–Ayal Joshua – US

My wife and I, along with 3 other companions successfully summitted Mt. Kilimanjaro on the last day of February, 2013. ClimbKili was our operator and they did a fantastic job in making our trip a success. There are many operators that provide climbing services ranging from low cost, bare bones service to luxury rose petals and pillows. We shared camps with some of those operators and it looks like many do try to give comparable service to their climbers. I cannot comment on the level of service they give but I am sure that they do their best. I can comment on the operator we used, ClimbKili, and they were absolutely wonderful. I did a lot of research in deciding on an operator. One of the tools I used was TripAdvisor. I listed all the reviews and counted all the good reviews per operator vs. the bad reviews per that operator. I then narrowed the list down to the five that had the most good reviews along with the least bad reviews. The top of the heap was ClimbKili and now I do see why. ClimbKili’s staff stateside was very helpful in planning our climb and day safari. Tiffany and David answered all our questions and provided all the tools for planning the trip. The staff in Arusha was equally helpful. Lillian stayed on top of all the logistics, Emanuel got us back and forth from the airport and Aladdin was our expert guide for Lake Manyara day safari. And then there was the wonderful staff that joined us for the climb. I cannot say enough about our head guide Raymond and assistant guide Veda, about Simon, the chef extraordinaire who cooked meals that drew open jaws and about all the guys who helped us with the equipment, pitched our tents, served us, gave us washy-washy and cleaned up after us. They were all amazing. As head guide, Raymond managed the climb like a true leader. Due to his leadership, the whole group was successful. He was able to gauge the group’s daily condition and allocated staff members to help with the group when it was needed. In terms of preparation for the trip, proper clothing and equipment are key so pay a lot of attention to these elements. Good sleeping bags, rain gear, warm clothing, boots and mittens should be chosen with care. My wife and I are in our mid-fifties, we are physically fit and work out constantly but we enhanced our workouts in preparation for the trip. We combined a few elements: 1. We live in South Florida so obviously no mountains but we do have beaches with lots of sand and hiking on sand with boots and a pack is a challenge. We did a few 10 mile hikes starting four months before the trip. 2. We got ourselves the Elevation Training Mask and used it on the hikes and also twice a week at the gym on the stairmaster and the treadmill at 15 degree incline, again with pack and boots. Maybe not the perfect way to do altitude training but definitely a challenge. 3. Running on the beach, once a week and weight training at the gym, three times a week, actually, this is our usual routine. 4. Tabata exercise which is a form of high intensity interval training (HIIT). I believe that this element was critical in making my climb not too difficult and actually enjoyable. I think that these elements combined helped with our success (at least for my wife and I). I am sure that the Diamox was also critical. Bottom line, the only effects of AMS were felt on the 3rd day after descending from Lava tower and even then, Raymond suggested that it was probably due to the rapid descent not from high altitude per se. That was resolved in 30 minutes with 3 Advil and some rest. A couple of tips: - Organization of equipment in the duffel bags, day packs and the tent can really add to a more pleasant experience so always have a plan to manage the equipment - Wet wipes. Get small ones for the day pack and really large ones for the end of day body wipe - A pair of camp shoes like crocs to relieve the feet after a day’s hike - Get down mittens, glove liners and hand warmers - Toe warmers are also helpful - She-wee or comparable for the ladies, pee bottle for the guys - Merino wool base layers In conclusion, Mt. Kilimanjaro is a serious trek, people can die up there but with a good operator, and again, ClimbKili was perfect, proper equipment and good physical prep, you are good to go.