Don’t Consider Taking the Inca Trail without Hiking Poles

December 24, 2014

inca-trail-trekking-polesRay Jardine is the famed and highly-opinionated US rock climber who, with his companion, was the first to free climb the West Face of El Capitan in Yosemite Valley and designed and produced a kind of spring-loaded camming device that revolutionised rock climbing in the late 1970s. He is against the use of trekking poles, considering them unnecessary given correct training and exercise and less important than an umbrella.

Many Inca Trail guides, however, disagree, as do innumerable books. You may start out regarding hiking poles as goofy, but once converted, you would probably take them with you to the supermarket if only your spouse would allow it. Purchasing poles can be injurious to your pocket if you opt for sophisticated, height-adjustable poles constructed from lightweight (= costly) composite substances.

Rather than being just another way to sell more gear, hiking poles have been used by travellers for centuries. They were “multi-tools” before the term was invented. They can be used to pitch a shelter, probe stream crossings or defend against wild animals and bandits (perhaps not an issue on the Inca Trail). No woodsman would ever be without one. They can be hired, although in such a case, they will not be in an immaculate state. Trekkers often concede that they will use poles when their back, knees, legs or whatever gets worse, but prevention in such a key respect is massively better than cure.

There are downsides to sticks. Firstly, they represent extra weight. Ski poles are on the US Transportation Security Agency’s list of items prohibited as carry-on luggage. Also, umbrellas are indispensable on the Inca Trail, but it would be awkward to combine the use of one and a stick and no umbrella will last long if used as a stick. Similarly, you may wish to keep your hands free to use a camera and you will certainly need to do so to use handholds on rockfaces or a map. At least you will have no need for an ice axe. You should devote some attention to walking technique when using poles, as detailed at Peter Clinch’s Hiking Poles Page. Failure to do so could reduce the poles’ effectiveness.

One factor concerning poles that is oft-neglected is they they require more kundlini, or energy, if you can’t speak Sanskrit. Yours arms were not designed to prop you up, so they perform this task inefficiently. But while more energy is used, by creating more contact points, the load is more evenly spread around your body and your legs are not doing all the work. It all depends on whether you have more concern for your knees or your whole body.

The upside of sticks is that they improve your balance and reduce the load on your knees by as much as 25 percent. They are indispensable for people with knee problems. The steeper a hill, the more welcome will be poles, as they will put you into 4×4 mode to work against gravity. They greatly assist in tackling vast sets of Incan stairs, and will be 1,500 of those along the way. They help you to balance on climbs and water crossings. They are like having a handrail all along the trail. They are a godsend when the terrain is wet, rocky or slippery and guides speak of “ankle-breakers” and “knee-destroyers.” The terrain of the Inca Trail is sufficiently rugged to make hiking poles or merely a stick close to a necessity.

On a final note, trekking poles with metal tips are not permitted on the Inca Trail because they damage it. They loosen the soil, and farmers have long known that loosened soil erodes faster than compacted soil, which is why farmers often prefer “no till” or at least a minimum of it. Rubber tips can be purchased from any camping shop. This is an important point: poles are the first thing inspected at checkpoints after your permit and passport.

For a complete packing list see:

Trekking Options to Machu Picchu

September 19, 2014

machu-picchu-treksThe Incas built Machu Picchu in the 1450s. Archaeologists believe the site was built as an estate for the Inca Emperor of that time, Pachacuti, but was almost certainly abandoned a century later due to the Spanish Conquest.

The conquistadors never discovered the city and it was only 4 centuries later that an American Historian, Hiram Bingham, discovered the site in 1911.

Since then the site has grown in popularity and today is the most visited tourist destination in Peru.

There are a number of trekking options to Machu Picchu. The most popular is the Inca Trail which in fact consists of three overlapping trails – the Mollepata, Classic and One Day. Mollepata is the longest of the treks, followed by the Classic. They start either at the 82 km or 88 km mark (distance from Cusco) and follow either a 4 or 5 day itinerary to Machu Picchu, ending at the Sun Gate. The shorter trek begins at the 104 km mark. Altitudes on the trek exceed 4,200 meters, which is considered to be very high and can result trekkers experiencing altitude sickness symptoms.

