8 Kilimanjaro Adventurers Share Their Best Packing List Tips

Climbing Kilimanjaro is very demanding, so it requires flawless packing. Not only do you need to bring everything you need, you also need to make sure you don’t bring too much stuff and that your bag doesn’t end up being too heavy.

To improve how we pack our bags, we have talked with 8 experienced adventurers and asked them to share their best advice for climbing Kilimanjaro.

Read on and learn from their best tips and tricks (all the adventurers have lots of Kilimanjaro experience, so they really know what they are talking about!).

At the top of Kilimanjaro

The 8 Kilimanjaro Adventurers


Ian Taylor

From Ireland but now live in Colorado, USA. I climbed Kilimanjaro for the first time 17 years ago and have climbed Kilimanjaro 30 times to date. My goal is to climb Kilimanjaro 50 times as I am trying to raise two million dollars for water projects in East Africa. I head to Kilimanjaro next week for two back-to-back climbs with our family n the ground. About five years ago, we set up our own office in Tanzania and hired a couple of staff full time. We have built up the same team on the ground now for eight years and only run quality run trips that staff our staff correctly and invest in their education and development.


What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all Kilimanjaro trekkers bring?

Make sure you have a cover for the hose on your Camelbak. It can get dirty and best to clean it daily and keep it covered. A small lightweight Therm-a-Rest pillow gives a great nights sleep. Obviously you will sleep better if you are a longer trip. We really only run 8 day trips and this makes all the difference in your comfort, safety and success. The last thing that could make a difference is having a hyper hydration sachets for summit night and on longer days. This aids in recovery and helps you feel so much better.

How do you bring things with you?

You can watch my YouTube: It is the most watched packing video for climbing Kilimanjaro. We have a 45 page dossier with itemized kit list but I like to carry less and not overload the porters. I use either a Osprey back pack 44ltr or Deuter 45ltr I like to have good waste and back support in any back pack I use. I also use The North Face 100ltr duffel bag. I also like to have stuff sacks to keep socks, underwear, summit night gear and electronics separate and easy to find. Use Color bags and label them. When in your tent you want to be as organised as possible. I always have space in bags and try and travel as light as possible.

What are your top tips for other Kilimanjaro trekkers?

Ian Taylor Trekking Top 50 Tips for Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro:

