Preparing For Kilimanjaro

A bit concerned about our flippant attitude towards the preparations for this trip. None of us has done any training specifically for this trip. In the past, trips of such nature were taken quite seriously. We’d climb staircases or go for runs and meet often to sort out logistics. For this trip, we just OTOT and hope for the best.

The peak we’re trying to reach this time round is probably the highest we’re gonna get to so far – 5829m. My previous high was Thorung La Pass @ 5300m and that was quite a killer. Last year’s Rinjani summit climb (3726m) wasn’t exactly a song and dance affair either. Guess we’d have to put on our most optimistic mien this time.

Singapore to Nairobi/Kenya is – 7456km. Singapore to Tanzania is 7217km. Singapore to Dubai is 5829km. Dubai to Nairobi is 3544km. Nairobi to Moshi is 350km.

Current Temperature in Nairobi is 16 degrees. By Monday, it should be 25/15 degrees. Current Temperature in Moshi is 28/14 degrees. By next Fri & Sat it should be 27/18 degrees. Kilimanjaro forecast for (4524 m) issued at 01 am Thu 19 Oct: Max temp 2; Min Temp -1. freezing level 4650m. But anyway I noticed significant discrepancies between different weather sites. So will just take this as a rough guide.

Here’s quite an informative site for travellers heading to Africa:

Time on the Road
We’re leaving on 23 Oct 0300 via EK 433K and arriving Dubai Airport at 6am – an 8-hour flight. Then, we’ll depart Dubai 10:05am via EK 719k for Nairobi and arrive there 2:15pm local time after 5 hours. A total of 13 dehydrating hours in the planes!

We’ll be spending 4 & 5 Nov traveling back from Moshi to Nairobi then to Dubai and Singapore. We’ll fly back on 5 Nov departing Nairobi (EK 722k) 0045hrs and reach Dubai by 0640hr after 5 hours. Then we’d transfer to EK352k at 0920 and probably touch down Singapore by 2045hrs after about 7.5 hours.

In total, we’d spend 4 days moving on the road.

Dubai is 4 hours behind Singapore. Nairobi is 5 hours behind. Flying on Emirates all the way gives me a wee bit of assurance that at least there’d be food, entertainment and decent service on board. But the price for that is $1760 for the air-tickets + $280 (war, risk, fuel tax) +$32 (Nairobi airport tax) + $21 (Changi tax). A whopping $2093!

There’s a mighty lot of stuff we’ve got to get ready. I’ve forgotten how tedious it could get since have not ventured far for trekking in recent years. Yes. I’ve forgotten much. Clothes to keep warm in minus temperatures (first time!). Water-proof footwear. Travel insurance. A long list of medication to inject, ingest and bring along. And another interminably long list of other minor + mundane articles to acquire – the list just seems endless. What a hassle!

Each of us are bringing about USD193 or (SGD300). Which has to pay for tips (USD50+USD5), meals and miscellaneous purchases (like water). Current exchange rate hover around SGD1.58/USD.

Preparing For AMS and other Ailments
We read that Ginkgo Biloba may help alleviate AMS somewhat: It is a blood-thinning agent and supposedly helps to improve circulation and metabolism. We bought our Ginkgo from GNC – $44 for 90-capsule bottle (there’s a 1-for-1 promotion then).

There had been studies done but results were not conclusive because the sample sizes were small. Dosage range from 2x80mg to 2x120mg per day. The author took 2x120mg per day 1 week before departure till the last day of his climb and found it to be effective for him.

I started with 100mg every morning on 9 Oct 06 and increased it to 150mg per day about 3 days later. So far only Mei experienced –ve reactions to the Ginkgo ie headaches so she has stopped taking it. Other side effects would be bleeding, restlessness, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting. Will update on effectiveness of Ginkgo wrt AMS after trip.

I’ve also read that Viagra may be used to alleviate HAPE. Uh-huh.
But so far, Diamox is the most widely accepted form of AMS medication (2x250mg per day before ascent). Diamox works by drawing CO2 from the kidneys back into the system. The Increased level of CO2 forces the body to breathe to take in more oxygen, thus reducing symptoms of AMS.

Unfortunately, my previous experience with Diamox (prior to ascent to Thorung La) hadn’t been good. In fact it was pretty bad. I had woken up many times in the middle of the night to vomit and thereafter could not ingest anything, even water, as whatever that went in would come out just as quick. Then, we tot that was due to AMS. Now, I’m not so sure if that could be an allergic reaction to the Diamox instead. And that’s why my GP refused to prescribe it to me.

We’ve also started our Malaria medication on 11 Oct. 1 pill per week. No –ve reactions for me or the rest yet. The side-effects are supposed to be nausea and hallucinations and some other mental-illness-like symptoms etc. Great.

And then, later in the week, I gotta start on the hormone pills.

On top of taking all these ‘supplements’, we had to go for our compulsory jabs – for Yellow Fever especially (TTSH tel: 63525650). Then while I was there, might as well take the Tetanus jab (10 years but previous one expired liao), Typhoid jab (2 years), Meningitis jab (cant remember how many years). Also was supposed to take Hep A and B and polio but I had already taken these. Looks like we really are adequately immunized for all sorts of contingencies (that we can think of).

The total damage was $191.90 (Yellow Fever – $120; Tetanus-Diptheria – $10; Meningococcal – $36.60; Typherix – 15.20; Nurse – 10.10)

Universal Travel
I really have to bless the folks at Universal – Jesse and Gabriel. Not only were they friendly and responsive, they responded to our requests for help very readily. They even loaned us equipment free of charge ie -5oCdown sleep bags, walking sticks, fleece, down jackets, gaiters and even backpacks! What more can you ask for?

Before the trip has begun, I’m already broke. Here’s what we’ve forked out so far:

Trip: $4100; Insurance: $105; Vaccination: $191.90; Trekking Boots – $110; Heatpacks – $1.80 x 6 = $10.80; Ginkgo Biloba – $44; Malaria pills – $2.10×6=$12.60; Medication from GP – $35; Water purification tablets – $13.50; Films: $60; Camera Batteries: $12; Piriton – $11.40; Sunblock: $8.75; Rations: $20; Panadol sachets – $3.50; Panadol Extra – $4.45; Lomotil x 2 strips – $5.20

Medical Kit
I’ve forgotten that for such trips into the wilderness, we’ve practically got to bring the whole pharmacy there. Stuff in my medical kits include:

Piriton (3 strips), Tagamat (2 strips), Panadol Extra (2.5 strips), Panadol flu (1.5 strips), Lomotil (3 strips), Immodium (3-4 strips), Hormones (2-3 strips), Pain killer (doc’s prescription), Cough medicine (doc’s prescription), Antiseptic (1 tube + 1 powder), Sting-goose, Bandage, Ginkgo Biloba (15 days supply), Ankle guards, Dehydration packs (6), Malaria Pills …

It doesnt sound like much but it took me a few days to gather all the stuff and almost 1 hour to pack it all together.

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