The Salkantay is fast becoming a popular route due to its diverse and beautiful setting. The Route traverses the Salkantay Mountain (20,500 feet high) and continues along the Mollepata Valley to Aguas Callientes. From here trekkers catch an early bus to Machu Picchu (before non-trekking tourists arrive).

The Lares Trail is great for the rugged trekker that wants to avoid the crowds on the Inca trail and get a good feel of the local communities that inhabit this region of the Andes. The route is relatively tough so not for the faint hearted.

The Vilcabamba is a fantastic, but tough trek. It follows a path to the real ‘Lost City of the Incas’, Vilcambaba, crossing a number of high passes (the highest being 4,500 meters) before descending to Aguas Callientes where trekkers sleep the night before an earlier departure to Machu Picchu.

For more information on the Machu Picchu Trek click here or read this great information site.

Kilimanjaro Kit List – An Overview

August 2, 2014

trekking-gear-kilimanjaroTrekking Kilimanjaro soon? Here I suggest using our list below to gather all the Kilimanjaro gear you needs. It is totally based on my experience on Kilimanjaro, as well as some online research.

Here is my super duper Kilimanjaro packing list

Don’t over-pack: Pack only what you actually require, and not anything else. Many people take way too much stuff – this makes your big heavy for porters and is unnecessary. Technically, you are only allowed to take 15 kilograms up the mountain anyway otherwise you will have to pay for an extra porter.

Many trekkers go to the beach or on Safari after trekking Kilimanjaro, don’t be tempted to take beach towels and other unrelated gear you brought for Zanzibar / Serengeti up on the mountain. Just the once it is soaked it would not dried out yet again in addition to you just do not require it. You can leave these items at your hotel and collect them after your trek / climb

Get some clothes pegs or extra strong clips. Then you can affix stuff to the outside of your pack throughout the daylight hours, to dry in the sun

Socks: you can clean them at nighttime as well as dried up them on the exterior of your pack throughout the day, or else by packaging them around a hot water bottle at nighttime

Water bottles: yet if you sketch to use a camel back while mountaineering, do get at least one bottle that can be able to twice as a hot water bottle. It is huge in the sleeping bag at nighttime all along with can also help out to get the moisture out of the clothes you have been wearing throughout the day. Just wrap them around the bottle and put the lot in the bottom of your sleeping bag.

Layering up your clothes: Confirm you can dress in all your clothes on top of each other: two pairs of thermals, next the thick fleece over the thin fleece in addition to your windbreaker or down jacket over the top of that. Similar with the pants… You will have to wear every piece of warm clothing on the summit night.

Do not expose your water bottle to the exterior throughout summit night – it will freeze. Protect the bottle by using clothing / socks as a insulator

Acquire high-quality batteries like Duracell for higher altitude. Duracell are the only batteries that will work at the summit temperature that you are bound to experience. Never use rechargeable batteries, as these do not work under freezing point.

Throughout the hike to the summit take your camera and batteries and keep them near to your body to so that they stay warm. I recommend using a GoPro camera. See here to know why:

You will require taking sufficient money for tipping your guides plus porters, other than leave all additional valuables in the hotel safe, and make sure to get a written receipt for it.

For more info, recommendations and reviews click here

Wiki Kilimanjaro info

Trekking to the top of Kilimanjaro: Are you insured?

August 1, 2014

insurance-kilimanjaroOkay, so you are planning to trek Kilimanjaro. That’s awesome and an undeniably incredible and admirable pursuit. I mean, it is the highest mountain on the African continent and one of the Seven Summits.

But have you thought about your travel insurance needs for trekking Kilimanjaro. Probably not.

Don’t worry, lots of people forget that they should be insured, especially when travelling in a developing country like Tanzania and putting yourself at high altitude.

The latter should be your first concern.

In this brief article I have summarized key information you should know about getting the right insurance for Kilimanjaro. You can drive down into more detail on Kilimanjaro travel insurance here.

Kilimanjaro travel insurance – key info

1. Your insurance policy needs to cover your for hiking up to 6,000 meters. Yes, Kilimanjaro’s summit is at 5,895 meters, so your policy needs to cover you above that level. Most standard travel insurance does not include this unusual requirement. You should ask your insurance provider to confirm that your policy covers you up to that level.

