Health & Safety On Kilimanjaro

When considering health and safety on Kilimanjaro, understanding altitude sickness, also known as “Acute Mountain Sickness,” is essential. At higher altitudes, the air’s lower oxygen content reduces oxygen delivery to the body’s organs and tissues.

Altitude Sickness:

Pole Pole! “Pole-Pole” is the unofficial motto of Mount Kilimanjaro, translating to “slowly-slowly” in Swahili. To minimize the effects of mountain sickness, take your time, enjoy the climb each day, have plenty of rest stops, capture photographs, and ensure you drink 3-4 liters of water daily.

Common Symptoms: Most climbers experience mild symptoms that allow them to continue climbing:

  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty sleeping

Moderate Symptoms: Inform your guide if moderate symptoms arise, as they may recommend discontinuing the climb:

  • Severe, worsening headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Inability to sleep
  • Inability to eat
  • Mild disorientation
  • Diarrhea

Severe Symptoms: In rare cases, severe symptoms may indicate serious altitude sickness, potentially signaling pulmonary or cerebral edema:

  • Blue lips and fingernails
  • Confusion
  • Inability to walk or perform normal functions
  • Fainting
  • Respiratory distress (sounds of crumpling paper when breathing)

Treatment: The primary treatment for altitude sickness is descending to a lower altitude, and oxygen therapy may be administered.


The Kilimanjaro National Park Rescue Service is available for all climbers on the mountain.

Diamox: Diamox (acetazolamide) can be used as prophylaxis against acute mountain sickness. While its effectiveness is debatable, consult with your medical doctor regarding its use, considering potential side effects.


All climbers must have travel insurance. Health and safety on Kilimanjaro are paramount, and the provided guide ensures a precautionary approach to climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.


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