Posted March 30, 2014 | Comments Off on Tips to Reduce Altitude Sickness
When you’re planning a trip to the roof of Africa you need to be prepared for every step you take because the elements and environment can throw a lot at you. One of the most important things to consider if you want to reach the summit of Kibo, is to take your ascent slowly to ensure you avoid altitude sickness.
Altitude sickness or acute mountain sickness (AMS) as it’s also know can be one of the main reasons people don’t summit a mountain. Because climbing Kilimanjaro doesn’t need any specialist technical equipment, you need to be extra cautious in making your ascent.
You can experience altitude sickness from a height of only 1,500m above sea level, anything higher than this and that experience can become more severe if you ascend too quickly. The mighty Mt Kili is the tallest freestanding mountain in the world, so this is considered extreme altitude at over 5,500m above sea level.
Even the fittest, most experienced mountaineer can experience altitude sickness.
Altitude sickness can include a whole host of symptoms such as headache, dizziness, tiredness, loss of appetite, shortness of breath, sickness and difficulty sleeping. Symptoms can get worse and lead to prolonged breathlessness, double vision, altered mental state, persistent cough and even convulsions. These serious symptoms are very rare but do happen so it’s always best to be aware.
Here’s our top tips to reduce altitude sickness:
1- Take Your Time
If you ascend the mountain at a slow and steady pace, you not only ensure you take in the whole experience as it should be, but you also ensure you acclimatize along the way. The guides and porters are honestly not trying to hold you back from reaching the summit, they are trying to ensure you get there in the safest way possible!
2 – Prepare for altitude
Ensure you carry out a great deal of mountain training to ensure you’re in peak fitness and health, as well as taking regular hikes at higher altitudes. All of this will help to ensure you have the best chance at avoiding or at least reducing the affects of altitude sickness.
3 – Pick the right route
There are several route options to climb Mt Kili and each of them has their benefits. If you pick a longer route the climb is steadier which gives you a lot more time to get used to the changes in atmosphere and elements. Remember to story about the tortoise and the hare?
4 – Stay well hydrated
Most people need about 2 litres of water a day to be at optimum health any day of the year. So when you climb a mountain it’s extremely important to stay well hydrated and we recommend at least 4 litres of filtered water a day.
5 – Protect yourself
The altitude alone can lead to mountain sickness but there are other elements that can exacerbate the symptoms such as the sun. Use a sunscreen and lip balm which has at least 30 SPF or ideally 50! Sunglasses with 100% UVA and UVB protection are the best option, although you could consider the latest sunglass protection and get the UV400 which incorporates both.
6 – Choose the right trekking company
With a mountain expedition at this altitude, your safety should be their number one priority. As standard your trekking company of choice should provide highly trained guides and porters that are medically trained as Wilderness First Responders and carry a pulse-oximeter, a hyperbaric chamber and carry out daily medical checks to ensure you are safe to climb and show no symptoms that can lead to complications on your ascent.
Q: Experienced altitude sickness yourself? What tips do you have for other climbers?
Share your personal experiences below.
Posted March 26, 2014 | Comments Off on The Deadly Lake That Breeds Life
Lake Natron is a rare red gem which glistens in the sunlight under the beating African sun. Temperatures in the lake can reach 140 °F and the water can become almost as alkaline as ammonia making it extremely toxic to most species.
The lake has received a lot of attention over the past few months and that’s because of a photographer called Nick Brandt who came across birds and bats which had been calcified by the high levels of salts and minerals found in the water.
There have been some negative things said about the lake because of the images and it has been portrayed in some media as a very dangerous place. It’s been called a deadly lake because of the effect it has on some wildlife. But despite the lake not supporting much wildlife, there is one breed of flamingo that thrives there. So for this reason we’ve dubbed it the deadly lake that breeds life.
At Lake Natron, Spirulina and Lesser Flamingos are perfectly at home.
The Lesser Flamingoes use the lake as their only breeding ground in East Africa and despite there being over 2 million Flamingoes who flock there to breed, they are greatly threatened by those who wish to make profit from the salts and minerals the lake has to offer.
Because of its rare biodiversity, it is now protected by Ramsar, which protects Wetlands of International Importance and the RSPB (along with many other conservation projects) who all keep a close eye on its wildlife.
The Lesser Flamingos build their nests on small islands, surrounded by the water which is toxic to their predators. This helps them protect their young and gives the breed a greater chance of survival, which is rather clever thinking in our book.
The Flamingos feed on the algae rich shores of the lake and enjoy a particular algae that has become popular in the Western health craze called Spirulina. The blue/green algae which also contains red pigments is a vital food source for the pink birds.