2. Your insurance policy needs to cover you for theft, loss or damage to your valuables. As you will flying there is always a possibility that your baggage can get lost of damage. Moreover, travelling in a developing country like Tanzania comes with theft risks as well. Make sure you check with your insurance provider what your cover is like for lost, stolen or damage baggage. There will likely be some excess and a limit on the cover unless you have very expensive valuables, in which case your premium will increase

3. Your policy should also cover you for emergency medical or evacuation costs. If you get injured on the mountain you will need to be evacuated and this can be costly. Moreover proper treatment in Tanzania can come at a considerable cost. Make sure your policy includes emergency medical and evacuation cover

4. Finally cover for trip cancellation, delay, interruption and any tour operator financial default is important as these risks carry a moderate probability of occurring. Most standard travel insurance packages include cover for these elements, but always worth checking

That’s it for the key information on insurance for Kilimanjaro. the most important one to remember is that the policy needs to cover you up to 6,000 meters trekking (this usually doesn’t include mountaineering – so if you are planning to climb with ropes you will needs additional insurance cover).

Here are some useful links to further reading:

Detailed Kilimanjaro Insurance Information

Interesting forum discussion

Travel Insurance comparison

Go Green Ideas With Immediate Savings and Easy to implement

January 14, 2014

go-green-ideas-4Ever thought of going green at work.

Perhaps you have heard or seen how going green can save money in terms of electricity and wasted resources like paper, stationary and waste. Or maybe you have been ask for your environmental credentials and have come up short as you failed to demonstrate what you are doing as an organisation.

In this article I discuss some simple go green ideas that won’t cost you a lot of money or time to implement but will save you money and look good in the eyes of customers, staff and prospects.

Let’s get started with these first 5 go green ideas.

1. Recycling is a key go green idea as it is very easy to implement and super visible. Staff can get involved in the company recycling scheme. The trick is to start small with perhaps just paper recycling and then expand into other recycling channels like cardboard, plastic and glass. Remember to buy good recycling bins and label them correctly so that staff know what goes where

2. Run a campaign to encourage staff to switch off lights in unused meeting rooms and computers / monitors when they go home. Track performance and publicly reward those who turn off lights and computers

3. Switch your hosting provider from a traditional service to a green energy web hosting service. Here you can quickly reduce emissions in your supply chain carbon footprint and get the marketing benefits of saying that your website is carbon neutral hosting

4. Invest in eco-labelled and sustainable products. For example only buy fair trade coffee and teas, as well as fruit and purchase only stationary that is sustainable. Recycled paper and recycled stationary are two a penny on the internet so make sure you make sustainable procurement decisions

5. Invest in energy efficient lighting like compact fluorescent lights and LEDs to replace energy inefficient halogens and incandescent bulbs. Where appropriate install passive infrared sensors

For more go green ideas we suggest this article.

Kilimanjaro Facts – Useful, Fun and Entertaining

mount-kilimanjaro-facts-1Mount Kilimanjaro is a fascinating geographic structure.

In this article I discuss some of the useful, fun and entertaining Mount Kilimanjaro Facts that you can use to share with fellow climbers or at the dinner table.

Here are some Mount Kilimanjaro facts

1. Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain on the continent of Africa and also the highest free standing mountain on the planet

2. The mountain stands at 5,895 meters high or 19,381 feet if you work in feet

3. The highest point is called Uhuru which sits on top of one of Mount Kilimanjaro’s coned peaks called Kibo. The other two peaks are expired volcano’s called Mawenzi and Shira

4. There are 6 routes on Mount Kilimanjaro. The most popular is Maragu as it has huts for trekkers to sleep in. The other routes are Machame, Lemosho, Umbwe, Rongia and Shire. The Mweka route is used for decent only on the southern side of the mountain

5. Approximately 35,000 people come to Mount Kilimanjaro each year but only 45 percent on average reach the summit. Most turn back on the slopes of Kibo due to altitude sickness

6. The length of treks on Mount Kilimanjaro range from 5 days to 10 days. The 7 and 8 day treks are most popular as they give climbers a chance to acclimatize to altitude and hence increases the chance of a successful summit

7. Summitting Kilimanjaro occurs during the night and takes between 6-8 hours. Most climbers reach the summit around midnight.

