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Kilimanjaro Safety | Climbing Kilimanjaro

Kilimanjaro Safety | Climbing Kilimanjaro

It is very common for people interested in climbing Kilimanjaro to ask whether it is dangerous to do so. Like any outdoor adventure activity, climbing a mountain that is 19,341 feet tall definitely has elements of risk. But it shouldn’t deter you from booking a trip.  It is very common for people interested in climbing Kilimanjaro to ask whether it is dangerous to do so. Like any outdoor adventure activity, climbing a mountain that is 19,341 feet tall definitely has elements of risk. But it shouldn’t deter you from booking a trip. In this post, we will examine how dangerous climbing Kilimanjaro is based on past studies.

Altitude Sickness

Most people who die on Kilimanjaro succumb to Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), also known as altitude sickness. While scary, this is a manageable risk. Typically the sickness gradually becomes worse, giving the stricken climber ample time to turn around. AMS subsides quickly when you go to a lower elevation.

A good Kilimanjaro operator will have experienced guides who are medically trained to help you manage AMS should it occur. You definitely want to do your research to find a quality guide. This decision may literally save your life.

The Kilimanjaro company that I recommend, Trip Insight Tanzania, is ultra focused on the safety of its clients. When I was on the mountain, it was apparent how carefully our guides watched us. They recorded our pulse rate, oxygen saturation levels, and listened to our lungs twice a day!

Mount Kilimanjaro Map

Mount Kilimanjaro Map Explained

Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest free standing mountain in the world, rising 5,882 metres or 19,298 ft from it/s base. It is a volcano with three volcanic cones, KiboMawenzi, and Shira. Kibo’s highest peak (Uhuru Peak) rises 5,895 metres or 19,341 ft above sea level. 

Mount Kilimanjaro is a member of the famous “Seven Summits“, the highest peaks on each of the seven continents. Just 200 miles (325 Km) from the equator, Kilimanjaro’s glistening peak of snow and ice looms high above the African Great Rift Valley.

Kilimanjaro is composed of three volcanic cones: Kibo The highest point being Uhuru or Kaiser Spitze – (19,340 feet), Mawenzi Looks like Mt. Doom of Mordor – also known as Hans Meyer Peak – (16,893 feet ) and Shira – the oldest of the three is actually not particularly noticeable as a volcanic cone because it collapsed and was filled in by Kibo’s lava flows, creating the stunning Shira Plateau.

Stay Safe on Kilimanjaro

What can a climber do to safeguard against being a statistic?

First of all, to begin your preparation it’s essential to train adequately for your expedition. To be in great shape means your body will be able to better tolerate the effects of altitude and exercise. Secondly, if you have known medical conditions or are of older age, you should see your doctor and get cleared for high altitude trekking. Being at high elevations can trigger health complications in those who have pre-existing conditions. Third, every climber needs to be familiar with the typical symptoms of altitude sickness. When you are on the mountain, be very honest about what you are feeling so the guides can take corrective action.

Besides these, you should climb with a Kilimanjaro operator that has guides that are medically trained to keep you safe. The best Kilimanjaro operators have extensive safety programs in place to monitor and treat clients throughout the trip. At Peak Planet, your safety is our number one priority. We have many layers of safety built into our operations to minimize the risks on Kilimanjaro. No other climbing company provides such a comprehensive safety program.

Kilimanjaro routes - Which is the best Route?

Kilimanjaro Lemosho Route

The Lemosho Route is often considered the most beautiful of all the trekking trails up Mount Kilimanjaro. It is one of the newer routes on the mountain and shares a portion of the same path as Machame route, although it holds a few advantages over that route that definitely make worth considering, particularly for travelers who have some extra time.

Machame route

Kilimanjaro Machame Route

The Machame route on Kilimanjaro is a seven day camping route which allows for excellent acclimatisation and particularly diverse scenery. Each day on this route presents quite a distinct ecosystem to experience, which is one reason it is so popular. The Machame route could be done in six days by missing out Karanga Valley and going straight to Barafu.

Kilimanjaro Marangu Route

The Marangu Route is the oldest and most well established trekking route on Mount Kilimanjaro, and it remains extremely popular, despite a wide variety of other options becoming available. This path provides trekkers with the classic Kilimanjaro climbing experience, offering sweeping views and a wonderful hiking adventure all the way to the summit of Uhuru Peak.

Kilimanjaro Northern Circuit

This route avoids the crowds on the southern routes and over 9 days, you have a fantastic journey and a great chance of summiting successfully. The climb begins at Londorossi Gate, at an altitude of 2360 metres, with an approach far to the west of the mountain. It follows the Lemosho route, passing through majestic rainforest where some of the region’s most unique wildlife can often be seen.

Kilimanjaro Rongai Route

The Rongai route is the only route that approaches Kilimanjaro from the north, close to the Kenyan border. Though gaining popularity amongst climbers, this route still experiences low crowds. Rongai has a more gradual slope than the mountain’s other routes. Rongai is a moderately difficult route, and is highly recommended, especially for those with less backpacking experience. Descent is made via the Marangu route.

Kilimanjaro Umbwe Route

The Umbwe Route used to be the steepest, shortest and most direct route to Uhuru Peak. Traditionally the route utilised the steep Western Breach and Arrow’s Glacier path to the summit; however, due to a tragic rock-fall in 2006 that claimed the lives of three trekkers the approach via the Western Breach was closed. It reopened in December 2007 but due to its difficulty and safety risks, most travel operators do not offer this route as an option.

BONUS! 3 Tips to Climb Kilimanjaro & Successfully Acclimatise

>> Drink Lots We recommend a fluid intake of 4-5 litres a day. This improves circulation and most other bodily functions. That’s why we include lots of soup, hot drinks and fresh fruit in our menu, plus you’ll need to drink 3 litres of water per day too!

>> Walk Slowly For good acclimatisation it is vital to place as little strain as possible on your body whilst it’s trying to adapt to the reducing oxygen supply. Your breathing rate whilst walking should be similar to when you’re walking down the street at home.

>> Walk High, Sleep Low A well-planned itinerary that includes afternoon walks to a higher level than where sleeping overnight. All the above itineraries for Kilimanjaro climbs have this, although some include more acclimatisation walks than others.