Welcome to Part 2 of the mini series on how to prepare for climbing Kilimanjaro. The guest blogger in this case is Vikki Allan. I’m excited to say that Vikki achieved a Guinness World Record after her successful climb to the summit of Kilimanjaro. This mini series will detail what you need in order to climb it, the preparation she went through and the climb itself. To read more from the guest blogger then you can find her on Twitter here: @vikkimallan. I’ll now pass you over to Vikki…
Where to start… on the 22nd May 2017 I was asked if I would be available to referee a match at some point in June and it would be slightly different… After initially agreeing very sceptically I found out that I would be travelling to Tanzania on 15th June to be an Assistant Referee on a world record breaking match on top of Kilimanjaro!!
The reason for this match was to raise awareness of gender inequality within sports. What better way to do this than climb Kilimanjaro and break a record that had never been done before? I was super excited but also wondering how on earth I was going to climb a mountain with only three weeks training and also not being able to actually train to my full potential due to prior engagements!
So I thought I would write a few blogs on how to prepare for climbing Kilimanjaro, how the trek up Kilimanjaro is and how to spend my very limited two days seeing Tanzania!
Click here to read the previous How to Prepare for Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro blog: Part 1
I was given a list of first aid things I should take with me including the usual medication; however there were a couple of items on there that are more for climbing mountains in Africa.
Malaria Tablets – I went to a travel clinic to get my malaria tablets and was given 2/3 different options.
Benefits: Take one/two days before going to Africa, take every day once while in Africa and then for seven days once home.
Cost: For my trip was around £45
Side effects/negatives: Crazy dreams, sore stomach, nausea, rash (and others but depends on the individual)
Benefit:- Much cheaper than Malarone
Cost: For my trip was around £9
Side effects/negatives: nausea, thinning of skin which can cause sun burn. You must take these for one/two days before trip, once a day for duration of trip and then for 27 days after trip. If you do not finish the course you could run the risk of malaria.
This is no longer recommended due to many people who used this suffering from severe depression.
Remember that all of these medications only prevent malaria they do not stop it affecting you, so there is still a chance you could suffer from this. Also if you miss a day you run the risk as well.
For my trip I chose Doxycycline, this was mainly down to cost although if I went back I would maybe chose Malarone. I still had a lot to buy in the two weeks prior to my trip and wasn’t sure how much my other medication was going to cost. I did suffer up the mountain while on doxycycline and was told to stop taking it while taking my Diamox…
This is an anti-altitude sickness medication, again this is only to prevent you suffering from altitude sickness and does not guarantee that it actually will. I took this for the duration of my climb and (now) don’t think I suffered from altitude sickness. Although while I was climbing that was questionable but we now believe that it was a bad mix with my malaria medication. Side effects of this include tingling in hands and feet, not being able to taste fizz in fizzy drinks, needing to go to the bathroom constantly and many others. In the UK we found it extremely difficult to get Diamox as it isn’t readily available on the NHS. I had to get a private prescription through my doctor. I had seen this could cost up to £100 for the dosage I needed online, however I was pleasantly surprised when I received it for £9. This is when I probably wished I had gone for Malarone over Doxycycline…
So on the medication front, not great fun; however I did manage a trip up Kilimanjaro so they may have aided that!
Travelling to Africa from the UK also meant that I needed some injections prior to travelling. It is recommended you get these at least a month prior to travel…. Great when you only have three weeks!! So I had to go to a travel clinic to get these.
Injections recommended for Tanzania are: Hepatitis A, Tetanus and Typhoid.
Others can be recommended so just see a health professional prior to going. I think all in all my vaccinations cost about £200.
Tanzania shilling is the official currency of Tanzania, however while I was there all they wanted me to pay in was US Dollar. It is a difficult one as you can’t really work out how much you should be paying especially in shops that don’t have money. It is also difficult to get change from your $ as they say they don’t have change. So just be smart when purchasing anything.
This is a big thing in Tanzania so please be ready to tip with US $ for any tourist trips you go on. Especially after climbing the mountain they have a big ritual so be ready to present. The ritual includes presenting each individual that has helped you during the trip in front of everyone with their tip. Please remember to be generous with your tip as this is the porter and guides livelihood, you would not be able to make it up this mountain without them. I have seen lots of different amounts posted online, in my group we gave $100 each and split it between all of the crew, however if I had the cash I would have given more.
One of the most stressful things prior to my trip was trying to obtain my visa. Obviously not having all the time in the world to get this prior to going but also having a trip to France booked in those three weeks I made sure I sent my visa away asap.
Now you can get your Visa on arrival in Tanzania and if you have any concerns about your passport going missing I do recommend this over sending it to the embassy. This cost me £40 and was guaranteed it would be back within 10 business days. This however did not happen and I’m not sure when it would have come back. No matter how many times I emailed or called I didn’t get a response. Eventually I had a family member down in London so I asked them to go and try picking it up for me, thankfully this worked and I got to go on my weekend trip to Nice in France!
Now our guides did give snacks everyday however they weren’t really to my liking and I have to admit a sneaky mini Mars bar or mini Twix when you got in after walking that day was just a great energy boost. Take along a few snacks if you can, like I say it’s not the end of the world as they do give these out but it was a nice treat.
Other silly things to take (if you have space & weight left)…
Baby wipes, for those days that you just feel horrible it was quite nice to have a baby wipe to have a quick clean. Vaseline was a life saver further up the mountain along with a bandana/snood. It can get pretty cold up the top with a lot of wind, my lips started to crack and my nose was sore from the harsh weather. Vaseline was great to protect both of these along with a bandana when it is warmer to just keep the wind of and a snood when it was colder.
Hand and feet warmers, boy was I glad I had these!!! At night when it was freezing I could put hand/feet warmers in with me in the sleeping bag to keep me warm for the first few hours as I tried to sleep. One thing I didn’t take but wish I had by the end was dry shampoo. Guys I know this isn’t one for you but ladies if you can get it in do it. My hair was horrible by the end of my trip, I had it hidden at all costs and the people who had brought dry shampoo you would have thought they had been washing every day!
Watch out for my blogs coming soon on my trek to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro!