Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro

I’m leaving Tuesday to try to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. If you want to show your support, please donate at charity:water. Anyone who wants to give is welcome. πŸ™‚

Mt. Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa, at 19,340 feet (5895 meters). It’s hard to climb Kilimanjaro, mainly because of the altitude. I’ll be completely without internet access for a few weeks. Don’t expect any blog comments or email replies for the first half of August–right now, I’m not even planning to bring my laptop. Not to worry, the webspam team itself will keep chugging away: reading spam reports, improving algorithms, and stopping spam.

I’ve been doing practice hikes with the three friends that I’m going with. Here’s a few camping tips that I’ve picked up:
– Headband lights sound silly, but they work really well. And if you get one with a red light, the bugs bother you less.
– But it’s important to know where your headband light is, or you’ll just be feeling around in the dark.
– Chocolate bars and pepperoni sticks make nice treats after a full day of hiking.
– OFF! (the insect repellent) is sticky.
– You can pick up Neutrogena sunblock at your local drug store. It works well, and is a lot less oily than some sunblock.

As you can tell, a lot of hiking/camping for me is focused on food and water, plus minimizing how oily/sticky I get. πŸ™‚

If you’ve got Kilimanjaro advice or a clean water story to share, I’d love to hear it. In the mean time, please donate to charity:water and let’s get more clean water to more people!

133 Responses to Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro (Leave a comment)

  1. Matt, have fun and be safe!

  2. Namaste and good luck! Have fun climbing!

  3. Good luck on your (rather surprising) endeavor! πŸ™‚
    Would love to see the pics when you get back… πŸ˜€

  4. Make sure you bring enough stuff to keep warm. It can get quite cold and windy, even at the first camp at 10.000 feet/3000 meters.
    Oh, and the birds there will steal everything that’s not tied down… even soap.

    Happy hiking!

  5. Good luck with the hike Matt. Take lots of pictures and see you on the other side πŸ™‚

  6. Good luck Matt, sounds great!

    I found that the best stuff for calming down insect bites, and stopping the itching, is Tiger Balm if you can get hold of some it’s well worth it! I think it repels them as well πŸ™‚

    Have fun!

    p.s. don’t get the tiger balm in your eyes, it’s very painful πŸ˜›

  7. All the very best Matt. Do take care of yourself.

  8. Good luck Matt, have fun!

  9. Awesome!
    Hope you post some pics and stuff when you get back. Enjoy the afk-time πŸ˜‰

    Oh and Good Luck =D

  10. A good friend of mine did exactly this last year and he had a great time. Hope you’ll experience the same. Have fun and be safe!

  11. Good luck to you and all the team, enjoy the climb, I hope you are loving Africa!

    New Google real-time search for ‘Where is Matt?’ … ‘Is Matt at the top?’…’Has Matt been sick yet?’ πŸ™‚

  12. Matt, you’ll know about your boots, but socks are really important too. sounds silly but spend money on your socks! good luck

  13. Be careful and have fun. I am sure a few weeks without the net will be relaxing. Seriously, be careful.

  14. Awesome Matt. Lucky to be doing this and especially for charity. I think next you should “fly the crack” for charity. Check out YT, “Flying the Crack” to see what I mean.

    Enjoy it man and hopefully you raise some mega money.


  15. Good luck Matt, no wonder why people admire you πŸ™‚

  16. Try TiO2 sunblock from Menscience ( — It’s the best non-grease sunscreen you’ll find.

  17. Good luck Matt, sounds like a big challenge but ultimately rewarding, I’m sure you’ll raise plenty for a great cause too!

  18. Pole. Pole. You’ll find out when you get there.

    Take some energy snacks with you – great for when you’re low on energy (it will happen). Be sure to sunblock your hands – burnt hands are a nightmare up there.

    Enjoy – fantastic experience it will be πŸ™‚

  19. A friend of mine said that smoking a pipe helps with the insect problem πŸ™‚ Good luck

  20. Good Luck Matt & safe travels! Would love to see some pics or video along the way! Hope someone will be sending some good love in your place for your cats!

  21. It’s hard to climb Kilimanjaro, mainly because of the altitude.

    Also because it’s a really tall mountain.

