Breakfast on Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Kenya, Mount Meru, Rwenzori, Ol Doinyo lengai
Breakfast on Kilimanjaro

Breakfast on Mount Kilimanjaro typically consists of a wide array of hearty and nutritious fare to fuel trekkers for the challenging and exhilarating day ahead. Hikers wake up to a delightful spread of fresh fruits including succulent oranges, juicy pineapples, and plump berries, offering a burst of energizing vitamins to kickstart their journey. Alongside the vibrant fruits, adventurers indulge in warm bowls of creamy porridge or hearty oatmeal infused with flavours such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla, providing a comforting and nourishing start to their day. For those seeking a protein boost, a variety of eggs are prepared to cater to different preferences. Scrambled eggs cooked to perfection and sprinkled with aromatic herbs fill the air with their irresistible aroma, while fluffy omelettes stuffed with an assortment of vegetables and cheese create a delightful medley of flavours. To accompany the eggs, slices of freshly baked bread, still warm from the oven, await to be topped with creamy butter, tangy jams, or savoury spreads, adding a touch of indulgence to the morning meal. To further invigorate the hikers, bowls of nutritious yoghurt grace the breakfast table, adorned with an assortment of crunchy granola, sweet honey, and vibrant mixed berries, allowing trekkers to customize their own refreshing and protein-packed creations. Additionally, pots of steaming hot tea and coffee are readily available, offering a comforting sip to warm the body and awaken the senses amidst the cool mountain air. The breakfast spread also includes a selection of regional delicacies that reflect the rich culture and flavours of these awe-inspiring mountains. Mouthwatering pancakes, both sweet and savory, are stacked high, and drizzled with rich maple syrup or savory sauces, enticing hikers with their fluffy texture and delightful taste. Alongside the pancakes, traditional African dishes such as chapatis, mandazis, and ugali make an appearance, providing a unique and authentic culinary experience that connects trekkers on Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Meru, Mount Kenya, Ol Doinyo Lengai, and the Rwenzori Mountains to vibrant local traditions and cuisine.

Kilimanjaro breakfast with a viewA typical breakfast menu on the mountain

Typically we offer a balanced and energy-giving breakfast that is not only nutritious but also help combat symptoms of altitude sickness. As the trekkers fill their plates and savour each bite, the stunning panoramic views of the mountains surround them, creating a breathtaking backdrop to their breakfast feast. The tranquil morning melodies of chirping birds and rustling leaves serenade the adventurers, heightening the sense of awe and tranquillity that accompanies the dining experience. With satisfied appetites and energized spirits, the trekkers embark on their mountainous journey, fuelled by the nourishing and delicious breakfast that has set the tone for an unforgettable expedition. With Tranquil Kilimanjaro, breakfast options on Kilimanjaro, Mount Meru, Mount Kenya, Ol Doinyo Lengai, Rwenzori may vary, but here are some common items you might find:

  • Hot Drinks: Tea, coffee, or hot chocolate are often served to warm up trekkers on chilly mornings at high altitudes.
  • Porridge or Oatmeal: A warm bowl of porridge or oatmeal provides a filling and energy-rich start to the day, perfect for sustained energy during the trek.
  • Eggs: Scrambled, fried, or boiled eggs are a common source of protein for breakfast, providing essential nutrients for muscle repair and recovery.
  • Bread or Toast: Slices of bread or toast are often served with butter, jam, or honey for a carbohydrate boost.
  • Fresh Fruit: Bananas, oranges, apples, and other fresh fruits are a refreshing addition to breakfast, providing vitamins and hydration.
  • Cereal: Some trekkers may opt for cold cereal with milk or yoghurt for a quick and easy breakfast option.
  • Pancakes or French Toast: Occasionally, trekkers may enjoy pancakes or French toast as a special treat, especially on rest days or during longer expeditions.
  • Nuts and Seeds: Trail mix or nuts and seeds may be offered as a portable snack to take along on the day’s hike.

Beginning your Mount Kilimanjaro treks in the morning

Starting your Mount Kilimanjaro trek in the morning after breakfast sets the tone for a day of adventure and exploration. As the sun rises over the majestic mountain, you’ll set off on a journey filled with anticipation and excitement.

After fueling up with a hearty breakfast, you’ll gather your gear and meet your guides and fellow trekkers. The air is crisp and cool, invigorating your senses and awakening your spirit of adventure. With each step, you’ll ascend higher into the clouds, surrounded by breathtaking scenery and panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.

The morning hours are ideal for trekking, as the weather is typically clear and cool, providing optimal conditions for hiking. As you make your way along the trail, you’ll encounter diverse ecosystems, from lush rainforests to alpine meadows, each offering its own unique beauty and challenges.

