Climbing Kilimanjaro as an Over 50 Climber

Having guided mountains in Africa for the last twenty-five years, I find myself enjoying the experience of being an older climber, perhaps not quite a baby boomer, but certainly a man over fifty, and I think there are a handful of advantages to being an older climber, particularly in the matter of climbing Kilimanjaro.

Pole-Pole….that means take it slow

Anyone who has ever climbed Kili will recognize those words. In Swahili Pole-Pole simply means slowly-slowly. One step in front of the other. A slow progression upwards that allows plenty of time for the body to adjust to the stresses of altitude. I have guided any number of groups up many mountains, and those that are in a hurry to get to the top – the younger climbers usually – are the ones that often get to 15,000ft and no furthert. I find myself adopting the Pole-Pole philosophy more and more as I get older, and as a consequence I find getting to the summit of Kilimanjaro quite a lot easier than it ever was before. When I was younger the moderation of pace was frustrating. But not any more. The key to a comfortable summit of Kilimanjaro is to take it slow, Pole-Pole, one step at a time. Eating a ten-ton elephant is done one bite at a time.

Stop and look around for God’s sake?

Kilimanjaro is situated just south of the equator. It comprising a number of separate eco-zones, three of which are easily definable. The first is the cloud forest, the second the heather belt, and the third the high desert/glacier fields of the summit. Each has its own unique interest, and there is much to be seen for those with an interest in such things. Just as a single example, the forest bird-life is understandably rich, but a subtle divergence of species takes place as altitude is gained, with numbers diminishing of course, but with diversity certainly not. The same is true for the diversity of trees and wildflowers, and of course the small wildlife that proliferate everywhere. There is so much to see and explore other than the summit that Kilimanjaro really is an ideal destination for older climbers.

The beginning and the end

Mount Kilimanjaro is located in one of the most ecologically diverse parts of the world. Within striking distance of the mountain lies both the Ngorongoro Crater Reserve and the Serengeti National Park, both of which offer fantastic opportunities for game viewing as well as a number of luxury lodges and tented camps. There is also the potential for exploring the superb coast of East Africa, and in particular the Island of Zanzibar.

On the whole Tanzania is a great destination to travel to, but combining a climb of Kilimanjaro with a safari and a beach holiday makes it one of the best baby boomer and older travelers destinations in the world. For more information contact us or fill in the quick contact form on the right