ClimbingIs Hiking Mount Kilimanjaro Safe?

May 30, 2024by awesafari

Is Hiking Mount Kilimanjaro Safe?

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro can be extremely hazardous, therefore, it is highly recommended to understand the dangers associated with high altitude climbing before starting out. By paying attention to the guidance of a professional climber, the likelihood of hazards can be greatly decreased.

Do not let the risks deter you from pursuing your adventure, but instead use them to educate yourself and plan ahead.

  • Our guides are highly experienced in preventing, detecting, and treating altitude sickness because they handle over 1,000 climbers per year.
  • Health checks are conducted twice per day using a pulse oximeter to monitor your oxygen saturation and pulse rate.
  • We administer the Lake Louise Scoring System (LLSS) to help determine whether you have symptoms of altitude sickness and their severity.
  • Our guides are certified Wilderness First Responders (WFR). They have the tools to make critical medical and evacuation decisions on location.
  • We carry bottled oxygen on all climbs and can administer it to quickly treat climbers with moderate and serious altitude sickness.
  • On northern routes, our staff carries a portable stretcher to evacuate climbers who need to descend but are unable to walk on their own. (Wheeled stretchers provided by the park are available on other routes.)
  • Our guides can initiate helicopter evacuation through Kilimanjaro MedAir, a helicopter rescue operation.
  • Our staff carries a first aid kit to treat minor scrapes, cuts and blisters.

Is Hiking Mount Kilimanjaro Safe

  • Choose a Reputable Tour Operator: The first step in ensuring your safety is selecting a reputable tour operator. Look for companies with experienced guides, good reviews, and proper certifications. A reliable operator will provide necessary support, from quality equipment to well-planned itineraries.
  • Acclimatization is Key: Kilimanjaro’s altitude is the most significant challenge, and proper acclimatization is crucial. Opt for longer routes, such as the Lemosho or Northern Circuit, which allow more time for your body to adjust to the altitude. Guides will monitor your health and pace the climb to minimize the risk of altitude sickness.
  • Physical Preparation: Being physically fit greatly enhances your safety and enjoyment on the mountain. Train with cardio exercises, strength training, and long hikes to build stamina and endurance. Ensure you’re comfortable with multi-day hikes and carrying a day pack.
  • Proper Gear and Clothing: Invest in quality gear to protect against the elements.

Essential items include:

  1. Layered Clothing: To manage varying temperatures.
  2. Sturdy Hiking Boots: Broken in and suitable for rugged terrain.
  3. Sleeping Bag: Rated for sub-zero temperatures.
  4. Hydration System: To maintain hydration at high altitudes.
  5. Headlamp: For early starts and summit night.
  • Stay Hydrated and Nourished: Hydration is vital at high altitudes. Drink plenty of water and carry hydration salts to prevent dehydration. Eat regularly to keep your energy levels up. Most tour operators provide nutritious meals tailored for high-altitude trekking.
  • Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to how your body responds to the altitude and physical exertion. Symptoms of altitude sickness include headaches, dizziness, nausea, and shortness of breath. Inform your guide immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.
  • Travel Insurance: Ensure you have travel insurance that covers high-altitude trekking and medical evacuation. This provides peace of mind and ensures that you’re covered in case of emergencies.
  • Follow Safety Protocols: Adhere to the safety guidelines provided by your guides. This includes pacing yourself, taking rest days seriously, and using supplementary oxygen if necessary. Your guides are trained to handle altitude-related issues and other emergencies.
Summit Success

While climbing Kilimanjaro is demanding, thousands of climbers reach the summit safely each year. With the right preparation, equipment, and support, you can achieve this incredible feat safely and create unforgettable memories.

What is the cause of death in Kilimanjaro?

Every year, numerous deaths on Mount Kilimanjaro are linked to altitude sickness and heart attacks brought on by pre-existing medical conditions. Sufferers of altitude sickness experience a number of symptoms, ranging from a mild headache to a life-threatening lack of oxygen.

It is therefore important to be aware of the dangers of high-altitude climbing and to ensure that adequate medical preparation and monitoring are provided. Additionally, individuals with existing medical issues should be especially cautious when considering climbing and/or trekking at such elevations.

What is acute mountain sickness

At sea level, the percentage of oxygen is about 21 per cent. As you climb higher, the percentage remains the same but the amount of oxygen is reduced with each breath you inhale. When you reach 12,000 feet (3,600 meters), there are only 40 percent oxygen molecules available in every breath you inhale, forcing your body to fight to adjust to the available oxygen at that level. As you continue hiking, your body is fighting a losing battle as it fails to adapt quickly enough to the reduced oxygen. This is called Acute Mountain Sickness, and it can attack the healthiest individual.

Is Hiking Mount Kilimanjaro Safe

Acclimatization while Climbing Kilimanjaro

The primary cause of AMS is climbing too high too fast. Given enough time, your body can adapt to low levels of oxygen at a specific altitude. This is referred to as acclimatization and is a must for any aspiring climber. For successful acclimatization to take place, set aside two to three days at a given altitude. While acclimatization is taking place your body changes to enable it to cope with low levels of oxygen. Here is what takes place:

  1. The depth of your respiration goes up
  2. Your body produces more red blood cells to carry more oxygen
  3. The pressure in your capillaries is increased. This forces blood to penetrate areas in your lungs which are generally not used when breathing normally.
  4. The body releases more enzymes that cause oxygen to be absorbed by body tissues.

We may not exhaust the science involved, but the symptoms of AMS start at around 12 to 24 hours after arriving at altitude. These symptoms are:

  • A headache
  • Dizziness and nausea
  • Lack of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness breathing
  • Bad sleep
  • General irritation
Other dangers while climbing Kilimanjaro

Apart from Acute mountain sickness, other dangers climbers are warned against while climbing Kilimanjaro are:

  • Hypothermia (loss of heat due to cold)
  • Slipping and falling off rocks
  • Getting hit by avalanches
  • Falling off cliffs
  • Heart attacks
  • Diarrhoea
  • Cold and respiratory infections
  • Twisting your ankles
  • Tropical diseases like Malaria and Typhoid

Is Hiking Mount Kilimanjaro Safe

Are All Kilimanjaro Operators Safe to Climb With?

No, they are not!

Many of our competitors will only tell you what you want to hear to make a sale.

While it is true that most operators employ guides with many years of experience on Mount Kilimanjaro, that does not necessarily mean they are actually trained on how to handle serious altitude sickness cases. And by the time you realize this, it may be too late.


Recently there has been many deaths and evacuations associated with climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. Whether it was due to ignorance, lack of adequate preparation or irresponsible tour operators is still debatable. But climbing Mount Kilimanjaro need not be dangerous if you plan well and prepare in advance, you can reduce most risks significantly if not avoid them entirely.

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