Standing atop the 5985m roof of Africa can be the most empowering and life-changing experience you will ever have in your life but let it be known that is as challenging as it is exhilarating. But bear in mind, it’s no walk in the park! It is not even a climb per se; but partly hike, part slog and partly high altitude trek.
Trekking at high altitude is dangerous. The higher you go the lesser the available oxygen and the body struggles to adapt to depleted oxygen. On an average around ten climbers succumb to acute mountain sickness annually and contrary to perception, altitude sickness has nothing to do with your level of fitness.
But that doesn’t mean you don’t get in shape and undertake high altitude training. That will help improve your fitness level and help you acclimatize.
The effects of altitude sickness kicking in once you cross the 2400m height. You will feel mild symptoms like headaches, sleep disturbance, fatigue, shortness of breath and dizziness. Its considered normal. If symptoms intensify 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.
Give yourself the best chance of scaling Mt. Kilimanjaro. Avail good quality gear and equipment, go for the long trek, observe the principles of climb high/sleep low, hydrate generously, heed your guide and ‘pole pole’ you way up the mountain.
Get the mandatory and necessary vaccination 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