Vaccinations to Climb Kilimanjaro
A month or two before you travel to Tanzania, you’ll need to make an appointment at your local travel clinic, or with your GP to discuss vaccinations. It’s a good idea to do this early so that any side-effects you might suffer are finished before you travel.
There are no mandatory vaccinations needed for climbing Kilimanjaro, with the exception of Yellow Fever which is compulsory for any traveler entering Tanzania from any country that is considered a risk zone for Yellow Fever.
You’ll need to consider what areas you’ll be traveling to before and after your climb.
Important Information about Yellow Fever
You may be asked for your Yellow Fever vaccination certificate upon entry to Tanzania if you arrive from a flight departing in a Yellow Fever zone. A list of these countries can be found here.
Even if you are only transiting through one of these countries, and do not intend to leave the airport, the rules state that if you’ve been there for more than 12 hours, you’ll need proof of vaccination. In the case of flight delays, this can become a problem.
You need to be vaccinated 10 days before your scheduled date of travel, and some travelers report side-effects from the vaccine, so we’d recommend doing this as early as possible. Travelers flying into Tanzania direct from Europe or the US do not need a certificate.
What vaccinations do I need for Kilimanjaro? Recommended Vaccinations
The Center for Disease Control recommends the following immunizations for travelers to Tanzania. It is up to you and your healthcare professional to decide which, if any, are right for you:
Your routine inoculations
It’s recommended that you are up to date with all your routine vaccinations such as MMR (measles, mumps and rubella), chickenpox, Diptheria, tetanus, polio, and your yearly flu shot.
1. Hepatitis A & B
We recommend you talk to your doctor about hepatitis vaccinations. Hepatitis A is transmitted through contaminated food and water (such as salads, fruits that you don’t peel and shellfish) and ice in your drinks. You can be exposed to Hepatitis A even if you are not traveling to remote areas.
Hepatitis B is mostly transmitted through bodily fluids and needles. If you need medical treatment in a remote area, work in healthcare or are sexually active, you’ll want to consider it.
It’s not uncommon to be exposed to typhoid in Africa as it’s transmitted through contaminated food and water. Ice in your drinks, eating at street-food markets, poor hygiene, eating raw food or traveling to rural areas.
It’s easy to forget our 10-yearly tetanus shot. You’re most at risk of tetanus if you cut yourself, it’s found in the soil and animal feces. If you’re a traveling, it’s worth keeping this inculation up to date.
Your chance of exposure to rabies is fairly low, particularly if you aren’t planning to do any traveling in Tanzania before or after your climb. Usually transmitted by a bite from an infected animal (often dogs), depending on plans, you and your doctor will decide if you need it.
A nasty waterborne disease, spread through poor hygiene. The CDC recommends vaccination if you are traveling to an area of active cholera transmission. Speak to your doctor.
As with most of Africa, malaria is always a concern when traveling through Tanzania. As the mosquitos are generally not found above 6000ft, you are relatively safe whilst on the mountain. However, you need to consider that you’ll be Moshi or Arusha before and after your climb, which is when you are most at risk.
Malaria is a parasite transmitted through the bite of the female anopheles mosquito. It only takes one bite to be infected, and the illness is serious, sometimes fatal.
Talk to your doctor about anti-malarial prophylaxis, and which is the most suitable for you and where you are traveling to. Malarone is a popular, but expensive brand, with the fewest reported side-effects. See the Hospital for Tropical Diseases to learn more.
A note about Larium: this particular anti-malarial has been reported to have side-effects mimic the symptoms of altitude sickness.
Taking prophylaxis (antimalarials) does not guarantee that you won’t contract malaria. The only foolproof way to prevent it is to avoid getting bitten by taking precautions:
- Staying indoors between dusk and dawn (the mosquitoes are most active in the evenings)
- Wearing a strong mosquito repellent, preferably with DEET
- Always use a mosquito net over your bed when you sleep
- Spray your room with insect repellent, and treat clothes and bedding
- Wear long sleeves, trousers, and socks in the evenings
- Avoid densely populated areas, especially at night
Intestinal Trouble & Travelers Diarrhea
By far the most common problem affecting travelers to remote parts of Africa is some sort of tummy upset. Diarrhea can be caused by parasites, viruses or bacteria, and can be hard to treat.
You can avoid bacteria such as E.coli and salmonella, parasites such as Giardia and Cryptosporidia by being meticulous about your food, water, and hygiene.
- Never drink untreated water from rivers, taps, or wells. Avoid ice unless you are sure it’s made with purified water. Boil, filter and/or purify all water before drinking.
- Avoid eating fruit that you can’t peel
- Be careful with uncooked vegetables and salads, be sure they are washed in purified water
- Make sure any meat you eat is well-cooked and avoid rare meat
- Clean hands with anti-bacterial gel before eating
On your climb, we will provide you with clean, purified drinking water. All our food is sourced, stored and prepared carefully to avoid any possible contamination.
Medications to bring with you
Your doctor will be able to recommend the best medications for you to carry, but we suggest, in addition to any prescription medication you need:
- Ciproflaxin or a similar antibiotic to treat bacterial diarrhea
- Diamox if you are taking it – read our guide to diamox
Before your climb, we ask you to fill in a medical questionnaire, and recommend you have a full medical check-up from your doctor.
Questions? Let us know, we’re here to help.