A few weeks ago, we had written about why you should add Kilimanjaro to your bucket list. Kili is indeed a magnificent mountain that invariably changes one’s life. However, despite all its attractiveness and the fact that it is not a technical trek, this adventure needs the right partner, since many factors can make this experience enjoyable and successful or can ruin it entirely. Here are some critical points to keep in mind:
1. Track record of the company: safety and success rate
Obviously, you want to be certain that the company that will take you to the top of Africa is 100% reliable. There is no room for errors on the mountain. So, before you commit, check the number of climbs they have led, their safety measures, and the successfulness of their expeditions.
Rahhalah has led already 34 climbs on Kili, with an over 90% success rate. This impressive feat has been accomplished while putting safety first. We monitor all the participants closely, we take no risks even at the slightest suspicion that one’s body cannot cope the altitude, and, during the last couple of days towards the summit, we carry oxygen to use in case of an emergency.
2. Analysis of the company’s experience
Experience does not come only with the number of climbs or the success rate, but also with the number of people who have been led on this trail. Every person comes with a different combination of physical preparedness, psychological attitude, priorities, and food requirements, so knowing how to deal with each case is a significant advantage.
Rahhalah has led 250 people on Kili, men and women, of all ages and backgrounds, even individuals with physical disabilities. We know what to expect in each case, which offers to our clients a feeling of calmness, reassurance, and safety that cannot be translated in words but can definitely be felt on the mountain.
Additionally, the Kili hike is not just one of the many trips that Rahhalah offer. It is one of our core products – an itinerary on which we have worked meticulously for years, finetuning and perfecting it. All the Rahhalah partners have been on this hike – the CEO of the company herself has led 10 trips there! – which has added further expertise.
3. Food on the trail
Usually, mountain meals are notoriously mediocre, which is very unpleasant when you are exhausted, maybe cold, and you want something to lift your spirits. So, having tasty and healthy food on the trail – a menu that will support your needs but will also please you with its variety – is an often overlooked but very critical factor.
In Rahhalah, we have taken this issue very seriously, and we have perfected our Kili-hike menu, ensuring that the hikers get all the necessary carbs and proteins that they need for the physical effort, while they enjoy delicious meals in the mess tent three times per day.
4. Preparation process – step 1: am I fit to climb Kili?
It is normal that everyone who has not hiked on high altitude mountains before is concerned about his/her physical competence for the task. You may make an arbitrary assessment by yourself, or you may consult a doctor or a trainer. But, is there anything more you can do?
Rahhalah does not wish to let you carry this uncertainty on the mountain. We offer everyone a free assessment early enough before the climb, as well as analytical training guidelines to assist you in your preparation. As such, you have further reassurance from the experts on what you can achieve and how.
5. Preparation process – step 2: Gear
Most novice climbers cannot imagine the importance that gear plays in such a hike. A good backpack, the right sleeping bag, the appropriate hiking boots, all can either help you succeed or ruin your changes. Also, on this trail, you will move through different landscapes, from forests to the ancient glaciers, so the clothes you will carry should cover every case on the way.
Even though there is plenty of information on the internet, advice, and related videos, it is difficult to make the right choices, especially when considering the expense of such gear. So, in Rahhalah, we help you all the way, offering support – even physical demonstrations of what you need to buy – so that you get everything that you need, nothing more and nothing less. We also make suggestions about brands that have worked well for us in the future, and, finally, we recommend some shops where you may get a discount as a Rahhalah client.
6. Preparation process – step 3: Overall guidance
Preparing for Kili includes many other issues besides physical training and gear purchases, especially if you are new to the experience. You need to know how to pack for the trip and for each day, what snacks to carry, the amount of water you should drink and how to prepare for it, the medication that may help you face the altitude, logistics, etc. It is a lot of work if you have not done it before.
Rahhalah does not leave you alone in this. We take you by the hand, and we assist in every step so that you feel comfortable, and you can focus on the task ahead. From our guidelines and administrative support till the final check of the gear in Arusha, we are by your side.
7. Check the route on Kili – step 1: what option will you follow?
There are several trails on Kili, and you may be at a loss on what to decide. One factor to consider is the scenic landscape. Which route offers you the best views on the mountain?
Rahhalah has chosen to follow the Machame route which takes you through five distinct ecological regions: the lower slopes, the forest, the moorland, the highland desert, and the summit. You start in a dense, forest area, possibly with muddy forest floors, which is Kilimanjaro’s most fertile zone. Then vegetation becomes shorter, as you pass by giant Groundsels and Lobelias with a vast blue sky shining above. Above 4,000 meters, you will be climbing in the desert where seasons interchange within the same day: summer by daytime and winter by night. Finally, above 5,000 meters you will face semi-arctic conditions: subzero temperatures at night and hot sun during the day. This variety is motivation enough for someone to attempt the Kili hike! 😊
8. Check the route on Kili – step 2: which is the safest?
The biggest challenge one faces while hiking on Kili is the altitude, so acclimatization is of critical importance.
Although there are routes that will take you to the summit in fewer days – and, hence, also cost less – we, in Rahhalah, insist on the 7-day trail to ensure everyone has the necessary time to acclimatize and increase their chances of summiting, while putting safety first.
9. The support team on the mountain
While on Kili, expect to be helped by several people, from the porters who move the tents and the gear from one camp to the next, to your guides that will show you the way. On the surface, most local teams may look the same, but, in reality, there are several levels of expertise and qualifications that need to be taken into consideration.
Rahhalah has done this for you, for we have hand-picked our local support team, ensuring that they are certified to offer the necessary aid on the mountain, while they are well equipped and experienced to handle any case or emergency that may arise. Our people will not only be your “solid rock” when you feel wobbly, but they will also become your friends. They will sing with you, they will tell you stories, they will smile to you when you need it the most while, at the same time, they will calm you down when you get anxious, and they will protect you – even from your own self – when needed.
10. Fair treatment of the local support team
Unfortunately, local staff in underdeveloped countries are not always treated fairly as the legal system is not enough to protect them, and many companies prefer to cut a few corners when possible.
In Rahhalah, the treatment of our support team is a priority not only because this reflects on our clients but, above all, because this reflects on us and our values. We collaborate with the same people for years, we train them and equip them, we pay them well, and, in general, we want to make sure that they are not being taken advantage of. As such, we are also members of KPAP – the Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project: a non-profit organization that promotes socially responsible climbs on Kili and aims at improving the working conditions on the porters on the mountain.