Boasting a wide natural diversity of five different climate zones, Kilimanjaro is the highest peak in Africa and the world’s highest free-standing mountain. Its inactivity encourages mountaineers and trekkers from around the world to climb it.
Located in northeast Tanzania, near the border with Kenya. At 5,895m (19,340 feet) above sea level, Mount Kilimanjaro, aided by its relatively straight and gradually increasing elevation, has become a major tourist attraction. It’s also on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Photo: The Art of Travel Partners
Story of Mount Kilimanjaro
Local legends by the Chagga people tell how a man named Tone once provoked a god, Ruwa, to bring famine upon the land. The people became angry at Tone, forcing him to flee. Nobody wanted to protect him but a solitary dweller who had stones that turned miraculously into cattle. The dweller bid that Tone never open the stable of the cattle. When Tone did not heed the warning and the cattle escaped, Tone followed them, but the fleeing cattle threw up hills to run on, including Mawenzi and Kibo. Tone finally collapsed on Kibo, ending the pursuit.
Another legend has it that Kibo and Mawenzi were good neighbors until Mawenzi played a prank on Kibo and threw away embers he had received from Kibo and claimed that they had burned out. Kibo eventually got angry and beat Mawenzi badly, explaining why the mountain is so badly degraded. This theory explains Mawenzi’s name as “the Battered”.
Other legends tell of ivory-filled graves of elephants on the mountain, and of a cow named Rayli that produces miraculous fat from her tail glands. If a man tries to steal such a gland but is too slow in his moves, Rayli will blast a powerful snort and blow the thief hurling down into the plain.
The origin of the name “Kilimanjaro” is not precisely known, but a number of theories exist. European explorers had adopted the name by 1860 and reported that “Kilimanjaro” was the mountain’s Kiswahili name.
Things To Do In Kilimanjaro
Photo: The Art of Travel Partners
There is so much more to climbing the mountain in Mount Kilimanjaro. The most trodden route is Marangu Route, it takes six days to make the ascent using this route. But a gorgeous route is Machame, which offers more adventure than Marangu Route.
Other less popular Routes are Rongai Route, Umbwe Route, Lemosho Route. It is better if you book an adventure tour with companies like Kilimanjaro Climbing and Safari Center or Globeinter Safaris Ltd. Even if climbing is not your thing, then there are plenty of stuff for you to do.
Lake Chala has stunning natural scenery, where you can enjoy camping, kayaking, and hiking. And know about the Tanzanian culture by visiting Olpopongi. It is a cultural village which offers a first-hand experience of Maasai culture.
Waterfalls sightseeing & Village Coffee Scenery
Kilimanjaro trekking Rongai (Leisure Travel Holidays)
Tourists can see waterfalls at slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro, to hike hills for proper acclimatization before Kilimanjaro summit journey. If climbers choose Rongai route, will travel through villages, see coffee farms and banana plantations before reaching Nalemoru gate of Rongai gate. Rongai route is also recommended Kilimanjaro trail, has beautiful scenery and gentle altitude will be encountered during trekking.
Advantages of climbing Kilimanjaro through Rongai route is to have double experience of Two Kilimanjaro route climb on Northside Rongai and descend through Marangu. Climbers will see Mawenzi Volcano peak when camping at Saddle station. Kilimanjaro expeditions budget trips booking is available, also group discount and early booking advantages you get cheap tours.
Contact: +255784559111, e-mail: [email protected]
There are six trekking routes sanctioned for climbing Kilimanjaro and two routes used for descent. These are:
- Mweka (descent only)
Note: The below mentioned approximately 6-day schedules are common but too fast. There is a very high risk (75%) of altitude sickness, and it is quite likely that you will not be able to summit the mountain on these schedules. In order to safely acclimatize, you should ascend more slowly than indicated.
