climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. Otherwise, the Marangu route is considered a poor choice. If you were a little puzzled as to what route to take up Africa’s highest mountain, I’m sure this article has shed some light on the options available.

About the Author: Anthony J. Namata is a creative travel writer who blogs at, and writes exclusively for tour operators on safari destination Tanzania. For more information on booking a Kilimanjaro climb in Tanzania, visit:

Climbers, How to Prepare for the High Altitude of Mount Kilimanjaro

unsplash-logoSergey Pesterev

If you are a little concerned about your fitness level for the high altitude, then you will find comfort in knowing that your body will get in great shape for the Kilimanjaro climb with physical training to prepare you for altitude. Understandably, and this may come as no surprise, the ability to adjust quickly to the changing oxygen content is largely genetic. According to documented success rates, some people can climb Kilimanjaro in as little as 5 days (not recommended), while some still fail with 8 days. It is basically impossible to predict how well a prospective climber will fair in an oxygen deprived atmosphere until he or she is actually in that environment. High altitude training systems enable climbers to pre-acclimatize at home, thereby drastically improving their success rate, safety and enjoyment of the Kilimanjaro climb.

The more you undergo altitude training in systems that simulate high altitudes, the more you’ll induce beneficial biological adaptations in the body. For this, you can go to high altitude places to help pre-acclimatize to high altitude before your trip.

It may come as a surprise that all climbers should have a medical check prior to attempting the Kilimanjaro mountain climb. And the best place to start is to ask your doctor if high altitude trekking is permissible for your age, fitness level and health condition. And make sure your doctor ascertains whether or not you have any preexisting medical conditions that can cause problems on the climb. Ask if any of your medications can affect altitude acclimatization. And if you find that you have medical issues that can make climbing Kilimanjaro more dangerous for you than the average person, it is recommended that you inform your tour operator before you book. The medical issues in question would include but not be limited to: spine problems; circulation problems; internal problems such as diabetes, hypoglycemia, intestinal or kidney problems; respiratory issues like asthma; high or low blood pressure; head trauma or injury; heart conditions; blood disease; hearing or vision impairment; cancer; seizure disorders; joint dislocations; sprains; hernia.

You’re probably wondering what the minimum age for climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is. Well, just so you know, the minimum age is 10 years old. There is no maximum age. However, because the climb is strenuous it will present health risks to people in high risk categories. That being said, serious consideration should be given to anyone under the age of 18 and over the age of 60. For those climbers on the extreme end of the age spectrum, consulting a doctor is highly recommended.

If your resting heart rate is under 100 beats per minute, you will qualify for the minimum fitness requirement. Please note that before you climb, your resting heart rate will be checked. And if your resting heart rate is above 100, you will be required to see a local doctor for approval, prior to the climb. Just for your information, the average resting heart rate is 60-80 beats per minute. If you’re the kind of person that wants to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, I hope this article helps you adequately prepare for your exciting adventure.

About the Author: Anthony J. Namata is a creative travel writer who blogs at, and writes exclusively for tour operators on safari destination Tanzania. For more information on booking a Kilimanjaro climb in Tanzania, visit:

Planning On Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro? Here’s How to Train for it

unsplash-logoMatthew Spiteri

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is physically challenging, therefore you must prepare yourself accordingly with a Kilimanjaro training program. It goes without saying, strong and well conditioned legs make it easier to walk uphill and downhill for sustained periods of time. And this is where aerobic fitness allows the body to function efficiently with less oxygen. When your body is fit, it will be able to withstand the stress of consecutive days of hiking and camping. Finally, a positive mental attitude can work wonders for you when fatigue and doubt sets in.

If you’ve ever wondered how hard it is to climb Kilimanjaro, then you might find it a little bit comforting to learn that some people don't train much and fair pretty well, while others engage in a disciplined training program and succumb to the altitude in just a few days. We've heard marathon runners confess that climbing Kilimanjaro was the hardest thing they've ever done. Well, the best advice we can give is to train adequately. You’ll want to get yourself in the best possible shape for hiking. The mountain is a big unknown, and you won't know with certainty how your body will react to the challenge until you are actually there.

Hiking is the best exercise for preparing to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. It is not necessary to indulge in extensive cross-training programs featuring hiking, running, biking, swimming and weight training. Such programs are unnecessary. The best and perhaps only exercise you need to do is to hike. After all, that is what you will be doing on the mountain. Ideally, hiking on hills or mountains will simulate ascending Mount Kilimanjaro. If you don’t have access to trails, you can train very productively on a stair master machine at the gym. If you have no access to trails or a gym, then try to walk as much as possible, with perhaps extended walks on the weekends.

