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Kilimanjaro Healthy & Safety

A safe and successful ascent of Mount Kilimanjaro, Our Guide Are Well Trained

Acute mountain sickness (AMS) is a common illness that affects a significant proportion of people that ascend to high altitude. The symptoms are headache and fatigue, sleep disturbance, problems with the digestive system and dizziness.

Acclimatisation treks are the only thing that has been proven to protect against AMS on Kilimanjaro. Climbers looking for the best chance of avoiding altitude sickness can acclimatise on the conveniently located Mount Meru (4566m). This approach also gives you the best chance of success on the summit attempt of Mount Kilimanjaro.

More On Acclimatization and Altitude Sickness on Kilimanjaro

Please note: The information is this section, as with the whole website, is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. It is your responsibility and in our interest to make sure that you seek the latest information should you be going to high altitude.

Who does it affect?

The hardest thing about altitude sickness is that it is very difficult to predict who will be affected. Fitness has little impact, in fact fitter types often struggle more as they are more complacent and gain altitude too quickly. More important than how fit you are, is how you climb the mountain…

This is what we advice you to do inorder to reduce the risks of altitude sickness on Kilimanjaro

  • “Pole Pole” or “take it easy.”
    There is no two ways about it, you are going to be driven mad by plaintive cries of ‘pole pole’ by guides and porters alike on Kilimanjaro. You’d be wise to heed the advice. Walking at a steady slow pace with plenty of stops gives your body more chance to acclimatize to the altitude and ensures you can keep getting a rich supply of oxygen to your blood. Do not be tempted to try to keep up with the quickest in your group, keep to your own pace.
  • Take Our Guides` Advice
    Guides have been trained to distinguish between dehydration, mild altitude sickness, severe AMS and life threatening High Altitude Cerebral Edema. Your own ability to self-diagnose is severely impaired by the altitude. For this reason it is essential you follow your guide’s advice.
  • Eat Well, Drink Regularly, Repeat …
    Many of the symptoms of altitude sickness can be confused with dehydration and make diagnosis difficult. Dehydration occurs faster at higher altitudes and results in head-aches. Concentrate on drinking water regularly throughout the day and drink more than you would normally expect (4 litres a day is a good benchmark).
  • Kickstart yourself by climbing Mount Meru
    Climbing to high altitudes before attempting Kilimanjaro can make your ascent much easier, giving you sufficient prior acclimatisation to deal with the altitude. Acclimatise prior to the climb. Easier said than done if you live at sea level but if you are able to spend time at high altitude prior to the actual Kilimanjaro climb then this is the very best way to avoid altitude sickness. Climbing Mount Meru prior to Kilimanjaro is also an excellent option.

Symptoms of Mild Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)

Symptoms of mild AMS include headache, nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath, loss of appetite and generally feeling a bit worse for wear. It affects the majority of people above around 3,000m, so the likelihood is everybody will feel some of these symptoms on Kilimanjaro. The symptoms can be alleviated by taking ibuprofen. Mild AMS does not affect your ability to continue up Kilimanjaro, but it certainly doesn’t make it any easier.

Moderate Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)

Moderate AMS include severe headache that doesn’t go after taking painkillers, vomiting and decreased coordination. The only solution is descent of at least 300m. Trekkers can continue their ascent if symptoms have subsided after 24 hours at the lower altitude.

Severe Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)

Severe AMS is a more severe form of moderate AMS that requires immediate descent to an altitude below 1,000m. Staff are trained in rapid evacuation procedures and a trekker can be carried to complete safety rapidly from anywhere on the mountain.

Emergency Support

Our guides are very experienced and trained in the specialist field of altitude mountain sickness. Medical knowledge of high-altitude physiology is generally poor, so whilst the guides don’t have medical degrees, they are trusted to make sensible decisions and be decisive in implementing evacuation procedures where they judge this to be necessary. Due to the sheer number of climbs they have led, they have a vast experience of observing and distinguishing different stages of mountain sickness in addition to specialist knowledge gained in training (required of all qualified guides).

We have also patnered with Kilimanjaro SAR, which is the only helicopter-based search and rescue company on the Mountain. It offers the best and modern search and rescue services using helicopters that can fly in any weather. Kilimanjaro SAR strives to make Kilimanjaro the safest tourist destination in Africa

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