Can I climb Mount Kilimanjaro?

The simple answer is: YES, YOU CAN! 

Even though climbing Kilimanjaro is a big challenge, it is very possible for you make it to Uhuru Peak!

Uhuru Peak (5.895m) on Mount Kilimanjaro

Uhuru Peak (5.895m) on Mount Kilimanjaro

A good preparation is your key to success!

If you read all the information provided on our website you will be perfectly prepared for your climb - and to fully enjoy each day that you will spend on the mountain. All information that you find here will help you to understand what is necessary to successfully climb Kilimanjaro, the highest free standing mountain and highest mountain of Africa!

In our guidelines we will step by step explain to you:

Thousands of successfull climbs and happy clients have made us the top choice for your adventure. If you still have more questions, please feel free to contact us anytime and we will be happy to help you to arrange your once-in-a-lifetime experience of climbing Kilimanjaro in Tanzania!

10 Things you must know before climbing Kilimanjaro

KIlimanjaro 7 Days Lemosho Route
  1. TAKE YOUR TIME
    Be smart and give your body enough time to adapt to high altitude. That simply requires enough time by choosing the best route to climb and the right number of days to spend on the mountain. Most climbers under-estimate risks of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) and try to rush to summit. Almost 50% of all climbers fail to arrive Uhuru Peak!

  2. BE DETERMINED
    Climbing Kilimanjaro is as risk, but you can prepare yourself well by following our Checklist. If you are determined to learn what to do and to keep up your motivation to make it to Uhuru Peak!

  3. BE CURIOUS - ASK QUESTIONS!
    You should read as many information about climbing Kilimanjaro as possible. If you have any questions ask us before your arrival, we will be happy to assist you. We have collected many information on our website but feel free to ask us any individual questions. Become familiar with the challenges of climbing Kilimanjaro so that you will know what is waiting for you. It will give you confidence!

  4. GET PREPARED
    Don’t do endless exercises - go hiking! Your body should simply get used to hike for many hours with a small Daypack. The best way is to do some regular hikes before arriving in Tanzania. You should start your workout about 6 to 8 weeks prior to your climb also to get used to your climbing shoes and to strengthen your legs and feet. We have prepared a Checklist where you can find a timetable for all your preparations.

  5. WATER IS YOUR FRIEND
    The risk of dehydration at high altitude is extremely high and your body will need a lot of water to climb 6 to 8 hours per day. It is a big factor to increase the risk of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) so you should try to drink at least 3 to 4 liters of water per day!

  6. POLE POLE! TAKE IT SLOW!
    Pole Pole is a commen phrase that you will hear a lot while climbing Kilimanjaro. It means to take small steps and to take slow instead of rushing up the mountain. It is probably the best (and only) way to prevent yourself from Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) which is one of the main reason why almost 50% of all climbers fail to arrive at Uhuru Peak.

  7. GET DRESSED
    Choosing the right gear to climb is essential for your success. We have prepared a Gear List for all the gear and items that your will need. You can also contact us to rent climbing gear on arrival in Moshi.

  8. EAT WELL
    You might think that hiking for many hours will make you hungry - but high altitude is affecting your body and might let you loose appetite. Your body will need a lot of energy to climb several days in the cold so you should eat even if you don’t feel hungry.

  9. FIND YOUR RYTHM
    Hike, eat, sleep, recover, repeat -
    It is essential to find your rythm and to accept that your main purpose on the mountain is to climb. The more you understand this the easier it will become to focus on hiking, eating when its time to eat, sleep when its time to sleep and recover as much as you can. Your body will get used to it - and we guarantee you will have a great and fun time!

  10. CHOOSE THE RIGHT COMPANY
    Find a company that fits your needs and that makes you feel comfortable and safe by replying your emails fast, by thinking ahead and by providing you with information out of the box. It is usually the little things that make the difference - don’t just go for the lowest price. You don’t have to spent a fortune but you should have the feeling that your money is well spend for a reliable service!

