Kilimanjaro

Is there anything more thrilling than trekking to 19,341 ft above sea level summit?

Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa and the highest freestanding mountain in the world, is located in Tanzania.

Its snow-capped summit attracts thousands of people from around the globe.

There are at least 6 different routes to the summit. Marangu or the “Coca-Cola” route is the most popular due to its relative ease. With more adventure comes more physical demands. This is true with scenic Machame route or the “Whiskey Route”.

Trekking Kilimanjaro is not an easy feat. Attempting to trek Kilimanjaro without travel health advice is very serious due to high altitude illneses. These include: Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS, the most common), High Altitude Cerebral Edema and High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HACE and HAPE, less common but more serious than AMS).

Altitude illness is a problem on Kilimanjaro and a major contributor to the reason why only 50% of those attempting the standard 4- to 5-day Marangu route reach the crater rim, known as Gilman’s Point (18,652 ft; 5,685 m), and as few as 10% reach the summit, known as Uhuru (Freedom) Peak (19,341 ft; 5,895 m). Prevalence rates of AMS were 75%–77% in recent studies of 4- and 5-day ascents on the Marangu route. Those using acetazolamide were significantly less likely to develop AMS on the 5-day ascents*.

Appropriate preparation, done by seeing your travel doctor, is an absolute requirement before attempting to trek Kilimanjaro.

Before this exciting adventure you should be able to identify the early symptoms of AMS, HAPE and HACE and know how to use the medication that your travel doctor will give you for prevention and self-treatment. Make sure to have clear written instructions on the medication container and on a separate sheet as well. Purchasing an evacuation insurance policy is highly recommended.

More information about altitude illness prevention and self-treatment can be found in our Prevention and Self-Treatment section.

Like all destinations, injury prevention and self-protective measures should be employed. See our Before You Go and While You’re There sections.

Your travel doctor should make sure you are very well prepared to enjoy your trip to Tanzania. 

*Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC Health Information for International Travel 2014. New York: Oxford University Press; 2014.

Please note:

The information in this page is for educational purposes only. It is not the substitute to a formal travel consult with your travel doctor. The risks expressed are not exact and range from low to high depending on many factors like the length of stay and style of travel. Not all destination-specific general risks are listed on this page.

 

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