Can You Drink Alcohol on Kilimanjaro?
Since you’re coming to climb Kilimanjaro while on vacation in Tanzania, you might be wondering if you can drink alcohol while climbing. While having a beer or cocktail is a common part of every holiday and honeymoon, we do not advise that you drink alcohol on Kilimanjaro.
It’s best to save the alcoholic drinks for other parts of your trip because alcohol can make it harder for your body to adjust to high altitudes. It can also increase your chance of becoming dehydrated which is a big problem on the mountain.
Why Drinking Alcohol on Kilimanjaro Is a Bad Idea
First and foremost, alcohol is not permitted inside Kilimanjaro National Park. You cannot buy it or sell it anywhere in the park and it’s not supposed to be brought in by car or in luggage either.
Climbing Kilimanjaro is very physically demanding so drinking while on the mountain is the same as drinking while you’re at the gym or hiking, all of which are not recommended and a bad idea.
Alcohol can make it very hard for your body to adjust to the high altitude of the mountain and it can make it dangerous to climb. Not only does it have horrible effects on the body as you are climbing very high up, but there are also many other consequences to drinking alcohol while on the mountain.
- Increased sleepiness. You’ll already be feeling fatigued as you climb and drinking alcohol can make you feel even more tired. With less energy, you’re much less likely to make it to the summit.
- Safety concerns. Since alcohol makes it harder for you to balance and walk, you are more likely to get into an accident or fall if you drink while climbing. Climbing Kilimanjaro is already difficult enough without drinking.
- Dehydration. You must drink plenty of water on the mountain. Drinking alcohol means you’ll have to drink more water since alcohol is a diuretic. Being at high altitude already puts you at high risk for dehydration and drinking beer can just make it worse.
- Improper acclimatization. Being able to acclimate to the changing altitudes on the mountain is extremely important and you need to avoid altitude sickness as much as possible. Alcohol can make it harder for your body to adjust to the altitude naturally.
- Impaired judgment. Alcohol affects your ability to make good decisions so it can change the way you might normally react in situations. You might also make poor choices such as not following the guide or not listening well to important climbing instructions.
- Health risks. While you might be used to drinking with no adverse effects, drinking at high altitudes can have different effects on the body. You might find that it changes your oxygen levels, heart rate, or blood pressure. This can all be very dangerous when climbing.
Drinks Served on the Mountain
While no alcohol is served during the climb, just about every other drink is. Each day you’ll supplied with plenty of fresh drinking water to make sure you stay hydrated and healthy.
Your guides and porters will be the ones to purify the water for you, so all you need to do is fill up your bottle or your hydration park and get drinking.
At breakfast and dinner, you’ll also have several choices of warm drinks like hot chocolate, coffee, and tea.
Keep in mind though that caffeine is a diuretic just like alcohol so it can make you urinate more. However, the effects of caffeine on acclimating are much less than the effects of alcohol.
As long you drink enough water, feel free to enjoy your coffee and tea at meal times. It’s also a good way to stay warm on the colder mornings and nights.
Drinking in Tanzania
The good news is that while drinking on Kilimanjaro is strictly prohibited, you can enjoy as many beers as you want before and after the climb. All people 18 and over can buy alcohol in Tanzania so you shouldn’t have any problems enjoying alcohol on the rest of your Tanzanian holiday.
Tanzania has plenty of local beers that are worth trying but most hotels and large restaurants also sell international beers if you prefer to drink something familiar to your home country.
You’ll also find an abundance of wine, beers, and spirits in supermarkets and liquor stores.
Drinking in Zanzibar and On Safaris
In addition to climbing Kilimanjaro, you might have holiday plans in Zanzibar and on safaris. In both of these parts of your vacation, you’re free to drink.
Resorts, hotels, and hostels in Zanzibar all sell alcohol as well as restaurants. On your safari, you can’t drink alcohol while in the national parks on the safari vehicle, but you can drink back at your campsites and lodges.
The Bottom Line
While it might be tempting to drink a beer or two on Kilimanjaro, the potential side effects are not worth it. Coming to Tanzania and climbing Kilimanjaro takes time, money, and preparation; so you want to give yourself the best chance possible to summit.
After you get done with your climb, you’ll have plenty of chances to drink whether it be back at the hotel, on your safari, or while you lounge on one of Zanzibar’s beaches.