Advice for women climbing Mt Kilimanjaro

Is it safe to travel to Tanzania alone as a woman?

Is it safe for solo travelers to visit Tanzania? Yes! It’s safe to do a solo travel in Tanzania. In fact, this African country has been rated many times as the safest African country to visit, particularly for female solo travelers.

Kilimanjaro is generally safe for female climb, however, it is important to take the necessary precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip. Women should dress modestly, avoid walking alone at night, and be aware of their surroundings.

How do you protect yourself as a woman traveling alone?

Here are some suggestions to help you feel more secure when traveling alone:

  1. Know that you’re amazing. Many people are still astounded when they meet someone traveling solo.
  2. Smile.
  3. Walk with your head up and with awareness.
  4. Be decisive.
  5. Look alert.
  6. Make a statement as a statement.
  7. Make eye contact.
  8. Stand strong.

let’s talk hygiene on Kilimanjaro. Things like where you go to the loo, how to stay clean, and what you do if you get your period. Because forewarned is forearmed!

Here are three (very valid!) questions we’re often asked by women preparing to climb Mt Kilimanjaro:

  • Where do I go to the toilet during the climb?
  • How can I keep clean during the climb?
  • How do I manage my period on the climb?

Read on for our advice on how to prepare for climbing Kilimanjaro as a woman. And don’t worry – this is a based on our own experiences of climbing Mt Kilimanjaro, so it’s the real deal.

Where do I go to the toilet during the climb?

Needing to wee and not being able to go, we’ve all been there, and it’s stressful! When climbing Kilimanjaro, you’ll need to wee fairly often. Altitude makes us urinate more frequently plus you’ll be drinking more water than usual. So here’s some basic info and advice when it comes to:

  • peeing while hiking
  • pooping while hiking
  • the toilet tent at camp

Peeing while hiking

You’ll be drinking a lot of water during your Kilimanjaro climb. In fact, you should be drinking a minimum of three litres a day! That means you’ll be needing to go to the toilet a lot. Additionally, the higher you climb, the more often you need to go, as altitude makes you urinate more frequently.

Urinating devices

Some women climbing Kilimanjaro like to use a Shewee or similar urinating device to make it easier to take a leak whilst hiking. These devices let you wee in a similar way to a man: you just need to turn your back on the crowd, unzip your trousers and push your knickers aside, then wee into the contraption. The funnel ensures your wee comes out in a stream away from your feet. We suggest you opt for a device that comes with a storage container.

Female urinating devices are, of course, all about personal preference. But know that you won’t be the only one using it on the mountain. The higher up the mountain you climb, the less vegetation there is to hide behind for dropping your trousers and copping a squat. The ‘bush’ toilet will turn into a ‘rock’ toilet. You might also find during tiring stretches of the hike that you’re grateful for the heightened ease and efficiency offered by the Shewee.

Consider bringing a Shewee or similar female urinating device so that you can pee at any time without needing to find something to hide behind!

A pee cloth

Some women also enjoy having a pee cloth (or pee rag) with them on a hike. Pee cloths help to minimise the amount of loo paper that needs to be taken into the wild.

The Kula Cloth, for instance, is an antimicrobial cloth that you can attach to the outside of your backpack. It’s designed to be stowed while folded in half, meaning the ‘used’ side is always closed up.

The Kula Cloth is actually endorsed by Leave No Trace, the NGO we partner with that promotes environmental sustainability around the world.

A pee bottle

You might also like to bring along a pee bottle that you can use should you need to urinate during the night. When you’re high up on the mountain, the very last thing you want to do is leave your cosy sleeping bag to make your way to the toilet tent in the frigid night air!

And if you have a pee cloth, as discussed above, you can keep the endeavour even cleaner.

Pooping while hiking

Hiking at altitude often makes bowel movements more frequent. So it’s quite likely that you’ll need to pooh while on the trail. It’s best to prepare yourself mentally and practically for this (deciding you won’t need to go before reaching camp, or that you’ll talk your bowel into submission, isn’t really a plan, and just provides unnecessary stress).

Biodegradable disposable bags for toilet paper

To help keep the nature of Kilimanjaro National Park in tip-top condition, any toilet paper and wipes you use on the trail mustn’t be left on the mountain (not even if buried). Instead, please pack biodegradable (compostable) disposable bags so that you can use one each time you go poop for storing your used loo paper and wet wipes. You can then get rid of these every evening in camp. You basically want the same bags you’d use for taking your dog for a walk – small ones where you just tie a knot to close it.

It’s important to note that Tanzania doesn’t allow regular single-use plastic bags to be bought into the country. So the bags you bring must be biodegradable ones.

Note that you’re likely to fart quite a lot on summit day. But don’t worry, everyone else is doing it too! It’s a side effect of high altitude.

Peeing at night

The last thing you feel like doing during the cold nights when you need to take a leak is step outside of your cosy tent! So we also recommend a pee jar for those who know they often need to urinate during the night. (Your pee cloth will come in handy here too.)

How do I manage my period on the climb?

According to the International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation, a woman’s menstrual cycle can be affected by changes in altitude, particularly a great increase in altitude. This means climbing up Mt Kilimanjaro could well result in ‘surprises’, from causing your period to stop before usual to causing it to be early, irregular or longer than the norm. Basically, your period should be thought of as a wildcard on a high-altitude trek. And this means that every lady with a period should prepare to deal with it on the climb, even if you’re trekking at a time that you know you shouldn’t get it.

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