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What to consider during Kilimanjaro climb

Pole pole!

That is Kiswahili for “slow and steady” and you will hear it day in, day out.

It’s the single most important thing to keep in mind during the climb. I can tell you now, no matter what you expect, you will be surprised when you see just HOW slow your guides make you walk. Everything on Kilimanjaro happens in slow motion.

You walk so slowly, the first days it seems ridiculous. You may even feel you just CAN’T possibly walk THAT slowly. (If you have that problem, breathe through your nose only. That’ll slow you down.)

Soon you will notice some changes. You stop for a photo and catching up with your group leaves you breathless. Drinking from your camel back while walking becomes an effort. The slow, slow speed does not seem so slow any more…

Whatever happens, do avoid exertion at all cost. Falling behind the group? So what? That’s why bigger groups have several guides.

Do not be tempted into speeding up because others are walking faster. (Serious altitude sickness is more common in groups than it is during private climbs!)

Another group overtaking? Let them! You will pass their crumpled bodies soon enough…

There is NOTHING to gain on Kilimanjaro by being the first.

Do you know which group has the lowest success rate? Young males between 20 and 30, exactly the people you think would do the best.

But they overestimate the role of fitness and underestimate the mountain. Often they feel they have to lead, they don’t like being overtaken, and being the strongest and fittest makes it just sooo easy to walk too fast.

Do you know that older people have a good success rate? They are wiser than that. And many of them just aren’t fit enough to make the mistake of walking too fast.

Extreme fitness can be a trap. You don’t feel the strain, but your body uses lots of oxygen all the same.

Ok, I think you got the message. Pole pole!