Our Checklist - What do I have to prepare to climb Kilimanjaro?

You are ready to take the challenge to climb Kilimanjaro? Great! That is the first step to a once-in-a-lifetime experience! We will guide you through all questions that you might have before and during your climb and your travel to Tanzania. Our team will be happy to assist you in any situation. Please read the information on our website and the checklist given below:

BEFORE YOU ARRIVE IN TANZANIA:

  • Read the INFORMATION on our website
    We have gathered all important details on our website from our experience over the last years with climbers from all around the world. The more knowledge about the mountain you will have, the easier it will be for you to prepare your climb.

  • Check your VISA REQUIREMENTS
    For every country there are specific Visa requirements. If you are not sure it is best to contact the Embassy of Tanzania in your country and to check the travel advices for Tanzania from your government.
    read more…

  • Take care of your VACCINATION
    You will need to see your doctor/health care provider to get the right vaccination for Tanzania. You can also ask about mountain medicine and other medicine that you might need for headaches and other personal needs.
    read more…

  • Make a HEALTH CHECK
    We recommend to make a health check for climbing at high altitude.
    read more…

  • Organize & book your FLIGHTS
    You can fly straight to Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO), Dar es Salaam (DAR), Arusha Airport (ARK) or Zanzibar Airport (ZNZ). Please communicate your arrival dates & times with us so that we can pick you up from the airport. Please be aware of the climatic differences of your home country and Tanzania and time differences as well as this will effect your body. Also consider to have at least 1 day to relax after your flight and before starting your climb.
    read more…

  • Get the required TRAVEL INSURANCE
    It is required to have a Travel Insurance that is valid for climbing up to 6000m.
    read more…

  • Choose your CLIMBING ROUTE FOR KILIMANJARO
    You should choose the best route to climb Kilimanjaro according to your fitness level and time that you want to spend on the mountain.
    read more…

  • PRIVATE CLIMB or GROUP CLIMB
    You can decide for a Private Climb or to join a Climbing Group. Private climbs can be arranged anytime and only for yourself so that you can travel more individually as they are very flexible. We also offer Group Climbs all around the year that you can join. Group Climbs are more economical than Private Climbs.
    read more…

  • Prepare your personal LUGGAGE
    Your luggage should be packed according to your needs and also contain all things you might need to go on Safari, Zanzibar or other activities beside climbing Kilimanjaro. Make sure to have the most important things in your hand luggage as travel luggage might get lost or arrive late. You will be able to leave the luggage that you don’t need during your climb at your accomodation where it will be kept securly.

  • Prepare your CLIMBING GEAR
    Please check our Gear List and descriptions on our website. Keep it simple and reduce your gear to the items on our list. Try to limit your climbing gear to a maximum of 20kg. All required gear can also be rented so you don’t have to buy everything for your climb.
    read more…

  • Start your WORKOUT
    Start hiking and get in shape, get used to your climbing shoes and prepare yourself physically and mentally for your climb!
    read more…

  • And last but not least - Contact us and ask us if you have any other questions!

What Vaccinations and Medications Do I Need to climb Kilimanjaro?

We recommend to discuss your travel plans with your trusted doctor and see the recommended vaccines of your embassy for Tanzania, East Africa. Please read the following points carefully as a food poisoning or even slight stomach problems prior to your climb can decrease your success to summit Mount Kilimanjaro.

To minimize the risk, Tanzania Horizon Safaris recommends the precautions and preventive medications & vaccinations below:

A HEALTH CHECK UP BEFORE CLIMBING IS RECOMMENDED

A HEALTH CHECK UP BEFORE CLIMBING IS RECOMMENDED

  • Hepatitis A

  • Hepatitis B

  • Malaria

  • Meningitis

  • Rabies

  • Typhoid fever

  • Yellow fever

  • Tetanus-diphtheria

  • Measles

  • Polio

  • Medicine for Altitude Mountain Sickness (optional)

  • Pain killers to treat light headache and muscle pain (optional)

