At the summit, we pulled out two cans of Molson Canadian, which I had been carrying in my backpack for the past four and a half days and chugged them. When that refreshing, icy-cold, great-Canadian liquid touched our lips, it hit us: we were on top of the world, at 19,341ft, thousands of kilometers away from home, being young and reckless, but we’ve never felt more Canadian! …because that’s what Canadian’s do. We push our limits; we believe in diversity, not assimilation; we travel the world and take joy in experiencing other cultures; and we do things that make us better and stronger. It’s CANada, not CAN’Tada. The way we see it, a CAN do attitude is as much a CANADIAN attitude as hockey and maple syrup! You’ve got to climb a mountain at least once in your life, we recommend Kilimanjaro as a good starting point. Here’s ten things that Arielle and I came up with that will add to your trip being amazing!
Going with a buddy is a great idea for a few reasons: one, you have someone to push and motivate you during the climb; two, having someone to sleep in your tent is awesome during those long and cold nights; three, travelling to and from Tanzania is a long flight and you need someone to play “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” on the plane with! (We got to the million-dollar question once! Who the heck knows what Mickey Mouse’s name was before it changed to Mickey? …Mike? It was Mortimer.)
Reversal: we had three Americans on our trip, all of whom travelled by themselves.
Trip costs are broken down into two parts in this section: one, how much the whole trip is; and two, how much tips for your mountain guides are. Let’s skip the particulars of full trip costs and summarize the general categories: flight, climbing package, immunizations and travel drugs, gear expenses, visa, tip and spending money.
Tips are paid in cash at the end of the trip and add up to a few hundred dollars, so it’s good to be aware of them. Tips can vary slightly by climbing company, but ours were broken down like this: $15 per day for guides, $10 per day for chef(s), $8 per day for porters. We had 19 staff for a seven-day period, so it’s easy for these costs to add up. You split the tip total with the rest of your group, so divide tip total by number of people in your group.
Tour companies range from around $1500USD to $2500USD based on route and duration of climb. We recommend a local tour company (such as Top Climbers Expedition) because they are more knowledgeable and tend to be a better bang for your buck.
Lemosho is the route we climbed; we chose it because it’s not as crowded as other routes. For example, the Marangu route, nicknamed “The Coca Cola route,” is the oldest and most established route and the Machame route (“The Whiskey Route”) is quicker and less expensive, so they both tend to have more climbers. Also, Lemosho is extremely scenic, boasting rainforest, jungle, desert, moorlands and glaciers. We ended up fast tracking our seven-day Lemosho route and summiting in 6-days; this didn’t mean that we missed anything or shortened our incredible experience – only that we kicked butt and know how to climb a mountain!
Reversal: Our guide said the Machame route was his favourite route and there’s something to be said about things that are “the oldest and most established” – they have withstood the test of time and proven their merit (so Marangu could be a good option).
You need to get a bunch of shots and drugs before your trip and you need to get a few several months in advance. You don’t want to be scrambling to figure out these life-saving drugs the night before. Also, these shots/drugs kind of add up $$$.
Immunization for Yellow Fever, Typhoid, Hep A and Tetanus.
Dukarol – Prevents you from diarrhea-ing yourself to death (from Cholera) – actually.
Diamox – Altitude sickness.
Malarone – Malaria.
Reversal: we got diarrhea pills and never ended up using them. But then again, do you really want to take that chance?
We got someone to carry a private bathroom up the mountain for us, so that at 15,000 ft it would feel like a Swedish day spa after a hard week at the office. I know what you are thinking… seriously? Defense argument: we were recommended this by a veteran climber and it’s safe to say he knows his ****. But seriously, all immature puns aside, the washrooms on the mountain are called “long pits” – the name says it all.
Reversal: if you like crapping in a dark, smelly hole, please disregard.
One less thing to pack and sleeping bags are pretty bulky. On the mountain the temperature drops to zero and below; you do not want to be lying in a cold tent freezing. The sleeping bags we rented were equipped for -37 degrees Celsius and allowed us to have picture perfect beauty sleeps, giving us the energy to climb thousands of feet each day, for long hours, in cold weather and high altitude. Also, buy a liner from your local outdoors store (if you live in Toronto, MEC is a good option), so that you have another layer of protection against the cold.
Reversal: even though are sleeping bags rocked, we have heard the opposite, that rental bags can be old/gross/overused/smelly – pick one. Email your climbing company to find out exactly what they will be giving you.
“Moisture is the essence of wetness, and wetness is the essence of beauty.” – Derek Zoolander. Water keeps you hydrated, which helps manage the altitude and your Diamox (which is a diuretic). Our guides recommended we drink five liters of water a day; we drank six, just to one up them.
Reversal: or you can step it up a notch and drink the hard stuff instead (joking, but please note beer chugging picture above to see how it’s done – only recommended for Canadians).
On the mountain, things are far way, making countless photo opportunities, great views and other shots difficult to capture on a standard smart phone, which lacks good zoom capabilities. Kilimanjaro boasts some of the most beautiful views that you will ever see in your life!!! …and you really want to be able to capture them. A zoom SLR camera is the perfect tool! We brought a Nikon D3200.
Reversal: bring a camera guy/crew to do it for you ;)
You are already going on a big trip, so why not add some more excitement to it. We went to Cape Town after. Cape Town is one incredible city.
Reversal: time might not be on your side or you’re intense AF and you’re onto you’re next mountain!!!