The mummified creatures that were portrayed in the images were about death caused by the waters of the lake but another couple set out to show the life of the lake in a film called The Crimson Wing – Mysteries of the Flamingo back in 2010.
The film focuses on the flamingos and the biodiversity of the lake, and how humans must work together to help protect this sacred breeding ground of the Lesser Flamingo and its other inhabitants.
You can see the trailer for the film below and read an interview with one of the film makers (Melanie Finn) by clicking link here http://goodfilmguide.co.uk/interview-with-melanie-finn/
Posted March 22, 2014 | Comments Off on Benefits of Eco Holidays
The dictionary states that ecology means not harmful to the environment, it speaks of a sense of care for our natural habitat and a respect for nature. These values are the backbone of our Kilimanjaro treks and Serengeti safaris so we want to share with you the true benefits of eco holidays.
[ek-oh, ee-koh] Show IPA Informal.
ecological or environmental.
not harmful to the environment: an eco resort with no air conditioning.
a combining form representing ecology, in the formation of compounds ( ecosystem; ecotype ); also with the more general sense “environment,” “nature,” “natural habitat” ( ecocide; ecolaw; ecopolitics ).
Taking an eco holiday is far different than going on the usual beach holiday in a typical holiday destination. With this alternative type of holiday, you are able to experience a completely different side where you can embrace local culture, communities and nature while having very little (if any) impact on your host country.
You will be able to venture into unspoilt areas where you can experience the wildlife and natural resources and enjoy the environment without causing any damage.
The benefits of an eco holiday allow you to have minimal impact on the environment, support local economy, local people, provide conservation; protect wildlife and plant life.
Eco tourism is experiencing the environment whilst also preserving and protecting it.
By booking with a locally owned eco trekking company based in Tanzania you cut your carbon footprint because you’re dealing direct instead of booking through an overseas travel company that subcontracts to a local one.
If you care about the ethics, safety, treatment of employees, environment and wildlife of the place you visit then you will want to ensure you book your trip with an eco holiday company.
Invest in an experience that helps preserve the landscape and wildlife for future generations instead of what so many that have gone before us have done which was to destroy it without thought for the future.
This planet needs our protection and especially an place as magnificent as Kilimanjaro.
A trekking expedition has a very low impact on its environment so it’s the ideal choice for anyone who wants to experience local culture and animals in their natural habitat and see some of the greatest sights in the whole world. When you also choose a company that goes out of their way to ensure you leave no trace, you can be certain you chose the right eco holiday company to travel with.
An eco holiday can be an unforgettable adventure and you can be sure that the local communities will also benefit a great deal from your visit.
If you’re looking for a unique experience on your next trip then an eco trekking holiday could be just what you’re looking for.
Posted March 20, 2014 | Comments Off on Summer Holiday Destination with Adventure
When it comes to booking your summer holiday, of course you could opt for the usual suspects of a beach or city break in Europe or America, but why not consider something a little different with your partner, friends or family this summer?
Step out of your holiday comfort zone and choose a holiday with a difference.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ~ Mark Twain
How about a summer holiday with adventure in the breathtaking land of Tanzania?
If you book your summer holiday now, there’s still plenty of time for you to get in fantastic shape for scaling the great Mount Kilimanjaro or its little sister marvelous Mount Meru. We recommend a minimum of 3 months mountain trekking training to ensure you’re fit enough to reach the summit of either mountain. So if you booked your trip now for June onwards then you’d be in perfect time for enjoying some of the best months of trekking in Tanzania.
September and October are the very best months to trek but June, July and August also offer ideal conditions which is perfect timing for the summer holidays if you want to take your kids on a holiday of a lifetime.
Imagine the stories they’d be sharing when they arrived back at school! Not everyone can say they’ve summited Mt Kibo or Mt Meru, seen lions in the wild, met a Masai tribe, swam in a natural hot spring in the African wilderness or trekked across the Serengeti. These are the sorts of experiences that stay with a person a lifetime and are ideal experiences for young and impressionable minds because lessons can be learnt on an african adventure such as this.
You could choose a Serengeti Safari taking in all the sites of the African wilderness such as Lake Manyara, Olduvai Gorge, Shifting Sands and the magnificent Ngorongoro Crater. Taking a safari trip will enable you to see tree climbing lions, elephants, giraffes, black rhinos, flamingos, hippos and no end of incredible plant and birdlife.
The Serengeti and Kilimanjaro regions are filled with history so visiting Tanzania is also a chance to understand more about the evolution of the human race, the geology and ecology of our planet, and the traditions of the local tribes people.