8. The cost of climbing Kilimanjaro ranges between $4000 and $6000 (this includes the cost of flights and travel packages, visas, vaccinations for yellow fever, and equipment which after your flight is the biggest expense

9. There are two main towns in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro – Arusha and Moshi. If you are climbing Kilimanjaro from the south you will most likely stay at Moshi. Climbers from the west typically stay in Arusha

10. Climate change in Kilimanjaro is a significant problem. The glaciers at the top of Kilimanjaro have shrunk by 90% since the start of the 20th century. Most of this shrinkage has occured over the last 30 years.

Here are more Kilimanjaro facts if you are interested. Click here.


Environmental Policy Template Examples

January 13, 2014

environmental-policy-template-2Here’s the thing, environmental management is a straightforward exercise if you know what you are doing and you stick to the basics.

If you are on a journey of improving your environmental performance at work you should know that the journey starts with an environmental policy.


Simple, an environmental policy sets the strategic direction for your organisation to make inroads in terms of measuring managing and monitoring its environmental performance. It is the blueprint for improved environmental performance and without one you will be lost.

Moreover, an environmental policy template has become a ticket to play in many industries. Without one you cannot compete. Customers want to see what you are doing to improve your environmental performance and they want demonstrable results. You need an environmental policy to show customers succinctly what you are up to in terms of sustainability.

In short a robust environmental policy can help you save money on operating costs and win and retain business through market differentiation. It can also very useful in demonstrating to staff and other stakeholders your commitment to improved environmental performance.

So where do you start?

Well the trick is to start with a very good, and internationally compliant environmental policy template. Their are many good examples out there and this guide is probably the best.

The basices are:

An environmental policy is a living document and should be reviewed annually to make refinements and updates.


Green web hosting in a nutshell

January 12, 2014

best-green-web-hosting-1Are looking for new green initiatives to implement at work?

Perhaps you have already exhausted recycling options and already have efficient use of computers and lighting.

Have you ever thought about the impact of you website in terms of web hosting?

Yip, web hosting is a very energy intensive service as web hosting companies need to run thousands of servers – all of which need to be kept cool using air conditional 24/7.

In this brief article I highlight how you can use green web hosting to continue doing your part for the environment. I also talk about how you can find the best green web hosting companies.

Web hosting is typically an outsourced service however the impact of hosting although indirect is significant. There is a large cost to the environment in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and the resulting impact on climate change.

Green web hosting companies use energy from the electricity to grid to power their servers and then purchase certified renewable energy credits to offset their emissions. Some of the best green web hosting companies purchase as much as 300% of their energy consumption in renewable energy certificates.

The benefit to you as a company is significant as you can quickly and effectively start reducing the indirect emission that are recorded in your carbon footprint. Purchasing green web hosting is as simple as making a phone call to your hosting company to begin the process of switching. It is cost neutral as green web hosting companies operate at price parity with traditional suppliers, but you get the benefit of saying that you have green web hosting and have reduced your carbon footprint.

It is also really useful in terms of green marketing – you can easily use a green web hosting label of you website to demonstrate to customers and browsers that you are doing your bit to protect the environment. It is an innovative, cheapo and effective way to take green action.

If you want to have a look at some of the best green web hosting companies I recommend checking out this article. It provides detailed reviews on three leading green web hosting companies and lots of other practical advice and tips. Have a look and let me know what you think.

How much does it cost to climb Kilimanjaro?

January 5, 2014

climb-mount-kilimanjaroLots of people commit to climb Kilimanjaro before thinking through the full financial cost. In this post I discuss the actual climbing Kilimanjaro cost that many people often forget.

The total climbing Kilimanjaro cost is usually significantly more compared to the single fee stated on travel package numbers. Why? Because there are usually quite a few costs that are not accounted for in the total travel bundle cost.

In my experience you can find seven key costs that you can budget for, as follows.