Photo: The Art of Travel Partners
Commonly called the Coca-Cola Route, because it is the easiest route and vendors sell Coca-Cola at some of the huts. Marangu is by far the most popular route to the summit of Kilimanjaro. Typical duration is either 5 or 6 days depending on whether you elect to spend an extra day for acclimatization to the altitude. This is the only route that offers huts versus tents.
Day 1: Marangu Gate (1980 m) – Mandara hut (2700 m). Hiking time: 5 hours
Day 2: Mandara hut (2700 m) – Horombo hut (3720 m). Hiking time: 6 hours
Day 3: Horombo hut (3720 m) – Acclimatisation day (if necessary)
Day 4: Horombo hut (3720 m) – Kibo hut (4700 m). Hiking time: 6 hours
Day 5: Kibo hut (4700 m) – Uhuru Peak (5895 m) – Horombo hut (3720 m). Hiking time: 8 hours to Uhuru – 6 hours to descend to Horombo
Day 6: Horombo hut (3720 m) – Marangu Gate (1980 m). Hiking time: 6 hours
Some call this the most beautiful route up Kilimanjaro. Where accommodation on the Marangu route is in huts, the Machame route offers strictly tents only This makes Machame (also referred to as the “Whiskey route”) better suited to the slightly more adventurous hiker, however rewarding him with a scenic splendor such as not seen on the Marangu route.
Day 1: Machame Gate (1490 m) – Machame camp (2980 m). Hiking time: 7 hours
Day 2: Machame camp (2980 m) – Shira camp (3840 m). Hiking time: 6 hours
Day 3: Shira (3840 m) – Lava Tower (4630 m) – Barranco camp (3950 m). Hiking time: 7 hours
Day 4: Barranco camp (3950 m) – Barafu camp (4550 m). Hiking time: 7 hours
Day 5: Barafu camp (4550 m)- Uhuru Peak (5895 m) – Mweka (3100 m). Hiking time: 8 hours to reach Uhuru Peak 7-8 hours to descend to Mweka
The Rongai route ascents Kilimanjaro from the northeastern side of the mountain, along the border between Tanzania and Kenya.
Day 1: Rongai Gate (1950 m) – 1st Caves camp (2600 m). Hiking time: 5 hours
Day 2: 1st Cave (2600 m) – Kikelewa Cave (3600 m). Hiking time: 6/7 hours
Day 3: Kikelewa Cave (3600 m) – Mawenzi Tarn camp (4330 m). Hiking time: 3/4 hours
Day 4: Mawenzi Tarn camp (4330 m) – Kibo hut (4700 m). Hiking time: 4/5 hours
Day 5: Kibo hut (4700 m) – Uhuru Peak (5895 m) – Horombo hut (3720 m). Hiking time: 8 hours to reach Uhuru – 6 hours to descend to Horombo
Day 6: Horombo hut (3720m) – Marangu Gate (1980 m). Hiking time: 6 hours
Little used and more remote than other routes. The route is one of the few where groups may be accompanied on the first day by an armed ranger, as the forests around the Lemosho Glades are rich in buffalo, elephant and other big game animals.
Day 1: Londorossi Gate (2100 m) – Mti Mkubwa camp (2750 m). Hiking time: 3 hours
Day 2: Mti Mkubwa camp (2750 m) – Shira 2 camp (3840 m). Hiking time: 6/7 hours
Day 3: Shira (3840 m) – Lava Tower (4630 m) – Barranco camp (3950 m). Hiking time: 7 hours
Day 4: Barranco camp (3950 m) – Barafu camp (4550 m). Hiking time: 7 hours
Day 5: Barafu camp (4550 m) – Uhuru Peak (5895 m) – Mweka (3100 m). Hiking time: 8 hours to reach Uhuru Peak 7-8 hours to descend to Mweka
Day 6: Mweka camp (3100 m) – Mweka Gate (1980 m). Hiking time: 3 hours
A variation on the Lemosho Route inserts two to four extra days in the itinerary for acclimatization and also to avoid having to climb up to the summit in the dark
Day 4: Barranco (3950 m) to Karranga Valley (4000 m). Hiking time: 4 hours. This segment takes you up the infamous ‘Barranco Wall’
Day 5: Karranga Valley (4000 m) to Barafu camp (4550 m). Hiking time: 3 hours
Day 6: Barafu camp (4550 m) – Uhuru Peak (5895 m) – Crater Camp (5640 m). Hiking time: about 8 hours
Day 7: Crater Camp (5640 m) – Mweka (3100 m). Hiking time: 7/8 hours to descend
Only private dates and private groups (1-25 persons), for group prices, all routes. Offers Crater Camp and 6-10 day routes. Costs depend on group size and trip length.