Starting your trek in the morning also allows you to make the most of daylight hours, giving you ample time to reach your campsite or summit destination before nightfall. It’s a time to push your limits, challenge yourself, and embrace the adventure that awaits on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro.

So lace up your boots, adjust your pack, and take that first step towards the summit. The journey begins now, and with each passing moment, you’ll draw closer to achieving your goal of conquering Africa’s highest peak.

The Importance of Breakfast

Breakfast is a crucial meal when embarking on a trek up Mount Kilimanjaro. As the first meal of the day, breakfast provides trekkers with the necessary fuel and energy to sustain them during the challenging ascent. Here are some key reasons why breakfast is especially important on Kilimanjaro:

  1. Energy Boost: Breakfast replenishes glycogen stores in the body after a night of fasting, providing trekkers with the energy they need to start the day strong. The carbohydrates in breakfast foods serve as the primary source of fuel for muscles during the climb.
  2. Mental Alertness: A nutritious breakfast helps to improve cognitive function and mental alertness, ensuring that trekkers remain focused and attentive on the trail. This is crucial for navigating the varied terrain and changing conditions encountered on Kilimanjaro.
  3. Regulation of Blood Sugar Levels: Eating breakfast helps to stabilize blood sugar levels, preventing fluctuations that can lead to feelings of fatigue, weakness, or dizziness during the trek. Maintaining steady blood sugar levels is essential for sustaining energy and preventing altitude-related symptoms.
  4. Muscle Repair and Recovery: Breakfast provides trekkers with essential nutrients such as protein, which is necessary for muscle repair and recovery after a day of hiking. Including protein-rich foods in breakfast helps to support muscle strength and endurance throughout the climb.
  5. Hydration: Breakfast also presents an opportunity to rehydrate the body after a night’s sleep. Consuming fluids such as water, tea, or juice alongside breakfast helps to replenish lost fluids and prevent dehydration, which is particularly important at high altitudes where dehydration can exacerbate altitude sickness.

Breakfast Options

Pancakes with syrup and honey. For those of you on the standard 5-7 day trek, I strongly urge you to make the switch from bread to pancakes. Carry the extra weight – you will thank me in the end. Mr. B. Beehler and I made the choice halfway up the mountain to switch from pancakes to bread, and behind this decision lies a tale of true human weakness. Pancakes make a great breakfast meal on any mountain day, however, they are especially delightful when reaching Shira Plateau. Pictured below – breakfast time at Shira 1 Camp: Pancakes on the grill with a side of pop – quite the meal for 12,500 ft.

Breakfast on Kilimanjaro ShiraPorridge – a more unusual choice. However, the Kilimanjaro porridge is not to be underestimated. When in the company of Mr. B. Beehler, a wise choice and a delicious meal (photo above), especially when mixed with an unspecified number of teaspoons of sugar. Tastes practically like dessert. When heaping on the sugar, expect a boost of instantaneous energy – the sugar runs quickly through your veins. Mark my words, we made the mistake of eating it for dinner and learned the hard way that we would be awake until the wee hours of the morning, unable to sleep.

Preparing Breakfast on the Mountain

We will awake to another immaculate day, cold and clear, and resume the upward march. We are all here now! Each of us has his or her own private monologue, fears and hopes, expectations and memories. This is an important time of realization and decision. Stark adaptation has set in, and the line has been drawn. We are feeling the first clear effects of extended high altitude; some mild headaches and a little nausea. Appetite is waning and we are learning the force of suggestion. Climbers are encouraged to eat and drink often. We prepare a hot drink for the trail and fill water bottles with the right proportions of powder and flavor. After a thorough lunch we will rest up, then do another acclimatization hike, returning for dinner and to the warmth of our sleeping bags. With good conditions this is the perfect introduction to the rhythm of climb and our desire to be properly healthy and strong for the days ahead. Step by step we are all getting a little more shaggy. Some say the mountain brings out the best in them.

Enjoying Breakfast with a View

This was my favorite part of the mountain. It’s such a rare part of the world, so other-worldly. High altitude tropical alpine. The only pine trees in Africa are just below here, which form the upper limit of the montane forest. They are relict trees left over from the last ice age when the whole region was significantly colder and wetter. Their seedlings, crushed in the Muld war by elephant and buffalo, form the aromatic bedding beneath the trees. The cloud here is the welcoming soft variety. Often it’s possible to wear a t-shirt and escape salts due to the cool air. It’s a surreal place, there are all sorts of weird plants here, the giant groundsul, with a basal rosette of massive spiny leaves and a flower spike up to 2 meters tall. Giant lobelia and senecio plants with a rosette and long flower spike up to 7m tall. Then there are the furry animals, duikers are often seen and we saw a colobus monkey here on one occasion. This is also a good place to see birds with alpine species such as the white-naped raven and lammergeyer.