Choosing an adventure expedition will fill you with excitement. Every step you take will lead to somewhere new, every way you turn will show you something incredible. Adventure feeds the spirit and builds character. You will return a different person to the one that arrived.
If you choose to summit Mt Killi or Mt Meru then there will inevitably be struggle and toil in your journey but there will also be smiles, leaps and laughs along your trek to the top. There are very few holidays in the world that can cause you to feel such a wide spectrum of emotions in one trip.
There is something unexplainable about any journey you take in Tanzania. It is one of the most incredible countries in the world and one which has the ability to alter a person, for the better.
“The best journeys in life are those that answer questions you never thought to ask.” ~ Rich Ridgeway
If you’re interested in a summer holiday destination with adventure in mind then look no further than booking an eco trek up Mount Kilimanjaro or a Safari trip in the Serengeti. Very little else compares, but you can find that out for yourself when you get here.
Book now so you can start training and planning for your summer holiday adventure in Tanzania.
Posted March 14, 2014 | Comments Off on Trekking the Rongai Loitokitok Route
If you’re looking for a quieter route to trek Mount Kilimanjaro then you should consider trekking the Rongai Loitokitok route.
The original Rongai route used to begin at the village of the same name but a number of years ago the authorities decided to close it as they came to the decision that two trails that had very few trekkers certainly wasn’t needed. This particular route can still be seen on maps but people who want to trek Mountain Kilimanjaro from the North use the Loitokitok route.
Today the Rongai route is approached from the north and the route starts south of the Kenya – Tanzania border. You will tend to find that the majority of people trek Mount Kilimanjaro via the more well known routes such as the Marangu and Machame routes but choosing the Rongai route will enable you to see a part of the mountain that very few people will ever experience.
As you climb Mount Kilimanjaro from the north you can experience the best of both worlds as you will descend on the south side on the Marangu route, this will give you the opportunity of seeing both sides of the mountain so you will experience magnificent views of the savannahs on your trek to the roof of Africa.
As you make your way along the Rongai route the gradient is generally quite gentle compared to other routes and so isn’t as challenging as the other routes on Mount Kilimanjaro which makes it an ideal route for the less experienced trekker. You will pass through alpine moorland, forests and farmland as you climb ever closer to the glacial peak of Kibo.
Your trek will begin in the small village of Nale Moru that will take you through farm land and into a pine forest where you will start your gentle climb of Mount Kilimanjaro. You will most likely see much more wildlife on this route compared to other routes because it is visited far less.
It’s not unusual to see some larger animals including warthog, water buffalo, bush buck and dik dik. You may even be lucky enough to see some elephants and hyaenas.
The last stretch of the trek is the most challenging part of it and is in fact completed through the night, but that final ascent is worth all the effort because when you reach the top and see the sun rising, you will feel absolutely incredible, euphoric and/or very emotional.
The Rongai Loitokitok route is a fantastic route if you’re looking for a little solitude where you can experience the beautiful scenery and wildlife without the hustle and bustle of the more populated routes.
Q: Trekked Mt Kili more than once? Which route is your favourite?
Posted March 10, 2014 | Comments Off on Climbing Gear for Kilimanjaro
When you’re planning to climb Mount Kilimanjaro you need to make sure you plan every little detail because this will make all the difference to your experience on the mountain.
One of the most common mistakes climbers make is over packing before they leave home. It’s important to be very selective in what you take but it’s also important to take particular items that will be essential for your trip.
All of your clothing should match the weather on Mount Kilimanjaro as it can be extremely sunny in the mornings, afternoons tend to be colder and cloudy and when the night time arrives the temperature can drop to below freezing. So it may be a good idea to dress in layers, so you can remove or put on clothes as needed.
A good sleeping bag is essential for the night times, you should aim for a season 3 or 4 sleeping bag as the temperature can drop well below freezing. A season 3 or 4 should definitely protect you from the freezing temperatures and ensure you get a good nights sleep.
A sleeping mat is generally provided but if you would like some extra comfort than an inflatable mat would be a good idea.
A thermally protected drinking bottle that holds at least 3 liters of water is advisable. Ordinary plastic water bottles should be avoided as these may crack the higher you climb.
You should purchase a good pair of hiking boots that are completely broken in before you even think about about climbing Kilimanjaro, blisters are really not a good idea when you spend most of your day hiking! Special socks that take moisture away from your skin should be worn under a warmer pair of socks. As the temperature gets colder then a good thick pair of woolen socks should be worn over the top.
Gaiters are a perfect accompaniment to your walking boots. They are great for keeping the mud and snow out of your boots. Always choose ones that are breathable material.
