Day 1: Nairobi - Arusha. Leave Nairobi for Arusha by shuttle bus arriving in time for lunch. Afternoon spent at leisure and shopping for the provisions needed for the mountain. Dinner and overnight in an Arusha hotel.
Day 2: Moshi/Arusha to Umbwe Gate to Umbwe Camp. Elevation(m): 915 m/1387 m to 1,800 m 2,800 m. Elevation(ft): 3,000 ft/4921 ft to 5,905 ft to 9,190 ft. Distance: 8 km. Hiking Time: 5-7 hours. Habitat: Montane Forest. Your day starts early with a briefing, followed by breakfast and an hour drive from Moshi/Arusha to Umbwe Village (1,490 m/4,890 ft) where your guides and porters pack your equipment and supplies, and give you a lunch pack.
You start your ascent at the small Umbwe Gate just above the village and follow a gentle winding vehicle track for an hour to a signboard that announces the small steep Umbwe trail. The introduction is over, and you now climb up for several hours through a dense forest of rubber trees and giant fig trees. In places, you must scamper up steep sections of roots and rock. The Umbwe Camp is in the forest, and there are some caves nearby. You will be greeted here with a graciously served hot meal.
Day 3: Umbwe Camp to Barranco Camp. Elevation(m): 2,800 m to 3,900 m. Elevation(ft): 9,190 ft to 2,800 ft. Distance: 8 km. Hiking Time : 4-5 hours. Habitat : semi-desert. Your day starts early with a steaming cup of tea coffee. After breakfast, you will climb steeply through thinning forest glades to Giant Erica, Heather, and drier air. You continue up a ridge that drops steeply on both sides, and hopefully, the clouds will part to reward you with a view of Uhuru Peak looming overhead. After lunch, you enter a zone of giant groundsels (Seneci Kilimanjari) that seem to guard the heights, and this garden is one of Kilimanjaro’s special treasures.
Day 4: Barranco Camp to Karanga Camp. Elevation(m): 3,900 m to 4,200 m. Elevation (ft):12,800 ft to 13,780 ft. Distance: 7 km. Hiking time: 4 hours. Habitat: alpine desert. After breakfast, we continue up a steep ridge to the great Barranco Wall, then you climb this imposing obstacle, which turns out to be easier than it looks. Topping out just below the Heim Glacier, you can now appreciate just how beautiful Kilimanjaro really is. With Kibo’s glaciers soaring overhead, you descend into the lush Karanga Valley to the Karanga Valley campsite. From the camp, you can look east and see the jagged peaks of Mawenzi jutting into the African sky. After a hot lunch in camp, your afternoon is at leisure for resting or exploring. This short day is very important for your acclimatization, since your summit push is about to start.
Day 5: Karanga Camp to Barafu Camp. Elevation(m): 4,200 m to 4,550 m. Elevation(ft): 13,780 ft to 14,930 ft. Distance: 13 km. Hiking Time: 8 hours. Habitat: alpine desert. In the morning, you hike east over intervening ridges and valleys to join the Mweka Route, which will be your descent route. Turn left toward the mountain and hike up the ridge through asparse landscape for another hour to the Barafu Hut where you will receive a hot lunch. The last water on the route is in the Karanga Valley; there is no water at Barafu Camp, even though Barafu is the Swahili word for “ice.” The famous snows of Kilimanjaro are far above Barafu Camp near the summit of the mountain. Your tent will be pitched on a narrow, stony, wind-swept ridge, so make sure that you familiarize yourself with the terrain before dark to avoid any accidents. Prepare your equipment and warm clothing for your summit climb, and drink a lot of fluids. After an early dinner, go to bed for a few hours of precious sleep.
Day 6: Summit Day! Barafu Camp to Uhuru Peak to Mweka Camp. Elevation(m): 4,550 m to 5,895 m to 3,100 m. Elevation(ft):14,930 ft to 19,340 ft to 10,170 ft. Distance: 7 km up, 23 km down. Hiking Time: 8 hours up, 7-8 hours down. Habitat: Scree and seasonal snow. You will rise around 11:30 PM, and after some steaming tea and biscuits, you shuffle off into the night. Your 6-hour climb northwest up through heavy scree between the Rebmann and Ratzel glaciers to Stella Point on the crater rim is the most challenging part of the route for most climbers. At Stella Point (5,685 m/18,650 ft) you stop for a short rest and a chance to see a sanguine sunrise. At Stella Point you join the top part of the Marangu Route, but do not stop here too long, as it will be extremely difficult to start again due to cold and fatigue.
Depending on the season and recent storms, you may encounter snow on your remaining hike along the rim to Uhuru Peak. On the summit, you can enjoy your accomplishment and know that you are creating a day that you will remember for the rest of your life. After your 3-hour descent from the summit back to Barafu Camp, you will have a well-earned but short rest, collect your gear, and hike down a rock and scree path into the moorland and eventually into the forest to Mweka Camp (3,100 m/10,170 ft). This camp is in the upper forest, so you can expect mist or rain in the late afternoon. Dinner, and washing water will be prepared, and the camp office sells drinking water, soft drinks, chocolates, and beer!
Day 7: Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate to Moshi/Arusha. Elevation(m): 3,100 m to 1,980 m to890 m/1387 m. Elevation(ft): 10,170 ft to 6,500m to 2,920 ft/4921 ft. Distance: 15 km. Hiking time: 3 hours
Habitat: forest. After a well-deserved breakfast, it is a short, scenic, 3-hour hike back to the park gate. Don’t give your porters any tips until you and all your gear have reached the gate safely, but do remember to tip your staff at the gate.
At Mweka Gate, you can sign your name and add details in a register. This is also where successful climbers receive their summit certificates. Climbers who reached Stella Point are issued green certificates and those who reached Uhuru Peak receive gold certificates. From the Mweka Gate, you will continue down to the Mweka Village, possibly a muddy, 3 km, 1 hour hike if the road is too muddy for vehicles. In the Mweka Village you will be served a delicious hot lunch after which you are driven back to Moshi/Arusha.
Day 8: Arusha - Nairobi. After breakfast, leave for Nairobi by morning or afternoon shuttle bus.
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