Kilimanjaro Packing List

This list has been created for a 6-Day Marangu Route Trek, obviously modify for more/less days on mountain. I had never hiked before and was resistant to buying a lot of specific gear. All of my cold weather stuff was my ski gear, and I found that it worked very well.  Some of these items were rented from our tour company. The bag I used was actually an old tennis bag, all that matter is that it’s water-resistant and doesn’t have a metal frame as the porters will be carrying it on their heads.

Most importantly: DO NOT PANIC, almost anything you forget can be rented at the base of the mountain. Don’t over think it, as long as you have good hiking boots, odds are you’ll be fine.

Clothing

Note: Base layers should be made of a moisture-wicking fabric; not cotton!

  • 2 sports bras
  • 2 workout style tops (I brought one short sleeved and one long)
  • 3 long-sleeved thermal tops (works best if one can be layered under another, to allow flexibility in your temperature management)
  • 3 fleece layers (again, great for layering over the thermals. Keep one 1 exclusively for sleeping, having clean pjs is a great morale booster)
  • Underwear (personal preference as to how many, most people re-use, wearing them inside out the second time)
  • 1 pair workout leggings (optional, can be good for the first day through the rainforest, or for layering, I brought them but didn’t use them)
  • 2 pair Thermal Tights
  • 1 pair water-resistant hiking pants (I used these every-day except summit night, with various layers underneath)
  • 1 pair ski pants (used for summit night, really convenient as easy to layer and totally waterproof)
  • 1 ski jacket (waterproof, windproof) Mine had removal layers and so could be adjusted to temperature which was great. A lot of people will say that you need down, I didn’t find that to be the case.

Hands

  • 1 pair thin gloves (to wear in the evenings or when the temperatures start to drop)
  • 1 pair thick ski gloves (necessary for summit night)
  • Hand-warmers

Feet

  • 3 pairs hiking socks (important that they keep your feet dry and blister-free, I discovered merino wool on this trip and have never looked back) Comfortable feet can make or break the experience.
  • 2 pairs thermal socks (ski socks worked well for me)
  • Hiking Boots (water-proof, preferably coming up above your ankles)
  • Camp shoes (to wear in the evenings and give your feet a rest, sneakers are fine, I wore sandals with socks simply for ease of getting them on and off)

Accessories

  • Sun hat
  • Woolly hat
  • Balaclava
  • Buff (multi-functional piece that can be worn around your neck or you head, really useful and adaptable)
  • Sunglasses
  • Headlamp

Food

  • Electrolyte tablets or salt pills (to help with recovery)
  • Whatever snacks you think will help keep you going when you have no appetite (no chocolate as it will melt and freeze). I’d recommend a mix of salty and sweet so as not to get sick of one.
  • I brought bouillon cubes to dissolve in my water because I’m a salt fiend, others brought fruit flavoured syrup, whatever works and will keep you drinking.
  • Gummy bears (for summit night, yummy, don’t freeze, easily shareable, and make everyone happy)

Medical

  • Paracetamol and Ibuprofen
  • Blister kit (varies from person to person, I use a needle and thread to drain them, then a plaster)
  • Sun cream
  • Insect Repellent
  • Lip Balm
  • Anti-Diarrhea meds and antispasmodics (for stomach trouble)
  • Antiseptic (cream or spray whichever you prefer)
  • Diamox (altitude medication)
  • Malaria pills (depending on what time of year you go and where else you’re traveling, ask your doctor)
  • Plasters
  • 1 dose broad spectrum anti-biotics (just in case)
    • Vaccination card, blood type card and a clean syringe (just in case)

Toiletries

  • Toothbrush and mini toothpaste
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Baby Wipes (always useful as shower replacement, or for any mess)
  • Deodorant
  • Tissues
  • Toilet paper
  • Hair ties and pins (the last thing you’ll want is hair in your face)

Miscellaneous

  • Ziploc bags (I loved these, used them for everything from separating my gear in my duffel bag, to water protection for electronics)
  • Bin bags (really useful for extra water protection, or segregating dirty gear)
  • Waterproof backpack cover (better safe than sorry, they fold up really small, lifesaver)
  • Water container (3L, either reusable bottles or a camelback, must be able to hold hot water)
  • Bag locks (handy to have, can be useful, especially if you leave bags at the hotel during the hike)
  • Kindle (very convenient as it holds charge and doesn’t weigh you down, honestly though you won’t really have a lot of time for reading)
  • iPhone or music device (really helpful to keep motivation up on summit night, also audiobooks are good when you can’t sleep)
  • Solar charger or spare battery packs (no plugs on the mountain, anything you want to keep using will need an alternative charging mechanism)
  • Money (tips and emergency)
  • Proof of medical insurance, and any bookings, also flight details
  • Travel Adaptor (for use at the hotel)

Daypack

You don’t have access to your main bag during the day, so you’ll survive each hike on what you’ve got in your daypack. Weight is pretty much dependant on what you can handle and how much you’re willing to suffer, my bag was 30l and I never had any problems. This is all really personal and will probably change from day to day.