The best prevention is to:

  • Always wash your hands with soap or alcohol-based hand rub before eating

  • Only drink bottled water or soft drinks without ice cubes

  • Use malaria prevention medicine as described by your doctor

  • Wear shoes when going outside to prevent paracide infections

  • Always use mosquito nets at night and mosquito repellent to avoid mosquito bites

  • Use light longsleeve shirts and light trousers when going outside, especially to forest areas

Try to avoid:

  • Don’t drink from dirty glasses or drinks with ice cubes

  • Don’t eat food from street vendors as you can not check the cleanliness of the cooking

  • Don’t swim in open water like lakes or rivers without asking your guides

  • Don’t touch animals to avoid contact to unknown paracides, this counts especially for wild animals in forests but also for cats and dogs in towns and poultry on farms and markets

Should I Get a Medical Check-Up before climbing Kilimanjaro?

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We advice all our future climbers and clients to make a medical check before climbing Kilimanjaro. Your doctor will tell you exactly about all risks of trekking at high altitude and about potential risks according to your age, your personal fitness level and your general health condition. You should contact your doctor anyway to talk about the right vaccination prior to your trip. If you are constantly using medications we recommend you to ask for any side effects or interference of your daily medication in combination with Altitude Mountain Sickness Medicine such as Diamox and Malaria preventatives. If you have any medical issues that are relevant for your safety and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro you have to inform us prior to your booking AND prior to your arrival. Children younger than 10 years old are normally not allowed to climb Kilimanjaro but can be given special permission.

Medical issues that might affect your Kilimanjaro climb are:

  • Diabetes

  • Kidney problems

  • Heart deseases

  • Asthma or other Respiratory Issues

  • High or low blood pressure

  • Sprains

  • Hernia

  • Allergies

Please contact us prior to your booking if you are not sure about your medical and physical situation. We will assist you as best as we can to minimize any avoidable risks for your climb!

What is Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) ?

OXYGEN LEVELS ACCORDING TO ALTITUDE

Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)

Usually the air that is surrounding us consits of 80% carbodioxid and 20% oxygen. As these 20% of oxygen is the ideal concentration for the human body and the maximum concentration that can be found, it is also been said to be 100% oxygen concentration. This concentration is necessary for our muscles and our brain to work. The more you climb to higher altitude levels, the less oxygen concentration you will find due to the decereasing air pressure. At 1500m (5,000ft) above sea level the oxygen concentration drops to 85%. So what happens inside your body is that your blood cells can no longer carry enough oxygen to provide it to your muscles. Therefore you will start to feel tired and you have to breathe more, to compensate the lack of oxygen. This effect will become stronger the higher you ascend to the mountain.

The good news is: Our body can adapt to a lower oxygen concentration by producing more red blood cells. This process is known as acclimatization.
The bad news is: Adapting to lower oxygen concentration takes time, and every person reacts differently.

PLEASE NOTE: This is not related to your fitness level. In fact, a person with a very high fitness level can suffer very strong from the lack of oxygen.

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After reaching 2.500m (8,200ft) things are getting more serious. The oxygen levels goes down to about 75%. This is where altitude sickness might start as a lower oxygen concentration is affecting your muscles, your inner organs and even your brain. It starts slowly by having a headache, losing appetite, slight insomnia but can become really serious and even lead to death at extreme altitude above 4.500m (15,000ft). That’s why we highly recommend to choose a route with sufficient days to give your body enough time to adapt to new oxygen levels. The main cause of altitude sickness is going too high (altitude) too quickly (rate of ascent). It is very important to get enough sleep, to eat well (even if you don’t feel hungry) and to drink enough water to have the energy that you need to recover and to prevent dehydration.


Mountain medicine recognizes three altitude categories:

  • High altitude: 1.500m to 3.500m (4,900ft to 11,500ft)

  • Very high altitude: 3.500m to 5.500m (11,500ft to 18,000ft)

  • Extreme altitude: 5,500m and above (18,000ft and above)
    Uhuru Peak stands at 5.985m (19,340ft)

At over 3.000m (10,000ft), more than 75% of climbers will experience at least some form of mild AMS.