Training for climbing Kilimanjaro should begin at least two months prior to your departure. And if you have never hiked before, it is recommended that you space your training in shorter time intervals, taking it in a slower pace and without a weight in your back, and then gradually increase the hiking and the weight as your fitness level improves. Remember that on Mount Kilimanjaro, you will walk slowly for prolonged periods, and carry probably no more than 20 lbs in your backpack. Therefore, ideally, increase your time intervals and distance in training. Try to train for an hour a day three times a week. Once you’re able to hike four to six hours, with perhaps moderate elevation changes (~1,000 ft/305 m) while carrying a 20 lb backpack; or if you can climb a StairMaster for 1-2 hours, at 30 steps per minute while carrying a 20 lb pack, then you're probably ready for the Kilimanjaro climb.

But the best way to go about training is to do your longest and hardest workouts two to four weeks before your departure, because you’ll want to taper off your training in the last two weeks, so that in the final days, you can grab some rest so that your body has time to recover before the actual climb. Supplementing the walking and hiking with running and cycling will also help to increase your aerobic capacity.

It is imperative, therefore, that during Kilimanjaro training, you wear the boots and carry the backpack you intend to carry—for two reasons: your boots want to be sufficiently broken-in to prevent blisters; and your shoulders, back and hips need to get used to the points of contact and weight, in order to minimize chafing and soreness.

And last but not least, physical training is just one part of getting in shape. If you lead an unhealthy lifestyle, try to use the climb to motivate you to change. Eat more fruit and vegetable. Reduce your red meat consumption. Don't drink or smoke. And try to get eight hours of sleep per night.

About the Author: Anthony J. Namata is a creative travel writer who blogs at, and writes exclusively for tour operators on safari destination Tanzania. For more information on booking a Kilimanjaro climb in Tanzania, visit:

Why You Should Never Over Pack for Kilimanjaro Mountain Climb

unsplash-logoAntônio Soletti

It is quite common for climbers to over pack and to bring way too much gear for the climb. You’ll want to be very selective in what you take with you. Mount Kilimanjaro porters are limited to carrying 33 lbs (15 kgs) of your personal belongings. Therefore, everything that they will carry for you between campsites should be placed inside a duffel bag. And that includes your sleeping bag. That being said, it is okay to pack the sleeping bag separately if necessary. If you plan to rent a sleeping bag, please note that the bag alone weighs 5 lbs 6 oz. and that this additional weight will count against the 33 lb limit. What’ll generally happen is porters will place both your duffel bag and sleeping bag into a large, sturdy, waterproof bag with a roll-top closure.

A word of caution: If you carry excess weight, you will be required to hire an additional porter. It is rare for climbers to require an extra porter. Only in special cases, such as for carrying extensive photography equipment, that this can be allowed. Warm sleeping bags are available for rent on location, and so are trekking poles, but you are expected to bring everything you need. Whatever extra items you won’t be using on your Mount Kilimanjaro climb, such as extra luggage, safari clothing, gear and equipment, can all be stored safely at the hotel.

Due to environmental concerns, plastic, recyclable water bottles are not allowed in the park. So, water should be carried in Nalgene bottles, water bladders, or similar devices. It is recommended that you carry 3-4 liters of water with you at all times, ideally. And please do not bring any alcohol. In fact, alcohol is illegal in the park. Just so you know… alcohol and high altitude do not mix well at all.

In case your airplane checked luggage got lost or delayed on the way to Tanzania, it is advisable that you should be prepared, by perhaps wearing or carrying on the items that are essential to your Kilimanjaro climb. Although most equipment, clothing and gear can be replaced in Tanzania prior to your climb, there’s always the odd item that you should not replace.

By wearing one complete hiking outfit on the plane, and a long sleeve shirt, hiking pants, underwear, socks and hiking boots, you will at least have climbing gear on you just in case your luggage didn’t arrive at Kilimanjaro International Airport with you. Make sure you bring in your carryon baggage, the following items: backpack, waterproof jacket and pants, insulated jacket, fleece pants, snacks, toiletries, medications, camera and all paperwork. Please note that airline regulations do not allow you to carry trekking poles on the plane.