Globeinter Safaris Ltd (Kilimanjaro Machame), Goliondoi Road (Arusha). This is Kilimanjaro’s longer, more scenic, “Whiskey Route.” The typical duration of this trip is 6 days. However, you can also add an extra acclimatization day and make it a 7-day trek. USD1,566/person; USD1,516/person for groups of 6 or more; Extra days on the mountain: USD200/person/day; Low Season: USD50/person discount from 1 Apr-15 Jun, and November.
Meru Wellness Retreat
Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru treks. Safaris at all popular national parks and cultural excursions. Volunteerism. Wellness retreat with boot camps, yoga classes, etc. Vegetarian considerations. Eco-retreat and fair pay employer. USD1400-1600. E-mail: [email protected]
Kilimanjaro Tanzanite Safaris
Mount Kilimanjaro climbing trip, while you are on climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, you get many other opportunities for sightseeing. You can see natural waterfalls like Kinukamori waterfalls in Marangu or Materuni off Moshi town. Other natural attractions to see are volcanic Lake Chala, cultural and local farm activities. Other things to do in Kilimanjaro are camel safaris, wildlife viewing, and horse riding safaris. When planning your Kilimanjaro climbing adventure in Tanzania, consider also acclimatization day to be used to the weather and discover other tourist destinations. 1400.
Kilimanjaro Climb Summiting
Located 45 km from the Kilimanjaro Airport (JRO), Kilimanjaro Climb Summiting Co. Ltd offers all-inclusive Kilimanjaro climbing travel packages. E-mail: [email protected]
Organizing Kilimanjaro treks, safaris in the national parks of Tanzania and Kenya and Zanzibar beach holidays. E-mail: [email protected]
Large animals are rare on Kilimanjaro and are more frequent in the forests and lower parts of the mountain. Elephants and Cape buffaloes are among the animals that can be potentially hazardous to trekkers. Bushbucks, chameleons, dik-diks, duikers, mongooses, sunbirds, and warthogs have been reported as well. Zebras and hyenas have sporadically been observed on the Shira plateau.
Specific species associated with the mountain include the Kilimanjaro shrew and the chameleon Kinyongia tavetana.
The various food requirements are met by the cooks and porters who come along with you on the mountain. However, the quality of the food depends on the reputation of the tour operator you use. The quality of the food tends to decline towards the end of the trek due to the food becoming stale and the rations carried by the porters being reduced.
It is recommended to carry along some high energy food like nuts and chocolate in order to survive and successfully complete the trek. It would be worthy enough to carry along some ready made noodle packets and similarly easy to cook meals, which can be cooked and eaten at the conclusion of the trek.
A lot of water. Also, a lot of oral rehydration salts (ORS) are recommended for preventing dehydration while trekking on the mountain.
Lodging options on the mountain are limited to designated campsites. It is prohibited to sleep in the caves. There are huts available but are generally not recommended. Pre-climb lodging is generally found in the cities of Arusha and Moshi.
It is permitted to camp on Mount Kilimanjaro for as many days as you want by paying the designated fees to the Kilimanjaro National Park authorities. You are allowed to camp in any of the nearby camps including the Machame Hut and Mweka Hut.
