Sometimes happens that customers can’t continue. In such instances, you will be assisted by our Karibu Adventures Medical Trained Guide head or assistant guide to return back to the gate or else the chief guide will take care of the matter and leave the group with his assistant to continue.
Evacuation on Kilimanjaro
Mountain evacuation is always complicated, and Kilimanjaro is no exception. Thankfully, it is rare that climbers need to be evacuated from Kilimanjaro due to severe altitude sickness or injury. Much more common is mild altitude sickness triggering a precautionary evacuation.
Evacuation from Kilimanjaro is initially on foot (if able) or by stretcher, until the highest point that can be reached by a rescue car.
The National Park authorities provide a rescue car for these situations, and there are ranger posts on the mountain with radio contact to the park authority headquarters. Once in a vehicle, the sick climber can then be transferred directly to a hospital (KCMC Hospital in Moshi or ALMC Hospital, AAR Clinic or Aga Khan Clinic in Arusha), or if, as is often the case, they are already recovering from altitude sickness, to their lodge.
There are a number of quick descent routes on Kilimanjaro meaning that evacuation can be completed in a day from just about any point on the mountain. A well-staffed climb team should include sufficient staff to allow an assistant or lead guide to travel with the sick climber without affecting the rest of the group.
Air evacuation by helicopter from Kilimanjaro is possible up to an altitude of 4,700m (Kibo Hut), but the available rescue sites are fairly limited and weather-dependent, meaning it is very rare that air rescue would be resorted to over evacuation on foot or by stretcher
A $20 rescue fee included in the cost of all trips covers the cost of car evacuations when they are necessary. If being evacuated from the gate, the climber will be transferred by land vehicle to hospital in Moshi. If hospital staff decides it is necessary, further transport by air to specialized hospitals in either Nairobi or Johannesburg.
In the case of more minor conditions that prevent a climber from continuing further up the mountain but that do not require hospital treatment, the climber will return to the closest gate with one of their guides and will be transferred back to the hotel in Moshi for rest and medication if necessary. Please note that additional nights in the hotel are not covered in the cost of your trip, so please have additional funds available to you in case you need to return from the mountain early. Your guide will monitor your health over the next few days and can keep you busy with additional activities in the Kilimanjaro area if you are feeling well enough.
On the arrival at the gate you will find our Karibu Adventures vehicle and transfer you to Moshi town for a rest and medication if necessary. While waiting for your colleagues in a hotel we will be monitoring your health as well as keeping you busy with other popular activities around the Kilimanjaro region and nearby town of Arusha. All depending upon the itinerary and time available.
Kilimanjaro is a comparatively safe mountain trek. No technical climbing skills are required to reach the summit, the trails are well-trodden, and the evacuation procedures generally well-understood. A staggering 40-50,000 people climb Kilimanjaro every year, and cases of serious illness or death are very rare.
That said, Kilimanjaro is considered an extreme altitude (5,500m+) mountain climb and climbers face the same risks as on other high-altitude climbs.
- Altitude – Altitude sickness is the most obvious and most important risk to be aware of when planning a Kilimanjaro climb. Indeed, there’s a case to be made that altitude is more of a risk on Kilimanjaro than on most other high altitude climbs, as several of the popular routes to the summit encourage a rapid ascent (far faster than what is the norm on most climbs in the Andes or Himalayas, by way of comparison).
Understanding the risks posed by altitude and how best to manage them is essential before you even set foot on the mountain, especially if Kilimanjaro is your first high-attitude climb, as it is for many.
- Weather – Kilimanjaro experiences significant seasonal shifts in its weather, which all climbers should be aware of. There are real risks in climbing out of season. Kilimanjaro receives very heavy rainfall during the long (March-May) and short (Nov) wet seasons, which can easily end a climb early. Sun, too, can pose a risk on Kilimanjaro – sun burn and even sun stroke is not uncommon at altitude.
- General injury – As on any mountain climb or remote adventure, there’s a risk that you’ll suffer injury on Kilimanjaro. While the typical climbers’ hazards – crevasses, ice walls, rock fall – are much less of a risk than they are on other high altitude climbs, injury can still occur even on Kilimanjaro’s less-hazardous trails.
That being said, from our experience it is rarely dramatic injury or sickness that prevents climbers from summiting Kilimanjaro comfortably, but seemingly minor ailments such as foot blisters!
- Pre-existing medical conditions – if you suffer from cardiac or pulmonary related issues it’s essential to consult your doctor before you consider climbing Kilimanjaro.
It goes without saying that you must be fit to climb Kilimanjaro. A good fitness programme, in and out of the gym and ideally involving extensive hill training, is most important.
Drops and exposure – we’re occasionally asked by prospective climbers if they will encounter any steep drops while climbing Kilimanjaro.
There’s actually very little exposure (mountain parlance for drops) on Kilimanjaro, unless you actively seek it out. Some of the more remote, technical routes do involve some precarious climbs, but not the well-established trekking routes. A partial exception are the western wilderness routes (Shira, Lemosho) and Machame, as these routes require you to climb the infamous Barranco Wall. This is a short but moderately steep climb, which can be precarious in poor weather. Most climbers, however inexperienced, will not struggle with Barranco, despite its reputation. Climbers should also be aware that some of Kilimanjaro’s camps, such as Barafu, are somewhat exposed.
Kilimanjaro’s summit approach does not involve ropes and there is no crevasse danger.