Day 1: From Arusha drive to the Machame Park gate, then a gentle climb up through the original montane forest, carpeted with unique "busy lizzie" flowers, begonias and ferns. First camp amongst the giant heather at 3,000m. Ascent of 1,200m and 5-6 hours walking.
Day 2: Emerge from the giant heather zone and hike through fine open moorland to camp by the Shira Cave at 3,840m. Herds of eland up here (& occasional lion!) and there are fascinating geological features in the old volcanic caldera which can be viewed during a half hour optional walk in the afternoon. Ascent 840m and 4-5 hours walking.
Day 3: From Shira, climb towards the main peak Kibo, with the western glaciers clearly visible across the rugged high-altitude desert of volcanic rocks and boulders. Skirting around its base and under the imposing Western Breach, descend into the sheltered Barranco Valley for mid-way camp at 3,950m. 5-7 hours walking and only 110m total ascent - but having climbed higher and dropping back down assists acclimatisation.
Day 4: Up the steep Barranco Wall with some sections of very easy scrambling and drop down again to the Karanga Valley. This is a short walking day, around 3 hours, and again you climb about 300m but drop back down again to around 4,000m. There’s an optional further acclimatisation hike in afternoon up onto the scree below the glaciers.
Day 5: Up to a new camp about 100m above Barafu Hut perched high on a rocky bluff at 4,000m. Fantastic views across to Mawenzi peak, and a bit less to climb tomorrow morning! This is another short walking day, about 4 hours with a 700m height gain, and time for a good rest in the afternoon immediately before the hard summit day.
Day 6: A bracing 1am start to climb the steep frozen scree. This is unavoidable on any route but we aim to reach Stella Point on the crater rim for sunrise - another 40 mins and you’re at the highest point on the continent, usually in warm sunshine. We return on the Mweka descent route. Walking time 7 hours and 1,300m ascent to the summit, 5-6 hours and 2,800m descent to our camp in a clearing amongst the giant heather at Mweka. This is a long and hard day - you’ll feel tired but absolutely ecstatic after you’ve done it.
Day 7: A 4-5 hours descent through the forest to Mweka Gate to collect our certificates and meet our vehicle. Return to Arusha, arriving early to mid afternoon.
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Africa Tanzania Outdoor: Land Rambler Hiking & Trekking National Parks
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