GSM mobile phone coverage is available on the summit of the mountain. Various networks like Vodacom, Tigo, and Airtel operate in the region and can be accessed from various high points on the mountain. Airtel seems to have the best signal. However, with no electric supply on the mountain, it is advised to carry portable mobile travel chargers along for accessing the mobile services atop the mountain.
The mountain has snowy peaks, which are well renowned, although they are quickly disappearing.
The mountain is drained by a network of rivers and streams, especially on the wetter and more heavily eroded southern side and especially above 1,200 meters (3,900 ft). Below that altitude, increased evaporation and human water usage reduce the water flow. The Lumi and Pangani rivers drain Kilimanjaro on the eastern and southern sides, respectively.
Kibo’s diminishing ice cap exists because Kilimanjaro is a little-dissected, massive mountain that rises above the snow line. The cap is divergent and outwards splits up into individual glaciers. The central portion of the ice cap is interrupted by the presence of the Kibo crater. The summit glaciers and ice fields do not display significant horizontal movements because their low thickness precludes major deformation.
Geological evidence shows five successive glacial episodes during the Quaternary period, namely First (500,000 BP), Second (greater than 360,000 years ago to 240,000 BP), Third (150,000 to 120,000 BP), Fourth (also known as “Main”) (20,000 to 17,000 BP), and Little (16,000 to 14,000 BP). The Third may have been the most extensive, and the Little appears to be statistically indistinguishable from the Fourth.
A continuous ice cap covering approximately 400 square kilometers (150 sq mi) down to an elevation of 3,200 meters (10,500 ft) covered Kilimanjaro during the Last Glacial Maximum in the Pleistocene epoch (the Main glacial episode), extending across the summits of Kibo and Mawenzi. Because of the exceptionally prolonged dry conditions during the subsequent Younger Dryas stadial, the ice fields on Kilimanjaro may have become extinct 11,500 years BP.
Ice cores taken from Kilimanjaro’s Northern Ice Field (NIF) indicates that the glaciers there have a “basal age” of about 11,700 years, although an analysis of ice taken in 2011 from exposed vertical cliffs in the NIF supports an age extending only to 800 years BP.
Higher precipitation rates at the beginning of the Holocene epoch (11,500 years BP) allowed the ice cap to reform. The glaciers survived a widespread drought during a three century period beginning around 4,000 years BP.
In the late 1880s, the summit of Kibo was completely covered by an ice cap covering about 20 square kilometers (7.7 sq mi) with outlet glaciers cascading down the western and southern slopes, and except for the inner cone, the entire caldera was buried. Glacier ice also flowed through the Western Breach.
The slope glaciers retreated rapidly between 1912 and 1953, in response to a sudden shift in climate at the end of the 19th century that made them “drastically out of equilibrium”, and more slowly thereafter. Their continuing demise indicates they are still out of equilibrium in response to a constant change in climate over the last 100 years.
In contrast to the persistent slope glaciers, the glaciers on Kilimanjaro’s crater plateau have appeared and disappeared repeatedly during the Holocene epoch, with each cycle lasting a few hundred years.:1088 It appears that decreasing specific humidity instead of temperature changes has caused the shrinkage of the slope glaciers since the late 19th century. No clear warming trend at the elevation of those glaciers occurred between 1948 and 2005. Although air temperatures at that elevation are always below freezing, solar radiation causes melting on their vertical faces. “There is no pathway for the plateau glaciers other than to continuously retreat once their vertical margins are exposed to solar radiation.”
Vertical ice margin walls are a unique characteristic of the summit glaciers and a major place of the shrinkage of the glaciers. They manifest stratifications, calving, and other ice-features.
