To secure your health and be safe anywhere you need to be armed with information that is accurate and purposeful. No gainsaying that the same holds true for the journey all the way to the top of Kilimanjaro. You can’t let your health be imperiled and lose out on surreal experience that swathes you when your traverse the enchanting trails of Kilimanjaro.
At the outset, let’s start by countering some of the misinformation that can have consequences. First up it’s not a climb per se, its trek for the most part. Secondly, it’s not all easy, it’s just non-technical. It’s a high altitude trek all the way atop 5985m making your way through five climatic zones and swinging temperatures battling depleted oxygen levels and effects of altitude. So here’s our handy guide to keep in mind while starting your ascent.
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High altitude trekking is dangerous. The body finds it difficult to adapt to depleted levels of oxygen as you going higher up on the mountain. The rapid ascent profile of the mountain also doesn’t help matters. Nearly 70% of the trekkers experience symptoms of acute mountain sickness and annually ten hopeful trekkers end up as the casualty. But there’s no need to panic. It can be managed by careful preparation and adopting safer modes of trekking. Select a route that gives you at least 7 days on the mountain. The longer the itinerary better the chances of acclimatization and higher the chance of summiting. A longer itinerary also brings into play climb high/sleep low principles. Remember acute mountain sickness has no relation with to fitness, age or sex etc. It’s just a harsh reality that needs to be managed.
Once you breach 2400m the symptoms of acute mountain sickness shows up as headaches, sleep disturbance, fatigue, shortness of breath and dizziness. It’s normal. But if symptoms persist then high-altitude cerebral edema (HACE), high-altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) can set in. If such a condition shows up immediate medical attention and evacuation is needed.\
Killy is chilly around the year. And in June-August temperatures can drop to freezing points and risks of hypothermia are real and high. Kilimanjaro is near the equator and the hot sun is always on your back ready to scorch you. Sunburns and sunstrokes are a threat. SPF sunblock lotions, lip balms, floppy hat sunglasses protective clothing can save your skin and day.
Ensure the right pair of boots and gaiters to save your foot and ankles from blisters.
Have your vaccine shots (Diphtheria, Tetanus, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Polio, cholera, influenza) and malaria prophylaxis
Carry a first aid kit that includes bandages, tape, blister kit, antibacterial and antifungal cream, antibiotics for travelers’ diarrhea, antimalarials, antiemetics, antihistamines, analgesics, cold and flu medications, throat lozenges, and altitude medications. And get a travel and health insurance without fail
Avail good quality gear and equipment, go for the long trek, hydrate generously, heed your guide and ‘pole pole’ your way up the mountain.