The next day, we awoke to a fine view of the jagged pinnacles in the morning and began to walk into them. High on the lent, we left the trail portion of the Northern Circuit and ascended a little further on the fine green mossy slopes to an upper trail which contours from here to Buffalo Camp, our second camp located in the fine alpine zone beneath the jagged pinnacles and towers of the Lent Hills.

Walking through the highland desert, we encountered a thicker cloud than normal. We continued on past Shira Hut (a 1-night stop) to Moir Hut, the base of the route up Kilimanjaro. In the heath zone, at about 3000 meters, the cloud cleared, a cold wind began to blow, and it felt very much like Scotland. Even Pete admitted, “I’ve never been so cold in Africa.” Later, we would find that the average temperature on the mountain was 20 degrees colder than normal for this time of year. Shorts and t-shirts would not be the attire for long.

Breakfast Etiquette

The mess tent should be erected the previous evening and breakfast time agreed upon (normally around 7 am). The cook’s assistant, or sometimes the guide, will stew the tea or coffee over a kerosene burner. Upon arrival of the clients and before they’ve emerged out of warm, their bowls are filled, and they are summoned into the tent to drink it. Meanwhile, on another burner, water is boiled for the porridge. This is a fairly expedient process, and breakfast is followed by a lukewarm, often rather dilute fruit cordial, known as ‘sugar water’.

The last, and one of the most important points in regards to breakfast, is to remember that there is an etiquette for breakfast on Kilimanjaro. The porters and guides will already have eaten earlier and will not join you for their breakfast. However, for the first course, they will be expecting hot water, tea, or coffee to be ready for them on arrival at the next camp. They serve you, so you’re expected to serve them. Basically, this is how breakfast should proceed:

Breakfast Memories

I remember vividly the breakfast at the Rongai. It was the first time I ever ate a toasted kiliwich! This is one of my favourite items of mountain food ever. Take half a stale sandwich, smear with honey, fold together and toast over an open fire until the inside is warm and gooey. Almasi, the cook had prepared it for me as a surprise. We were all excited about the pending climb up the standard route with kit and were up and about early. The benefit of this is that the camp at the base of the route is literally a couple of hours walk so we can take a cosy amount of kit and go fast. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same about my breakfast in the mess at Barafu camp seven years later. Another of my erratic forays onto the Northern Ice Field had been thwarted by freak weather and I was in a team of two desperate for action. Sustenance was provided by porridge cooked by our tired and emotional cook in the middle of the night to be eaten cold the next morning because we were leaving before daybreak!

Breakfast as Fuel for the Climb

Breakfast on Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Meru, Mount Kenya, Ol Doinyo Lengai, and the Rwenzori Mountains is of utmost importance. It is absolutely the most important meal of the day for us for several reasons. First of all, we are always awakened by our porters at around 6 am to a fresh cup of tea or coffee brought to our tents. This gives us some time to wake up and adjust our eyes to the morning light. Breakfast is then served once we are packed and ready to go. This meal is normally the same each day. We start with a serving of porridge followed by eggs, sausage, and fried bread. It is then completed with some form of fruit (mango, orange, pineapple, or banana). We do, on occasion, have some pancakes if the cook has been able to save a little extra time in the morning. This meal provides us with plenty of protein and carbohydrates – an excellent way to start a day of climbing. It is essential that we have well-balanced meals this high on the mountain. This being said, our cook, with his assistant of course, produces the highest quality meals we have ever wanted and one would expect to dine like a king would after an average day of trekking. The amount of food we get each day is not quite predictable. Porters are always carrying baggage to the next camp during breakfast, and they must arrive and set up the dining tent before we get there. We have noticed that we tend to get more food at the higher elevations simply because the cook does not want to carry the food back down a second day. At times, they will even send an extra porter back down to retrieve more food during the day. No matter the quantity, breakfast is filling and gives us energy to start a day of hard trekking.

Breakfast Recipes

Once or twice a week, we combine margarine or jam with the toast. The margarine must be hard and easily sliceable, and the jam should not be mixed so that there are no big lumps in it. On summit night, we take a luxury item: chocolate spread. We are usually too tired to finish it, and it is frozen the following day, so we rarely take it any other day.

The first thing that we eat each day on Kilimanjaro is toast. We have specific requirements for the toast. It must be cooked until it is very hard, without burning it. This could take up to 25 minutes on a stove, as opposed to 5 minutes in a toaster. Believe it or not, we have had toast that has not been cooked long enough, so we have to be very specific on this point. The reason behind this necessity is that bread will only last a few days on the mountain before it goes stale. Stale bread is extremely hard and can be toasted, but bread that has gone stale and then been subjected to several days in a canvas food bag at the bottom of a backpack does not toast well at all. In the course of the day, we must eat all bread. Any remaining untoasted slices are saved in a plastic bag and eaten as a snack throughout the day.

