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Safety on Mt. Kilimanjaro

Safety on Kilimanjaro – Our Number one priority

One of the Seven Summits, Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa, and at 19,341 ft, the summit falls into the “extreme altitude” mountaineering category. It’s one of the few mountains of this size that requires no technical skill to reach the summit.

It should not be underestimated. Trekking at altitude in a remote location can be dangerous, and every year it’s estimated over 1,000 people are evacuated from the mountain and sadly, some never return to their families.

Key factors affecting your safety on Kilimanjaro:

  • Altitude sickness and altitude-related complications
  • Remote location
  • Experience and training of your guides
  • The right equipment for dealing with an emergency
  • Robust monitoring and evacuation processes and protocols

How We Work to Keep You Safe on Kilimanjaro

Staying safe on Kilimanjaro starts with understanding the risks and knowing how to mitigate them. We ask all our climbers to fill in a comprehensive medical questionnaire, and in the case of some pre-existing conditions, we may ask for confirmation from your doctor that you are fit to climb. Your guide will need to know any existing medications you are taking (including over the counter) and whether you are taking Diamox to help acclimatization.

You need to know that your guide has the proper training to know how to detect the early signs of altitude sickness, and what to do about it. Our guides undergo Wilderness First Responder training, which teaches essential skills for managing medical conditions in remote locations.

Carrying emergency equipment is useless if your guide doesn’t know how to use it.

A note on guide-to-climber ratio

It’s our mission to ensure a safe and successful summit for everyone. We have a guide to climber ratio of 1 to 2, so for every two climbers, we have one trained mountain guide. This allows for more careful observation and evaluation of the group’s condition.

Communication with your guide is important. If you’re feeling under the weather, have a headache, nausea or any other symptom, you must tell your guide. While hiking, your guide will be keeping a lookout for any early signs of trouble:

  • Are you having difficulty on the trail, stumbling or very tired
  • Are you eating well, or is your appetite diminishing
  • Do you keep stopping to catch your breath, and having difficulty breathing
  • Are you drinking enough water
  • Any signs of erratic behavior or confusion
Daily Health Check

Every day, you’ll have a one-to-one meeting with your guide for a comprehensive health check-up:

  • Using a pulse oximeter to measure your blood oxygen saturation and resting pulse rate, using this data in combination with:
  • Symptom picture, using the Lake Louise Scoring System to determine whether you are showing signs of altitude sickness
  • Self-assessment questions to determine how you are feeling

Constant monitoring prevents a mild case of altitude sickness from escalating into an emergency.

Our team carries a comprehensive medical kit, including bottled oxygen, and portable stretcher.

  • We carry supplemental oxygen for emergency use only.
  • The only cure for acute mountain sickness is immediate descent to a lower elevation.
  • In the case of an injury that prevents a climber from descending on foot, we use a portable stretcher that is provided by the National Park at each campsite.
  • Oxygen can be administered to alleviate AMS in combination with immediate descent.
  • We carry a first aid medical kit to treat minor injuries

In the event of an emergency, we use a search and rescue service that operates out of Moshi. After a distress call, a helicopter will be dispatched to the nearest landing point and the patient can be airlifted off the mountain and taken to the local hospital. Of note, in the event of adverse mountain weather, a helicopter may not be able to land, and if this is the case, a manual evacuation will need to take place via a stretcher provided by the National Park.

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

We take your safety very seriously and don’t believe in leaving anything to chance. Emergencies can and do occur, due to the nature of the remote, high-altitude environment. Climbing Kilimanjaro with an operator who has well-trained guides, robust safety procedures, and good quality equipment reduces the incidence and severity of any issues that arise.

You can prepare yourself by being fit, bringing the right gear, and taking adequate precautions on the trail.

Journey to the Top of Africa with Confidence


A trek in this mountain is a life-time awe experience, a world class achievement that we are at Smile with Us will be happy to be part of while you take on. Focus is to get you to enjoy every moment of the trek as you find your way to the top. A team of well-motivated professional guides and porters will take on the lead as you take the challenge.