Mount Kilimanjaro with its three volcanic cones, "Kibo", "Mawenzi", and "Shira", is a dormant volcano in Tanzania. It is the highest mountain in Africa, and rises
approximately 4,900 meters (16,100 ft) from its base to 5,895 meters (19,341 ft) above sea level. The first persons known to have reached the summit of the mountain were Hans Meyer and Ludwig
Purtscheller in 1889. The mountain is part of the Kilimanjaro National Park and is a major climbing destination. The mountain has been the subject of many scientific studies because of its shrinking
glaciers and disappearing ice fields.
Kilimanjaro is the highest dormant volcano in Africa. Kilimanjaro is a large stratovolcano and is composed of three distinct volcanic cones: Kibo, the highest; Mawenzi at
5,149 meters (16,893 ft); and Shira, the shortest at 4,005 meters (13,140 ft). Mawenzi and Shira are extinct, while Kibo is dormant and could erupt again. Uhuru Peak is the highest summit on Kibo's
There are seven official trekking routes by which to ascend and descend Mount Kilimanjaro: Lemosho, Machame, Marangu, Mweka, Rongai, Shira, and Umbwe. Of all the routes,
Machame is widely proclaimed as the most scenic, albeit steeper, route. This was true until the opening of Lemosho and Northern Circuit routes, which are equally scenic if not more. The Machame route
can be done in six or seven days. Lemosho and the Northern Circuit routes can be done in seven or more days. The Rongai is the easiest and least scenic of all camping routes. The Marangu is also
relatively easy, but this route tends to be very busy, the ascent and descent routes are the same, and accommodation is in shared huts with all other climbers.
If you are going to hike in high altitude, more than likely you will experience some form of altitude sickness. Every person responds to the altitude differently. Most
cases of altitude sickness are mild. In these cases, people may experience headache, nausea, and exhaustion. However, some people may experience more severe symptoms such as a persistent cough and
breathlessness (even when resting). At Watu Safaris (T) Ltd and our Mountain climbing partners PamojaKili and Safaris LTD, health and safety are our top priority. We are experienced at monitoring
reactions to the altitude and at ensuring that you will have a safe and enjoyable climb.
What is altitude sickness?
Altitude sickness occurs when you cannot get enough oxygen from the air at high altitudes. When you don’t get enough oxygen you may experience a range of symptoms such as headache, loss of appetite,
and trouble sleeping. Anybody can get altitude sickness, but data suggest that when people who are not used to high altitudes go quickly from lower altitudes to about 2500m (about 8,000 ft) or higher
are more likely to experience symptoms. Thus, sufficient acclimatization is critical. It is important to climb slow and allow your body to acclimatize to the elevation.
There are three main forms of altitude sickness:
- AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) is very common when climbing Kilimanjaro.
- HAPE (High Altitude Pulmonary Edema)is a dangerous build-up of fluid in the lungs.
- HACE (High Altitude Cerebral Edema) is a dangerous build-up of fluid in the brain.
What are the symptoms of altitude sickness? Symptoms of altitude sickness usually develop between 6 and 24
hours after ascending to high altitude. There are some common symptoms that most people experience and that are perfectly normal. In fact, experiencing one or more AMS is very common for most people
trekking Mt. Kilimanjaro and should not be of concern. These mild and typical symptomsinclude:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Upset stomach
- Feeling unsteady
- Shortness of breath
- Increased heart rate
- Difficulty sleeping
In rare cases, people who climb Mt. Kilimanjaro may develop HAPE or HACE and these more severe symptoms are cause for concern. We are very experienced and we know how to
respond at the first sign of these more serious forms of altitude sickness, including:
- Extreme breathlessness (even when resting)
- A bubbling sound in the chest
- Coughing up pink or white frothy liquid
- Blue lips of finger nails
- Clumsiness and difficulty walking
- Irrational behaviour, such as refusing to acknowledge symptoms
- Double vision
How we help reduce the affects of altitude sickness in our customers:
We monitor our customers’ health. At least twice a day our medically trained guides checkyour oxygen saturation by using a pulse oximeter and we use a stethoscope to check for fluids in your lungs.
After breakfast and after dinner, our guides ask standard questions about your health, especially related to altitude sickness symptoms.
In fact, we keep a log of your health to make sure we are paying close attention to any changes. To ensure a safe climb, we encourage all of our customers to be patient
and listen to their bodies. If you experience mild AMS symptoms, we will work with you to slow down the pace of the trek and encourage you to drink more fluids and consume more food. Our guides are
there to support you every step of the way.
Find out more about altitude sickness: