This post is to compliment my previous one, which was more of a narration (see Climbing Kilimanjaro). You'll find a more global approach, based on my experience, and on what I would have liked to have known beforehand. Hope it helps, and if you have any questions, feel free to comment! Again, all phone pics.
Also, for general info - I went in September 2016. It's still the dry season, though towards the end of the month some rains will occur. We summited on the 16th, and had no rain (or snow after 2000m), but 2 weeks later Kandoo (the company we climbed with, which I DEFINITELY recommend) posted a shot of hikers in the snow. Make sure you have waterproof clothes. I didn't (long story) ...was terrified it would rain.
1) Bring kilos of wet wipes, and face wipes as well (the baby wipes were quite aggressive for my skin, but at that point I didn't care). Hand sanitiser as well, as the dust will be engrained in your skin. Dust starts to become an issue by day 2. It was EVERYWHERE. The wind didn't help either. I'd even recommend a face mask to limit breathing some in.
2) Bring snacks you know you'll want to eat, and that won't freeze. I had loads of dates, and managed to overdose on them, but their surcharge in sugar was vital (don’t think I’ll be eating some anytime soon though to be honest). Also, bring some isotonic supplements. Caro had some and they were great for rehydration and mineral deprivation.
3) Thin liner socks to go under your big thick ones - summit night is COLD. Ww had -15/-20 (with the wind) . Liner gloves as well. If you're prone to getting hot really quickly, don't necessarily disregard these, as they'll help avoiding blisters anyways.
4) Bring a huge bag with you, filled with stuff you don't want / need, to give to the porters. And leave what you won't be using behind. They need it. I borrowed most of the clothing I had, so I left small things like socks and a balaclava...would have loved to leave more though.
5) Photographers - I carried my DSLR and 17-55mm f2/8 lens in my daypack, which, with 3L of water and food weighed around 8kg. It was completely fine with me, but if you actually want to take pictures it will be easier if you have it around your neck as you walk. Else, you won't take many pictures if you have to keep taking it in and out of your daypack. Spare batteries goes without saying. Nico and Graham had tripods in their daypack on Day 1, and they ended up in their main bags. Great for night pics though! I borrowed Nico’s. You won't need one during the hikes -no time. I also had a go pro, but didn't use it as much as I thought I would.
IMPORTANT - Don't be afraid to take a DSLR with you. If it gets too heavy in your daypack, you can always stow it in you duffle bag, or ask a guide to help you carry it. Phone batteries are unreliable when things get really cold.
6) As mentioned in my previous post, I brought a deck of cards and some of us played with Robert (our lead guide) after diner. It was great for bonding and messing around. Always a nice thing to do after a long day :) Nico and I thoroughly enjoyed chatting with the guides as we hiked. We learned loads - like “Poa kichizi kama ndizi ndani ya frigii". Literally means “I’m cool like a banana in the refrigerator” when you want to say “I’m well” in a chill way. “Mambo” (what’s up?) and “poa” (I’m cool/ good) were the most frequent expressions we heard.
7) It's the adventure of a lifetime. You will go far beyond your limits, however fit you are. My recommendation is : get some cardio training done as well as hiking and you'll be fine (unless you suffer from altitude sickness....take Diamox for prevention, and if you do get AMS then get as much rest as you can, drink more water and EAT. Some members in my group felt it badly. Food helped loads !)
8) If you're doing Machame, go for the 7 day option if possible. The last three days are exhausting - in 36hours you sleep for about 5(very badly too, as it's mostly naps) hike for about 18hours and get lunch breaks. The night you summit, you have already hiked earlier in the morning to go to base camp. Without the 7th day, you get a full hiking day, and 2hrs sleep before summiting. Summit night is long and cold, so compromising your chances after all of the preparation and planning, and travel, by not giving yourself more time to rest -and especially to acclimatise- is a bit of a shame.
9) I’d recommend sharing a tent, even if you’re traveling alone. If someone snores, everyone will hear it :p So you might as well enjoy some company, especially if you feel sick at some point. I felt safer having someone next to me, knowing that if I had an issue at night, Nico was there to help, and vice-versa. I usually always prefer to be alone, but in this particular case having Nico was not only plain fun, it was also super reassuring.
10) Take Diamox. Taking it doesn’t make you a “lesser man” as I’ve heard one guy saying, but not taking it does if it means suffering and complaining about mild but painful AMS for a week. A group we met had their trek ruined by a guy who thought Diamox was for the weak -he complained day and night. In our group, those who didn’t take it at first started it two days in. Climbing Kili in less than 11 days is dangerous, you’re not giving your body enough time to acclimatise. Diamox supposedly helps your body absorb more oxygen. Does make you pee a lot more though, which, 7L of water in, means getting up at night.