  1. Pick the best route up the mountain. I personally believe the Lemosho route is the best route for your Kilimanjaro climb.
  2. Have the best acclimatization. We recommend a minimum of 8 days on the mountain. More acclimatization means a safer climb. It also means an easier ride for the porters and it also means you will enjoy your Kilimanjaro experience so much more.
  3. Train, train, train. You need to come fully prepared for this challenge of a lifetime. Kilimanjaro is highly underestimated by so many people. You do need to train, you do need to come fully prepared to get the most out of your Kilimanjaro climb.
  4. Chose the right gear. We have the most watched Kilimanjaro packing video on You Tube. WATCH IT HERE. If you sign up to one of our Kilimanjaro climbs we send out a 45 page document with an itemized kit list for climbing Kilimanjaro.
  5. Have the right trekking boots for your Kilimanjaro climb. Your boots need to be warm and well insulated with excellent ankle support.
  6. Make sure you have the best guides. All our guides have gone through rigorous training and we have continual training available to them on the ground from our full time staff who are based in Arusha.
  7. Make sure you pick a team who have their own full time staff on the ground. We have our own Ian Taylor Trekking staff on the ground in support of your climb. We invest in our staff, sending them to college and invest in them continually.
  8. You need access to professional Kilimanjaro guides 5 days a week prior to your climb. Make sure you are getting all the up to date information on how to plan and prepare correctly for your Kilimanjaro climb.
  9. Have the more staff on the mountain in support of your Kilimanjaro climb.
  10. Have a security team as part of your Kilimanjaro trip. I have seen and heard of so many tents being robbed and items of clothing getting stolen. You need a security team to protect your valuables. We have 3 security guards for each team going up and down the mountain.
  11. Have quality tents in place. We use Mountain Hardwear Trango 4 tents. These are 4 person tents for 2 people. They are warmer, more spacious and more comfortable. Remember you spend a lot of time in these tents. We also use a Mountain Hardwear Dome Tent with comfortable camping seats.
  12. Have a professional chef preparing high quality food. We have 3, 3 course hot meals each day on the mountain. Our food and food menu is specifically designed to match the needs of each day climbing Kilimanjaro. Check out our food menu for your Kilimanjaro climbs.
  13. Do some mental preparation for the climb. Kilimanjaro demands respect. You can gain mental strength from your physical training. Give yourself the confidence and belief you can make it up and down the mountain.
  14. Be prepared for the outdoors. Do some camping prior to the trip. Test your sleeping bag, Therm-a-Rest and make sure you are comfortable and warm using them.
  15. Check each piece of gear you are bringing on the mountain and make sure it fits, works and makes sense to bring.
  16. Make sure your team have oxygen with the group at all times on your way up Kilimanjaro. Make sure you have the right gloves.
  17. Break in your Trekking boots. You do not want blisters on your feet at any stage of this trip.
  18. Make sure your team have a satellite communications device on our climb.
  19. Have 1 to 1 support for your summit night and summit attempt up Kilimanjaro.
  20. Pre hydrate before you come on the Kilimanjaro climb.
  21. Have your own portable team toilets in each camp site.
  22. Make sure you are drinking 4 to 5 liters of water per day up and down the mountain. Hydration is critical for a successful climb up Kilimanjaro.
  23. Make sure you have a cover for the nozzle of your camel bak hydration system. You do not want dust or dirt building up on your hydration device.
  24. Make sure you bring hydration salts and hyper hydration sachets.
  25. Make sure you bring a multi-vitamin for each day on the climb.
  26. Consider bringing Vitamin C, Vitamin B complex and Garlic. You should be taking these in your training and in the lead up to the trip. A strong immune system is really important.
  27. Do not show up sick for your Kilimanjaro climb. Activate your insurance and reschedule. You run the risk of getting other people sick and ruining their once in a lifetime trip. Also if your immune system is weak you run the risk of getting much worse and limits your chances of reaching the summit.
  28. Make sure your team have a number of oxygen cylinders with the group at all times on your way up Kilimanjaro.
  29. Take Diamox on Kilimanjaro from start to finish. Always consult your own Doctor, our doctors recommend 125mg morning and 125mg late afternoon. This can vary on the person, symptoms and a range of factors. Make sure you are not allergic to sulfa’s.
  30. If you are not keen on taking diamox, there are a few alternatives to taking diamox. Remember there is no substitute for good acclimatization.
  31. If you want to limit your chances of fatigue. You need to travel with professional guides who know how to pace each day of the trip perfectly. Pacing at high altitude is critical to success. I personally believe having the right pace each day if one of the most important elements of a safe and successful journey up and down Mount Kilimanjaro.
  32. Stay out of the sun as much as possible. With limited UV protection in low oxygen environments you need to be protected from the harsh rays of the sun. Use a brimmed hat, use factor 50 sun screen. If you get burned you add to the list of problems you can have on the side of a high altitude mountain like Kilimanjaro.
  33. Our food and menu is second to none on Kilimanjaro, but you might want to consider additional protein bars for each day. I like a very small bag of trail mix on the summit night along with a couple of packets of Clif Shot Bloks.
  34. Bring a battery pack. I use a Ravpower bank 22000 mah/ 83.6 wh
  35. Bring a solar panel. I use a Solpro Helios Smart.
  36. You need to wear a hat and sunglasses at all times. Protect your eyes from the sun especially if there is snow on the ground.
  37. Make sure you sleep with batteries and your phone. I have built in a compartment to hold batteries and my phone which I take most of my pictures and video on. You want to keep these items as warm as possible.
  38. Bring some dry bags to separate your gear. I have my socks and underwear (merino wool) in a separate bag. I then separate summit gear and try and separate my gear into what I need on a daily basis. Keep a separate bag for dirty cloths.
  39. Bring some plastic bags for your camp shoes and keep dirt off the rest of your gear. If you are walking around camp you will pick up dirt and dust and you want to keep this off the rest of your gear and out of our bag.
  40. Make sure you use your trekking poles. You will need them each day and I highly recommend them on all down hill sections of the trip.
  41. Have a separate set of cloths for sleeping. Always keep 1 pair of socks to change into when you arrive into camp and use these socks while you are in camp.
  42. Fill your Nalgene bottle each night with boiling water and but into your sleeping bag.
  43. If you are cold in your sleeping bag but your your down jacket down in by your feet or wherever you are cold. It will add additional warmth.
  44. Dry Shampoo can be useful along with some soap. You will receive hot water each day on arrival in camp and you may want to wash your hair. You may just want to stay with the baby wipe shower.
  45. Make sure you trim your toenails before the trip. You can also consider bringing a nail brush for your finger nails.
  46. Focus on one day at a time, don’t be thinking too much about the summit. The journey is far more important than the destination. This experience might just change your life so be present, enjoy each day as it comes.
  47. Get your tent in order and get a routine in place for how you want to manage your tent. Once I arrive in camp I like to get into the tent, set out my air mattress and sleeping bag. If you bring an inflatable pillow get it blown up. Change into my camp clothing, new socks, layers and do a quick wash. I then get my toilet paper out, toiletries lined up and get my head torch in the same place. It is good to get into a routine.
  48. Have the right attitude to what you are going to experience on Kilimanjaro. Be relaxed and calm at all times. One the biggest lessons I learned climbing Mount Everest and leading over 100 expeditions around the world is the more relaxed you are the better you will climb.
  49. Get to know the staff and listen to their stories. All of our team have a story to tell and they are always looking to improve their English.
  50. Here are 20 reasons you should pick Ian Taylor Trekking for your Kilimanjaro climb.