Our guides will monitor your condition during the entire climb but you should communicate any kind of symptoms immediately. Therefore it is good to pay attention to first signs of Altitude Mountain Sickness (AMS).


There are 3 categories of Acute Mountain Sickness with different symptoms:

  • Mild AMS
    Headache, Nausea & Dizziness, Loss of appetite, Fatigue, Shortness of breath, Disturbed sleep

  • Moderate AMS
    Severe headache (that is not relieved by medication), Nausea and vomiting, increasing weakness and fatigue, Shortness of breath, Decreased coordination (ataxia)

  • Severe AMS
    Shortness of breath (also while resting), Inability to walk, Decreasing mental status, Fluid build-up in the lungs (High Altitude Pulmonary Edema), Swelling of the brain tissue (High Altitude Cerebral Edema)


Acclimatization Guidelines:

  • The following are recommended to achieving acclimatization:

  • Pre-acclimatize prior to your trip by hiking at high altitude if possible.

  • Ascend Slowly. Your guides will tell you, "Pole, pole" (slowly, slowly) throughout your climb. Because it takes time to acclimatize, your ascension should be slow. Taking rest days will help. Taking a day increases your chances of getting to the top by up to 30% and increases your chances of actually getting some enjoyment out of the experience by much more than that.

  • Do not overexert yourself while climbing and only according to the advice of your guides.

  • Take slow deliberate deep breaths.

  • Eat enough food and drink enough water while on your climb. It is recommended that you drink from four to five liters of fluid per day. Also, eat a high calorie diet while at altitude, even if you don’t feel hungry.

  • You can use Diamox to prevent mild symptoms of AMS. Please note that you should talk about Diamox to your doctor prior to your climb. It is rarely available in Tanzania and Tanzania Horizon Safaris is not promoting or selling Diamox.

  • Avoid tobacco, alcohol and other depressant drugs including, barbiturates, tranquillizers, sleeping pills and opiates. These further decrease the respiratory drive during sleep resulting in a worsening of altitude sickness.

  • If you begin to show symptoms of moderate altitude sickness, don't go higher until symptoms decrease. If symptoms increase, descend.


Altitude Medication

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Diamox is an approved medication for the prevention and treatment of mild AMS. The medication acidifies the blood, which causes an increase in respiration, thus accelerating acclimatization.

Diamox cannot treat heavy symptoms of altitude sickness, but it can help to prevent it. If taken properly Diamox is reported to lower/prevent severe symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS).

The medicine should be continued until you are below an altitude of 2.500m. Side effects of Diamox can be tingling or numbness in your fingers, toes and face, taste alterations, excessive urination and blurring of vision. Side effects usually go away when medication is stopped. It is a personal choice of each climber whether or not to take Diamox as a preventative measure against AMS.

Tanzania Horizon Safaris neither advocates nor discourages the use of Diamox!
Ibuprofen or IbuTad can be used to relieve altitude induced headaches.


Emergency Oxygen & Mountain Rescue

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We carry bottled oxygen on all of our climbs as a precaution and additional safety measure. The oxygen cannister is for use only in emergency situations. It is NOT used to assist clients who have not adequately acclimatized on their own to climb higher. The most immediate treatment for moderate and serious altitude sickness is descent. With Kilimanjaro's routes, it is always possible to descend, and descend quickly. Therefore, oxygen is used strictly to treat a stricken climber, when necessary, in conjunction with descent, to treat those with moderate and severe altitude sickness.

We are aware that some operators market the use of supplementary personal oxygen systems as a means to eliminate the symptoms of AMS. To administer oxygen in this manner and for this purpose is dangerous because it is a temporary treatment of altitude sickness. Upon the cessation of the use of oxygen, the client will be at an even higher altitude without proper acclimatization.