Kili Series: Training & Packing for Mt. Kilimanjaro

Part 2 of the Kili Series: Everything you need to know to get up and down Mount Kilimanjaro. (Part 1)

So you’ve decided that you want to climb Kilimanjaro? While Kilimanjaro is easier than some of the more technical mountains, the high altitude makes any sort of exertion a challenge. Read more about that in my previous post. This post will have the training program we used as well as a recommended packing list for the climb.

This is the training regime from Team Kilimanjaro that I used to train for the mountain. As  you can see you need to begin at least 12 weeks/3 months prior to your climb, more if you have difficulty jogging two miles.

Team Kilimanjaro's 12 Week Training Programme


Jog: Jogging is the most effective cardiovascular exercise but is high impact and so carries a risk of injury. Always stretch off and warm up thoroughly before each session. Jogging should be at a pace at which it is just about possible to maintain a conversation with a partner provided sentences are kept very short. If injury appears likely it may be necessary to substitute with cycling or swimming.

Timed run: Try to accurately determine a 1.5 mile course that has a little rise and fall but no big hills. Warm up thoroughly and aim for the best time you’re capable of. Note your time down. Reduced times as your training course progresses are a reassuring proof of increased cardiovascular strength.

Hill training: try to find an incline near to where you live that would be long enough to sprint up for a minute. A single repetition involves an ascent and descent without any break in between. If you choose to jog down ensure that you take small strides and that your knees are never locked. Aim to minimise the time spent resting between repetitions.

Swim: a useful non-impact cardiovascular exercise with the added benefit of strengthening your shoulders for load bearing. If you experience pains or niggles when you jog substitute some jogging sessions for swimming. If you thoroughly dislike being in water or can’t swim, cycling is a good low-impact alternative but is difficult in bad weather and carries risks of its own.

Circuits: Strengthening the midriff and shoulders and will minimise the risk of neck strain, and shoulder and back injuries caused by carrying your day sack on the mountain. Typically, a circuit session could consist of: 25 press ups; 35 sit ups; 15 dips; 5 pull ups; 20 press ups; 30 sit ups; 12 dips; 4 pull ups; 15 press ups; 25 sit ups; 8 dips; 3 pull ups.

Interval training: This is a vigorous and very effective form of cardiovascular strength training and is a run that is punctuated with short periods of very intensive output. Typically jog at moderate pace for 5 minutes then sprint for 20 seconds exactly; jog for 3 minutes moderately then run hard for 1 minute; jog 4 minutes, sprint 30 seconds; jog 8 minutes, run hard 2 minutes; jog 5 minutes, sprint 30 seconds, etc, etc. Very hard work but reaps dividends.

Hillwalking: This is an essential aspect of preparation for Kilimanjaro. Ensure that you are on ground familiar to you and aim to keep moving at a good pace with only short breaks now and then. Take plenty of water with you and drink little and very often. You’ll be carrying more weight than when you’re on Kilimanjaro and so will be simulating the exaggerated sense of fatigue experienced at high altitude.

Packing List


  • Large Rucksack or Holdall, 70-90L capacity (for kit carried by porter)
  • Daysack, 25-35L (for personal use on mountain; ready-access items)
  • Sleeping Bag (sleeping mattresses are provided)
  • Waterproof rucksack liner or heavy duty plastic sack
  • Elasticated waterproof rucksack cover 
Clothing for climbing Kilimanjaro
  •  Sweat-wicking T-shirts / vests
  •  Fleece 
  •  Insulated down jacket or similar for summit
  •  Down mittens
  • Mid-weight gloves
  • Thermal long-johns for summit night
  •  Lightweight walking trousers (avoid jeans or similar as they chafe)
  • Underwear (Ladies, bring liners, they’ll help you feeling fresh longer)
  • 3 pairs very good quality hiking socks
  • 1 pair thin liner socks
  • Breathable lightweight waterproofs (jacket and trousers)
  • Waterproof walking boots, sturdy and worn-in
  •  Calf gaiters
  • Balaclava 
(Make sure you can breathe through it comfortably)
  • Woollen Hat
  •  Baseball Cap/ Sunhat
  • Sunglasses
  • Lightweight scarf
  •  Watch
 Head torch with spare batteries and bulb for summit night & tent admin
  •  Water bottles & Camelbak (3 litres carrying capacity)
  • Telescopic walking poles (optional, but very helpful for descent)

  Health & Hygiene 

  •  Toothbrush & Toothpaste (Try to get the toothpaste that comes in plastic bottles rather than tubes as tubes sometimes explode)
  • Roll-on deodorant
  •  Flat packed Wet Ones, travel wipes, or similar for personal hygiene on the mountain.
  •  Kleenex tissues in plastic travel pouches or toilet paper
  •  Hairbrush / comb
  • Dry shampoo (optional)
  • Baby powder (So many uses for this! Sprinkle on sweaty clothes and socks  when you’re retiring for the night and they should smell infinitely better the next day)
  •  Sanitary products 
(altitude can cause menstrual bleeding to start early)
  •  Lip salve with UV protection
  • Vaseline, to prevent chafing skin and heel friction blisters
  • Diamox (Acetazolamide)
  • Malaria Tablets
  • SPF 50+ sun screen
  • Blister Pads
  • Loperamide Diahorrea tablets
  • Painkillers
  • Electrolyte powder
  • High energy snacks (Cereal bars, dried fruit and nuts)
  • Plastic bags (for dirty clothes, etc.)


  •  Passport (with additional 6 months’ validity after proposed return date)
  •  Air Travel Documents
 Cash in US dollars in $10 and $20 and $1 (tipping, pocket money)
  •  Credit Card (recommended for emergencies only)
  •  Travel Insurance Documents
 Vaccination Certificates (Yellow Fever, if visiting a ‘risk zone’ prior to entering Tanzania)
  • Waterproof case to keep documents dry (A Ziplock bag will do)

*Note: If you’re worried about the safety of documents when on the hike, most hotels in Arusha will let you leave your passport and other documents along with your other luggage.

Pin this post:

Training and Packing list to Climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa. Find everything you need to get up and down Mount Kilimanjaro in Get Lost's Kili Series. More at



2 thoughts on “Kili Series: Training & Packing for Mt. Kilimanjaro

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s