Here are the recipes for the breakfast options listed:

  1. Porridge:
    • Ingredients: Ground maize, water, butter or margarine, milk, sugar
    • Instructions:
      1. In a pot, bring water to a boil and add a teaspoon of butter or margarine.
      2. Gradually add ground maize while stirring continuously until the mixture becomes thick and smooth.
      3. Allow it to simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
      4. Serve hot with milk and sugar to taste.
  2. Oatmeal and Sugar:
    • Ingredients: Oatmeal, water, sugar
    • Instructions:
      1. Cook oatmeal according to package instructions.
      2. Sweeten with sugar to taste.
  3. Pancakes with Chocolate or Golden Syrup:
    • Ingredients: Pancake mix, water, chocolate squares or golden syrup
    • Instructions:
      1. Mix pancake mix with water to a thick consistency.
      2. Add chocolate squares or golden syrup into the mixture or on top of the pancakes when serving.
      3. Cook pancakes on a griddle or frying pan until golden brown on both sides.
  4. Scrambled Eggs on Toast:
    • Ingredients: Eggs, bread, butter or oil
    • Instructions:
      1. Beat eggs in a bowl and season with salt and pepper if desired.
      2. Heat butter or oil in a pan over medium heat.
      3. Pour beaten eggs into the pan and cook, stirring gently, until they reach the desired consistency.
      4. Serve scrambled eggs on toasted bread slices.
  5. Hard-Boiled Eggs:
    • Ingredients: Eggs
    • Instructions:
      1. Place eggs in a pot and cover with cold water.
      2. Bring water to a boil, then cover and remove from heat.
      3. Let the eggs sit in the hot water for about 10-12 minutes.
      4. Drain and cool the eggs before peeling.
  6. French Toast:
    • Ingredients: Bread, eggs, milk, water, butter or oil
    • Instructions:
      1. In a bowl, mix together eggs, milk, and a small amount of water.
      2. Dip bread slices into the egg mixture, ensuring both sides are coated.
      3. Heat butter or oil in a pan over medium heat.
      4. Cook bread slices until golden brown on both sides.
      5. Serve hot.
  7. Coffee:
    • Ingredients: Coffee grounds, water, milk, sugar (optional)
    • Instructions:
      1. Brew coffee according to preferred method.
      2. Serve hot, adding milk and sugar to taste.

These breakfast options provide a balance of carbohydrates, protein, and nutrients to fuel climbers for their ascent on Mount Kilimanjaro. Enjoy your meal!

Breakfast and Altitude Sickness

Altitude can also affect the body’s hydration and appetite levels. Both can be dangerous, with dehydration being a long-term effect and loss of appetite in the short-term. We choked down some porridge, which was a struggle as none of our appetites were particularly big. Erin forced down some porridge and Milo, but he was then sick, which set him up for a long, hard day as he had taken in no nutrients. Everyone knew that it was important to eat and drink, but this was going to be difficult for those who were not feeling well.

We awoke on what was a very crisp, frosty dawn to find everything frozen. The most extreme being our altitude indicator, which had obviously suffered from the cold night and now read 7600m – a discrepancy of over 1000m. Lack of sleep, the cold, and hard ground combined to make it a fairly uncomfortable night. I was now beginning to feel the effects of the altitude and had a crippling headache. I had never suffered from migraines or headaches before, and I hadn’t taken any tablets or medications, thinking that it wouldn’t be necessary for a climb which was only 7 days long. This was definitely the cause of my headache, which I was unable to shake off for the rest of the trip. Altitude will affect everyone in different ways; I was the only one in our party to suffer from continuous headaches.

Breakfast Traditions on Mount Kilimanjaro

On our final day, the groups joined together to prepare scrambled eggs and sautéed bananas as a final farewell breakfast everyone would enjoy together. This was a tough feat to accomplish. All meals were carried up, and only enough was brought to provide for each group and their crew. Because of the increased energy levels required on the final ascent, the guides never planned for the entire group to eat together and put those energy levels to a test when they had to share an extra meal and hike it up from the previous camp.

They began by clearing a small area on the ground. Then they took out a gas stove, a pot of water, and a campfire toaster. They cut up some bread and bacon and placed the pieces on the little wire racks, and then toasted them over an open flame. We giggled upon seeing the bacon. Any food that wasn’t rice, soup, or plain pasta was a real treat to us. Then we were handed our favorite breakfast of all, rice pudding. It wasn’t the creamy variety we eat at home for dessert, it was a watery, sugary mixture that didn’t quite deliver the taste we were craving, but we appreciated the effort. This, along with some Tang juice, was our breakfast every morning on the mountain. And their efforts to lighten the mood for the group often turned our tent into a dance party between bites.