Almost 85 percent of the ice cover on Kilimanjaro disappeared from October 1912 to June 2011, with coverage decreasing from 11.40 square kilometers (4.40 sq mi) to 1.76 square kilometers (0.68 sq mi). From 1912 to 1953, there was about a 1.1 percent average annual loss. The average annual loss for 1953 to 1989 was 1.4 percent while the loss rate for 1989 to 2007 was 2.5 percent.
Of the ice cover still present in 2000, almost 40 percent had disappeared by 2011. The glaciers are thinning in addition to losing areal coverage, and do not have active accumulation zones with retreat occurring on all glacier surfaces. Loss of glacier mass is caused by both melting and sublimation.
While the current shrinking and thinning of Kilimanjaro’s ice fields appear to be unique within its almost twelve-millennium history, it is contemporaneous with widespread glacier retreat in mid-to-low latitudes across the globe. At the current rate, most of the ice on Kilimanjaro will disappear by 2040 and “it is highly unlikely that any ice body will remain after 2060”.
A complete disappearance of the ice would be of only “negligible importance” to the water budget of the area around the mountain. The forests of Kilimanjaro, far below the ice fields, “are [the] essential water reservoirs for the local and regional populations”.
The Kilimanjaro glaciers have been used for deriving ice core records, including two from the southern icefield. Based on this data, this icefield formed between 1,250 and 1,450 years BP.
In August 1861, the Prussian officer Baron Karl Klaus von der Decken accompanied by English geologist R. Thornton made the first attempt to climb Kibo but “got no farther than 8,200 feet (2,500 m) owing to the inclemency of the weather.” In December 1862, von der Decken tried a second time together with Otto Kersten. They reached a height of 14,000 feet (4,300 m).
In August 1871, missionary Charles New became the “first European to reach the equatorial snows” on Kilimanjaro at an elevation of slightly more than 13,000 feet (4,000 m).
In June 1887, the Hungarian Count Sámuel Teleki and Austrian Lieutenant Ludwig von Höhnel made an attempt to climb the mountain. Approaching from the saddle between Mawenzi and Kibo, Höhnel stopped at 4,950 meters (16,240 ft), but Teleki pushed through until he reached the snow at 5,300 meters (17,400 ft).
Later in 1887 during his first attempt to climb Kilimanjaro, the German geology professor Hans Meyer reached the lower edge of the ice cap on Kibo, where he was forced to turn back because he lacked the equipment needed to handle the ice.
The following year, Meyer planned another attempt with Oscar Baumann, a cartographer, but the mission was aborted after the pair were held hostage and ransomed during the Abushiri Revolt.
In the autumn of 1888, the American naturalist Dr. Abbott and the German explorer Otto Ehrenfried Ehlers approached the summit from the northwest. While Abbott turned back earlier, Ehlers at first claimed to have reached the summit rim but, after severe criticism of that claim later withdrew it.
In 1889, Meyer returned to Kilimanjaro with the Austrian mountaineer Ludwig Purtscheller for a third attempt. The success of this attempt was based on the establishment of several campsites with food supplies so that multiple attempts at the top could be made without having to descend too far.
Meyer and Purtscheller pushed to near the crater rim on October 3 but turned around exhausted from hacking footsteps in the icy slope.:82 Three days later, on Purtscheller’s fortieth birthday, they reached the highest summit on the southern rim of the crater. They were the first to confirm that Kibo has a crater.
After descending to the saddle between Kibo and Mawenzi, Meyer and Purtscheller attempted to climb the more technically challenging Mawenzi but could reach only the top of Klute Peak, a subsidiary peak, before retreating due to illness.
On October 18, they reascended Kibo to enter and study the crater, cresting the rim at Hans Meyers Notch. In total, Meyer and Purtscheller spent 16 days above 15,000 feet (4,600 m) during their expedition. They were accompanied in their high camps by Mwini Amani of Pangani, who cooked and supplied the sites with water and firewood.
