Freshers fair in the first year of university is always a dangerous outing. My own visit resulted in me signing up for the RAG Kilimanjaro climb, something completely out of character for someone who upon completing the Duke of Edinburgh Gold swore never to hike again. That being said, the week spent on the highest free standing mountain in Africa was the most incredible of my entire life and I couldn’t encourage people more to climb it given the chance. However, for those of you as clueless as me, some simple guidelines may be of use to know beforehand rather than hit you in the middle of the climb (like they did me!):
1. However many sweets and snacks you think you will need, triple it. I managed to stuff myself on nearly the entirety of my stash on Day 1 and had to ‘ration’ the rest, (i.e bury them in a deep, inaccessible part of my bag) for the summit night and still had a pitiful display of one packet of Haribo and one packet of Lucozade tablets. Unless you are a massive fan of semolina and rice I would strongly advise many a cereal bar and ‘healthy alternative’ snack too. Credit to the chefs though, we were lucky enough to have a Snoop Dog lookalike who gave us chips on Day 4.
2. Practice your singing voice and always travel with a boy with a Ukulele, an evening spent in a tent full of twenty plus people singing ‘Don’t stop believing’ and ‘I’m walking on sunshine’ may be one of the unexpectedly happiest evenings ever. The ‘Jambo bwana’ song will also be stuck in your head for all time.
3. Take Diamox, it is a god send. However do also take an abundance of toilet roll as you will be peeing every half hour. Don’t worry though, manners go out the window and you’ll be squaring up in front of your fellow walkers for a wee date in no time.
4. Take a camera and make sure you get loads of pictures. Due to being very confused and sitting on the floor crying in amazement whilst looking for a god dam rock my father demanded on Uhuru Peak I missed the group photo. Luckily shoving my camera on a poor unsuspecting German meant I still managed to get a picture by the summit sign to prove to those disbelieving friends I did make it.
5. And finally... earplugs. Or, alternatively, never share a tent with two tireless boys who will wedge themselves either side of you in sleeping bags and lull you to sleep by singing Anchorman’s ‘Afternoon Delight’ in your ear repetitively.
Arming yourself with these items will prepare you for everything, even the dreaded long drop toilets ‘with a view’. The summit ‘Uhuru Peak’ (5895m) means ‘freedom’ in Swahili and this can only begin to describe the feeling you will get on top, prepare to be overwhelmed.