7 Tips To Avoid Mount Kilimanjaro Altitude Sickness
For a climb as high as Mount Kilimanjaro, it's ultra important to understand the symptoms and how to prevent for altitude sickness before setting off on your trip. Based on our years of research, here's our complete guide to prep for Mount Kilimanjaro and our top tips to avoid Mount Kilimanjaro altitude sickness.
Kilimanjaro altitude at 19,341 feet (5,895 m), is the highest mountain in Africa and the tallest free-standing mountain in the world.
- Kilimanjaro altitude - 19,341 feet (5,895 m)
As a dormant volcano in Tanzania, Mount Kilimanjaro is not for the faint of heart. The highest peak destination is called Uhuru Peak at 19,341 feet (5,895 m). By comparison, Mount Everest base camp is 17,598 feet (5,364 m).¹
- Uhuru Peak altitude - 19,341 feet (5,895 m)
These altitudes of Kilimanjaro carry a very high risk of mild to severe altitude sickness.
With approximately 35,000 people climbing Kilimanjaro each year, it's one of the most popular mountain adventures in the world.⁷
Kilimanjaro is a part of The Seven Summits of the world. These are the highest mountains peaks from each continent.⁸
While climbing Kilimanjaro can take at least six days to complete, it is considered by many experts as the easiest of The Seven Summits. Although an extremely high altitude trek, it's documented that it doesn't require technical mountaineering skills, and requires no rock climbing, ropes or advanced equipment.⁹
What Is The Oxygen Level At The Top Of Mount Kilimanjaro?
If you're wondering what is the oxygen level at the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, it's at about 49% of oxygen levels at sea level.²
At half the oxygen level, these conditions put the body at an extreme deficit of oxygen, oxygen saturation levels will start to decrease.
Do You Need Oxygen On Kilimanjaro?
The "Death Zone" is at the altitude of 26,000 feet where supplemental oxygen is required due to such low oxygen levels that cannot sustain life.³
Supplemental oxygen is highly recommended at extreme altitudes exceeding 23,000 feet. While oxygen will not hurt, according to Ultimate Kilimanjaro oxygen is not needed to climb Kilimanjaro at 19,341 feet (5,895 m).⁴
Do You Need Altitude Sickness Tablets For Kilimanjaro?
Climbing Kilimanjaro Altitude Sickness
It's reported that at least 75% of people Climbing Kilimanjaro will experience at least some altitude sickness symptoms.⁵
Altitude sickness is mainly caused by the decrease in oxygen levels as you ascend in elevation.
Like any high mountain, Kilimanjaro can be dangerous. One of the biggest dangers is altitude sickness. While the symptoms are usually mild, altitude sickness is a common problem for climbers of Mount Kilimanjaro.
Kilimanjaro altitude sickness symptoms:
- fatigue or tiredness
- insomnia or trouble sleeping
- shortness of breath
- nausea or vomiting
- muscle aches
- rapid heartbeat
- loss of appetite
- feeling sick or malaise
Altitude sickness is defined as three different types. They include acute mountain sickness (AMS), which is what happens most, and also high-altitude cerebral edema (HACE) and high-altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE).⁶
HACE occurs when fluid and swelling builds up in the brain as a result of hypoxia (lack of oxygen).⁶ (HAPE) is a building of fluid in the lungs. Both of these conditions are very severe and can be life threatening.⁶ While these conditions are rare for Kilimanjaro altitude sickness, if it is suspected or your altitude sickness symptoms get worse, you should descend immediately and get medical attention.
Take a much precautions as possible to avoid Kilimanjaro altitude sickness, which we'll discuss into below.
7 Tips To Avoid Mount Kilimanjaro Altitude Sickness
Being based in Colorado, we have years of experience and research on avoiding altitude sickness.
The Kilimanjaro is also one of the most popular climbing destinations in the world due to its beautiful scenery and exciting climbing experience. As the highest mountain in Africa though, altitude sickness can ruin the climb for you and even put your life at risk.
If you want to know wow do you prevent Kilimanjaro altitude sickness, there is a need to take precautionary measures. We'll cover our 7 top researched tips below.
