Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro: Training for a Kili Climb

Do you need training for a Kilimajaro climb?
And if yes, when should that Kilimanjaro training start? What should you do? And how much of it?

If you dislike gyms, jogging, huffing and puffing, if you dread the idea of following a strict Kilimanjaro training program to get yourself into shape, then I have good news for you:

You don't need any of that!
Mind you, if you like it it's not going to hurt.

But you can't train for a Kilimanjaro climb in the gym or on an exercise machine.

And no matter how many years you've been running marathons, you are no better prepared for this adventure than any other person of average fitness.

(In fact, there are many stories where exactly those super fit people were the very first in a group to succumb to altitude sickness, but that's a different issue. Read about altitude sickness on Kilimanjaro here.)

So, you don't need to be super fit to climb Kilimanjaro. You do need to be fit enough to walk, because that's what you will be doing. A Kilimanjaro climb is a very slow walk, all the way...

Walking on Kilimanjaro. Training should be geared towards this.Walking on Kilimanjaro on day 1.
Walking on Kilimanjaro on day 2Walking on Kilimanjaro on day 2.
Walking on Kilimanjaro on day 3 or 4Depending on the route you choose this is your path on day 3 or 4, the last day before summit day..

But that does not mean you need no Kilimanjaro training at all!

The Best Kilimanjaro Training

Pretty much everyone is able to walk slowly. But few people are used to walking for many hours, several days in a row, as required when trekking up Kilimanjaro.

Do you know what it's like to start a new job where all of a sudden you have to stand all day? Say, behind a counter? It's not something that you need to be fit for. But it is something your body has to get used to. And the first days will be awful and you will be dead tired when you get home, and your legs will swell up and hurt.

It's similar with training for a Kilimanjaro climb. You don't need to be exceptionally fit, but you do need to get your body used to the particular demands of this hike. Otherwise the first days will be so tiring that you will have no energy left when it counts.

So, the best Kilimanjaro training is to simply walk.

Walk as often as you can and as much as you can. Wear the boots you will be wearing on the climb. (If they are newish then this is very important!) Wear the day pack that you intend to take.

If you've never done much hiking, start a few months before your departure date and start slowly. Look for nature trails, uneven ground, head for hills and mountains if there are any within your reach.

If you can afford to, travel to spend a few days in the mountains.

Only if this is something that you would enjoy, of course. Go to places that you would like to see anyway. Make your Kilimanjaro training enjoyable and you will be doing more of it.

Kilimanjaro training in the Austrian AlpsKilimanjaro training in the Austrian Alps.

Use the weekends to do full day hikes and if possible overnight hikes. You don't have to log mega kilometers and you don't have to walk fast. But you should be able to walk in hilly country for 6-8 hours, and then get up and do it again the next day.

If you can do that, and then return to the office on Monday feeling fine, then you are also fit enough to climb Kilimanjaro.

(Your days on Kilimanjaro will be shorter but you will be affected by the altitude, so building up a bit of extra stamina sure won't hurt!)

Unfortunately sufficient fitness is no guarantee that you will reach the top, because there is also the issue of altitude sickness on Kilimanjaro.

I recommend you also read the page about trekking on Kilimanjaro, which talks more about the demands of the climb and how to prepare for them.

Read all about What it takes to climb Kilimanjaro

Do you need help with all this?

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Get some free, no obligations advice on route selection, duration and timing?

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There is and you can contact my preferred operator through this page.

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