You want to know the secret for summiting Kilimanjaro? Do you want to know how the guides and some of the porters climb the mountain four or five times per month?
The secret lies in 2 words, which all the porters and guides will tell you on the first day. It’s the secret words of success, the secret to arrive at the top, and the secret for not exhausting yourself and descending early. It’s also the mantra for allowing your body to acclimate to the altitude.
You will hear it many times, sometimes whispered to you on the trails, sometimes shouted out ahead of you in the group, you will dream this word and repeat it over and over in your head.
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The words of success for climbing Kili is “Pole Pole” pronounced “pole-ay pole-ay”), which means “slowly slowly” in KiSwahili, the main language of Tanzania. You will hear Pole Pole everyday on your trip.
Heed these sacred words, and DON’T think that making it to the top of Kilimanjaro based on your strength. Of course, you have to be somewhat fit, but arriving at the top of Kibo peak is based on how well your body adjusts to the altitude of 19,000 feet. The slower you walk up the mountain, the better your body adjusts to altitude. That’s why the success rate is much higher for those who take their time and don’t try to rush up the mountain, like many do on the Marangu route.
Don’t rush up the mountain, don’t start climbing fast because you are amped. Just go “Pole Pole” from day one and most likely you will arrive at the top. We would hear Pole Pole A LOT during the trip!