Wearing a different pair of boots on your climb will likely cause blistering, therefore, make sure you wear or carry your hiking boots, and if by any chance your baggage is lost or delayed, please make sure that you notify your tour operator on your arrival so they can assist you in assembling the necessary gear. There are a few local, independently owned rental gear shops in Moshi. Note that these shops generally carry second-hand items that may not be up to Western standards. Hence, the fit, quality or functionality of items found in local shops can’t be guaranteed.

About the Author: Anthony J. Namata is a creative travel writer who blogs at, and writes exclusively for tour operators on safari destination Tanzania. For more information on booking a Kilimanjaro climb in Tanzania, visit:

Technical Clothing You'll Need for Your Kilimanjaro Mountain Climb

unsplash-logoHarshil Gudka

If you are planning a climbing adventure up Africa’s highest mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, you are going to need specific technical clothing. The following, therefore, is a list of items you must carry with you. A Waterproof Jacket is essential. No doubt about that. It can get rather wet and moist up there; and your jacket must be breathable and with hood. You’ll also require an insulated jacket, synthetic or down; a soft Jacket, fleece or soft-shell. You musn’t forget a long Sleeve Shirt, that’s light-weight, and with moisture-wicking fabric. A short sleeve shirt also comes in handy, and you’ll want one that’s light-weight, and with moisture-wicking fabric.

Moving down to the pants department, here’s what you’ll need to carry with you: Waterproof Pants, breathable (side zipper recommended); Hiking Pants, Fleece Pants, Shorts (optional), Long Underwear with moisture-wicking fabric, normal Underwear with moisture-wicking fabric recommended; 2 Sport Bras (women), Headwear, Brimmed Hat for sun protection; a Knit Hat for warmth, and a Balaclava or Buff for face coverage (optional).

Handwear is essential on this trip, also. So here’s a list of stuff you need to carry with you. A pair of Gloves, warm (waterproof recommended); and thin Gloves. Your footwear must include Hiking Boots that are warm, waterproof, and broken-in; a pair of Gym Shoes, to wear at camp (optional), 3 pairs of Socks—wool or synthetic; 1 Gaiters—waterproof (optional).

Your list of accessories would include Sunglasses or Goggles; Backpack Cover—waterproof (optional); Water Bottle (Nalgene, 32 oz.); a Water Bladder (Camelbak type, 3 liters); a Towel, lightweight, quick-dry (optional); a Pee Bottle, to avoid leaving tent at night (recommended); Stuff Sacks, Dry Bags or Plastic Bags in various sizes to keep gear dry and separate.

Your Equipment list will need to include a Sleeping Bag, warm, four seasons; a pair of Trekking Poles, collapsible (highly recommended); Head lamp, with extra batteries; a Duffel bag, 50-90L capacity, for porters to carry your equipment; and a Daypack, 30-35L capacity, for you to carry your personal gear. Please note that this particular item can also be rented on location.

And to conclude this list of items to carry on your Mount Kilimanjaro climb: Toiletries, Prescriptions, Sunscreen, Lip Balm, Insect Repellent containing DEET, First Aid Kit, Hand Sanitizer, Toilet Paper,
Wet Wipes (recommended), Snacks—light-weight, high calorie, high energy (optional); Electrolytes powder or tablets (optional), Camera with extra batteries (optional), Paperwork, Trip Receipt, Passport, Visa (available at JRO), Immunization Papers, Insurance Documents.

Just to help you locate these items, we can recommend a couple of online stores:, and for all of your gear needs.

About the Author: Anthony J. Namata is a creative travel writer who blogs at, and writes exclusively for tour operators on safari destination Tanzania. For more information on booking a Kilimanjaro climb in Tanzania, visit:

Friday, October 13, 2017

Uncover the Lake Natron Mystery that Turns Animals to Stone

One of Africa’s most serene lakes has become the source of perhaps the most phantasmagorical photographs ever captured—images that depict living animals instantly turned to stone. What is responsible for this is the alkaline water in Lake Natron, whose PH is as high as 10.5 and is so caustic it can burn the skin and eyes of animals that aren't adapted to it. This article will look at one of the two alkaline lakes in East Africa—Lake Natron; the other is Lake Bahi. Both these lakes are fed by hot springs and small rivers, and do not drain out to any river or sea. They are basically shallow lakes in a very hot climate, with water temperatures as high as 106 degrees Fahrenheit (41 degrees Celsius).