  • Water (3L, I carried it in 3 reusable bottles, others used camelbacks)
  • First Aid: Lip balm, ibuprofen, plasters, diarrhoea pills
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Snacks
  • Pack lunch (your cook will give you this each morning)
  • Rain Jacket and backpack cover (always! Trust me, the day you forget there’ll be a thunderstorm)
  • Camera/phone (be sure to keep it accessible, otherwise you’ll miss out on great shots)
  • Weather dependant extras (sun hat, gloves, fleece, sun cream…etc)

Rentals

No need to worry about bringing these as they are readily accessible for rent at the base.

  • Gaiters (a plastic protection worn around your ankles to keep things out of your shoes, I didn’t see the appeal at all, but ended up loving them! Also, as a girl, they kept me from peeing on the bottoms of my trousers more than once)
  • Sleeping bag
  • Hiking poles
  • Down jacket (I didn’t use one, but if you’re really worried about having one, you can)

Washington DC: Things to See that Aren’t Monuments

“Washington is a town that creates myths for its own existence”- Karl Rove

“Washington is a city of Southern efficiency and Northern charm” – JFK

FROM THE FIRST DAY that I arrived, I have loved Washington DC. A city built on a swamp, it’s beautiful and complex, with a rich history and of course a great political buzz. I also love the monuments and the museums that define the skyline and make-up every single available postcard. When I first arrived, I was so overwhelmed by being able to go for a run around the tidal basin, I couldn’t stop taking photos. One of my favourite views has got to be coming in to land at Washington National Airport, when the plane makes wide circles encompassing the Washington Monument and the Capital, as well as the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, getting ever closer like zooming in through a camera lens.

However, there’s so much more to this great city, and it often gets overshadowed by all the imposing white marble. So here you have it, my top DC attractions that do not contain the words monument, memorial, or museum. 

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NEIGHBOURHOODS

Adams Morgan

In this popular and eclectic neighbourhood, made very photogenic by the brightly coloured façades. you’ll find everything from vintage shops and hookah bars, to a gluten free bakery, and countless bars. Some of my favourite stops include Jack Rose for a rooftop terrace and up-market whiskey, Pitango for gelato (their dairy-free chocolate is to die for!), and for a real taste of what it’s like to be a student at 3am on a Saturday: Jumbo slice pizza. Madam’s Organ, a popular blues bar, is actually the site of the original Children’s Supermart store, opened in 1948, which later became known as Toys “R” Us. The Diner and Tryst both offer some wonderful brunch options for all types of foodies, including vegan and gluten free. There’s truly something for everyone in this quirky neighbourhood.

The Wharf

DC’s newest place to be, the revamped Wharf is chock-full of restaurants (especially fish), bars and general atmospheric bustle, in the summer, strolling along the piers surrounded by other people’s conversations feels positively Mediterranean. With the presence of The Anthem, the area has also firmly cemented itself into Washington’s music scene, and there’s always something going on.  The area is also home to the Maine Avenue Fish Market, the oldest continuously operating open-air fish market in the United States, dating from 1805, where you can have your purchases cooked before your eyes. While the wares are no longer served directly from the fishing boats, it’s definitely still a world away from the big city – but don’t say I didn’t warn you about the smell!

Georgetown

A new take: While the historic and fashionable area of Georgetown itself needs no introduction, I’d like to emphasise some different ways to enjoy the neighbourhood.

The Waterfront

The Georgetown waterfront is one of the oldest parts of the city. Now a park, it began life as a Colonial port and has transitioned via many roles including industrial hub and literal dumping ground. It presents a lovely view of the Kennedy Center and Roosevelt Island. Complete with several restaurants and coffee shops it’s great for an evening out, but also a summer picnic for the family. You can also grab a water-taxi here and take the scenic route across to the Wharf.

Water Sports

You can also get adventurous and (between April and October) head out along the Potomac itself. The Key Bridge Boathouse offers lots of different activities including kayaking, paddle boarding, workshops and tours.

