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 Blockbuster-Articles.com, and writes exclusively for tour operators on safari destination Tanzania. For more information on booking a Kilimanjaro climb in Tanzania, visit: www.travelpartners.co.tz