The first ascent of the highest summit of Mawenzi was made on 29 July 1912, by the German climbers Eduard Hans Oehler and Fritz Klute, who named it Hans Meyer Peak. Oehler and Klute went on to make the third-ever ascent of Kibo, via the Drygalski Glacier and descended via the Western Breach.
In 1989, the organizing committee of the 100-year celebration of the first ascent decided to award posthumous certificates to the African porter-guides who had accompanied Meyer and Purtscheller. One person in pictures or documents of the 1889 expedition was thought to match a living inhabitant of Marangu, Yohani Kinyala Lauwo. Lauwo did not know his own age. Nor did he remember Meyer or Purtscheller, but he remembered joining a Kilimanjaro expedition involving a Dutch doctor who lived near the mountain and that he did not get to wear shoes during the climb. Lauwo claimed that he had climbed the mountain three times before the beginning of World War I. The committee concluded that he had been a member of Meyer’s team and therefore must have been born around 1871. Lauwo died on 10 May 1996, 107 years after the first ascent, but now is sometimes even suggested as co-first-ascendant of Kilimanjaro. However, this would imply he lived to the age of 125 years, so the claim is not without controversy.
Fastest ascent and descent
The fastest ascent-descent has been recorded by the Swiss-Ecuadorian mountain guide Karl Egloff (born 16 March 1981 in Quito), who ran to the top and back in 6 hours and 42 minutes on 13 August 2014. Previous records were held by Spanish mountain runner Kílian Jornet (7 hours, 14 minutes on 29 September 2010) and by Tanzanian guide Simon Mtuy (9 hours, 21 minutes on 22 February 2006).
Fastest female ascent and descent
The female ascent record is held by Anne-Marie Flammersfeld. On 27 July 2015, she climbed to the summit in 8 hours, 32 minutes via the Umbwe Route, which is about 30 kilometers (19 mi) long. Born in Germany but living in Switzerland, she broke the record of Britain’s Becky Shuttleworth who climbed to the summit in 11 hours, 34 minutes on 20 September 2014.
Flammersfeld then needed 4 hours, 26 minutes to run down to the Mweka Gate, for a combined ascent and descent time of 12 hours, 58 minutes. That broke the previous record of 18 hours, 31 minutes held by Debbie Bachman.
Youngest and oldest people to summit
Despite an age-limit of 10 years for a climbing permit, exceptions are occasionally granted, and Keats Boyd of Los Angeles was only seven years old when he summited Kilimanjaro on 21 January 2008. The oldest person to reach Uhuru Peak was Angela Vorobeva at age 86 years and 267 days. The oldest man to summit the mountain is American Robert Wheeler, who was 85 years and 201 days when he summited on 2 October 2014.
Ascents by people with disabilities
Wheelchair user Bernard Goosen scaled Kilimanjaro in six days in 2007, while in 2012 Kyle Maynard, who has no forearms or lower legs, crawled unassisted to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.
Due to Mount Kilimajaro’s proximity to the equator, this region does not experience the extremes of winter and summer weather, but rather dry and wet seasons. January and February are the warmest months, April and May are the wettest months, June and July are the coolest months, and August and September are the driest months. January, February, and September are considered to be the best months to climb Kilimanjaro in terms of weather.
The journey from the gate to the peak is like traveling from the equator to Antarctica in a matter of days. This is because of the routes to the Uruhu peak cross different ecological zones. Throughout the climb, temperatures vary considerably with the altitude and time of day. Mount Kilimanjaro has five major ecological zones, each approximately 1,000 m (3,280 feet) in altitude. Each zone is subject to a corresponding decrease in rainfall, temperature, and life as the altitude increases. At the beginning of the climb, at the base of the mountain, the average temperature is around 27-32°C (70°F to 80°F). From there, the temperatures will decrease as you move through Mount Kilimanjaro’s ecological zones. At the summit, Uruhu Peak, the night time temperatures can range between -18°C to -26°C (0°F to -15°F). Due to Mount Kilimanjaro’s great height, the mountain creates its own weather. It is extremely variable and impossible to predict. Therefore, regardless of when you climb, you should always be prepared for wet days and cold nights.
