Climbing Kilimanjaro: 19,341 Feet of Meaning
- Challenge yourself with this once in a lifetime experience of summiting Mount Kilimanjaro’s Uhuru peak, the highest point in Africa at 19,341 feet.
- Marvel in the spectacular landscapes. Situated just below the equator, Mount Kilimanjaro’s trails to the peak will take you on a journey through five distinct ecological zones of varied terrains, including dense jungle, grassy savannah, and volcanic desert.
- Be dazzled by views of nearby peaks and of the vast rolling African plains as you ascend to the top. The views, the vegetation and the wildlife that inhabit this region of the world will continue to amaze you with each step.
- Throughout your challenging journey, be comforted by the warm friendliness and supportiveness of the Tanzanian culture. Learn some Swahili phrases along the way including, “pole pole” - meaning slowly, a phrase your guides will repeat as you maintain a strong, steady pace.
Day 1: Arrive and Meet the Team
Welcome to Tanzania, home to the Roof of Africa. Upon arrival at the Kilimanjaro Airport you will be met by our representative and transferred to your hotel. Tonight, meet your new hiking buddies for a restful journey as you prepare for the adventure ahead.
Day 2: Machame Villa to Machame Camp
Today begins your trek to Kilimanjaro. After breakfast, transfer to Machame village to begin the challenge. From the park entrance gate, hike for two to three hours through a dense forest of fig and rubber trees, begonia flowers, and other tropical vegetation. We will stop for lunch halfway. As you continue your ascent, the tropical forest will give way to tall grasses and giant heathers. The trail is on a ridge between the Semira and Weru rivers.
This initial stage of the climb is tranquil and relatively easy, and we will ascend slowly to gradually acclimatize. There is no need to rush to get to camp, so we can enjoy the beautiful scenery around us. The porters, full of energy and used to the elevation, will bound ahead to scope out the camp. Depending on the pace of the climbers, we will arrive at camp around 5 or 6pm, in time for a well-deserved meal. Porters will set up near the old metal huts, which were once used for shelter.
Elevation: 9,350 ft.
Trekking Time: 6 hours
Overnight: Machame Camp
Day 3: Machame Camp to Shira Camp
On this and subsequent mornings, wake-up call is at around 6am. You will be greeted with a steaming cup of tea or coffee, and if we’re lucky, a fabulous view of Uhuru peak, the highest point on the rim of Kilimanjaro. Today's trek takes you up a steep track through a savannah of tall grasses, groundsel weeds, and heathers, which will segue into an eerie deserted landscape of volcanic rock, caves, and foamy streams.
We will have lunch just below the Shira Plateau, about three to four hours from Shira Camp. Pacing is key - “pole pole” as they say in Swahili; slowly. We will walk slow and steady, resting about every half hour to acclimate to the altitude changes and physical demand. Upon arrival in camp, there will be time to relax and take a short acclimatisation hike with the guides before dinner.
Elevation: 12,500 ft.
Trekking Time: 6 hours
Overnight: Shira Camp
Day 4: Shira Camp to Barranco Camp
The entire Shira Plateau greets you this morning with sweeping vistas across to Mount Meru and the conical Shira Needles. A steady walk takes you up to the pass at Lava Tower (15,000 ft), where you stop to have lunch. After crossing the Bastain stream, you will begin to descend towards Barranco Camp. The trail follows an immense canyon called the Great Barranco. Along the way are numerous waterfalls fed by streams coming down from the mountain, converging here to form the Umbwe River. Your camp is set at almost the same altitude as the night before. Today is the first full day trek, and you will be tired!
Elevation: 13,044 ft.
Trekking Time: 6 hours
Overnight: Barranco Camp
Day 5: Barranco Camp to Karanga Camp
Today is a short, acclimatization day. Your day will begin with an ascent to the Great Barranco Wall, and then the path will wind down into the beautiful Karanga Valley where malachite sunbirds can be seen amongst the flowers, their green plumage brilliant in the sunlight.
Enjoy an early, restful evening at Karanga Camp, which has no increase in elevation to allow for ample acclimatization time.
Elevation: 13,106 ft.
Trekking Time: 4 hours
Overnight: Karanga Camp
Day 6: Karanga Camp to Barafu Camp
The scenic climb to Barafu is mostly on a glacial moraine and lava ridge with a view of the mountain’s Mawenzi peak towering majestically to the right, and overhead, Kibo peak, seemingly just out of reach. The alpine desert terrain found here is mostly rocky, with few lichens and mosses. We will reach our camp before lunch and have a safety talk and clothing check to prepare for the summit. Climbers who choose to ascend the peak will go to bed very early tonight, as the next day is the longest one.
Elevation: 15,331 ft.
Trekking Time: 4-5 hours
Overnight: Barafu Camp
Day 7: Ascent to Summit (19,341 ft) / Descent
You will be awakened at midnight for a light breakfast and begin climbing soon after. Here, the climb becomes more steep and difficult. We will carry as little as possible with us. Temperatures will range from -4° to 5° Fahrenheit. We will trek about six hours before reaching the edge of the crater, Stella Point. After traversing the rim of the crater, we will reach the summit. The track around the edge of the crater is rocky and often icy, so you must concentrate on your feet and follow your guide very closely.
The Uhuru peak stands at 19,341 feet and is the highest point on the continent of Africa! Uhuru means ‘freedom’ in Swahili - named when Tanzania gained its independence in 1961. From here, you can finally admire Africa from her highest vantage point and revel in the enormous challenge you have conquered.
After soaking up the glorious, breathtaking views, you will begin your descent. You will reach Barafu camp after three hours. Climbers will be given the opportunity to rest and have breakfast before beginning our journey down the mountain. Arriving into Mweka Camp in the early evening and settle in for your final night on the “Roof of Africa”. Take a much needed rest and relish in your victory before the final segment of the trek tomorrow.
Elevation: 10,065 ft.
Trekking Time: 13 hours
Overnight: Mweka Camp
Day 8: Mweka to the Gate and Celebratory Farewell Dinner
On the last day of the journey, climbers descend from Mweka camp to the base. Today’s hike through lush forests will be a lighter trek downhill, especially in comparison to yesterday’s demanding summit. Upon arrival at the gate, you will be awarded with certificates attesting to your success at climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. Transfer to Arusha to arrive in time for lunch and celebrate your great achievement.
You will have the afternoon to relax and process all that you just accomplished. After recuperating, join your fellow hikers for a celebratory farewell dinner, reflecting on the incredible journey you experienced together.
Trekking Time: 3 hours
Day 9: International Departures or Post-Trip Extensions
Enjoy a leisurely morning in Arusha and perhaps some free time to explore the city full of local markets, art and culture. Our guides will transfer you to the airport for your international departure.
If you’d like, we can arrange a customized extension in Tanzania, such as a safari in Serengeti National Park or a well-deserved relaxing beach holiday on the rejuvenating island, Zanzibar.