Here's 7 tips to avoid Mount Kilimanjaro altitude sickness:
1. Ascend Slowly
One of the best ways to avoid Mount Kilimanjaro altitude sickness is to ascend slowly. If you go too fast, you could easily get acute mountain sickness (AMS).
reports that it can take 5-9 days to reach the Kilimanjaro summit and descend.¹⁰ It's best to spend more days to reach the summit, as this will help your body acclimate and recover better each day.
Based on the routes available, it's high recommended to pick a minimum 7 day trek so that you'll ascend slowly to help lessen the chances of Mount Kilimanjaro altitude sickness.
2. Climb High, Sleep Low
By moving up in stages as you climb higher on the mountain and getting sleep at a reasonable altitude, this allows your body to acclimate.
According to Mountain IQ, the three routes with the best climb high, sleep low opportunities on Mount Kilimanjaro are the following:¹¹
- Machame Route
- Northern Circuit
- Marangu Route
Sleeping at lower altitudes when possible will help you acclimate.
3. Drink A Lot Of Water
Drinking plenty of water is essential for preventing dehydration when you're climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.
Due to the cold, dry air at high altitudes and increased respiration with less oxygen, loss of fluids becomes a big problem.
Intrepid Travel recommends drinking at least 3 liters of water a day, or 3/4 of a gallon, on your Kilimanjaro trek.
TIP: Water alone will not maximize hydration. To enhance hydration, add sea salt to your water/foods or take Zaca's hydration chewables.
4. Get Plenty Of Rest
Rest and sleep are utmost important when your body is fighting the negative effects of altitude. Sleep is when your body can rejuvenate and acclimate the best.
Make sure you get plenty of rest before starting your climb up Kilimanjaro so that you don't feel tired or exhausted during the trek itself. You never want to start Kilimanjaro with a lack of sleep.
Furthermore, altitude sickness can negatively effect sleep, so while on the trek you want to sleep as much as possible each night. 7-9 hours of sleep a night is a good target.
5. Don't Overexert Yourself
If you're starting to feel altitude sickness symptoms such as fatigue, then this is a sign to slow down.
Everyone's physical capacity is different, don't overexert yourself. If you're not used to high altitudes or haven't done a long trek like Kilimanjaro, this will be strenuous on your body.
Take an extra day at camp or try to get extra rest and sleep if you feel exhausted. If you push yourself too much, you'll increase your chances of Mount Kilimanjaro altitude sickness.
6. Supplement Glutathione
Altitude supplements are often overlooked, but highly effective.
- In research, Glutathione was actually down to be depleted by high altitudes up to 45%.¹¹
With all the oxidative stress from high altitudes, this glutathione depletion can compromise the body. Supplement glutathione
to replenish glutathione levels and fight off the oxidative stress.
7. Descend If Needed
If you start to feel any severe symptoms of altitude sickness, descend immediately.
Altitude sickness can worsen very quickly if not taking precautions or your body isn't handling the high altitudes well.
Descending is the most effective way to prevent Mount Kilimanjaro altitude sickness from escalating. It allows the body to get back to normal faster with higher oxygen levels and less physiological stress.
This concludes our top researched tips to avoid Mount Kilimanjaro altitude sickness.
Top Pick Altitude Supplement
Zaca Chewables are the perfect supplement for travelers, climbers, and mountain enthusiasts. Made with just four active ingredients including Glutathione — each serving of chewables provides 1100mg of natural ingredients that helps you rehydrate, replenish, and recover. This quick-release chewable formula provides safe, effective and long lasting results. Simply take 1-2 packets of chewables each day leading up to your trek, and then 1-2 packets of chewables each day during your trek. Try Zaca Chewables today and elevate your performance.
1. Kilimanjaro vs Everest Base Camp: which is harder?
2. Climbing Kilimanjaro Oxygen Levels
3. How High Can You Climb Before You Need Oxygen?
4. Should I use Supplemental Oxygen on Kilimanjaro?
5. Kilimanjaro altitude sickness
6. High-Altitude Travel & Altitude Illness
7. How to avoid the crowds on Kilimanjaro
8. Seven Summits
9. Twelve Interesting Facts About Mount Kilimanjaro
10. What I wish I knew before climbing Kilimanjaro
11. Kilimanjaro Routes – A Complete Overview
12. Effect of high altitude (7,620 m) exposure on glutathione