How To Get Here
The Kilimanjaro International Airport connects with flights coming from Europe as well as the Middle East. There are shuttle buses to take you to your desired destination from Kilimanjaro Airport.
If you are coming from Nairobi, Kenya, you can fly with Kenya Airways, which works with Precision Air, and that would cost you about USD400/person for a return ticket. Alternatively, you can schedule shuttle buses, which are daily at 08:00 and 14:00, for about USD25/person, one way, and it’s a 5-6 hr bus ride.
If coming from Dar es Salaam, you can fly into JRO for USD320/person return; or take a 7-8 hr bus ride for USD20/person one way to Arusha or Moshi.
When To Go
Due to its geographical location, Mount Kilimanjaro does not experience seasons regarding heat but regarding rainfall.
The months of April and May witness most rainfall, whereas August and September do not receive rainfall, hence the driest. But pack for both rainy and dry days because you never know when the climate change occurs on the mountain.
There are two distinct trekking seasons which constitute the best time to climb Kilimanjaro. They are January-March and June-October. January-March is generally colder than June-October and there is a higher probability of encountering snow on the summit.
How Much Will It Cost
It is required to have a licensed guide to climb Kilimanjaro. Park entry and camping/hut fees are over USD100 per day. Most climbers are accompanied by porters. All inclusive trips range from about USD800 to USD5,500. Over and above the amount you pay to the tour operator, it is obligatory on the part of the trekkers to pay tips to the guides, cooks, and porters who accompany you on the mountain. though there are no set guidelines as to how much you should pay, it is sufficient if you can pay around 10% of the amount you pay to the tour operators with the guide getting the major share and equal distribution of the remaining amount to the porters.
Since the porters are the least paid by the tour operators and the ones who take the maximum load during the trek, your generosity would be of much help to them. But, it is not advisable to give the whole amount to one person and expect him to distribute it among the others. Chances are high that he may pocket the whole amount. It would be wise to give tips directly to individuals. Also, the gear used by the porters is mostly substandard and in fact not at all fit for the trek. It would be generous if you could spare some of your gear if you think you can do it.
Several immunizations are recommended for yellow fever, tetanus, typhoid, polio, and hepatitis. An anti-malaria prophylactic is also needed.
WARNING: There is a very high risk (75%!) of altitude sickness on the standard ~ 6-day schedules, which are too fast for safety. It is quite likely (50% for novices) that you will not be able to summit the mountain on these schedules. In order to safely acclimatize (air at the summit of Kilimanjaro contains only about half the amount of oxygen that it does at sea level!), you should ascend more slowly, taking perhaps 4 extra days.
Summit day poses particular risks, as it features both high altitude and significant ascent (per “climb high, sleep low”). Consider other preparation: check with a doctor, read the article on altitude sickness, consider taking acetazolamide (ACZ) beforehand, and consider taking dexamethasone on summit day (warning: potent drug, check with doctor!) Kilimanjaro is one of the highest risk destinations for altitude sickness, due to the height, technical ease, and usual rapid ascent.
This type of altitude sickness is known as Altoxia, a term which is used almost exclusively on Kilimanjaro since this is the only commonly trekked mountain where these extreme altitudes are encountered so quickly.
There are seven main factors that affect the incidence and severity of Kilimanjaro altitude sickness:
- Rate of ascent
- Altitude attained
- Length of exposure
- Level of exertion
- Hydration and diet
- Inherent physiological susceptibility
- Use of oxygen systems or drugs
Always be prepared and use a tried and tested kit list. Make sure that you do your homework and that you have all the essentials. Keep up to date with the weather on Kilimanjaro. Conditions can be very serious and a well-planned trip has to take the average weather patterns into consideration.
March 23, 2018 1:24 pm
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