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Kilimanjaro Acclimatization Process – How to Acclimatize for Mount Kilimanjaro

The hike to the Kilimanjaro is no easy task. One of the most important things to consider is the acclimatization process. This is one of the biggest factors that hinder or make your hike a success.

You must therefore be physically prepared. As you hike the Kilimanjaro, the supply of oxygen has to reduce almost at about 3,500 meters above sea level

What is Acclimatization?

The process by which the body adjusts to the intake of the low oxygen levels and the entire chance in the altitude is what is known as acclimatization.

Some people can easily be able to control the oxygen level intakes naturally while others will need some medical help. Even with all these options, some bodies completely fail to adapt.

Best acclimatization advice for Kilimanjaro

You will need to spend more time of the mountain for your body to get used to the conditions. It may sound a little expensive but it’s worth it.

It would do you no good to pay a lot of money, rush through the mountain and fail to reach the summit in the end or even get complications that can easily lead to death. The recommended time on the Kilimanjaro hike is about 8 days.

This will give you a little over 5 days to get used to the environment before you summit.

Here are some of the tips to Acclimatize on the Kilimanjaro:

Walk slowly (pole pole)

This is one of the strongest rules of the Kilimanjaro. Pole Pole basically means slowly and it’s derived the Kiswahili language. It advises you to move more slowly and not use a lot of energy and thus less oxygen used. It also gives the body more time to change through the different altitudes.

Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water

Water has oxygen content and the more you take the more oxygen you will accumulate in the blood stream. Therefore, even when the levels drop, you can still have oxygen flowing in the blood stream. It’s wised to drink more than 4 liters a day.

Climb high sleep low

The other trick is to hike high and sleep low. You can go to a higher altitude and spend some time there and then come back and sleep at a lower altitude camp. This will give the boy insight of what to expect the next day.

Avoid tobacco and alcohol

These two components are depressants. It’s advised that you avoid this for the 8 days on the Kilimanjaro. They reduce your respiratory drive and may worsen the symptoms of the altitude sickness.

Preventive Medications

The Diamox drug is medication used to treat several illnesses like Periodic paralysis, Epilepsy, Glaucoma and Altitude sickness. The most common brand name in this drug is Acetazolamide.

This drug is usually used at the point of acclimatization while hiking the Kilimanjaro. Only use this drug if prescribed by a medical person. This is because the doctor has to make sure you don’t have any other underlying conditions just like any other drug. Over time, the hikers that have used this drug and tried the acclimatization routines have minimized the effects of altitude sickness.

How does Diamox work?

This drug has the ability to stimulate breathing by adding more acids into the blood stream. This means that even when you have low oxygen in takes, you will be able to survive. Most people take about 125mg of Diamox twice a day for a few days before standing the trek. But you should definitely first talk to your doctor.

Side Effects & Interactions

  • Everyone will have different reactions to this drug but the common side effects are:
  • The drug will increase on your frequency for short calls. Therefore you advised to drink a lot water to stay dehydrated.
  • You taste buds may change and some food may taste really weird.
  • Some of your body parts may feel a little numb or ticklish like the toes, nose, ears and face.
  • You may feel some nausea and drowsiness.
  • There are many other symptoms and that’s why it’s important that you take this medication following the doctor’s advice.

There are many other natural remedies that help with altitude sickness although they are not proven medically but since they are no harmful, its okay for you to try out some of them.


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