Let us rewind back to the winter of 2014. My fiancé at the time came to me with an idea he thought was brilliant. He wanted to climb Mount Kilimanjaro on our honeymoon. I was barely listening to him, because it was the farthest thing from my mind at the time. I thought he was joking! However, after he began delving more into the trip, I realized he was serious. I was dead against the idea at first, as all I wanted to do was lie on a beach on my honeymoon; wasn’t that what a honeymoon was supposed to be? Relaxing?
Yet he somehow began selling me this crazy idea…
- We were both at a relatively decent fitness level
- It would be a challenge we could take on together
- …And it may just be the trip of a lifetime
We hiked and summited Kilimanjaro in November 2015! Looking back on this amazing experience, I can honestly say, everyone* should do it. And they should do so, for the following reasons.
The peak of Mount Kilimanjaro is at a height of 5895 metres, considered extreme altitude, and not to be taken lightly. The route we would be hiking, the Marangu, was the only one with “hut” rather than “tent” accommodation. This sounded great initially; however when I began researching, something called the “summit success rate,” popped up, and my heart sunk. The 5-day Marangu route had a summit success rate of 75%. Therefore 25% of hikers on this route did not make it to the summit, mainly due to altitude sickness. This was due to the fast, rather than gradual acclimatization offered by this route. We had learned that adding days on the mountain would increase our chances of summiting, and reduce risk of altitude sickness. As such, we finally chose the 6-day Marangu option. We planned to be physically ready for the exertion of a 6-day long hike, yet we could not prepare much for altitude.
It was an awe-inspiring journey, mostly that last summit night climb. I kept going due to adrenalin; would have pushed my body through altitude sickness if the need arose, I was so dead set on summiting! Most of the time, from the reduced oxygenation to the body, I felt like I was breathing out a lung. When I stopped moving my lungs were so much happier. When we reached the summit I was literally euphoric!
Summiting Kilimanjaro is an accomplishment that nobody can take away from you, and a very good reason for anyone to climb that mountain!
It will force you to get your body ready:
When climbing Kilimanjaro, at minimum, you will be hiking for 5 days. We had mostly experienced hikers with us, who were surprised that we were keeping up! Your physical fitness does matter on this one. For training, I focused on a combination of cardiovascular and lower body strengthening. A rookie mistake of mine: I ignored upper body training. We had to carry our 10-15 pound backpacks, and on the descent, poles as well. Needless to say, my untrained arms were not happy. Core training is also essential for this climb. The last day is a steep uphill grind and your back will definitely take a hit. Don’t neglect your arms and core, and smile more on this climb!
I’ve never felt so amazing physically as after I completed the climb. You can, too!
It will force you to become an expert:
For fun, I decided to start a YouTube series on the topic, “How to Prepare for Climbing Kilimanjaro.” I learned so much from this. The biggest issue is usually, how to adjust to altitude, which can get you on the way up as well as the way down, and my husband can attest to this. He said he felt “drunk” while descending a snow-capped mountain!
Check out my series here:
You can knock it off your bucket list:
Smile, and cross it off with a big, fat Sharpie. It may have been an odd choice for a honeymoon; I call it a relationship test! It was a body and mind workout, and made me feel truly alive. I feel lucky to have completed the climb with my best friend.
For any additional inquiries, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Now when I mean everyone, I am excluding children, those with certain health conditions, or those of the older persuasion with potentially underlying health conditions (get checked out by your Physicians, folks).