Visit Ian Taylor ‘s website


Sabino Kweka
I’m 33 years old boy and was born at Kimashuku village located at the base of mt Kilimanjaro. Currently, I’m Living in Moshi town and work as tour operator, running the tour company name POPOTE AFRICA ADVENTURES LTD.

I become a mount trekker because I used to work as porter to support myself with my education. So when I was working as a porter, I got in love with adventure and feel to invest more on the adventure and travel. Therefore, I went for further training and become a mountain guide with the aim to start my own tour company, that will be among of the best African based operators in Africa.


What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all Kilimanjaro trekkers bring?

  • Apart from having a water proof duffel bag, put a waterproof plastic bag inside to cover clients’ clothes in extra is very important to ensure maximum control from getting wet. Having wet clothes is not fun for clients at all, therefore, we our best to provide something extra to make sure clients’ clothes are dry all the time.
  • Oxygen tank is must – In all our operations, we must have at least two tanks of oxygen for a small group of up to six people, and at least three tanks for up to 12 people. This gives clients’ confidence and remove any of doubt of the trekking.
  • Oximeter – This is a small instrument used to test clients oxygen level and pausal rate of the clients. This helps to recognize the health progress of the clients.

How do you bring things with you?

We bring most of our luggage with a Duffel bag. There is no specific brand but most we use The North Face brand. This is of high quality and really water proof. The room is very enough as there are of different sizes. For us 45l is a very good size.

What are your top tips for other Kilimanjaro trekkers?

  • Pack on necessary equipment to avoid unnecessary weight.
  • Pack clothes of light nature but of high quality and easy to get dried.
  • On any mountain, make sure you have proper raining gear and wind breaker gears. It’s very important.
  • Keep yourself warm by making sure you have high quality warm gear.
  • Avoid tight shoes/hiking boat. Make sure your hiking boots have space to avoid blister on your tolls.
  • A pair of waterproof boots is also important.

Visit Sabino Kweka’s website


Bella Falk, Passport & Pixels

My name is Bella Falk and my blog is called Passport & Pixels. I’m a freelance TV producer and travel blogger/photographer from London, currently at home in my lovely West London flat writing my next blog post (about Morocco, in case you’re interested!)

I decided I wanted to climb Kilimanjaro after seeing so many photos (most only dating apps!) of people posing at the top next to the Uhuru Peak sign! I thought it looked like an amazing adventure and I wanted to get that photo too!
I put it off for ages, but eventually managed to persuade a friend to come with me, and the rest is history!


What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all Kilimanjaro trekkers bring?

I’m a massive planner, so I researched in extreme detail what people took and what I should bring. I wrote about all this planning on my blog too — take a look! So I don’t think I brought anything unnecessary or weird. Some things I found useful that might not be so obvious are:

  • Ziploc packing bags. These are really cheap but hugely helpful in organising your stuff and making it easier to find things.
  • Decongestant spray and hankies – the dust and the altitude can really mess with your sinuses!
  • Fleece trousers or comfy joggers for the campsite at night – I loved putting these on at the end of each day!

