Mount Kilimanjaro climbing is one of the ultimate challenges for both first time and regular climbers. Kilimanjaro has a range of different climates and you need to be equipped so that you are comfortable at the different altitudes. In the lowland of Moshi and around Marangu and other entrance gates the weather is tropical (the temperature ranges from 20o c – 30o c) and sunny. As you climb the altitude changes and here is when the drama starts (at the summit 5o c and below).
As you ascend, Kilimanjaro weather gradually changes and gets colder and the increasingly thinner air can bring about altitude sickness. Altitude sickness is caused by the failure of the body to adapt quickly enough to the reduced level of oxygen in the air as one gains altitude. It is likely that you will experience some form of mild altitude sickness during your climb.
While attempting to climb Kilimanjaro climbing you may experience different symptoms but the most common are headaches, light-headedness, nausea, sleeplessness and a loss of appetite, loss of balance and dizziness. In most case these sickness are controlled by taking a painkiller such as panadol or similar.
All climbers are advised to countercheck their body conditions, and should make our professional Mount Kilimanjaro guide(s) aware of any abnormalities. Our guides are experienced and trained to spot acute mountain sickness. We do carry oxygen on all climbs and we provide free pulse oxymeter checks at altitude which measure both your heart rate and the percentage of oxygen in your blood. This is to help us to ensure your health and safety at altitude.
You must take out travel insurance for your trip and ensure that the policy covers you for climbing Mt Kilimanjaro. This is important. If you need to be taken down to a lower altitude as a matter of urgency, there are two options. Steel framed, mobile stretchers can be pushed by porters and can be used to take you down quickly.
Furthermore, there are emergency helicopters based in Moshi. As there is full mobile phone coverage on the mountain, the guides are able to call the emergency base at any time to arrange for an emergency medical evacuation.
The helicopters are available and are always on standby. And can reach evacuation points in less than 10 minutes once that have been called by the guide. With a helicopter evacuation, the aircraft will fly you directly to an emergency hospital in Nairobi / Kenya (just across the border).
If in doubt, seek a doctor’s advice before you travel and on your arrival listen to what your chief guide advises you. Some clients usually take Diamox before attempting Kilimanjaro and others take it when they are on the mountain. We recommend that you allow your body to acclimatize itself and only if there is a need, should you then take medication.
What to do while on Kilimanjaro
Drink plenty of water and eat good sized meals. You should drink as much water as you can can – a minimum of 3 litres per day. Also reduce or eliminate caffeine intake – as it has a diarrheic effect which can increase your dehydration. Minor altitude sickness on Kilimanjaro also causes most climbers to lose appetite. It is important to try and eat as well as you can in order to generate more energy. Our mountain cooks are well trained and prepare tasty food for all diets.
Accommodation: With exception of the Marangu route where accommodation is in huts, you will be staying tents every night. It is important you wrap well up and stay warm. Wear a beanie on your head at night. Walking pace should be slow and steady.
We recommend you take your time and walk slowly from one camp/hut to give yourself the best chance of fully acclimatization as well as reducing tiredness for the next day. Trekking high and then descending to a slightly lower altitude to sleep is the best technique to help your body acclimatize. We have been prepared to follow this to give you every possible chance of success to reach the summit. Finally, don’t smoke or drink alcohol when attempting to climb this mountain as it might bring about a loss of energy and prevent you from accomplishing this adventure of a life time.
It sometimes happens that customers can’t continue. In such instances, you will be assisted by an assistant guide to return back to the gate or else the chief guide will take care of the matter and leave the group with his assistant to continue.
On the arrival at the gate you will find our vehicle that will transfer you to Moshi town for a rest and medication if necessary.
While waiting for your colleagues in a hotel we will be monitoring your health as well as keeping you busy with other popular activities around the Kilimanjaro region and nearby town of Arusha. All depending upon the itinerary and time available.
If a customer is experiencing acute sickness, they will be assisted down by chief guide to the gate by wheeled stretcher. At the gate we will be there to transfer you to a hospital in Moshi or Arusha depending on the situation. The other option is by using an emergency helicopter – which are always on call.