Health and Safety In Kilimanjaro

While considering health and safety on Kilimanjaro, you should know about the Altitude sickness. It is also sometimes called “Acute Mountain Sickness”. At high altitudes, the oxygen content in the air is lower, and this results in less oxygen delivery to organs and tissues of the body.

Altitude Sickness

  • Pole Pole!

Pole-Pole is the unofficial motto of Mount Kilimanjaro which means slowly-slowly in Swahili. By taking your time and enjoying the climb each day, taking plenty of rest stops and photographs, and also drinking 3-4 liters of water a day you can minimize the effects of mountain sickness.

Most climbers will have some of the mild symptoms. Usually, climbers can continue to climb with these symptoms:

  1. Headache
  2. Loss of appetite
  3. Nausea
  4. Weakness
  5. Dizziness
  6. Difficulty sleeping

Some climbers will have moderate symptoms. Be sure to tell your guide if these present.

Your guide might suggest you discontinue your climb to avoid a serious case. These includes:

  1. Severe, worsening headache
  2. Nausea and vomiting
  3. Inability to sleep
  4. Inability to eat
  5. Mild Disorientation
  6. Diarrhea

In rare cases, severe symptoms will indicate a serious case of altitude sickness. They can be signs of a pulmonary or cerebral oedema (swelling of the brain or lungs). These include:

  1. Blue lips and fingernails
  2. Confusion
  3. Unable to walk or perform normal functions
  4. Fainting
  5. Respiratory distress (hearing the sounds of crumpling paper when breathing)

The first treatment for altitude sickness is always descending to a lower altitude. Oxygen therapy may be used.

  • Rescue

All climbers have the Kilimanjaro National Park Rescue Service available on the mountain.

  • Diamox

Diamox (acetazolamide) can be used as prophylaxis against acute mountain sickness. While it may improve your chance of summiting, its effectiveness is debatable, and there can be some side effects. Consult with your medical doctor regarding the use of this drug.

  • Insurance

All climbers must have travel insurance. Health and Safety on Kilimanjaro is a major concern. The above guide will help you climb Mount Kilimanjaro with precaution.

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Kilimanjaro Climbing Guide


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