- Do I need to have a medical check before I climb?Many of our climbers will not have previously undertaken a trip such as climbing Kilimanjaro. With that in mind, we at Easy Travel strongly recommend that all climbers undergo a medical check-up before climbing Kilimanjaro. Your own doctor will be aware of any pre-existing conditions that affect you and will be able to advise whether your current state of health and fitness level, together with your age, makes you suitable for a challenge such as this. He or she will also be able to tell you if any of your existing medications/prescriptions are likely to cause difficulties at altitude; they will also tell you if any of these are incompatible with Diamox, which you might need on the mountain.
Remember that, although climbing Kilimanjaro is not dangerous, it remains potentially dangerous, so it is vital that you consult properly regarding your health. It is essential that Easy Travel are aware in advance of any health issues you may have, which may impair your ability to climb, before you book your trip. We cannot advise you on such conditions or health issues – that is the job of your doctor – but you should be especially aware of breathing issues such as asthma, abnormal blood pressure, heart conditions, impaired vision or hearing and diabetes, hypoglycaemia or kidney issues.
Although climbers of all ages have climbed Kilimanjaro, please note that there is a minimum age of 10 years old for undertaking the climb. Additionally, we would in any event urge caution to any climber who is either over 60 or under 18. It is especially important for young or old climbers to consult their doctor in advance.
Be aware that you will need to have a resting heart rate of less than 100 beats per minute, before you are allowed to climb. (We will test all climbers for this and will refer anyone who cannot comply with this to a local doctor.)
- What items does the mountain crew carry in their first-aid kit?The first aid kit we carry on the mountain is comprehensive and includes the following:
Rehydration Salt (ORS)
(blood pressure monitor)
Oxygen Bottle and maskOther
First-aid cleansing pads
Roll Medical tapes
What shots and vaccinations do I need to come to Tanzania?
Do make use of the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to stay up-to-date on current requirements for vaccinations needed for visiting Tanzania. In general, you are advised to consult your doctor before you commit to climbing Kilimanjaro. Your doctor has your up-to-date
medical history and should be able to provide you with details of all the vaccinations you need. Vaccinations considered as advisable for a visit to Tanzania are: hepatitis A and B, typhoid, rabies, rubella, polio, diptheria, mumps and cholera. For yellow fever, see below.
Although your time on Kilimanjaro will mostly be spent at altitudes where mosquitoes are not present, you will nevertheless be at lower levels both before and after your climb. At those lower altitudes, mosquitoes which carry malaria can be a problem, so anti-malarial tablets are required. You should consult your doctor or pharmacist, remembering that most courses of anti-malarial drugs begin well before your actual departure, so speak to them well beforehand.
Having a vaccination against yellow fever is always a good idea, especially as it provides lifetime cover. Tanzania does not have the yellow fever virus itself, but if you are arriving from a yellow fever endemic country, or have had a long stopover in such a country en route to Tanzania, then you will have to produce proof that you have had vaccination against yellow fever. Failure to do so could result in a refusal to enter the country, or vaccination on arrival followed by a period of quarantine – which will ruin your trip!
- What is altitude sickness and how can I prevent it?Everyone responds differently to altitude and the effects cannot be predicted in advance. Although you should be in good shape to climb, this will not prevent you getting altitude sickness. What happens at altitude is that the available oxygen decreases with the reduced air pressure. This can lead to headaches, nausea, dizziness and breathing difficulties. If it really persists, it can be fatal. Although altitude sickness cannot be prevented, taking a longer climb can help avoid it. The most important thing then is that its symptoms are detected early and action taken. Our guides are experts in detecting the symptoms and if your body is not acclimatizing, you will have to descend. No ifs, no buts, no arguments: safety always comes first. Even though we do everything to get you to the summit. If it is ‘summit versus safety’, then safety wins every time.
- But surely there is something I can do to avoid getting altitude sickness?There’s nothing you can do to actually prevent it, but you can reduce the chances of getting it. These are:
Take it slowly, or pole pole, as they say here. Ascents should be as gradual as possible, there is no rush.
Sleep at a lower altitude than you have climbed that day. Our trips are designed to allow this, wherever possible.
