Mount Kilimanjaro is Africa’s highest peak, standing at a towering 5,895 meters.

It’s part of the famous “Seven Summits” of the world and is made up of three volcanoes, with one being dormant and the other two long extinct.

On Kilimanjaro, you’ll find three peaks: Kibo (Uhuru Peak at 5,895 meters), Mawenzi, and Shira.

When it comes to safety, Kilimanjaro is relatively safer than some other big mountains like Aconcagua or Everest.

But remember, any mountain climb carries risks, including injuries, sickness, and even death.

On Kilimanjaro, the death rate is low, but it can happen.

Most of these unfortunate incidents result from altitude sickness, which can be prevented.

Climbing Kilimanjaro doesn’t require special skills; anyone, regardless of age or fitness level, can hike it.

Kilimanjaro is near the Equator, so the weather at lower altitudes is quite mild.

You won’t need heavy climbing gear unless it’s raining.

However, don’t underestimate the risks.

Understanding these risks will help you plan a safe Kilimanjaro climb.

So, let’s explore these risks on Mount Kilimanjaro.

What are the main risks on Mount Kilimanjaro?

  1. Rock falls
  2. Accidents – Ankles and Sore Joints
  3. Weather on Kilimanjaro
  4. Altitude sickness (AMS)
  5. Coincidental Illnesses
  6. Heart attacks
  7. Colds and respiratory infections
  8. Tropical diseases
  9. Hypothermia and Pneumonia

Let’s take a look at each of these factors and measures you should take to avoid this danger while climbing Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

1. Rock falls and Avalanches

Rockfalls or avalanches are important dangers to be mindful of when embarking on a Kilimanjaro climb.

It’s essential to note that these hazards are not widespread across all climbing routes.

Instead, they are more prominent on the notorious Western Breach route.

Tragic rockfall incidents took place within the period spanning 2006 to 2015, notably leading to the loss of the esteemed founder of Live Your Legend, Mr. Scott Dinsmore, on the Western Breach route due to such rockfalls.

Despite these risks, some tour operators continue to promote the Western Breach route to their clients.

How to avoid rock fall danger on Mount Kilimanjaro?

The answer is very simple, avoid not taking the Western Breac route.

Life matters, after all, you should decide alone if it is worth taking or not.

Other climbing routes can offer you comfortable climbing yet adventurous, so why risk your life for a trip that is avoidable on Mount Kilimanjaro?

2. Accidents – Ankles and Sore Joints

No one can predict accidents during climbing for Kilimanjaro.  You may accidentally fall or sprain and twist your ankle joint.

This can happen during ascending or descending.

You can reduce this risk by wearing proper gear including proper hiking boots with rubber soles with good grips and a shaft that is ankle high.

Also, use your climbing sticks to create balance and walk slowly with care.

Getting an accident during your climbing can turn into a big problem since it is not easy to get to the hospital.

You should take precautions for descending days, it could be easy to experience knee pain,

Remember to use your trekking poles to lessen the impact on your joints, and prevent the risk of falling and twisted ankles.

The important thing to remember is having a trekker’s travel insurance which covers up to 6000m above sea level.

This is so important if the accidents or injuries you get require helicopter rescue. Read more about Rescue on Mount Kilimanjaro

3. Weather on Kilimanjaro

Mount Kilimanjaro weather is very unpredictable.

The weather during climbing can change rapidly from strong winds to rainfall.

These changes can be dangerous for climbers with short notice.

The temperature at Kilimanjaro can drop below freezing point ( -6C).

This drop is beyond our human capability to cold weather.

How to reduce the weather risk in Kilimanjaro?

Though Kilimanjaro isn’t as high as Denali or Everest it could be very dangerous too.

You should always wear proper gear. Keep your body warm all the time to avoid frostbite and pneumonia.

On the other Mount Kilimanjaro can be very hot during the day,  we remind you to lather up with sunscreen and wear sunglasses to avoid skin damage and eyes.