Trails: Hiking and Cycling

There are also several beautiful trails ideal for running, cycling, or simply a quick walk allowing you to re-connect with nature before heading back to M street for some more shopping. Most notable are the C&O Canal Towpath, a waterfront dirt track which continues all the way to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and the Capital Crescent Trail which will take you straight to Bethesda, Maryland (and right to the front door of a lovely French coffee shop) in just over 10 miles of paved path. The C&O Canal also includes the Incline Plane, a stone platform and plaque marking the ruins of a boat elevator dating back to the 1870s, which was highlighted as the best of American engineering at the 1878 World’s Fair (along with the Brooklyn Bridge). It ran for 14 years, until a flood severely damaged the towpath and bankrupted the Canal Company.

Exorcist Steps

Located just a few streets away from the Georgetown university campus and tucked into a corner between a brick wall and a hedge, they’re easy to miss. But for fans of the classic horror movie The Exorcist, the hunt is worth the dramatic view down this imposing staircase, the site of the film’s climax. I recommend visiting at night for full effect. Don’t worry about getting too scared though, there’s a petrol station at the bottom to bring you right back into reality, and it’s entirely possible you’ll run into one of Georgetown’s sport’s teams running up and down it.

Embassy Row

In the North West corner of the city, sits a favourite spot for wealthy families who were looking to build mansions in the early 1900s. Originally called Millionaires Row, most of the houses have since been taken over by DC’s large contingent of diplomats. In 1974, following some controversy about demolition in the area, it became protected, its formal name being the Massachusetts Avenue Historic District. It’s a lovely walk, along wide roads with plenty of gorgeous architecture to admire and who doesn’t love a good game of “which flag is that again?”

Free walking tours are available. There is also a free open day that takes place each year on a Saturday in May, where the Embassies open their doors to the public; hosting events, providing traditional food and drink, and exploring some aspects of their national cultures. The entire neighbourhood takes part and it’s a wonderful occasion to witness.

Dupont Circle

Where trendy meets historic, Dupont Circle was constructed in the 1880s and quickly became a popular neighbourhood for the wealthy. Following World War II, the area struggled, but it was revived in the 1970s and became known for its bohemian atmosphere, similar to New York’s Greenwich Village. In 1975, a local bookshop (Lambda Rising), ran the world’s first gay-oriented television advertisement. Today it includes such sights as the Sunday morning Farmers Market, the Board Room (a bar for people who want to re-create a cosy night at home), and Kramer Books (a bookshop containing a restaurant).

The Cairo

One of the historical oddities of the area is a 12-storey apartment block built in the 80s. It dwarfs the area, drove residents mad, and ultimately led to the imposition of the city’s famed height restriction. While many believe the rule to be aimed at preserving the imposing nature of the monuments and the capital, the reality comes down to angry neighbours, which I find makes it that much more endearing. While the subject of considerable wrath, and the catalyst for not one but two acts of Congress, I shall be forever grateful to the Cairo for ensuring that DC stays unique among major US cities in its walkability, and lack of looming high-rises.

Dupont Underground

When the Dupont Circle Streetcar station opened in 1949, it was the first underground station in DC. Shut down in 1962, it served as a potential nuclear shelter during the early years of the Cold War, until 1975 when the tunnels were sealed off and abandoned. After a failed stint as a food court in the 1990s, the tunnels were opened to the public in 2016, with guided tours now available. As with metro tunnels everywhere, art has crept in, but here it has done so in a uniquely organised manner. Dupont Underground is a self-described cultural organization aimed at developing a multidisciplinary platform for creative expression, transforming the tunnels into a public infrastructure to support creative exchange, contemporary art, and an ongoing conversation about the city. They run exhibitions and host events such as comedy nights and concerts, where the unique acoustics of the environment make for a truly inimitable experience.

OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES

Roosevelt Island

For those who need a break from the city, it turns out you don’t actually have to leave. In the 1930s, landscape architects transformed the patch of neglected, overgrown farmland that sits in the Potomac between Georgetown and Arlington, into Theodore Roosevelt Island. Comprising 88 acres of trails, swamp and general wilderness, it was designed to mimic the natural forest that used to cover the island, and nowadays you’d never know the difference. It’s beautifully ungroomed, great for running, hiking and admiring the view while pretending that you don’t live in a capital city.

[Though there is technically a memorial to the President near the entrance to the island, you can totally ignore it without sacrificing any part of the experience, so I’m bravely declaring that it still belongs on this list]

Its accessible by footbridge from the Mount Vernon cycle path, and there’s parking available there. Bikes are not allowed (its enforced, I learned the hard way as a foolish tourist), though dogs are welcome.