The morning of the sixth day on Mount Kilimanjaro was brisk. The Kilimanjaro guides arrived around 7am with the normal bowl of warm, soapy water to wash with. Then they presented us breakfast. It was like nothing I have ever eaten in Tanzania.

Breakfast and Team Bonding

As a way of breaking the ice, we play the familiar camp game of Bao, using pits scratched out of the ground and filled with pebbles. Despite being on the back foot due to unfamiliarity with the game and losing both matches, I manage to salvage draws by exploiting the traditional impatience shown by old-fashioned players. It seems the triumphs of my two deadlocked battles and successful robbing of two new Bao pebbles will be a talking point throughout the climb.

A large number of the 40-strong team that greet us at Horombo huts are strangers, and their enthusiasm and high spirits make it impossible to gauge if these are first-time meetings or cheerful hellos to old friends. The team of guides is made up of 4 pairs of friends, which are easy to distinguish, and their camaraderie lightens up the morning.

Before we left on our climb, we were introduced to the team of porters and guides who were to accompany our group. At the time, it seemed unnecessary to memorize the forty odd names that floated over the camp. But now, sitting in Kibo huts, I wish I had paid better attention.

Breakfast on Kilimanjaro’s Summit Day

The brief stop at Gillman’s Point is often passed without any food or drink, and before you know it, you will be standing on Uhuru Peak. Hence, the amount of food and fluid consumed during the night is more important rather than breakfast itself. Even though your climb is now effectively over, it is important to ensure that you eat and drink sufficiently on your descent.

In the middle of the night, when it’s cold and dark and you’re feeling extremely tired, the matter of stopping to eat a snack is not a popular one. It is far better to eat enough in the first place to keep you going through the night. Snacks that are easy to eat on the move, such as chocolates, dried fruit, and energy bars, are a good choice for your pre-dawn meal and can be taken from the day’s food pack. A hot drink may sound appealing to you when you have just got out of your warm sleeping bag, but the thought of stopping and taking those precious few minutes to brew up and drink it may have you on the move again. This said, it is very important to keep drinking fluid, so it may be a better idea to boil and fill your water bottle to take on the move with you. It is quite common for climbers to fail to drink enough when they are not reminded to do so.

Eating a good breakfast is an essential part of your climb. With only a few hours’ sleep ahead of you before you start your ascent to Uhuru Peak, you need to eat a substantial, high-energy meal to get you going. Not eating much because you feel nervous, scared of the big day ahead, or perhaps due to a loss of appetite from the altitude will only serve to weaken you. Ideally, you should force yourself to eat something, and it is much easier to do this if you have already found a breakfast meal in the preceding days on the mountain that you find particularly appetizing.

Summit day is by far the longest day of your Kilimanjaro climb. You will start trekking around midnight and continue into the night, so this section takes the form of a general discussion about eating at altitude. There is more detailed information about what to eat and when to eat it in the next section after this.

Breakfast Options

Last but not least, remember to drink at least 3 litres of water each day when on the mountain. An afternoon tea will be served in the later afternoon before dinner. Good food and enough water intake will dramatically affect the way you enjoy your trek and increase your chances of reaching the summit. High altitude can affect your appetite; however, it’s important to maintain good eating habits. A daily intake of about 3000 calories is recommended. At Kandoo, we can make all this easier for you. Our cooks are the best on the mountain, and they will cater wonderfully for any special dietary requirements.

A good breakfast is essential when taking part in a big physical event such as climbing Kilimanjaro. Your guides will wake you with a cup of tea or coffee served in your tent around 6:30 am, followed by a bowl of hot water for washing. This will give you time to get dressed and pack up your overnight bag before heading to the mess tent for breakfast. Expect a three-course breakfast, starting with porridge and toast. This will be something that will warm you up before you start your trek for the day. The second course is cooked, usually eggs with a form of bread or pancakes. It’s important to have a really good healthy breakfast when climbing Kilimanjaro, Mount Meru, Mount Kenya, Ol Doinyo Lengai, and the Rwenzori Mountains as it will give you the energy you need to keep going until your next big meal. And the third course is the packed lunch which your cook will make for you each day. This will consist of three or four different foods, possibly a sandwich, hardboiled egg, sausage, biscuit, and fruit. All food is wrapped in plastic to stay fresh and carried inside your jacket to prevent freezing.