  22. >>Headband lights sound silly, but they work really well. And if you get one with a red light, the bugs bother you less.<<
    I once forgot to switch on my headlamp and ran into a wall. Damage to my head was probably more than without.
    Matt, does the red light really fight off bugs?

    Regarding water: If you don't want to donate money, donate water. Yes, i wrote WATER.
    Just save a little on your daily consumption and it will help the environment. OK, that is not helping those in developing nations, but it well help your local environment.

  23. Get two knee bandages for the descent. Walking down a hill for hours can be painful for your knees. Have fun and take some pictures for us.

  24. oh and as you have short hair don’t forget to put sunblock on your ears

  25. Have Fun and Be Safe! Good Luck Mate!

  26. Hey Matt, is that your 30 days challenge for this month? You might even forget Google in the mountains of Africa πŸ˜›

  27. Have fun, thats some nice adventuring right there. Long plane flight, may I recommend “Facing Mt. Kenya” the story of Jomo Kenyatta. You will probably be landing at his memorial airport.

  28. Good Luck Matt, cant wait to hear the stories and see the pictures when you return!

  29. Be careful, have fun and enjoy the view. I don’t have any advice other than what I’ve found online.

  30. Excellent post ,

    make sure you pack plenty of chocolate and pepperoni sticks like you say they will taste extra good at the end of a long day


  31. Slow and steady wins the race. Don’t overexert yourself because you need a lot of recovery time when you’re at such high altitudes, but if you take it slow then you can make it. If you start feeling light headed, stop and take a break or you risk passing out. It’s not a race! πŸ™‚

  32. If you’re only warding off mosquitoes, I recommend picaridin based repellent instead of DEET.

  33. What travel service/site did you use to book the trip? I am looking into a similar trip now and am having a hard time separating the good services from the bad.


  34. Have a great time man! I climbed last June and it was amazing! Drink a Kili for me!

  35. Hi Matt,

    Good luck with that. Since I’m also planning on going up Kili sometime in Sep or Oct, could you let me know which company you decided to go with and which route you chose?


  36. Matt, I wish you a great trip. I just donated to charity:water a few days ago, and I think it’s great that you are supporting this cause with your adventure.

    I was going to suggest a natural insect repellent like the one I’m using but I just read the reviews and apparently DEET-free repellents are not as effective :-/. Maybe Tiger Balm suggested by Jen can help.

    Take care, and enjoy the view!

  37. Hello matt I’m working hydraulic works in Turkey and I born at a dam housing in Ankara. Water and dams full my life story. I think water even more than important from oil. I’m so gald also Googlewebmasters workers interested in world problems. Thanks for it and have nice voyage. (Sorry for my poor english πŸ™‚

  38. It’s always inspiring to see people striving to reach new goals, especially when pushing the boundaries. (Also an interesting coincidence since I have spent today working on website marketing for watermakers). Best of luck – should you need it.

  39. Good luck Matt, I’ve heard great things about that climb. I know a few people who have done it and they all universally recommend doing it. That being said, they’ve all warned me that pretty much everyone gets a headache above about 15,000 feet and it doesn’t go away until you go back down. So just be prepared for it and bring some ibuprofen or something for the summit day (not sure if that will work or if you want to tough your way through it). Enjoy the trip!

  40. Whiskey is for drinking and water is for fightin’. That’s an old New Mexico saying. Water is so precious. Even tho we are only a mile high here, and our mountain is only 10,000 ft, I have experience with low-landers coming to stay with us and getting horrible headaches from altitude AND dehydration combined. So keep hydrated is my advise.

    My nephew is a traveler and writes books about surviving above the treeline. He walked into base camp at Everest and some guy sitting on the wall called out his name. Scared the s**t outa him. Turned out it was an old friend from the past. Cool huh?. Hope it all goes well for you!

  41. Whiskey is for drinking and water is for fightin’. That’s an old New Mexico saying. Water is so precious. Even though we are only a mile high here, and our mountain is only 10,000 ft, I have experience with low-landers coming to stay with us and getting horrible headaches from altitude AND dehydration combined. So keep hydrated is my advise.

    My nephew is a traveler and writes books about surviving above the treeline. He walked into base camp at Everest and some guy sitting on the wall called out his name. Scared the s**t outa him. Turned out it was an old friend from the past. Cool huh?. Hope it all goes well for you!