Flying to Kilimanjaro
The cost to get to Kilimanjaro can be quite expensive – sometimes this is included in the travel package. But if it is not then here is what you can expect to pay.

Depending on where you are coming from you will likely have a journey that needs two connections. Most climbers fly into Nairobi or Addis Ababa and then catch a interconnection flight to Kilimanjaro International airport.

If you live in and around Holland you can catch a connecting flight from Amsterdam direct to Kilimanjaro.

I would budget at the least $1,500 for flights

Climbing vacation packages
Most climbers use a tour operator to book their climbing excursion. The travel operators tend to offer all-inclusive packages such as flights, transfers, a night in the hotel before and after the climb and all expenses around the mountain (food, climbing team expenses etc.).

The cost of packaged tours varies depending on which climbing route an individual takes and the quantity of days one opts for.

There are 6 routes on Kilimanjaro. Marangu tends to be the most expensive as you get to stay in huts as opposed to camping in tents. Trek lengths consist of 5 days which is the cheapest to 10 days which is the most expensive.

In my opinion 5 days is actually too short for average climber in terms of acclimatization – it is important to note that only 27% of climbers reach the summit using the five day treks.

For anyone who is looking to go budget I would choose the six day climb which usually gives you a acclimatization day – here the figures of success are more favourable – 44 per cent of climbers are successful on six day tours.

If you wish to spend more on your chance of success then the seven day trek is advised – here 64 per cent success rate is recorded as the average.

I would budget at lowest $3,000 for many inclusive travel deals.

Here are some travel deals

Tanzanian visa
Most climbers have to have a Tanzanian visa. You’ll be able to either organize a visa using your local Tanzanian embassy or obtain a visa on arrival at Kilimanjaro International Airport.

I prefer being prepared for all eventualities when I go to new countries and thus recommend getting a visa prior to departure. Costs do change but they were $50 back in 2013.

I would budget $100

Vaccinations and medications
Climbers also have to have a Yellow Fever vaccination card, which is a little yellow document that provides evidence that you have been vaccinated against Yellow Fever. Costs for Yellow Fever vaccinations and immunizations vary but can be as much as $100.

In addition to Yellow Fever you should also get a HEP-A vaccination as well as a Polio Tetanus Diphtheria booster to ensure you avoid any of the nasty diseases that lurk in Africa.

Tanzania is a new malaria area and therefore you might want to take malaria tablets. The risk connected with contracting malaria is actually relatively low around the mountain as mosquitoes usually are not found at altitude – particularly at altitudes over 1800 meters.

Thankfully you will be spending most of the trip above this level of altitude but will be at risk before and after the trek. Taking malaria pills is really up to you. There is a cost associated with the medication that can be quite high. Either way I recommend taking all sensible precautions to avoid being bitten the awful little blood-sucking mosquitoes. You can do this by applying Deet repellent, wearing light cloths that cover your arms and legs, staying indoors before the sun rises and sets.

I suggest budgeting $250

Tools and kit
Costs for equipment and other kit will be the second biggest expenditure after your tour package. It is essential that you purchase the appropriate equipment for climbing Kilimanjaro. This Kilimanjaro guide gives a full checklist, but in short you will be budgeting for layered clothing including an extreme weather external jacket, an extreme weather sleeping bag, sturdy trekking polls, excellent quality trekking shoes, a bright and easy to use headlamp, waterproof main bag, backpack and insulated water bottles.

The costs can vary depending on the quality of equipment you purchase.

I would budget at the least $1,500

Guides and porters
Tipping your climbing team of porters and guides is standard on Mount Kilimanjaro. Your guides and porters work extremely hard for very little. The tips they receive after the actual climb are super important in helping them support their loved ones who they don’t see for weeks during the climbing season. If you are able to afford it I suggest a high budget to tip a lot more than the standard charge of approx. $200 per climber for your support team.

Price range $250

Miscellaneous bills
Inevitably you will end up spending money within your hotel stay before and after the trek. Set aside some money for those spontaneous bills

Budget $200

Full Climbing Kilimanjaro Price = $5,500

I hope this article has provided more clarity around the Climbing Kilimanjaro cost that you can expect to pay to climb the Roof of Africa.

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