Nutritional Considerations

There are several ways that energy is provided to the body during a typical day on the mountain. The main source of energy is muscle glycogen and blood glucose, which is obtained from carbohydrate intake. As the day’s requirement for carbohydrate is 7-10g per kilogram of body weight per day, and this is a 5-fold increase to what most people consume in a day, it means that climbers will need to consciously take on carbohydrate every time they consume any form of food. The main source of this will be the staple food of the mountain: rice prepared in a variety of ways. This is the most practical due to its light weight/energy ratio and ease of preparation. Energy is also obtained from fat metabolism, and to a very small extent, protein metabolism.

When considering a challenge as extraordinary as a climb to the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro, it should be noted that everyday considerations of nutrition, as well as elements specific to the venture up the mountain, must be addressed. Nutrition is a crucial component in realizing one’s goal in climbing a high altitude peak such as Kilimanjaro. Although it is not the focus for most people, suboptimal nutrition can greatly increase the difficulty of attaining your goal, while proper nutrition can make the difference between reaching the summit or turning around.

Breakfast on the Mountain

More often than not, breakfast took place while we were already packed up to leave, and so trusty zip lock bags would be produced; muffins went in the side pockets, and porridge was stirred with one hand while the other held a repackaged muesli bar. No meal can be enjoyed at altitude without a cup of sweet tea, and so the breakfast ritual was always finished off with a brew to take in the thermos for the walk. Breakfast was a high priority at the start of each day, and we continually attempted to improve it all the way to the last morning where, convinced that we had not had enough opportunity to practice, we found ourselves eating a full English breakfast in Moshi. We’ll call it research.

It was a relief to wake up to a hot cup of Milo, which was as much for the warmth as for the hit of chocolate in the morning. Breakfast varied from small muffins to a cooked breakfast. Muffin days were generally sugar-free, and we all threatened to sabotage the petrol stove. Time permitting, a cooked breakfast consisted of porridge and toast. The problem with porridge was that while standing to attention around the stove for a bowl of warm oats wouldn’t seem so bad, the laws of thermodynamics always played out with someone’s oats getting cold as they returned to their tent to retrieve a “spork”. Toast was a high point, though margarine is best left at sea level.

Breakfast at Base Camp

In the morning of the ascent, following a bitterly cold night, we arose to frozen water bottles, bread, and a jar of instant coffee left by our porters in the cook tent. Suspecting that we should conserve our fuel for the nights to come, Eddie proposed we begin with a cold breakfast. Neither of us were of a like mind. However, coffee was first on our minds and so we reverted to the only partially frozen coffee left in the bottom of our companions’ cook pot. It turned out to be just enough to add to our remaining water and make a half-liter of something hot. Eddie and I laughed about our reluctance to drink the brew. But whether it was the coffee itself or the humor in our situation, the hot liquid seemed to give us both a lift and a hopeful outlook on the day. So we went in on a half coconut shell each, and that was our coffee for the next five days. (The porters had decided to save weight by not carrying a cook pot or fuel for anything more.)

Breakfast at Higher Altitudes

Please inform us of any dietary requirements in advance. We are able to supply vegetarian and other special diet meals.

These combinations will set you up well for the day’s trek. The carbohydrate in the porridge and bread will fuel activity, and the egg provides a good protein source to support muscle work. Studies have shown that protein consumption is advantageous at altitude. Sugary foods will supply a quick energy burst, so jam provides a useful topping to sweeten the bread. It’s amazing how the cooks can produce all this food on a single kerosene burner.

Mealtimes are welcome breaks in the trekking day, and the cook is mindful of the need for adequate fuel for energy. All meals start with a hot drink (often chocolate), and this is followed by porridge or cornflakes. The main dish at breakfast will be eggs, in various forms, with bread. Generally, there is plenty of butter and jam.

Breakfast for Energy

Camp breakfasts usually consist of porridge, scrambled eggs and toast, sometimes with the addition of sausages or pancakes. These are usually served with tea, coffee or hot chocolate. Given the circumstances, the standard of food on the climb is generally quite high. Products are often brought up from local towns and the cooks take pride in creating tasty and nutritious meals with the limited resources available on the mountain. The mountain cooks are well trained in hygiene and food handling, and although the quality of food can vary between companies, it is rare for clients to suffer major stomach complaints on the mountain. At most camps, it is possible to purchase a cooked lunch or alternatively, you can ask for a packed lunch to eat on the way. Written requests should be made if you want a packed lunch as otherwise, it may not be provided. Lunches usually consist of soup and a variety of sandwiches. High-energy snacks such as chocolate and nuts are good to keep in your pocket and eat on short breaks while walking. They can provide a useful energy boost when you begin to feel tired.