  42. Good luck on your quest – hope you don’t go mad as the son of this this 82yr old climber of Kilimanjaro did,

  43. Wow. Sounds like a mission. I hope you’ve trained your lungs enough. The higher you go the harder it is to breathe. And yeah, the sun can destroy your skin, literally.

  44. Good luck Matt, enjoy the climb and take care!
    take pics of Africa

  45. Wish I was on the trip to extract some SEO secrets out of you at a few thousand feet up.

    Good luck with that, I have always wanted to climb a few of the bigger peaks out there (except Everest, too cold). Be careful, and drink a lot of fluids.

  46. Good luck Matt. Sounds like the trip of a lifetime.

    Also, it may just be me, but I can’t stop thinking that if this post were on any other SEO blog, it would have taken advantage of at least 4 or 5 places to drop in an affiliate link… Way to drop-in the brand names!

  47. Good luck! Take plenty of pictures..

  48. I am sure you will emerge a conquerer of new heights πŸ™‚

  49. I read the Re-tweet from Danny Sullivan and thought “Kilimanjaro” was a code-name for some new Google project. Had no idea you were ACTUALLY going to climb the mountain. That’s awesome – best of luck and don’t forget your Google Street View camera πŸ˜‰

  50. Happy hiking matt…

  51. good luck! think about all the seo secrets there!

  52. You gotta watch the sunrise from the top of the mountain. I heard that its the most beautiful thing in the world!

  53. Good luck, Matt.

    Waiting for your photos from top of the Kilimanjaro πŸ™‚

  54. Take care, enjoy and travel safely! Here’s a tiny tip from me, regarding that “fumbling for the light in the dark” – get a small flashlight that’s made out of plastic that glows in the dark. Very useful for finding your light source in a dark tent!

  55. Good luck Matt! Hope it all goes well and it’s for a great cause!

  56. Matt,
    Are you stopping by the Google Kenya/Africa office before you go to Arusha to start your climbing? Are u likely to run any informal talks on Google search while in Nairobi-I wish.
    I am in Nairobi and I suspect that is where your continental flight is likely to touch down:-)
    Would have likely to go up the mountain with your team but instead I will donate to your cause.
    Advice? remember to use your insect repellant, stay near the camp fire/light as mosquitoes hate light, drink plenty-it will be cold up there but you’ll sweat a lot. There are plenty of cyber cafes in Arusha and Nairobi where you can check your emails.Buy souvenirs from the children and old women selling stuff though the windows. Dont buy from the hotel lobby, it benefits the rich.

  57. Hope you enjoy yourself Matt! Sounds like an amazing experience from everything I’ve heard about it, have fun!

  58. Good Luck enjoy the climb!

  59. Good luck Matt. And Charity Water is such an awesome organization! Have fun!

  60. Happy climbing. Having been there, done that, I can say it is a great experience being on the highest point in Africa. My advise, take it at your own pace, and you are sure to reach Uhuru peak, the summit. I wrote about my experience in my blog:

  61. Good luck for you! have fun climb!

    For the make the water, I remember one way that use the plastic up the cup, pass one night, you will get the water.

  62. Good luck, and have fun :’) – And take care

  63. I saw a comment about bird’s stealing soap. Sound advice, but soap you can live without. I had mice literally take 2 snack size mars bars out of my bag!

    It was a great experience though overall

  64. Good luck πŸ™‚ such an honourable thing that your doing. I find that eating nuts and power bars gives me lots of energy while hiking too.

  65. I would recomend this tune alongside:


    good luck breathng the thin air!


  66. Have fun Matt and be careful. SEO community wants to see you back in one piece πŸ™‚

  67. Congratulations on going for it, Matt. When we did it, my wife was far more fit than me, and she didn’t make it. You never know if altitude sickness will get you. Hopefully it won’t, but don’t beat yourself up if you do. No matter the result, I’m sure it’ll be a great experience. Hope there’s still some glacier near the top!

