Climbing Kilimanjaro is a reasonable goal for an active person who dreams of reaching the highest point on the African continent and seeing one of the most unique places in the world. The expedition is potentially very strenuous but the pace can be slow and easy and there is options for lots of “downtime” to relax, read, and rest. We have also picked a route with a high success rate. In the end there will be the satisfaction of spending seven days on one of the most spectacular mountains of the world – whether your summit is Uhuru Peak, or your own personal highest point.
A note on the route:
The Modified Shira Route is a unique approach that offers several distinct climbing advantages and is definitely the most beautiful. The route starts at the Londorossi gate on the northwest edge of the Mt. Kilimanjaro National Park and combines the best of the Shira Route with the most scenic section of the Machame route. The itinerary is designed to include 4 nights above 12,000 feet with two relatively short hiking days in between allowing your body to rest and adjust to the altitude. The Modified Shira Route is a little more strenuous and longer than some of the other routes, but the extra hard work will pay off with better acclimatization and less crowded camps. The shorter, “easier” routes have a much lower success rate.
Arrive at Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO), purchase your tourist visa ($100 cash) and go through customs before collecting your luggage. You will be met at the arrival hall by a Momentum staffer who will escort you to the Arumeru River Lodge. The Arumeru River Lodge was built on the site of an old coffee farm and is situated just 45 minutes from Kilimanjaro International Airport and 15 minutes away from the town of Arusha. The beautiful lodge is spread over 12 acres of landscaped gardens and natural African bush land, bordering on a river lined with large old trees. The main building has extremely comfortable lounge and bar areas, a reception area with telephone, Internet, a boutique, and a restaurant. The terrace restaurant boasts spectacular views of Mt. Meru and Mt. Kilimanjaro and overlooks the tropical gardens and a large solar-heated swimming pool. The rooms are designed and decorated with the accent on traditional eco-friendly African architecture. You will love this start to your stay in Africa! Elevation 1,500 meters / 4,920 feet. (D)
Day two can be a rest day (Many people choose to take the opportunity to rest from the very long journey to Africa in preparation for the Kilimanjaro ascent). There is also the choice of visiting the town of Arusha, which is culturally interesting and offers great shopping opportunities. This mellow day 2 is an important day for the best chance of a successful ascent. Elevation – 1,500 meters / 4,920 feet. (B,D)
Day 2 Game Drive Add-On (not included in your trip price):
A third choice for day 2 is to do an introductory game drive to the nearby Arusha National Park. If you opt for the game drive, you will be picked up in a comfortable safari vehicle and drive one hour to the Arusha National Park. The beautiful, lush, and relatively small park is at the base of Mt. Meru with incredible views of Kilimanjaro. You will enjoy the forested foothills and the open, grassy calderas, which offer perfect viewing of cape buffalo and other herd animals, such as elephant, zebra, giraffe, impala, sable, waterbuck, bushbuck, and warthog. The forest is also a favorite habitat of blue monkeys, baboons, and Colobus monkeys.
Today we officially begin the Mt Kilimanjaro climb.
Day 1 of trekking – the gate to Shira 1 Camp: After breakfast we drive approximately 2 hours up to the town of Londorossi where we check into Kilimanjaro National Park. It’s a short drive on a steep track through farmland and plantations up to Morum Gate. We climb steadily through shrub forest and stands of giant heather to reach the rim of Shira Plateau (3,350 meters / 10,990 feet). The views across the surrounding plains open up as we climb to our first camp in the center of the Shira Plateau. Shira 1 Camp has great views and fewer crowds than the first night of the other routes. The porters will greet us at camp with tea and cookies, tents will be set up and we’ll celebrate our first night on the flanks of Mt. Kilimanjaro. We will carry own bathroom tent, which is much nicer than the public facilities on the mountain. Breakfasts and dinners are served in our roomy dining tent (Mountain Hardware Space Station) with comfortable dining chair. Porters will also provide hot water in washbasins so you can freshen up before meals and at bedtime. 4-5 hours of hiking – Camp at 3,610 meters / 11,843 feet. (B,L,D)