For those people used to a light breakfast, the substantial meal provided at Kilimanjaro’s climbing camps may prove daunting. However, Kilimanjaro climbs are strenuous undertakings and the energy provided by a good breakfast is essential. Try to eat as much as possible. At the very least, force yourself to eat porridge or cereal plus fruit. If you really can’t face anything else in the morning, try to drink a cup of tea or coffee with sugar. In the cold climate and with the long hours of walking, your body needs more fuel than normal to keep warm and provide energy for the muscles. You will be burning up to 3000 calories a day on the mountain. If these are not replaced, then fatigue quickly sets in and the chances of reaching the summit are greatly reduced. It is said that an army marches on its stomach and in much the same way, the success of a climb can be strongly affected by the food and drink that its participants consume.

Breakfast for Hydration

The main source of fluid should be sought from boiled water. Adding drink flavorings such as low-calorie cordials may increase consumption. It is also important to consider the water quality. The risk of impurities is the same regardless of the altitude, and any stomach upset or illness can have severe consequences at height. As a guide, drink 6-8 cups of 500ml per serving each day, for which water purification drops or tablets should be used. Note that the exact amount of water taken can be gauged by the color of urine. It should resemble the color of straw. Too dark indicates concentrated urine due to dehydration, too frequent and clear indicates overhydration and is not ideal. Any change in the color of urine or excessive urination during the day is a sign that an adjustment in fluid intake should be made.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and a key one for hydration. After a long night without fluids, it is essential to begin the day by drinking plenty of liquids. Warm drinks, such as tea and coffee, are good for their psychological comfort as well as their diuretic effects, helping to kick-start the body into eliminating the large volume of waste products left by the previous day’s arduous physical demands. However, it is important not to overdo the caffeine content as this can have negative effects, particularly at altitude. Instead, try to obtain some additional calories from milk or hot chocolate.

Breakfast for Recovery

It’s best to stick to familiar foods and try not to experiment too much, as stomach upsets at higher altitudes can very well mean the end of the trek. On the mountain, we always say that “porridge fuels the people”, and it’s true. Porridge or oats are the best food in terms of carbohydrate loading, and it’s not too difficult to digest. Provided that you know you can handle a bit of milk, powdered milk can be added for a bit of extra protein and calcium. If you’re a fan of eggs or meat, eating them for breakfast time is better than eating them later in the day, due to the fact that it’ll give your body more time to digest and utilize the protein. Protein and fats are also very beneficial, so toast with a bit of butter or margarine can be a good substitute for porridge. Steer clear of foods that are high in sugar and high in fat, as they’ll lead to a sudden increase in hunger sometime in the day and they can be very difficult to digest.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, especially when you are trekking up extreme altitudes and pushing your body to the max. A good breakfast is not only important for refueling energy that was used the previous day, but it’s also important to get a head start on energy stores for the taxing day ahead. Calories are essential to keeping warm, keeping hydrated, and maintaining a good level of energy. On summit night specifically, your guides will wake you up around 11:00 pm to have a quick breakfast and a hot drink before heading up to the summit. Eating a good breakfast the day before, and feeling hungry in the morning, is a sign of acclimatization. If you do not feel hungry in the morning at higher altitudes, it’s a sign that you’re not utilizing food to generate energy, and it’s most likely due to the fact that your body is eating into its energy stores.

Breakfast for Mental Focus

To begin any successful summiting, the mountaineer must first focus on the mountain of anxieties and fears that often guard the path to success. By getting mentally prepared, the rest of the climb will be an enjoyable and successful one. Breakfast is the starting point in mental preparation. One item often overlooked can be serious in affecting the mental state. On the morning of the climb, caffeine can be a psychological bolster to the climber who is dragging after rising at an early hour. This may be in the form of coffee, tea, or caffeine-loaded soft drinks. Your goal is to increase mental focus and acuity by any means without increasing anxiety. If use of caffeine causes anxiety in an individual on or off caffeine, the anxiety on Kilimanjaro may be magnified by caffeine use. Be sure to test how caffeine affects anxiety levels in months prior to the climb. If increased tension is felt, it is wise to abandon caffeine use two months before arriving in Tanzania to ensure maximum anxiety reduction. High anxiety can have negative effects at higher elevations, and can be a source of early departure from the mountain. Anxiety levels and the effects of caffeine may change after arriving at higher elevations, be sure to reassess anxiety levels during the climb if using caffeine. The second item is a breakfast food that likely has not been tasted since childhood. In 1997, Dr. Edward Coyle of the University of Texas compared the physical effects of a breakfast of low and high glycemic index foods on a group of cyclists. A food’s glycemic index (GI) is a measurement of its effect on blood glucose level. High GI foods cause a rapid increase in blood glucose level. Low GI foods have a slower, more consistent effect on glucose levels. White bread was used for the high GI meal and canned chili for the low GI meal. The results of this study are subject to criticism based on the point that increased glucose efficiency may be trained in individuals with a diet of high GI foods. Nonetheless, the study found that the low GI meal increased endurance in the cyclists from non-glucose efficiency trained groups. Stepwise change in transcription ability and alertness was reported by the cyclists during the low GI meal, an effect that may be important in memory of tasks to be performed at higher elevations. Low GI meals may have a greater effect on glucose efficiency trained individuals. This study was likely conducted in males with different levels of glucose efficiency trained group. Stepwise change in transcription ability and alertness was reported by the cyclists during the low GI meal, an effect that may be important in memory of tasks to be performed at higher elevations. Low GI meals may have a greater effect on glucose efficiency trained individuals.

