In the rare case when a climber gets ill or seriously injured on Mount Kilimanjaro, a helicopter evacuation may be required. With a mission of “making Kilimanjaro the safest tourist destination in Africa”, Kilimanjaro Search & Rescue set up their base in Moshi in 2016. Providing emergency evacuation from any feasible landing area, their high-altitude helicopters and fully-trained medical personnel are able to respond within 5 minutes.
In the past, helicopter evacuations were rare on Kilimanjaro as there was no local operator and units would be deployed from major centers such as Nairobi, making for long delays. From their base in Moshi, Kilimanjaro SAR can have a chopper on the mountain in as little as 15 minutes.
In addition to their two high-altitude choppers, Kilimanjaro SAR has set up the first high altitude medicine clinic in Africa. Situated at St. Joseph’s hospital in Moshi, the clinic is staffed with specialists in high altitude medicine.
We put your safety as our number one priority, read more about Kilimanjaro altitude sickness in our in-depth guide.
The cost of medical evacuation from the mountain is expensive, which is why the right travel insurance is mandatory for all climbers. When purchasing your insurance, be sure that the policy covers emergency evacuation up to 6,000 meters above sea level and any associated medical treatment.
When you book your climb, we register a copy of your insurance details and passport copy with Kilimanjaro SAR, and they liaise with the insurance company on your behalf. We recommend that you read the fine print of your insurance carefully, to establish whether the policy covers you on a reimbursement basis and whether there is any pre-approval required.
In an emergency situation, you don’t want to waste valuable time getting approval from your insurance company.
As this is a relatively new (established 2016, operational 2018) service, and not all areas of the mountain are conducive to helicopter landings, climbers may need to hike, or in the case where someone can’t walk, stretchered to a landing area pick up. At the time of writing, the highest landing area is at Kosovo Hut, 4900 meters.
Most rescues are conducted from Horombo or Barranco Huts, ambulance rescue by road is available from the Shira Huts.
Each year, dozens of helicopter rescues are conducted on Mount Kilimanjaro. Our staff is well trained in working with the pilots and medical personnel to ensure climbers are safely evacuated in a timely manner should the need arise.
Having a helicopter rescue service on Kilimanjaro is reassuring for climbers, but it’s not an excuse to become complacent and neglect the proper safety protocols. It’s there as a last resort, not a reason to take unnecessary risks.
Our guides carry supplementary oxygen on every Kilimanjaro climb, strictly for use in emergency situations.
Kilimanjaro SAR is the brainchild of a professional Danish mountaineer and CEO Ivan Braun. After a lot of research with diﬀerent stakeholders, they created the first platform in Tanzania to focus solely on helicopter search and rescue services covering Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Meru.
With a guaranteed response time of 5 minutes from the time they receive the distress call, an injured climber can be in a helicopter receiving medical treatment in as little as 15 minutes. After landing at Moshi Airport, the patient is transferred to the high altitude medical clinic for further treatment.
Kilimanjaro SAR is committed to providing urgent care and evacuation for everyone on the mountain. As part of their charitable foundation, they provide evacuation and medical treatment free of charge for guides, porters, all climb support staff and park rangers.
The first of it’s kind in Africa, the high altitude medical clinic at Moshi’s St. Joseph’s hospital provides urgent care, monitoring, and assessment services. It’s staffed by doctors trained in emergency care and mountain medicine and an international advisory team of altitude medicine specialists.
As part of their charitable work, the high altitude medicine clinic provides free first aid training for local guides and mountain rangers on Kilimanjaro and Mt Meru.
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