Hiking trousers with base layers are ideal for your trek. The base layers should be made of wool as these will keep you warm when the temperature drops. Waterproof trousers should be worn over your hiking trousers so that your lower half doesn’t get wet when the weather changes. These can protect you when the weather gets a little windy. When the temperature warms up then a pair of shorts are always a great idea to wear.
Two to three warm layers for your upper body are ideal. You can remove or add depending on the temperature and weather. A good waterproof jacket will be needed to stop you from getting wet.
A good pair of thermal gloves will be needed along with a thinner pair to wear under them.
A warm hat that covers both your head and ears should be taken, as well as a sun hat with a wide rim to protect you for the sun. If you experience the cold it’s advisable that you take a warm snuggly hat to wear at night because this will help keep the heat in your body and will no doubt help you sleep more soundly.
Don’t forget your sunglasses because you will definitely need them. As the altitude gets higher the UV exposure also gets stronger. It’s important that your sunglasses protect against UVA, b and c rays.
Making sure that you have the correct gear for your climb will make you experience far more fun.
We have a full list of the type of gear you’ll need to climb Mt Kili successfully and you can also hire the climbing gear so you don’t have the added expense of investing in all this stuff if you only plan to do this type of climb once. This is the ideal option too if you want to make sure your climbing gear for Kilimanjaro is of the highest quality and standards.
Check out our Top Kilimanjaro Trekking Tips
Posted March 08, 2014 | Comments Off on Birding Holiday in the Serengeti
Tanzania is one of the most incredible places in the world to visit and with over 400 species of birdlife it’s the ideal place for a birding holiday, especially in the Serengeti. It offers many opportunities to see a wide variety of birdlife from migratory birds to resident birds.
In Tanzania there thousands of birds to see whether that be on the snowy summit of Mount Kilimanjaro to the many lakes that surround the area. The birdlife is vast and thriving, so what could be better than a birding holiday in the Serengeti?
The Serengeti National Park is home to more than 500 different species of birds including the incredible lilac breasted roller bird, Kori bustard, finches, larks, ostriches and the amazing secretary bird.
The secretary bird is an extremely large bird of prey native to Africa. They are generally over four feet tall and spend their time strolling along the ground in between acacia trees and short grasses looking for food. Although they are incredibly tall they are excellent flyers and nest in acacia trees at night.
To see the secretary bird in flight is an amazing sight not only because of their size but because they are also so incredibly graceful.
You will also find that the National Park is home to three endangered bird species; the Rufous tailed weaver, the beautiful Fischer’s lovebird and the Grey rumped spur fowl.
There is also a bird that can be found here called the Honeyguide who has a special relationship with the Ratel (also known as the honey badger). Because Ratel’s are so fond of bee honey (hence their name) they pull down beehives which helps out the Honeyguide because they can easily then enjoy the beeswax.
If you’re looking for a bird watchers paradise then Arusha National Park is definitely the place you want to visit. With more than 350 species of birds, the area has remained the perfect habitat for these creatures since the dawn of time.
Flamingos are a common sight in the park, specifically at the mesmerizing Momela lakes.
From October to April the lakes are highly populated by water fowl from Europe and many other birds that are just passing through. During the rest of the year the local birds including pochards, grebes and various different geese occupy the lakes.
If you are lucky enough, you could spot a Hartlaub turaco and a narina trogon. The magnificent crowned eagles are a common sight as are the Levaillant’s cuckoo and lanner falcon.
The rich bird life that you will experience certainly will not leave you disappointed. In fact it will be something that you will remember for the rest of your life.
If you long to see some of the most incredible birds and wildlife in the world, then a birding holiday in Tanzania should be the next on your list.
Q: What birds have you seen on your Tanzanian trips?
Posted March 05, 2014 | Comments Off on Taking Care of the Tanzania National Parks
There was a recent news article that stated Kilimanjaro was under pressure from an influx of tourists wanting to climb to the summit and that this was having a detrimental impact on the great mountain and surrounding areas.
We can assure you that this isn’t the case and that all organisations in place to protect the mountain, Kilimanjaro and Serengeti regions are all working together to ensure it never does. Taking care of the Tanzanian National parks and their inhabitants is of paramount importance.
The Tanzanian National Parks Authority issued a statement on their website which goes into detail about how they work to protect the region, its natural beauty and the habitat of the people and wildlife.
While we all obviously want to encourage more people to come and see the wonders of Tanzania for themselves, we do so with a good conscience. Our aim is to show the world the beauty this great country has to offer whilst helping to develop its economy; providing further jobs, education and the chance to live a more secure life for the people of Kilimanjaro.
