Do You Need Oxygen To Climb Mount Kilimanjaro

Oxygen Levels on Kilimanjaro

Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa, and stands at 19,341 feet or 5,895 meters above sea level. At this altitude, the atmosphere changes drastically and many climbers want to know if they need oxygen to summit.

What is the Science Behind Air on the High Altitude?

The amount of oxygen in the atmosphere decreases exponentially with increasing altitude, meaning that the air is much thinner at higher altitudes. As the air gets thinner, climbers will start to experience the effects of altitude sickness, and in extreme cases, can be at risk of cerebral or pulmonary edema. To combat this, some climbers opt to bring oxygen tanks with them to help fit their lungs and bodies as they ascend.

What is the Amount of Oxygen at Different Altitude on Kilimanjaro?

At sea level, the average concentration of oxygen is 21%. As you ascend Mount Kilimanjaro, this oxygen concentration decreases. At 8,000 feet (2,438 meters) the oxygen concentration is approximately 19.5%. This drops to 15.8% at 15,000 feet (4,572 meters) and further to 12.5% at the summit.

Is Oxygen Necessary For Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro?

Most climbers do not need supplementary oxygen for their Mt. Kilimanjaro climb because their bodies can adjust to the decrease in oxygen levels as they ascend. However, many climbers opt for using oxygen for emergencies, or if they are feeling particularly ill. Although it is not necessary, supplemental oxygen can help reduce the effects of altitude sickness.

Using Oxygen on Kilimanjaro

If you decide to use supplemental oxygen while on Kilimanjaro, the most common option is to use portable oxygen tanks supplied by a tour company. These tanks are used on mountaineering and trekking expeditions around the world, and can be rented or purchased.
The use of supplemental oxygen on Kilimanjaro is controversial, as some argue that it defeats the purpose of ‘earning’ your summit by utilizing natural means. However, many see the use of oxygen as a way to safely increase their chances of reaching the summit, or being able to traverse the higher altitudes without succumbing to the effects of altitude sickness.

How to Prepare for Low Oxygen Levels

For those who decide not to use supplementary oxygen, there are several things you can do to prepare yourself for the low oxygen levels on Kilimanjaro. For starters, ensure that you are in the best possible physical condition when you embark. The more fit you are, the less taxing your ascent will be, and the longer you can enjoy the beautiful mountain view.
Another way to prepare for the low oxygen levels on Kilimanjaro is to acclimate to the higher altitudes gradually. This can be done by trekking in the himalaayas or completing short high altitude hikes prior to your climb. This will help your body get used to the thinner air before making the full ascent.

Health Considerations When Climbing Kilimanjaro in Low Oxygen Levels

It is essential that you pay attention to your health when ascending Kilimanjaro. Be aware of the signs and symptoms of altitude sickness and make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the climb. And make sure to listen to your body if it is telling you to descend.
When in doubt, it is best to consult a specialist and discuss what steps you can take to avoid altitude sickness.

Climbing Gear for Low Oxygen Levels

If you’re planning on climbing Kilimanjaro without oxygen, proper gear is essential. Investing in quality hiking and mountaineering boots and clothing can make your ascent much more comfortable and enjoyable. Clothing that shields from the elements such as wind, rain, and snow is also an important consideration.
It is also important to ensure that your clothing and gear are as lightweight as possible. Every ounce of weight can make a difference at high altitude, so lightweight gear is essential.

Choosing a Guide to Climb Kilimanjaro

When trekking to the summit of Kilimanjaro, it is essential to choose a reputable guide and agency. A qualified guide will help ensure that you are properly acclimatized, as well as provide advice and assistance along the way.
It is also important to review all of the terms and conditions of your tour and guide prior to signing any contracts or agreements. Be sure to research reputable agencies and guides prior to your departure so that you can have peace of mind throughout your climb.

Packing for Your Trip

Proper packing is a crucial part of any successful Kilimanjaro climb, especially one without oxygen. It is important to be prepared and bring the proper clothing and gear. Make sure to pack several layers and bring items such as waterproof jackets, hats, and gloves. It is also important to bring items such as sunscreen and sunglasses for the summit.
Always make sure to double check your packing list before heading out on the trail. Having the proper items with you when you summit can be the difference between success and failure, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally.

Adjusting to High Altitude

Easing into your climb is essential when it comes to adjusting to high altitude. Start slow and monitor your body’s response to the change in altitude. Make sure to drink plenty of water and get plenty of rest. Additionally, eating the right food and avoiding dehydration are also important for a successful summit.
It is best to take the time to acclimatize and enjoy the views on the way up. The summit will still be there – but if you rush too quickly, you may not get the chance to enjoy it.

Safety Tips for Climbing Kilimanjaro

Anytime you are planning an extreme adventure, such as climbing Kilimanjaro, safety should always be a top priority. Before heading out, make sure to review all the safety considerations and advice provided by the tour and guide.
Additionally, make sure to always climb with a partner. Not only can this help monitor each other’s physical state, but it can also help in case of an emergency or altitude sickness. And, most importantly, make sure to have a plan for if things don’t go as planned. Review the evacuation procedures and routes of your tour, and always check the weather before starting your climb.

Understanding Altitude Sickness

Altitude sickness is one of the greatest risks of climbing high mountain ranges such as Kilimanjaro. Symptoms typically appear between 8,000 and 12,000 feet, and vary from person to person. For those without oxygen, altitude sickness can be a serious issue, which is why monitoring your body’s response and understanding the signs is essential.
Common symptoms of altitude sickness may include headaches, nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath, insomnia, lethargy, and loss of appetite. If you start to experience any of these symptoms, it is important to stop and rest, or to descend if necessary.


This article aimed to provide information on climbing Mount Kilimanjaro without supplemental oxygen. From preparing your body, to understanding the risks and considerations associated with the climb, this article has provided a comprehensive overview of what to expect when climbing Kilimanjaro without oxygen.
By understanding the altitude, preparing properly, and knowing the safety considerations, climbers can enjoy an

Herman Shaw is a passionate traveler and avid photographer who has seen many of the world's most awe-inspiring monuments. He has developed expertise in various aspects of world architecture and culture which he enjoys sharing with his readers. With deep historical knowledge and insight, Herman's writing brings life to these remarkable artifacts and highlights their importance in the grand scheme of human history.

Leave a Comment