Fitness for Kilimanjaro climb
Though climbing Mount Kilimanjaro does not require special mountaineering skills, the experience will be more enjoyable and memorable if you are in good physical shape. This is not to say that you must be an athlete- if you can comfortably walk up to 15 km per day, you may consider yourself physically prepared for a Kilimanjaro adventure.
At the same time, there are some basic exercises that can maximize your fitness level for the Kilimanjaro hike.
Cardio (aerobic) training
The purpose of cardio training is to stimulate and optimize your body’s oxygen consumption. Being able to trek without being unduly short of breath despite high altitude goes a long way towards making the climb more enjoyable.
Good examples of cardio training include jogging (or running on a treadmill), swimming, martial arts, and cycling. They train your circulatory system, making it better prepared for using limited amounts of oxygen efficiently.
If you haven’t practiced any aerobic activity for a while, our advice is to start training 2-4 months before the start of your Kilimanjaro adventure. If, however, you are training rather regularly, you should just keep the regime.
At the same time, we recommend giving yourself a break from exercise for a couple of weeks before the climb.
Mistakes of the physically fit climbers
Those who are in excellent shape are particularly prone to overextending themselves by hiking too fast, especially on the first days of the trek. This has often been seen to result in the fittest climbers, including professional athletes, dropping out of the climb after 3-4 days, while the less fit members of the group would have gone on to summit successfully. The importance of allowing sufficient time for acclimatization cannot be overstated!
Remember: good fitness level helps you tackle fatigue, but it only has a moderate effect on your acclimatization transition. However fit you may be, always walk slowly.
Hiking trips in the countryside
Essentially, Mount Kilimanjaro adventure is a long hike over often rugged mountain terrain with many up- and downhills. Making a few day trips (hiking time should be 5-10 hours) in the countryside is a good way to understand what lies ahead and prepare yourself.
Moreover, if you buy new boots for your Kilimanjaro climb, these trips will be a good way to break them in. Using previously unworn hiking boots can easily detract from one’s enjoyment of the mountain by giving one sores and blisters.