    Ed Oakley

  68. Having climbed the mountain successfully, I can attest to it being a great challenge but also doable for most people who get great guidance and follow it. Among the top really basic – but really important tips:

    1) one of the first words in Swahili you will learn from any good guide is pole, or slow – go slow and don’t push yourself because the mountain will push back (hard)
    2) drink lots of fluids and eat very well, even when you’re not feeling well – maybe especially when you’re not feeling well
    3) bring (and probably take as a prophylactic) altitude sickness pills – there’s some debate about whether they should be used as a prophylactic, though, so be aware of the debate
    4) when you get to camp, keep hiking up. don’t stop with everyone else (and almost everyone else WILL stop), even if you are tired (rest for a bit if you need to, of course). going higher and then resting lower will acclimatize you better.

    There’s much more that I can say, of course, but now’s not the place for a dissertation.
    I would suggest buying a guide to Kilimanjaro and can recommend one if you like.

    Also, definitely email if you need a tour guide. I had the best one on the mountain. Just a terrific companion who has had some international (and American) hiking experience and terrifically knowledgable guy about the mountain and how to climb it successfully.

  69. Have fun.
    It is awesome that you are promoting charity:water. A friend told me about them a few months ago in San Francisco and it is inspiring. Very cool to see a charity that has this:
    All operating costs are covered by a group of private donors so every dollar you give can go to people in need.

    Good luck.

  70. Wow that is a good challenge. You be careful out there and have fun. Yeah one more thing , don’t forget to bring a stone from the top of that beast to keep at home just as a souvenir of that day πŸ™‚

    Good luck Matt

    Cheers from Ky

  71. Hey Matt…Ever thought playing the Survivor LOL…

  72. Have a nice trip up there. Looking forward to seeing a video from the summit!

  73. best wishes man!

  74. Hey Matt ! Wish you all the best, just do it man,ahhhhhhh write the future man πŸ™‚

  75. Go ahead man .. Enjoy the climbing πŸ™‚

  76. Good luck matt, we’ll miss U πŸ™‚

  77. Good luck. We hope you get back safely.

  78. Bartolomeo Misana

    Karibu (Welcome to) Tanzania Matt. On top of the wisdom of all the advice you’ve received and will continue to receive, you will also have knowledgeable guides up and down the climb. Best of luck and have fun while supporting such a noble cause.

  79. Good luck Matt! And also, could you bring an iPhone4 up to the summit and tell us if AT&T has a stronger signal there? It may still not be holding it in a wrong way.

  80. I have a friend that climbed the Kilimanjaro and the most important advice he gave me was that coke gets more and more expensive as you get close to the summit πŸ™‚

  81. Wooow .. that sounds like so much fun πŸ˜€

    (sorry for the previous comment, didn’t notice the note about actual names)

  82. Awesome to hear of your trip and cause. I’ve always wanted to go and am interested to know if it is as fun as it sounds. Looking forward to your post Mt. Kilimanjaro blog post!

  83. Good luck and have fun. Hope you practice hiked somewhere other than sea-level in California. Altitude sickness is brutal…

  84. Thinking of taking my 2 daughters next year. Looking forward to getting a few tips on the journey. Good luck and enjoy the scenery.

  85. Hey Matt- most likely you don’t recall me as you are quite famous at conferences. We met at smx advanced Seattle 2008. We talked about your panda tshirt outside a seafood restaurant. Anyhoo, I’m so elated to see a search leader go to the wilderness leave electronics behind and fight for a good cause. Quite awesome! Best of luck! I have a ton of camping advice. Most of all, breathe it all in and come back with a new perspective and keep up the fight for a good cause. You’re so cool!

  86. @man ray — surely Matt would have an android phone… πŸ™‚

    Well done Matt, GL & HF!!

  87. Wow no internet access for weeks! Good luck on the climb, I personally will be making a climb out of the chair to the kitchen to get an ice cream sandwich. If only you could bring the laptop, blogging from the top of Kilimanjaro would be a feat accomplished by very few I am sure, A live stream of you atop the summit would have been epic. Be safe.

  88. Have fun. Climbing Mt. Kilamanjaro is actually a lifelong dream of mine. I remember reading in an outdoor magazine how it was one of the only places in the world where you have three different climates: Desert, Jungle, and Snow. Just amazingly beautiful. Please take a lot of pictures, and feel free to email them to me. Maybe take a google flag with you and plant it at the top πŸ™‚ good luck! I’m jealous!

