Search the internet and you will come across countless packing lists and videos as everyone gives their opinion of what to pack for your Kilimanjaro climb. All the staples are there – comfortable walking boots, socks, thermal base layers, waterproofs – but how about some of the more personal items?
And suddenly the doubts begin – why is no-one mentioning soap?… and does the fact that this concerns me mean I’m not ready to take on the mountain?
Don’t panic! Here are the few important hygiene factors to consider before starting your Kilimanjaro climb.
Make the most of the shower before you leave your hotel to head to the park gate – it’s the last one you are going to see for a while!
There are no shower facilities anywhere on the mountain, and while you will have water for washing each day, we’re talking hands and face. There’s not enough for a full top to toe dousing! (And when it’s zero degrees in your tent, you certainly aren’t going to be stripping off anyway!)
To us city-dwellers and urbanites, there is a certain stigma attached to natural body odour. But guess what – you’re not in the city anymore! Let go of your normal values – however alien it may feel – and accept that you – and everyone else around you – is going to whiff a bit after a few days.
Baby wipes are the cleaning method of choice.
They can be used to clean just about ANYTHING (and not just you!). Head to toe – and all the bits in between. Far easier and less messy than soap and water – and you can reach most places without getting undressed. And as part of our ‘Leave no Trace’ ethics, any wipes you use can go in with the rubbish and be removed from the mountain.
If you want to be accompanied by the waft of orange blossom and summer meadows as you trek up the mountain, then, by all means, pack a deodorant. But go easy on the antiperspirant under the arms, as they will block your pores which isn’t a great idea when you have no access to a shower. As the saying goes, better out than in!
Hand hygiene is probably the top priority. You’re going to be picking up kit which has been sitting on the floor, scrambling over rocks on the Barranco Wall, and visiting some less than perfect toilet facilities.
Trekking at altitude can upset your stomach, so keeping your hands clean, especially when you are eating, can help prevent further problems.
A small nail brush is great for really getting clean – you’ll be surprised how quickly the dust of Kilimanjaro gets ingrained into your hands! And a regular dose of an anti-bacterial gel will finish the job.
And don’t forget your toothbrush. The last thing you want is for a toothache to stop you from reaching your goal. It’s amazing how many times you will spot our porters cleaning their teeth – so grab your brush and go with the flow!
Remember to use filtered water that you have treated with purification tablets as germs from unfiltered water easily enter your body through your gums.