Things I brought but didn’t need are:

  • A shewee – if you don’t know what one is, google it! I simply couldn’t get the hang of it so I gave up!
  • Playing cards. After it got dark people tended to just sit and chat or go back to their tents to sleep.

I don’t think anyone brought anything crazy, though I did see a girl lugging a huge DSLR, lenses and tripod which I think was pretty brave!

How do you bring things with you?

I travelled with a tour company who gave us a soft bag to put our stuff in. We were allowed to bring that one bag, maximum 15kg of stuff, plus a day pack up the mountain. My day pack was a 40L Osprey Tempest, which was probably a bit too big but I didn’t think 30L was quite enough, and it was useful for all my camera gear when I went on safari after the trip. Inside my main bag I used Pack Mate plastic Compression bags to sort and organise my stuff and keep the rain out.

I was in Tanzania for a month, so I had a bit suitcase for the plane, into which I packed the soft bag the company gave us. When doing the climb, I left everything I didn’t need in the big suitcase in the hotel and just took the soft bag and the day pack on the climb.

What are your top tips for other Kilimanjaro trekkers?

My best recommendation for how to pack light is to read my packing list and just follow that! It was thoroughly researched and lists everything you will need, not too much, not too little. If you don’t deviate too far from that, you’ll be fine.

As for getting out of the door – all I can say is, just do it! Just get online, find the company, take a deep breath, and book. Don’t procrastinate! You definitely won’t regret it!

Visit Passport & Pixels


Becky the Traveller
I’m from Nottingham in the UK.

After my sister summitted Mt Kilimanjaro, I decided it looked like a challenge I wanted to complete as well so made the decision to book a trip at the beginning of my six-month career break travelling around the world. It was a pretty spectacular way to start the trip!


What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all Kilimanjaro trekkers bring?

  • I took a notebook and pen to capture all my thoughts and experiences on the trek. Since there is no signal or anywhere to charge your phone, it’s a lovely way to spend your time in the evenings after your hike in the day.
  • Head torch – this is not only useful on the final summit night when you are trekking to the top of Kilimanjaro but it’s handy to have around camp at night, especially when visiting the toilets. You generally want your hands free and not trying to go to the bathroom and hold a torch at the same time.
  • Balaclava – this was not only useful for hiking in the cold but at base camp, I was really cold so I slept with it on too!

Since I did the trek on my own, I didn’t see any useless things from other people!

How do you bring things with you?

I carried my belongings in a Berghaus 25L rucksack. As part of my tour, I had a 15kg allowance, which the porters carried up for me.

I organised my gear in dry bags so that it kept things dry in the event of a rainy day but also it meant it was easy to find things in the tent.

25-litres was plenty of space for my day bag.

What are your top tips for other Kilimanjaro trekkers?

Have one set of warm and dry clothes to wear when you arrive at the campsite so you always have something clean and dry. It helps you to relax and rest especially if you are staying dry!

Down jackets are perfect for this trip, they are lightweight but super warm too.

The main tip is to walk slow and don’t over-exert yourself at any point on the walk, even at the lower levels your body is starting to adapt to the high altitude so the more your rest and take it slow, the better the chance you have of reaching the summit.

Also, remember to wear sun cream on the way down from the summit! Once the sun is up, it gets pretty warm and I managed to burn my head. haha!

If you want to do it, pick a date and book it. Then you have the motivation and drive to get your training done before the trip! Although give yourself at least a couple of months, depending on your fitness so you can make sure you’re as fit as you can be for the trek!

Visit Becky the Traveller’s website


Miranda Markham
I am originally from Canada. I grew up in a small town in Ontario called, Kincardine. I now live in London, England with my husband, Graham.

We climbed Kilimanjaro in 2016 as part of a fundraising trip with the company my husband worked for at the time. We raised money to help build a school in Tanzania because my husband’s company did a lot of business there. We traveled with a group of 21 hikers from all different parts of the company. It was a diverse group ranging in age from 19-55 and of the 19 people that attempted the final summit, we all succeeded.


What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all Kilimanjaro trekkers bring?