  89. Awesome stuff, sounds like a great trip. Have a blast. Don’t forget a camera! I’ve heard you are up so high you can take in the curvature of the earth from the top.

  90. all the best matt. want to donate a small amount. But i can do that only using PayPal and that option is not seen at the page. what to do?

  91. OK got paid today, charity will be made once my paycheck clears πŸ™‚
    Good job Matt. And be safe.

  92. Good luck, and I hope your WordPress does not go out-of-date and compromised during the time you are offline πŸ˜›

  93. Wait Matt

    Please don’t hurt yourself, because us marketers need your content..come back safe Bro..

    “TrafficColeman “Signing Off”

  94. Have a nice tip, Matt!
    Please update us via Twitter. πŸ˜‰
    Of course, we are waiting for some interesting photos from Kilimanjaro.

  95. Sounds like a lot of hard work to me πŸ™‚ But I hope you have a really great time and stay safe. We’d like to get you back intact, if you don’t mind?
    A great concoction to stop midges and sandflies from biting is baby oil and dettol or some other similar antiseptic. Just a suggestion in case you need it πŸ™‚

  96. wow.. great idea Mat πŸ™‚

    but 2 weeks without e-mail? .. you will need at least 3 days to read them all after that πŸ˜€

    anyway, all the best to You.. be careful and return as soon as possible

    greetings from the UK

  97. Matt,
    I hope you have a great time in Africa. As a serious bow hunter myself I spend a lot of time in the back country. Some secrets I have found is to always take Doritos on hiking and camping trips. Doritos are light weight, taste great, and an outstanding fire starter (oils in the chip makes a perfect flame like an “oil lamp”). If you are not a Doritos fan, cotton ball with petroleum jelly are outstanding fire starters and it is also waterproof, extremely light weight, and you don’t have to worry about smashing them. These two items have saved me many times in some unexpected snow and rain storms while hunting in the back country.

  98. Good luck Matt. I really hope you post some awesome photos because I know the views will be spectacular…

  99. Great charity choice Matt – have a fine trip!

  100. Welcome to Tanzania, if you shall be coming to dar es salaam, let me know, I might be of good help on a few things. Enjoy Africa’s best!

  101. Hello Matt! Have a safe journey…Don’t mind being sticky with OFF, we just read about Bot flies that could lay eggs on you (I don’t know if there are any in Kilimanjaro though). Be safe…

  102. Great charity Matt. The lack of clean water kills millions of people every year. Best of luck with your expedition, it sounds like the trip of a life time.

  103. Good luck Matt, and have fun.

    I just pushed you over the $10,000 mark!

  104. I pray the LORD will be with you and that He’ll send His ministering angels around you to keep you safe.

    The LORD will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul.-Psalm 121:7

  105. Sounds like a great idea to go climbing kili, especially for such a good cause. Hope it goes well.

  106. Rick Smolan has a FANTASTIC book out called “Blue Planet Run”. Highly recommend it.

    Best wishes on your approach to the summit and look forward to reading what is bound to be a life-changing event regardless of the altitude you make.

  107. Best of luck man! That will be one heck of a journey. Hurry back to clean up search spam though.

  108. I hope your trip is going well as I write this Matt! … I am incredibly envious by the way πŸ™‚ I look forward to reading your tales when you get back.

    On another note, I hope you use deet-based insect repellant sparingly. I used 99% stuff once and when a mosquito was stupid enough to land on my skin I was HORRIFIED to see it melt… right in front of my eyes. That is scary stuff!! (yes, true story)

    Cheers, Ross

  109. WOW very impressive. Good luck and God speed.

    Have you ever really gone 2 weeks without your laptop?

  110. I just know you’re a great traveler. And made a campaign for funding a charity is a benevolence way to help other peoples in there. Glad to enjoy it, and good luck for it!

    Go Pass the Goal!
    p.s.: Don’t forget to post-a-video-blog after it πŸ™‚

  111. Good luck man!

  112. Hi Matt,
    In terms of advice for climbing kilimanjaro – take your time and really appreciate the view as you ascend it.

    In google related news – what’s the best way to have an age verification system to keep minors out of a page without having to worry about being penalized by Google?