Gravelly Point

Just outside of DC proper, in a lovely park next to Washington National Airport, is a unique and quirky spot used for plane watching, acknowledged as one of the best in the United States. Though I always associated airports with harsh, concrete environments, most often in the middle of nowhere, Reagan is nestled against the Potomac. This only serves to enhance the escapist atmosphere that comes with sitting on the grass watching planes come swooping in to land, the roaring engines echoing in your ears and stealing the air from your lungs. Great for a Sunday afternoon, the park has a very relaxed, family friendly atmosphere, surrounded by joggers, cyclists, and children. I know of at least one successful first date that took place there. It’s easily accessible along the Mount Vernon Trail cycling path.

Down In N’Orleans

“America only has three cities: New York, San Francisco and New Orleans. Everywhere else is Cleveland.” – Tennessee Williams

“Everything in New Orleans is a good idea” – Bob Dylan

A CITY ON DEATH ROW, like an aged rock star who will continue to be beautiful and talented long after their skin has turned to leather and their voice has given out, the realities of New Orleans are not the realities. Because it’s not the impressive stink or the horrifying crime rates or the tourists that stay with you, it’s not the centuries of death and violence and tragedy that have cursed this town that touches your soul, it’s the music and the magic, the food, the freedom and that something in the air that makes your spine tingle. Unlike other old cities that can make you feel inferior in the face of their experience, like you are an unworthy guest in a place shaped by those more deserving, New Orleans makes you feel like you are a part of the never-ending story. It invites you in and tells you to make yourself at home in its glittering decrepitude.

It strikes me as a uniquely paradoxical place, oozing that lazy-Sunday-morning vibe that is so unique to the American South, combined with a feverish sense of life and celebration that turns every day into a party. It’s a city so full of amazing history, ranging from the good to the bad and the quirky as hell.

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Garden District – Mostly residential area, quieter and more relaxed than the French Quarter. It was developed in 1832 for the “nouveau riche” Americans who wanted to separate themselves from the Creoles in the FQ. Gorgeous neighbourhood of elegant houses, and in typical New Orleans style there’s a 19th century cemetery planted right in the middle of it. P1160999P1170024

Magazine Street – Great place for a wander, running from the FQ down to the Zoo. Lots going on, from antique shops and hipster galleries, to hot dog stands and artisanal bakeries.

Recommendation: The scenic streetcar that runs like clockwork along St Charles Street is surprisingly still the best way to get around that part of the city. At $3 for a 24hr pass, it’s insanely cheap as well as being completely adorable; a must see!

French Quarter – Oldest neighbourhood in New Orleans, founded in 1718. Home to the infamous Bourbon St and the oldest Cathedral in America (St. Louis) as well as the oldest bar and the most haunted house. In the most predictably tourist-y way, this is my favourite part of the city.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s busy and messy and full to the brim of tourists wanting to see the exact same things as you, but it’s got a wonderful welcoming atmosphere and there is always always something going on.P1170046P1170047

Recommendation: Free Tours by Foot.

NB- -The typical American “no open container rule” doesn’t apply in the Big Easy, thus drinking on the street is not only acceptable, it’s also easy and encouraged by bars themselves, most places serve drinks in plastic cups so you can pop in to pick one up on your walk-about, or take anything you don’t finish with you to-go. But be warned, the caveat to the rule is no glass!

LaFitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar – One of the oldest bars in America, it was allegedly owned by famous pirate Jean Lafitte in the 1800s. Although I’m sure the choice of candles over electric lighting was a tactical and financial one, it certainly lends legitimacy and a great atmosphere. There is also a wonderful piano player who works on requests and he can play anything (like seriously, I requested the Little Mermaid and he did it). However, given its fame it does have slightly more expensive “tourist-hub” prices ($6 for a gin and tonic compared to the standard $4).P1170083.JPG

GLUTEN FREE ADVENTURES

Theo’s Neighbourhood Pizza: It’s a little out of the typical tourist way being at the far end of Magazine Street, but it’s well worth the trek. GF crust is the best I’ve had so far.

Juan’s Flying Burritos: While there are no explicitly GF options listed on the menu, once you go with a corn tortilla instead of flour it’s all fair game. Tasty and well-priced Mexican option.

Evangeline: Simple and tasty southern cooking, they only have a couple of GF options but are also very accommodating to it, I had a burger and they made it for me without the bun, no problems at all.

FARE Food Apothecary: Specialising in gluten and dairy free baked goods I thought I’d died and gone to heaven when I found this place on Magazine Street.  However, with the extra effort of no-added sugar, I was slightly let down by the flavour of my cupcake.

RESTAURANTS

Although I couldn’t actually eat any of this stuff because of intolerances, they came highly recommended, and my friends thoroughly enjoyed the lot!

Magazine Po-boy Shop

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Café du Monde

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Salon by Sucré

Felix’s Oyster House