My top three things I would recommend (beyond the usual stuff) are as follows:

  • A buff. I didn’t even know what this was before I left, but this became my go-to item and I wore it nearly every day. It’s a multi-purpose item that works well as a headband, bandana, neck warmer, facemask and more.
  • Warm, winter mittens, NOT gloves. This is important! My husband nearly didn’t make it to the summit because his hands were so frozen from his gloves. Tip: when your fingers are altogether in mittens, they stay warmer because they get heat from each other. Also, buy some toe and hand warmers from a store like Mountain Warehouse or Amazon. Stick these in your boots and mittens to help your hands and feet stay warm on summit night.
  • Baby powder and dry shampoo – A little baby powder can make you feel fresh and clean in lieu of a shower! Same concept for dry shampoo, though surprisingly my hair didn’t look too bad after 7 days of not showering!

One tip for women: some of the women on my trip had their nails painted a dark purple or even black before they left. This is because no matter how clean you try to be, you get tons of dirt under your nails. If this will bother you, paint your nails a dark colour in advance and you won’t notice.

In terms of useless things, I’d say leave your shorts at home. I never wore them. Also, unless you plan to use your phone for pictures, you can leave that behind as well. There’s no reception on the mountain!

How do you bring things with you?

I bought a 20-litre rucksack from Mountain Warehouse. This bag had a flap at the back for a hydration pack and a hole at the top where your the tube comes out, angled toward your mouth. I would highly recommend this system vs. a single or multiple water bottles. On average, I drank 2-3 litres of water per day so being able to sip continuously without effort was ideal. Having ziplock bags was a good way to organise things in both my day bag and the larger bag with my clothes. Socks in one bag, underwear in another, toiletries in another, etc. This ensure things didn’t get mixed up and made it easy to find things.

20 litres was fine for me. It always allowed enough space for the daily essentials: water, snacks, extra layers, sunscreen, lip balm, camera. The porters carry your larger bags, which were given to us by our trekking company.

What are your top tips for other Kilimanjaro trekkers?

Here are some of my general tips:

  • No cotton on Kili! Think dry-fit material or quick drying garments for all layers.
  • Lighter is better. Try to be as minimalist as possible. Your porters will thank you.
  • Think in layers and pack clothes you can layer effectively. On summit night, I literally wore seven layers. I was like a burrito. Mmm… burritos.
  • Finally, your trekking company will provide you with a list, and just like Santa, check it twice. Actually check it many times. Like 10 times. And then check it again.

Other tips:

  • Have one outfit that you will keep clean and wear on the celebration night after you’ve returned and had a shower. I screwed this up and didn’t have anything clean to wear! There is literally nothing worse than showering for the first time in seven days and having to put on crusty old socks. Ugh!
  • Make sure you head to a travel clinic before you go to ensure that all your vaccinations are up-to-date. I needed five!
  • If you’re taking drugs for altitude for malaria, make sure you pack them. Malaria pills are highly recommended. I used Malarone, which is slightly more expensive but doesn’t give you nightmares (a pretty rough side-effect of the cheaper version!) I also used altitude pills called, Diamox, which helps your body adjust to the altitude. But beware: they are a diuretic so you’ll be going a lot!

– And speaking of peeing a lot, pack a headlamp for night time trips to pee. I always had to get up at least once.

If you’ve been thinking about climbing Kili for a long time, I highly recommend just doing it. It is truly a life-changing experience and way less intimidating than it sounds. Do your research and find a trekking company that aligns with your vision for the trip and just make it happen. You won’t regret it.

Visit Miranda Markham’s website


Follow Alice
We are a Kilimanjaro operator (yes we do not use DMC’s and actually run the trip in collaboration with our local guides and leaders)

All of our team has been on the mountain and we simply love the trek!

#travelwithfriends

We organise small, handpicked group tours and bespoke adventures to the world’s most amazing destinations.

Our local leader friends from around the world will show you their home.

Together, we will make your next holidays the adventure of a lifetime.


What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all Kilimanjaro trekkers bring?

Assuming “the common stuff” includes all the right gear, etc.

  • A group of like minded people;
  • Enough batteries for the head torch as we climb the summit at night in order to experience the sunrise in the morning;
  • A book and set playing cards (or other fun and lightweight entertainment items) to play in the camp.

How do you bring things with you?

We have a produced a comprehensive packing video, which you can find on here and feel free to embed on your site.

Together with our packing list blog post, which you can find here.

As there are rules and regulations in place on Kilimanjaro, you are not allowed to carry all your stuff yourself.