Stay in touch with reliable tour operators who can offer guidance on how you should do proper packing for your climbing.

Ask as many questions as you can before you visit Tanzania for Mount Kilimanjaro climbing.

You can check out our  Mount Kilimanjaro climbing gear.

4. Altitude sickness (AMS)

Climbing to high altitudes can have its toll on many people, and one of the significant dangers on Kilimanjaro is Altitude Sickness, also known as Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS).

Altitude sickness can bring about several complications and, if not managed properly, can even be fatal.

Altitude sickness stands as the leading cause of fatalities on Mount Kilimanjaro.

Surprisingly, physical fitness doesn’t shield you from AMS; it can affect anyone.

The key factor is the rapid ascent, especially when spending more than 12 hours above 2500 meters.

The altitude difference experienced within 24 hours becomes a crucial factor.

Above 3000 meters, the risk escalates if the altitude difference between camps exceeds 300 meters.

Symptoms of altitude sickness encompass nausea, vomiting, severe headaches, dizziness, and a sense of euphoria.

It’s imperative never to underestimate AMS during your Kilimanjaro climb.

You should be prepared and unhesitatingly communicate your condition to your mountain guide.

Early detection and intervention are essential in managing altitude sickness effectively.

How to prevent altitude sickness on Mount Kilimanjaro?

Listening to your guide will save you a lot.

We have experience as hikers with a hero mentality, maybe you could save that for Hollywood movies but not on the Kilimanjaro climbing trip.

You will always hear your guide talking about climbing slowly ( pole-pole in Swahili ).

Climbing slowly helps your body to acclimatize and save energy for summit day.

Remember this is not a competition, is hiking and the important thing is to reach the summit of Africa.

 Acclimatize before the climb.

The best way to acclimatize is by climbing Mount Meru before Kilimanjaro. It is also an excellent option.

Meru climbing takes 3 to 4 days to ascend and descend from its summit.

This is very important as it keeps your body fit and creates the adaptation to higher altitudes before Kilimanjaro climbing.

Easier said than done if you live at sea level but if you can spend time at high altitude before the actual Kilimanjaro climb then this is the very best way to avoid altitude sickness.

Book a long climbing trip. Many people choose to take short routes for Kilimanjaro, it can be either the 5-day Marangu or Machame routes.

The success rate for this short climbing trip is very low compared to the 8-day Lemosho route.

Taking a long route will allow your body to acclimatize and reduce exposure to altitude sickness.

Don’t fall into the trap of cheap tour operators convincing you to take a short route to Kilimanjaro.

This is your trip and you should be on top of any decision you want to make before visiting Mount Kilimanjaro.

Finally, be true to yourself. Listen to your body, the goal should not be only to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro but to get back down safely, do not push yourself beyond the limit if you feel unsafe.

Save for the other time and save a life.

We have covered this topic so widely here: Altitude Sickness on Mount Kilimanjaro

5. Coincidental Illnesses

Illness can strike unexpectedly, posing a significant danger while climbing Kilimanjaro.

Climbers with pre-existing medical conditions, such as asthma, may find their conditions triggered purely by chance due to factors like high altitude, fatigue, and reduced oxygen levels.

The threat becomes more pronounced when an illness requires medical attention.

Mount Kilimanjaro lacks medical facilities, and the evacuation process can be challenging.

It’s important to note that helicopters are not permitted to land on the summit, making the situation even more complex depending on where the illness occurs.

How to be safe in this situation?

Prior preparation is paramount before embarking on your climb.

It’s crucial to undergo a thorough medical examination and obtain approval from your doctors.

Additionally, remember to invest in travel insurance that offers coverage up to 6000 meters.

This coverage ensures access to helicopter evacuation services if the need arises during your journey.

6. Heart Attacks (BP)

Heart attacks can be a danger for Kilimanjaro climbing. Either you take short or long climbing routes but no way you can avoid extreme physical activities.