The impact our travelers have on this area, the environment, the people, and the wildlife all matter to us very much, which is why we work with the organisations who are taking care of the Tanzanian National Parks and who love and respect this ecosystem.
We run our eco trekking expeditions within the guidelines of the International Ecotourism Society which is a non profit organisation set up to promote ecotourism. Ecotourism is “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people.” It is our aim to help preserve, protect and at the same time improve the environments we travel through by following strict guidelines and practices.
We work to minimize visitor impact, provide local people with good wages, secure employment, leave no trace on our treks and safaris and all of this means we can trek in the knowledge that the only thing we’re leaving behind are the Tanzanian friends we made along the way.
There is real progress being made by all organisations working together to ensure Kilimanjaro and the Serengeti thrive because more visitors are coming to Tanzania.
When reputable trekking companies follow these guidelines and work with the local authorities, this helps to stamp out any low budget international mountain trekking companies that don’t hold these principles to heart.
Trekili believe in providing the highest quality luxury trekking experience and whilst taking good care of staff and visitors, it’s also extremely important to take care of our beloved Tanzanian home too.
When you book your Tanzanian adventure, make sure you’re booking with a locally based trekking company who’s part of the Tanzanian Association of Tour Operators at the very least. This will ensure you’re protected by them should the unexpected happen.
When you’re travelling to somewhere such as Tanzania, you want to make sure every tiny detail is taken care of and you’re in the safest of hands, which is why organisations such as TATO exist and why Trekili are proud to be a member of them.
We’ll give the Tanzanian National Parks authority the final word…
Conclusively, as our mission stands: “To sustainably conserve and manage park resources and their aesthetic value, for the benefit of present and future generations of mankind, as well as efficiently provide high class tourism products and services,” Tanzania National Parks through Kilimanjaro National Park will continue to work tirelessly in ensuring that this mission is attained.
Posted March 01, 2014 | Comments Off on Top Kilimanjaro Trekking Tips
If you want to stand on the roof of Africa then you’re going to need some top Kilimanjaro trekking tips to make sure you reach that summit. These handy tips (along with experienced guides and helpful porters) will ensure you get there and back with nothing but a smile on your face.
As with any event in life, always be prepared! You are trekking to the top one of the most accessible but no less challenging mountains in the world so you must get yourself ready for such an undertaking, even if you’re an experienced mountaineer. No two climbs are the same.
So we’ve prepared a handy list for you to look through to help you ready yourself for the expedition ahead. This is by no means exhaustive but will provide you with a good grounding to launch your trek from.
Top Kilimanjaro Trekking Tips
1. Prepare yourself physically by starting your training at least two months before you plan to do your trek. The earlier you can start training the better you will be able to handle the physical challenges that lay ahead.
2. Prepare yourself mentally for the challenge by fully understanding what’s involved in a trek on Kilimanjaro. Research others experiences and visualise your goal of reaching the summit.
3. Climb at your own pace, don’t be influenced by anyone else because everyone is an individual and what works well for them may not for you. Take your ascent slowly, slowly. Getting to the top is not a race or a competition, and your health and safety will be greatly improved if you take your time. The summit will still be there when you reach the top so take your time to enjoy the entire experience and make sure that you do indeed reach the summit.
4. Ensure you have a cozy hat with you because this will come in handy the higher you climb and will help you sleep better at night as it will help you retain heat. A good pair of socks and ear plugs will also be very welcome when you settle down for the night.
5. You will need tissues throughout your Kilimanjaro climb without a doubt but no more so than when you reach the summit because it is truly an incredible sight which takes your breath away and evokes many emotions. It is not uncommon to be brought to tears by your achievement and the magnificence of your surroundings.
6. A little Swahili will take you a long way. Make an effort to get to know your guides, porters and they will become great friends by the end of your expedition. When you meet local villagers or town folk, make the effort to say “hello, how are you” before you ask any questions because this is customary in Tanzania.
Here’s a few basics which will help you show respect, make friends and leave a good impression:
> Hello = Jambo / hujambo / Salama
> How are you? = Habari gani
> Nice to meet you = Nafurahi kukuona
> What is your name? = Jina lako nani?
> My name is = Jina langu ni …
> Please = Tafadhali
> Thank you = Asante
> Thank you very much = Asante sana
> Yes = Ndiyo
> No = Hapana
> Do you speak English? = Unasema kiingereza?
> Goodnight = Lala salama
> Excuse me = Samahani
> Can you help me? = Tafadhali, naomba msaada
Q: What are your top trekking tips?