(Yep, some people actually prefers that 😀 )

As a guideline we suggest the following:

  • 20/30L day pack (I personally use an Fjällräven – Abisko Friluft 45 due to being from Denmark and my collaboration with them.
  • 45L is a bit on the large scale but I need it for my camera gear, camelback, etc.
  • 80/100L duffle bag, which you hand over to the porters with everything you do not need during the day such as extra clothing, toilet bag , sleeping bag and sleeping mat.

What are your top tips for other Kilimanjaro trekkers?

We cover all those subject in depth on our site and also have made a documentary, which will add a lot of value to your readers.

Documentary “What it is really like to climb Kilimanjaro”

(we have been told that this is a big inspiration)

Kilimanjaro preparation:

Packing list:

Is it safe to climb Kilimanjaro

Kilimanjaro routes

Visit Follow Alice’s website


Wian Du Rand
We are based in South Africa. I am currently in Gauteng, South Africa. Being born in Africa and living here all my life it has always been a personal dream to hike and reach the top of Africa. It is also great to fully understand what we offer to people as well.


What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all Kilimanjaro trekkers bring?

  • A small lock for your bag – The reason for this is to lock your duffel bag on the mountain. Whilst, your crew might be trustworthy, there are many other companies that send up crews that are not paid enough, etc. Your camp is set up between a lot of different companies and once set up your porter usually goes to assist the rest of his crew and this gives others an opportunity to steal from other teams hikers.
  • Mobile Phone – Reception can be found on most parts of the mountain, just make sure you activate international roaming with your provider.
  • Roll of Duct Tape – This is used for emergency repairs to any clothing that might have torn whilst hiking.
  • Bring some bandages / blister plasters, Vaseline and liner socks. When and if you start to get blisters, these items will come in handy.
  • Make sure you travel with your most important items as hand luggage and wear your boots in the plane. If your luggage get lost by the airline, then you have your most important items and you can rent less important items.

The most useless things:

  • Makeup – Sure, you want to look good in your summit selfies, but when you’re out on the trails, you’ll be glowing with so much natural radiance you won’t even need to apply makeup.
  • Most newbie hikers pack way more toiletries than they actually need, considering you could go a full trip without taking a real “shower”. As long as you have a toothbrush/toothpaste, deodorant, wet wipes to “shower” with, and toilet paper, you’ll be good to go.
  • Are you a professional photographer? Are you being paid for the photos you plan to take on Kilimanjaro? If your answer isn’t a resounding yes to both questions, there’s no reason to bring your heavy camera and all those fancy zoom lenses with you on your climb.

How do you bring things with you?

You will require two bags for the hike:

  1. Duffel Bag: +/- 80 litres for transporting gear. Important! Even if the duffel bag is waterproof, it is recommended to get a waterproof liner or make sure everything inside your duffel bag is packed into waterproof bags. These bags usually have enough room for everything you will need.
  2. Daypack: Volume of between 20 & 35 Litres. Large enough to carry personal items such as your camera, water bottles, rain gear, snacks & warm clothing. Try to get a day-pack with a built-in rain cover or make sure to buy one separately.

    By simply organizing your bags and ensuring you are not taking any unnecessary things with you up the mountain you will have more than enough space in your bags for the entire hike.

    What are your top tips for other Kilimanjaro trekkers?

    A great tip is the use of Ziplock bags inside your duffel bag. Pack all your clean and dry clothes inside of this bag. Your clothes will then remain dry, clean and organised throughout the hike and you will be able to throw in your dirty and wet clothes into the bag without having to worry about your clean clothes being affected.

    Ask your hotel if they provide a storage facility. Should they have this facility, store any extra luggage you will not need at the hotel with clean clothes for after the hike when you return to the hotel.

    Do not rush when hiking up the mountain. Your guide should constantly be telling you “Pole Pole” which means slowly slowly. Kilimanjaro is not a marathon. You will be averaging around 10km a day, and have the entire day to hike this. You will greatly increase your chance at summiting by simply hiking the route 1 step at a time.

    In my experience, a great way to make this more than just a dream is to find yourself a good tour Operator. Go through what info they provide and lay down your deposit. This will encourage you to start. Hiking Kilimanjaro will change your way of life. You will need to train and eat right in order to get the full experience from this trip.

    “Everyone has mountains to climb sometimes those mountains are in our mind, true triumph is about trying whatever the result.”