The alkalinity of the water comes from the sodium carbonate and other minerals that flow into the lake from the surrounding hills. You’re going to be surprised to discover that deposits of sodium carbonate, once used in Egyptian mummification, are what act as a preservative for those animals unlucky enough to die in the waters of Lake Natron.

Some misleading media reports suggest that the animals die after coming into contact with the lake's water. This is untrue, however. The fact is Lake Natron's alkaline waters support a thriving ecosystem comprising freshwater wetlands, salt marshes, flamingos and other wetland birds, tilapia and the algae on which large flocks of flamingos feed. Haunting images of the lake and its dead have been captured by photographer Nick Brandt, and published in a book titled "Across the Ravaged Land."
Brandt discovered the remains of flamingos and other animals with chalky sodium carbonate deposits outlining their bodies in sharp relief. "I unexpectedly found the creatures — all manner of birds and bats — washed up along the shoreline of Lake Natron," Brandt wrote in his book. "No one knows for certain exactly how they die, but … the water has an extremely high soda and salt content, so high that it would strip the ink off my Kodak film boxes within a few seconds."

"I took these creatures as I found them on the shoreline, and then placed them in 'living' positions, bringing them back to 'life,' as it were," Brandt wrote, referring to how he repositioned the animals, to bring them back to life again in death.

If you want to enjoy the beauty of Lake Natron, the breeding season, where more than 2 million flamingos use the shallow lake as their primary breeding ground, would be an ideal time to visit. You’ll also get to see the flamingos' nests, which are built on small islands that form in the lake during the dry season. The view is breathtaking, and photography opportunities are simply magnificent.

About the Author: Anthony J. Namata is a creative travel writer who blogs at, and writes exclusively for tour operators on safari destination Tanzania. For more information on booking a safari to the mysterious Lake Natron in Tanzania, visit:

Hunting Expeditions: World’s Last Remaining Hunter Gatherer Tribe

If you have wondered what hunting with the Hadzabe hunter-gatherer tribe in Tanzania was like, then this article will not only take you through the penultimate experience into the cradle of humanity itself, it will show you on one level, how our relationship with food—or more accurately, with our ancestors and what might be the oldest food story in the world—that began in the large woodlands Savannahs east and south of the impressive Lake Eyasi… a beautiful soda lake that’s part of the Great Rift Valley of East Africa, where a small group of hunter gatherers live and exist today in exactly the same way they did over forty thousand years ago.

The Hadza are a population of just over a thousand people who survive on berry fruit, baobab tree fruit, honey, porcupine and other wild animals. They do not grow anything; don’t farm; and don’t keep poultry, or animals of any kind for subsistence. But what makes this tribe particularly interesting, is the revolutionary idea that this small group of people could be so crucial to the future of the whole human race. Professor of genetics, Tim Specter, believes the gut microbiome found in the Hadza population hold the key to the nutritional equivalent of the missing link.

The more you look at 40,000 to 50,000 years before obesity and diabetes, the more you’ll appreciate the absence of 21st century diseases in the Hadza population being directly linked to their diet and way of life that has existed and continues to exist for over fifty thousand years. A safari adventure into the footsteps of our ancestors, therefore, is perhaps the most fascinating experience you’ll ever have.

On a Hadza hunting expedition, expect an early morning rise when it is still dark, followed by a short Land Rover drive to the Hadza’s overnight camp. You’ll arrive at the crack of dawn to perhaps find a circle of men and boys sitting around a fire; most of whom would be silently gazing into the fire as they hand around a pipe, taking long, deep drags from it. They’ll be preparing arrows, checking their quills and placing them into quivers. A morning snack-hunt would involve hunting small animals. Don’t expect to go out on a big animal hunt with them, because it can be dangerous. The wounds you’ll likely sustain from an injured buffalo or baboon can be serious for the slow and uninitiated hunter.

That being said, you’re going to be surprised to find how exhilarating the thrill of the chase can be for you, even when you’ll likely find it rather impossible to keep up with the Hadza who seem to move like phantoms in the bush. If you’re the kind of person that wants to discover the thrill of the hunt with one of the last remaining hunter-gatherer tribes in the world, then a hunting safari with the Hadzabe is exactly what you’re looking for. So get ready to run through the scrub land; and to dodge low-hanging branches, thorny bushes and jump ditches, in an effort to keep up with the Hadza.

About the Author: Anthony J. Namata is a creative travel writer who blogs at, and writes exclusively for tour operators on safari destination Tanzania. For more information on booking a Hadzabe hunting safari in Tanzania, visit: