Altitude Sickness on Mount Kilimanjaro

It is very common for climbers to develop some symptoms of altitude sickness while on their climb. Mild symptoms include headache, nausea, loss of appetite and fatigue. However, more serious cases of altitude sickness can result in death.

Altitude sickness is caused by the body’s failure to adapt to the decrease in oxygen at high altitude. This occurs mainly when the climber ascends at a rate that is web too fast. Altitude sickness has little to do with someone’s fitness level, and factors such as age and sex do not have any correlation to one’s ability to acclimatize.

If you do get altitude sickness, do not panic. It is absolutely normal. I experienced headache and nausea during my climb at certain campsites. But after a few hours of rest, I recovered and was ready to go again. Follow your guide’s instructions as they know how to treat altitude sickness.


There are ways to reduce the likelihood of developing altitude sickness. First, climb slowly. Doing this allows your body the best chance to gradually adapt to the oxygen level. Climbing guidelines state that one should not increase their altitude by more than 1,000 feet per day above 10,000 feet, and should take a rest day for every 3,000 feet of elevation gained. Next, drink at least four liters per day and eat high-calorie meals while on the mountain. 

Lastly, there are prescription medications such as Diamox or even Viagra that are clinically proven to treat altitude sickness.

If one has mild symptoms of altitude sickness, it is best to stay at that altitude or descend slightly, until the symptoms disappear, before climbing higher. Finally, strenuous activity can induce sickness, so it is important for climbers to choose a route that fits their ability.