Keep well-hydrated, feed yourself properly and rest often.
- Can I climb Kilimanjaro if I have a medical problem?Well, it depends on what that condition is. You should do a number of things before you decide to climb, namely consult your doctor and get their professional opinion. Secondly, you should also check with your insurance company to be certain that they are aware of your pre-existing condition and that they will still provide the necessary cover, given your condition. Thirdly, you must disclose the condition to us and e-mail us with your doctor’s approval to climb Kilimanjaro.
- Do I need oxygen on the Kilimanjaro climbs?You do not need oxygen to climb Kilimanjaro, but you will see that we do carry some on our climbs. Should you suffer the moderate adverse effects of altitude, then the answer is to descend – not simply to be given oxygen. Once an appropriate descent has been made, our guides will determine whether oxygen is appropriate; bear in mind that there are circumstances where simply taking oxygen can actually be dangerous. It is no substitute for descending to a safe altitude. And finally, safety is always more important than summiting. Easy Travel do not advise climbers to bring ‘personal oxygen systems’, but you can hire one if you so wish. We carry oxygen for emergencies only.
- How does an evacuation work in practice?Carrying out a medical evacuation from the slopes of Kilimanjaro is thankfully a very rare occurrence. But it remains a possibility, as someone can always break an ankle or have another mishap. Our mountain crews are medically trained and carry out health checks daily, so any signs of altitude sickness will be detected early and action taken.
If an evacuation does become necessary, our teams use stretchers which are kept by the rangers at each campsite. The stretcher and climber are carried down to the gate, from where a vehicle will transport the sick climber to hotel or hospital as appropriate. (Note this transport is payable by the climber, except where the group is of two climbers only and both climbers are descending.)
- What happens if I have to abandon the climb and descend early?Don’t worry. If altitude sickness seriously affects you, one of our expert mountain guides will accompany you on your descent. Our guides are medically-trained and they will be constantly monitoring you. If a doctor is required, then they will make sure you get to one without delay. You will then be taken back to Arusha to your hotel. Please note that any extra nights’ hotel accommodation must be paid for by you in addition to the trip cost
- If the trek becomes too difficult for me, can I turn around?If you cannot continue at any point, then you can turn around. And is our mountain crew determine that continuing would be unsafe for you, then you will have to turn around. You will be accompanied on your descent by one of our guides. Easy Travel always provide enough guides on any climb to allow for this possibility.
- What is the coldest it is expected to be at the summit of Kilimanjaro?With a huge variation in altitude on your climb, you can expect temperatures to vary significantly, too. From the plains around the mountain with their 30°C of heat, to the cold of the summit where it is often below freezing at night, there is a massive range on this trip. During the day, you will be hiking at anywhere between 5 and 15°C.
- What is hypothermia? Can I get it on Kilimanjaro?You may well have heard of Antarctic and Arctic explorers suffering from hypothermia, but it is a possibility on Kilimanjaro, too. When the body is exposed to extreme cold for a short time, or even to moderate cold but over a longer period of time, hypothermia can occur. A body temperature below 34.5 C is a clear symptom. Hypothermia is extremely dangerous, but early warning signs are:
Very cold skin
Loss of coordination
If hypothermia occurs, the answer is to restore body heat as soon as possible.
- Do I need to protect myself from the sun on Kilimanjaro?Definitely. The effects of the sun are stronger on the mountain than elsewhere, so precautions are vital. Even on the higher slopes where it is much cooler, less ultraviolet light is filtered out and sunburn is a possibility. You should have a decent-strength (Factor 20 or above) sun screen lotion and
a complete sunblock product for the higher slopes. A brimmed sunhat is recommended for the lower slopes and good quality sunglasses with side protection is also essential. These protect against the sun and also snow blindness as you approach the summit.
- What safety measures are taken by the Easy Travel mountain crew?Safety is the number 1 priority, for each and every one of our mountain crew. On the mountain, health checks are carried out before dinner every day to check your level of oxygen saturation as well as your pulse rate. Our guides are fully trained in first aid and mountain rescue. They are
knowledgeable in how to prevent, detect and treat the adverse effects of altitude. Bottled oxygen and stretchers are part of the equipment carried on every climb.