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Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) or Altitude Sickness is a major concern when climbing Kilimanjaro. Many climbers on Kilimanjaro will experience the early symptoms of Altitude Sickness which include headaches, nausea, dizziness, breathlessness, loss of appetite and possibly palpitations.

However, AMS is not scary as it seems to be. Please bear in mind that a large proportion of people climbing Kilimanjaro will suffer from mild symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness but still make it to the top. There are a number of practical steps that you can take to minimize the chances of having to abandon your climb of Kilimanjaro due to the effects of altitude sickness. Let Chief’s Tours give you the most important tips to minimize the effect on AMS and to enjoy your journey to the fullest:

  • Acclimatize prior to the climb. Easier said than done if you live at sea level but if you are able to spend time at high altitude prior to the actual Kilimanjaro climb, this is the very best way to avoid altitude sickness. Climbing Mt. Meru prior to Kilimanjaro is also an excellent option.
  • Start the climb in the best possible health and with an excellent level of physical fitness If you are fatigued, unwell or stressed, you are more likely to suffer from altitude sickness. If you have any pre-existing health conditions that you think may make you more susceptible to AMS, we recommend that you consult your doctor before booking this trip.
  • Take it easy on the trail and in camp. You will perhaps get sick of your guides telling you to Pole Pole (Slow down), but they are right! If you overdo it by pushing too hard, you are likely to pay for it later.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Getting up in the middle of the cold night may be an unpleasant experience as altitude dehydrates you. The better you hydrate, the quicker your body is able to acclimatize. You should also avoid all alcohol. Leave it for the celebration after your climb!
  • Eat well. Even though you may lose your appetite, you should eat as much as possible at every meal. This will give you plenty of energy and help you to feel great. The route is unpredictable, so feed yourself properly!
  • Sleep well. Sleeping well in a tent is an acquired skill. Spend a few nights out in your tent and sleeping bag prior to your climb so that you have your routine nailed, and become used to sleeping in a sleeping bag on a hard surface.
  • Relax and think positive. Although the vast majority of people suffer only mild altitude sickness (which is like a hangover), please don’t think that every headache or cough is terrible. By relaxing and enjoying the climb, you are far more likely to have any trouble.

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