Breakfast for Acclimatization

Usually, on the morning of the second night, breakfast is served in your tent. Most groups will choose to have their breakfast at around 8 am, and the porters will wake you up with a cup of tea at around 6 am. Your breakfast will consist of bread, pancakes, or porridge. This meal is specific to the day that you will be taking for acclimatization, as it is quite light and provides minimal energy. However, putting this meal into context, it is quite a relevant meal in terms of you needing a light meal before heading on a further night of acclimatization. The recorders were concerned that the provision of food may affect the weight of the loads they had been carrying. In cooking this light breakfast and having a late start, Sianyeja was now able to take a change of clothing and energy snacks that night. It’s better to put on slightly more weight in the form of an extra item of clothing rather than feel hungry and weak lower down the mountain. A late start was also more relevant in terms of the temperatures which would be found on the nights of acclimatization.

Breakfast Challenges

Breakfast is a challenge. Not physically, for the food is not hard to cook or eat, but rather because it is cold at breakfast time and eating is uncomfortable until the sun comes into the mess tent. So – it is 8 am, none of us have started breakfast, the kitchen boys are standing around shivering because no one has made a fire for them yet, and meanwhile most of us are still lying in our sleeping bags listening to the wind outside, feeling that there is little incentive to get up and start doing anything. But the kitchen boys persevere and by 8.30 a fine breakfast of porridge and toast materializes. Most of us have been lured out of our sleeping bags by the attractive smell of burning toast and proceed to do justice to the excellent meal. At around 9 am the sun streams down hot into the camp. We are now lying around outside the tent stripping off jerseys and overtrousers that we put on in the chilly early morning. It has begun to rain during the sunny spell and the meal ends in a concerted dash for the inside of the tent to escape the warm rain. By 9.30 the rain has stopped and we emerge from the tent, already into T-shirts and shorts because it is now so hot, to find that the kitchen boys tidying up from breakfast are looking unhappy because they have been pelted on by raindrops and are now soaked. By 10 am the sun is blazing, everyone is sitting in pools of water which have collected from the recent shower. We look enviously at the porters who have already long since abandoned trying to stay dry, and are walking about the camp in a state of deshabille quite unconcerned about the endless cycle of rain and sunshine. From now on the weather continues hot and fine right until 6 pm when the rain starts again and we have to eat supper in the tent. The pattern of weather is familiar. The wet season in Kilimanjaro is characterized chiefly by the fact that it is wetter than the dry season. This fact acquires a special significance at meal times. During the hours of daylight the weather is very variable and can change often. Breakfast or lunch might be started in rain and the food consumed in brilliant sunshine. But when night falls the rain closes in and there is no longer the chance that it will stop. A meal eaten in the open after 6 pm is almost certain to end in a hurried scramble to inside the tent clutching food that is in danger of being deluged. And so ends a day at a high camp. The food is prepared and eaten outdoors if possible, but inevitably at some stage it will rain and the meal will suddenly to be packed up and finished inside the tent. Taken as a whole it may be said that to climb during the wet season is a mistake, but at least the impossibility of eating outdoors does prevent the development of hostility towards the large contingent of leeches at the moorland campsites.

Taking a cup of tea or coffee in the morning

Organizing this breakfast takes a considerable amount of effort and planning, but there are ways to lessen the amount, such as sending a chef ahead of time with extra food or finding non-perishable food that will suffice for the amount of time. Having tea or coffee in the morning can be a beneficial team bonding experience if shared by close friends who would find laughter in each other’s discomfort. This experience can only provide long-lasting memories as well as be retold countless times. Although our attempt to recreate the feeling of altitude and discomfort can never come close to that of being on the mountain for real, it provides an interesting experience of human masochism and the feeling of what it must be like to try and cook and eat under such harsh conditions. In addition to having a good time, we learn valuable skills that can be applied to real situations in the backcountry, such as the importance of being able to melt snow for water and knowing how to cook it properly so as to not waste fuel. All in all, this breakfast serves its purpose for those planning to climb Mount Kilimanjaro or anyone looking for a challenging and new experience on Mount Meru, Mount Kenya, Ol Doinyo Lengai, and the Rwenzori Mountains.


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