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Mount Kilimanjaro is a challenging climb that comes with inherent risks and is often regarded as dangerous. Annually, approximately ten climbers lose their lives on the mountain, although the actual number is believed to be much higher. Additionally, around 1000 climbers require evacuation from the mountain’s traps to a safer location. Altitude Mountain Sickness (AMS) is the primary cause of fatalities, and climbers are cautioned to be vigilant about monitoring the symptoms. It is essential for any prospective climber to comprehend the risks associated with the climb and to heed the warnings as a precaution, rather than fear-mongering. Although the dangers of high-altitude climbing can never be completely eliminated, they can be reduced by following the guidance of an experienced climber.

Acute mountain sickness refers to a medical condition caused by high altitude.

The concentration of oxygen at sea level is roughly 21 percent. However, as altitude increases, the percentage of oxygen in the air remains constant while the amount of oxygen inhaled with each breath decreases. Once you surpass an elevation of 12,000 feet (3,600 meters), only 40 percent of the oxygen molecules are accessible per breath, putting a strain on your body to adjust to the reduced oxygen availability. As you continue to climb, your body will struggle to adapt quickly enough to the diminished oxygen levels, leading to a condition known as Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), which can afflict even the fittest individuals.


Acclimatization during the ascent of Kilimanjaro

AMS is primarily caused by ascending to high elevations too quickly. With sufficient time, the body can adjust to the reduced oxygen levels at a specific altitude through a process known as acclimatization. As such, acclimatization is critical for any climber hoping to succeed. To properly acclimatize, it is necessary to spend two to three days at a given altitude. During this time, the body undergoes various changes to enable it to cope with the low oxygen levels, such as an increase in the depth of respiration, the production of additional red blood cells to transport more oxygen, and an increase in capillary pressure, allowing blood to reach areas of the lungs that are typically not used during normal breathing. Furthermore, the body releases more enzymes that facilitate oxygen absorption in body tissues.

While there is more to learn about the scientific aspects, the onset of AMS symptoms usually occurs between 12 and 24 hours after arriving at a high altitude. These symptoms may include a headache, dizziness, nausea, loss of appetite, fatigue, shortness of breath, poor sleep, and irritability.

Additional hazards that may arise during a Kilimanjaro climb

In addition to Acute Mountain Sickness, climbers are cautioned about various other risks that may arise while ascending Kilimanjaro, including hypothermia caused by exposure to cold, falls and slips on rocky terrain, avalanches, tumbling off cliffs, heart attacks, diarrhea, cold and respiratory infections, ankle sprains, and exposure to tropical diseases such as Malaria and Typhoid.

In recent times, numerous fatalities and emergency evacuations have been linked to Mount Kilimanjaro climbing. The precise cause of these incidents – be it ignorance, insufficient preparation, or negligent tour operators – remains a subject of debate. However, it is possible to mitigate or even eliminate most hazards associated with climbing Mount Kilimanjaro through careful planning and adequate preparation. Therefore, with proper planning and preparation, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro can be a safe and rewarding experience.

Precautions we take for our safety

  • With over 300+ climbers under their guidance each year, our experienced guides are well-equipped to prevent, identify, and treat altitude sickness.
  • Twice daily health assessments are conducted using a pulse oximeter to monitor your pulse rate and oxygen saturation levels.
  • The Lake Louise Scoring System (LLSS) is implemented by our team to assess the presence and extent of altitude sickness symptoms that you may be experiencing.
  • Our guides hold Wilderness First Responder (WFR) certification, which enables them to make crucial medical and evacuation decisions on site with the appropriate tools and expertise.
  • On all climbs, we bring bottled oxygen and can promptly administer it to climbers who are experiencing moderate to severe altitude sickness as a treatment measure.
  • Our guides are capable of initiating helicopter evacuation through  KiliMedAir  which is a helicopter rescue operation
  • Our team possesses a first aid kit to manage minor injuries such as scrapes, cuts, and blisters.

The measures mentioned above guarantee that our guides and staff at Eco-Africa Climbing are equipped to ensure the safety of our climbers and have the capability to provide treatment for any illnesses or injuries that may occur.

Ensuring your safety and good health is our topmost priority at Eco-Africa Climbing.


A Testimonial on Safety from a Previous Customer


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