    Visit Wian Du Rand’s website


Shirley Tharp aka Bibi

I recently retired from teaching high school math and now live in the Western North Carolina mountains. I’ve been a North Carolina hiker nearly eight years and have been climbing as many of the US state highpoints as I can. After successfully summiting a couple of 14,000 footers out west, I decided that I would give Kilimanjaro a try. When I made my final decision to make the trek, my family and friends asked me to take some ashes of six souls they wanted me to scatter at the summit. With that honor in mind, my final decision to make the trip was a resounding YES! After the trip, I just had to write a memoir of the entire experience, primarily for the family members who entrusted me with their loved ones. The title of my story is aptly titled Solo to Seven Six More in the Wind and is available on Amazon.


What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff all Kilimanjaro trekkers bring?

I wore the SPOT Gen3 satellite tracker every day of my trek and this was the most interesting and useful item that I took with me. This device allowed everyone who had the shared link to track every step I made up the mountain. On summit night, my entire family watched me make my way up from Barafu Camp. They were able to see when I finally reached Stella Point and agonized with me as I made the final ascent to Uhuru Peak. When I finally made it, my daughter took a screenshot of the tracker map and published it on Facebook for all to see. The second item I found useful was the TinkleBelle, a female urinary device. This device was quite helpful for the long days on trail where the toilet tent was nowhere in sight. This device allowed me to relieve myself discretely while still standing and without having to remove my pack. Lastly, the most useful item I took that was not necessarily on the suggested pack list was the NeoAir mini air pump. I used an additional air mattress on top of the thin pad provided by my trekking company. The mini air pump was much appreciated as we climbed higher up the mountain and my ability to blow the mattress up myself diminished.

The most useless item I brought was the Suunto GPS Ambit3 watch. This watch’s altimeter feature worked at lower altitudes but failed on summit night. I also brought way too many snacks that were just added weight. I took the recommended number of snacks that were on the pack list provided by my trekking company but they fed us very well and I was never hungry for extra snacks.

How do you bring things with you?

I had all of my gear that was carried by the porter stored in the 90 liter Patagonia Black Hole duffle bag. In hindsight, I wished I had the 120 liter! While everything fit fine initially, as we traveled up the mountain it became harder and harder to stuff everything bag into the 90L bag every morning. The 120L would have helped prevent a lots of huffing and puffing to get everything stored in a timely manner each day.

For organization, I used jumbo sized zip lock bags to store and separate my clothing. One bag for each clothing type: shirts, underwear/socks, summit night clothes, etc. The zip lock bags allowed me to squeeze out all the air and compress the items inside for more compact storage.

I also used an oversized compression sack for my expedition weight down sleeping bag. I really appreciated the larger sized compression sack since my bag was rated for -20 degrees F and took up quite a bit of room. If I had used the recommended size compression sack, it would have been much harder to get the bag in the sack as we climbed up the mountain. Do not underestimate how tired and out of breath you get with simple tasks the higher up you climb.

My daypack was a 50 liter ULA Ohm 2.0. With it’s roll top opening, it had the flexibility to carry just what I needed for the day. The hip belt had two straps that allowed for a customized fit and the hip belt pockets were large enough to hold several Cliff bars and other needed small items.

What are your top tips for other Kilimanjaro trekkers?

My top tips for anyone thinking about trekking to Kilimanjaro is to train, train, train! My training regime was a bit different from what many would expect as I did not have any mountains of significant elevation anywhere close to me. Instead of hiking up mountains, I participated in step aerobic classes three to four times a week and did strength training one time a week for an entire year. After the year of training, I felt like I was as physically fit as I could be at age 58.

If you are a trekker, don’t be afraid to take altitude sickness prevention medications. Three people on my trip were very much against taking it and out of the three of them, one did not make it to the summit. Those of us who were taking it all made it to the top. While taking medication does not guarantee success, it does help with some symptom.

I saw a lot of younger and fitter trekkers hiking out in front of their guides, and later, these same trekkers were being hustled off the mountain due to altitude sickness. The biggest mistake you can make is to not listen to every word your guide tells you. Going slowly, even if it seems ridiculously slow paced for you, is the best way to acclimate to altitude. Go slow and stay behind your guides at all times because they know the pace that is best to help ensure a successful summit.

I was 58 years old when I began my journey to the Rooftop of Africa. If you want to climb Kilimanjaro, do not let age deter you from your dreams. Train well, maintain a healthy weight, and really, just do it.

Visit Shirley Tharp aka Bibi’s website



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