Day 2 of trekking – Shira 1 Camp to Shira Camp: This is a gradual day to help acclimatization and to explore the grassy moorland and the volcanic rock formations of the plateau. After you arrive at Shira Camp, there’s an option to take a short walk to see the caves that used to serve as shelter for porters. The sun will soon set behind the rugged mountain ridge of the Shira Plateau casting a purple hue over the valley. 5-6 hours hiking – Camp at 3,840 meters / 12,598 feet. (B,L,D)
Day 3 of trekking – Shira Camp to Barranco Camp: We climb out of Shira Camp with Kibo is in front of us throughout the hike. After a lunch stop, we detour up a steep slope to the impressive Lava Tower, a tall, black volcanic mass of rock. Some choose to scramble to the beautiful views at the top, or you may opt to rest and relax. On the steep hillside above us is the Western Breach trail which goes directly to the Kibo Glacier. After we descend down to a cold glacial stream, refill our water bottles and continue on and around the mountain. At this point, we continue to circumnavigate Kilimanjaro and view Africa’s tallest mountain from many different angles. After hiking across a sparse lava field, we descend to the beautiful Barranco Camp. There is another cold stream flowing through the valley with the impressive Barranco Wall on the opposite side. 6-8 hours hiking – Camp at 3,950 meters / 12,959 feet. (B,L,D)
Day 4 of trekking – Barranco Camp to Karanga Camp: Wake up to hot tea and breakfast and then we immediately make our assault on the steep Barranco Wall, fondly called “the Breakfast Climb”. We will see Kibo from a new angle and have a nice, fairly short hike through high desert terrain and over several ridges to the Karanga River Valley Camp. The camp is beneath the icefalls of the Heim, Kersten and Decken Glaciers. This is a “short” day of hiking so one may choose to do a hike up to the scree field and then “ski” back down or just rest in camp with a good book. 4-6 hours hiking – Camp at 4,200 meters / 13,780 feet. (B,L,D)
Day 5 of trekking: Karanga Camp to Barafu Camp: After climbing out of the Karanga Valley, the trail ascends a ridge to the Barafu Camp, our highest camp yet, at 15,980 feet. From this dry camp (there are no nearby streams) we will be making our ascent to the top. We plan to arrive early in order to adequately rest before our 11:30 pm summit wake-up call. 3-4 hours hiking – Camp at 4,600 meters / 15,091 feet. (B,L,D)
Day 6 of trekking: Summit Day – 3,360 feet up (3.12 miles) , 9,172 feet back down (7.5 miles). Barafu Camp to summit and back down to Mweka Camp: Rise and shine at 11:30 pm! Dressed in our warmest gear and with plenty of water (4 liters each), snacks, and headlamps we meet in the dining tent for some tea and cookies. We begin climbing by starlight using our headlamps, the local guides always reminding us to go “polee-polee” (slowly-slowly). This portion of the climb is, as you might imagine, the most demanding. This is the big day. The steepest section arrives just before Stella Point. We ascend to the rim of the Kibo Crater between the Rebmann and Ratzel Glaciers. The last section before the rim can sometimes be snow-covered and poles are useful. From here another hour leads to Uhuru Peak, (Freedom Peak) at 5,895 meters / 19,340 feet, the highest point on the continent of Africa. After watching the sunrise and snapping plenty of photos, we descend back down to the Barafu Hut for a rest and lunch. We then continue down the Mweka trail (used for descent only) through the giant heather zone to arrive near sunset at the Mweka Camp. This is a festive yet dusty camp on the edge of the rainforest where you might want to have a little extra money handy to purchase beers and/or sodas. 11-15 hours hiking – Camp at 3,100 meters / 10,170 feet. (B,L,D)
Day 7 of trekking: Mweka Camp to Mweka Village: Four to five hour hike down the Mweka trail through the rainforest. Arrive in the village of Mweka where there are plenty of wood curios, batiks, T-shirts, and souvenirs for sale. We have a delicious hot lunch in the village then get on the bus for an hour-long drive back to the Arumeru River Lodge, which will be a welcome, clean sanctuary. After showers and rest, a feast awaits us as we celebrate our accomplishment! (B,L,D)
Breakfast at the lodge and then a transfer to catch your International flight home. If your flight is later in the evening we can set people up with time at a market and cultural center. (B)
(B=Breakfast, L= Lunch, D = Dinner / Beverages are not included with meals at the hotels.)
For those who have time you can extend your journey and join us on a 4-day Safari to Tarangire National Park and Ngorongoro crater after the climb – a truly world-class Safari. Rest and relax in authentic, high-end safari lodges and see some of East Africa’s most legendary wildlife and landscapes.