There have been known deaths associated with a heart attack.

Some people have preexisting heart conditions, so you should make sure you have all check-ups in place and approved by your physician before you decide to embark on your journey to Mount Kilimanjaro climbing.

“Travel to high altitudes could be dangerous for people with heart conditions” By American Heart Association News. Read more about  Heart Attacks & High Altitude

7. Colds and Respiratory Infections

The cold weather on  Mount Kilimanjaro and the low oxygen level directly impact any climber’s immune system.

Not everyone will be able to overcome the cold and other serious respiratory ailments.

This can be dangerous during Kilimanjaro climbing if combined with altitude sickness.

We recommend climbing with adequate gear and quality warm clothing.

We advise you to pack some cold and respiratory medication for emergencies.

We also recommend taking Vitamin C supplements to keep your immune intact. Consult your doctor for more information

8. Tropical diseases- Malaria

Mount Kilimanjaro is situated in Tanzania, a region prone to Malaria.

Malaria is a highly perilous disease that can lead to fatalities in a matter of hours.

While staying in hotels or lodges, it’s easy to forget to use mosquito nets, and during your ascent of Kilimanjaro, you might start experiencing symptoms of Malaria.

This can be particularly risky, given the absence of hospitals on Mount Kilimanjaro.

We strongly advise taking anti-malaria medication before embarking on your journey to Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro.

It’s crucial to consult with your doctor in preparation for your climb.

A specialist in tropical medicine can recommend preventive measures against tropical diseases and other potential infections.

You can learn more about Malaria on the CDC website 

9. Hypothermia

Temperatures on Kilimanjaro can plummet well below freezing, posing a deadly threat if you’re not adequately covered.

Prolonged exposure to low temperatures carries the risk of developing hypothermia, a critical and perilous condition while climbing Kilimanjaro.

Delaying immediate action in such a situation can lead to the cessation of bodily functions and the possibility of fatalities on the mountain.

How to avoid hypothermia on Mount Kilimanjaro?

Having proper climbing gear is the key here. You should be able to exchange your clothes once get wet for whatever reason.

Packing for recommended climbing gear suitable for high altitude and cold environments like Kilimanjaro is the best way to deal with hypothermia,

Stay dry and warm all the time, especially during the night when the body is no longer generating heat.

Does hypothermia affect tourists only?

The answer is absolutely no.  The mountain crew especially porters are at a high risk of developing hypothermia compared with tourists.

The main reason is poor practices from companies that do not care about the welfare of the porters.

It’s so hard to speak, but before booking with any company for your climb you should ask. ‘How does the company treat their crew “.

If you find tour operators offers Kilimanjaro package with low rates, you should also know that the crew affairs especially porters is compromised.

They carry heavy loads for the clients and, they do not have a chance to carry extra clothes for themselves.

These practices subject many porters to altitude sickness hypothermia and death on Mount Kilimanjaro.

Book with reputable tour operators for Kilimanjaro climbing and save a life.

Learn more about How to choose a reliable tour operator in Tanzania

Conclusion

Effective preparation is the cornerstone of success, not just for climbing Kilimanjaro but for all life’s pursuits.

As we conclude our discussion on “How dangerous is Mount Kilimanjaro,”

We hope the insights and information shared have illuminated your understanding, alleviating any fears associated with Kilimanjaro.

Remember to select reputable tour operators, whether they are local or international companies,

As they are instrumental in ensuring your summit’s success and providing value for your investment.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to reach out to Blessing Safaris for your Kilimanjaro Climbing Package.

Are you ready for the Mount Kilimanjaro climbing challenge? If yes, book one of these packages

8 Days Lemosho route climbing package 2023 /24

7 Days Machame climbing package 2023/ 24

6 Days Marangu climbing package 2023/24 

6 Days Machame route climbing package 2023/ 24

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