KILIMANJARO HEIGHT – FACTS AND TIPS FOR HANDLING ALTITUDE
High, higher, Kilimanjaro height! Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania is the highest mountain in Africa and the tallest free-standing mountain in the world. And while it’s ‘only’ 236th on the list of highest mountains in the world, there’s quite a lot to say when it comes to Mount Kilimanjaro’s height.
MOUNT KILIMANJARO HEIGHT – HOW HIGH IS KILIMANJARO?
So what exactly is Kilimanjaro’s elevation? Uhuru Peak, the highest point of the mountain, stands tall at 5895 m / 19340 ft. And while this makes it the biggest mountain in Africa, Kilimanjaro is obviously far from being the highest mountain on earth, an honor that goes to Mount Everest. But… the risk of altitude sickness is high while climbing Kilimanjaro, due to how fast most climbers reach the top!
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO CLIMB KILIMANJARO?
Now that we know how high is Mount Kilimanjaro, the next question concerns the average daily gain in altitude. While there are longer routes to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro, an estimated total of 85% of all climbers use the two shortest ones, Machame route and Marangu route. The first one takes you to the top in 5 or 6 days, the latter in only 4 or 5.
AMS – ACUTE MOUNTAIN SICKNESS OR ‘ALTITUDE SICKNESS’
What is AMS?
AMS stands for Acute Mountain Sickness. It comes in its ‘standard’ form that we just call AMS, but has some much more severe variants, HACE or High Altitude Cerebral Edema and HAPE or High Altitude Pulmonary Edema. These conditions are your biggest concerns on Mount Kilimanjaro.
Let’s start by defining ‘high altitude’ and tell you from which altitude these symptoms usually occur. There are 3 ‘zones’:
- high: between 2500 and 3600 m / 8000 and 12000 feet
- very high: between 3600 and 5500 m / 12000 and 18000 feet
- extremely high: over 5500 m / 18000 feet
The higher you go, the more the air pressure decreases, and the less oxygen you get per breath – whilst making a big physical effort for which you need a certain amount of it. Your body will try to compensate this loss of oxygen by breathing faster, but will become unable to do this at some point. The main cause is climbing too high in a short period of time, not giving the body enough time to get use to the lack of oxygen. Most people can reach about 2500 meters / 8000 feet without any problem, but after that the struggle could potentially begin.
Let’s explain how to avoid AMS, how to recognize the symptoms and how to treat it if you were to get it anyway.
How to avoid AMS – Acclimatization
- Take a pre-hike, eg. on Mount Meru, also located in northern Tanzania.
- Choose a route that is at least 7 days long, especially if you don’t have much experience with high altitude trekking. Click here to see the options.
- Advance ‘pole pole’ – slowly!
- Pick a route that allows you to climb high and sleep low, like Machame route or Lemosho route.
- Drink at least 3 liters of water per day. Don’t drink alcohol, take stimulants, smoke or consume caffeine.
- Take preventative medication. Consult your doctor to get the best advice.
Symptoms of AMS and how to treat them
First of all it’s important to say that ANYONE can get altitude sickness, and that it has nothing to do with physical condition, age or gender. You can be the fittest person in the world… and still suffer from altitude sickness. So how can you recognize it and make it go away? We’ll tell you!
However, in case the symptoms persevere or get worse (strong headaches that won’t go away with medication, vomiting, loss of coordination, …), you’re probably suffering from moderate AMS and it’s important that you descend at least 300 m / 1000 ft and stay there until you feel well again.
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