    Right now, I have a page that shows an age verification screen alerting users that they have to be older than 18 to enter. It’s actually illegal to use css or javascript to hide the content as technically it can still be accessed by a minor without acceping the terms. So the only way to do this is to show the verification page to everyone and to show the actual content to Googlebot.

    This could be misconstrued as cloaking, when in reality it’s just a matter of abiding by the law. Is there anything webmasters can do (maybe you could create a meta tag for this?) to alert Google that a page may have an age verification screen? It seems like there’s no way to be ethical and legal, while also appeasing Googlebot’s spam checks.

    Thanks πŸ™‚

  113. Please post some photos for those of us who can’t “get away.” Enjoy!

  114. Wow, very adventuresome of you and what a good cause. Good luck to you and have fun.

  115. I know that a lot of people get a rush out of doing something dangerous.
    And I respect that. But is it worth getting killed over as many have.
    To me, I would just fly over the darn thing. That is dangerous enough.

  116. Thank you for replying our video questions!

    Good luck on your trip, it seems you really love challenges!

  117. Sounds like an amazing trip! Is this part of a bucket list?

  118. “Do or Do not. There is no try. ”

    Good Luck & Have an awesome trip, very Googley!

  119. While you’re up there, perhaps you should meditate a bit on just how evil your beloved Google has become lately and come back with a desire to make Google what it used to be instead of what it’s becoming?

  120. Huge accomplishments can be made one small step at a time. It’s not going to be a question if you can find the energy to reach the summit. We all are blessed with an unending amount. This is more a test of your ability to release your energy very, very Slowly, one step at a time. Thomas Meyers

  121. I have been up Mt. Kilimanjaro with my Dad in 2001, it was absolutely amazing.
    Maybe Google could make a Matt Cutts Kilimanjaro image…
    Good luck & have fun.

  122. Mat:
    I’m reminded of an Outward Bound wilderness trip I took 15 years ago. It was a winter land program in extreme temperatures. Don’t know if you will be getting into snow country but I assume so at those altitudes. Remember to sleep with your boots in your bag (or the sweat inside will freeze overnight and you’ll never get them back on) and to always keep some water unfrozen in your canteen (sleep with that too), as you can’t melt snow without some liquid water to start the process. Great column. Have a good trip.

  123. Good luck on your hike. layer, layer, layer. That’s all I can say. Also, I agree with the comment about socks. Smart wool’s a great brand.

  124. Haha. take care there. you don’t have face to climb mountains. πŸ™‚

    @OFFTOPIC – 10 points for SPAMHOUND. google is the next microsoft.

  125. As a kenyan born IM person I can trully say there is no better way of getting away from it all than going on an African adventure. Leave all the tech behind and have a different look on life for trullly energising experience. If you need inspiration litsent to the Toto song Africa here:

  126. Mountain Climbing is dangerous.
    Many people have died trying it.
    My point is it worth it.
    What is your life worth.
    Who do you have obligations to and who will be hurt by your death.
    There are too many natural ways to die. Why invent knew ones.
    Why don’t you just fly over it, that is dangerous enough for me.

  127. Good luck.
    Would it not be more productive to just write a cheque or better still kick up a bit of a fuss about the corruption that condemns those poor folk to not having drinking water. Sorry to be so heretical.
    PS Make sure you come back safe and well, so we can beat up some more spammsters.

  128. Fantastic! Looking forward to seeing all the pictures and video clips πŸ™‚

  129. Matt, where are the photos of your climb ?

  130. That is so amazing that you climbed over 18 thousand feet up a mountain! How many hours did it take and what was your favorite thing about it? Did you enjoy climbing it more or did you like the view on the top more? I have never climbed a mountain as high as that. I would definitely need to practice and get in really great shape to do something like that! I’m really happy for you that you successfully climbed that mountain and made it to the top. Awesome job!

  131. Hi Matt, I climbed Kilimanjaro in March via the Lemosho Route, which route did you climb? I look forward to hearing how you got on, especially with altitude sickness.

  132. Hi Matt – I’m leaving in a couple of weeks to do the Mt. Kilimanjaro climb, not sure what route I’m going yet but a few friends have invited me along, so what the hey! Any advice when climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro you could give to a novice hiker? πŸ™‚

  133. Like the photograph of all the 3 together. Credit goes to the photographer who took the perfect snap during your trekking trip.