Initially, I had no plans to ascend Kilimanjaro.
I had always thought that I would like to climb a mountain (K2, to be precise. I know, dream big!) but my trip to Tanzania was purely to see one of my best friends, Georgie, who moved out there earlier this year. It was a bit of a spontaneous 'YEAH, LET'S GO TO TANZANIA' moment on my part, and I possibly did not consider it fully, but if we all did that, life would be dull...
I am a firm believer that if you want to do something, you should just do it whilst you have the time and opportunity. Far better than wishing you had! I personally don't want to get to a stage where I wish I had been here, and gone there, and done that, whilst I had the time and funds available to me!
And so, here's how I went about it!
I hate them with a passion, but am now a seasoned pro after being stuck like a pincushion.
Thankfully I had my Hep B from working in a dental surgery alongside university, and Hep A from a past trip to the Caribbean, but for this trip I had to have Diptheria, Typhoid, Polio, Yellow Fever (£55), Rabies (£150) and a super yummy (note all of the sarcasm) Cholera vaccine drink, which had the refreshing taste of raspberries and... fish.
On top of this I had to be prescribed anti malaria tablets (£70) and also Diamox (£10) for altitude sickness. Using Diamox for altitude instead of what it was designed for is unlicensed, but Dr's will generally be happy to give it to you as long as you don't have kidney/liver problems. I think there is an alternative, but Diamox is the one I'm using!
There were a number of options when I booked mine.
Airlines flying to Kilimanjaro include Kenya Airways, KLM, Ethiopian and BA. Most of these either fly via Nairobi or Amsterdam. However, the issue I had was the amount of luggage required for my tourist time, and also my Kilimanjaro trek. Upon reaching Dar Es Salaam, I would have to transfer to a smaller aircraft, and I didn't want to have to pay excess baggage fees. As such, KLM seemed the most logical, I could fly from the UK, direct to Kilimanjaro, via Amsterdam. I also get 2 x 23kg bags, one carry on and a handbag. I can overpack to my heart's content. I even managed to find a flight from Bristol - Amsterdam - Kilimanjaro (perfect as my mum doesn't live far from Bristol at all)
My flight out is approx 8.5 hrs and the return is 12.5 and overnight (I paid to upgrade my seat to Comfort Economy on this leg, I want sleep without metal parts of chairs digging in to my knees!)
Thankfully I have long been a keen hiker (D of E, Sea Cadets, Ten Tors etc...) and am very outdoorsy, so owned 90% of the kit required for the summit already. I upgraded my rucksack, bought some poles, and needed a sturdier duffel bag, but other than that I own pretty much everything needed. If you don't, then expect to fork out a reasonable amount. You can hire equipment from most of the tour companies if you prefer, but I am outdoorsy enough that I know it won't sit in a cupboard for the rest of its life and will all get a lot of use.
I booked my trek through Zara Tours (click here for their website), purely because Georgie is friends with a number of people who work there and she recommended it to me. I have to say that they have been so helpful throughout the whole process. You can pay in stages as well, which is helpful if you don't have the lumpsum to hand!
My climb is via the Machame Route and will take me around 6 days. 4 up and 2 down. It's a 40.16km trail and is known as the 'Whiskey Route' as it's a little more arduous than some of the others!
"The Machame route is also known as the Whiskey route, given its reputation for being a tough climb, in contrast to the easier Marangu route, which is known as the Coca Cola route. Unlike the gradual incline and hut accomodations found on the Marangu Route, the climbers on Machame hike steeper trails, for longer distances, while sleeping in tents."
That $1600 includes, fees to climb, my tent, food, porter/guide salaries. It does not include the tips for the porters, my equipment, or any snacks, energy bars etc...