Trekkers arrive from their respective countries at Kilimanjaro International Airport or Arusha if transferring by bus from Nairobi. A member of our staff will be at Kilimanjaro airport arrivals or the Arusha shuttle bus terminus holding a Trekili Eco Expeditions placard. You will then be transferred to your hotel in Arusha overnight.
After breakfast and a comprehensive trek briefing, we take a 2 hour drive to the Umbwe Gate at 1800m (5905ft) where you will meet your guides and mountain crew as we take care of all National Park formalities, registering all climbers and the weighing of all duffle bags to ensure the load carried by each porter does not exceed the mandatory 20kgs limit. Our trek begins following a forestry track winding through natural rain forest under the canopy of moss-coated vines where you will hear the calls of many exotic birds and if we are lucky we may see blue monkeys and hear the grunting calls of the magnificent black colobus monkeyswith their long ‘cape’ of white hair and a flowing white tail. Proceeding ever upwards, the path narrows and steepens to climb the ridge between the Lonzo and Umbwe rivers, with huge trees surrounding you. The path offers spectacular views of deep gorges to either side as we make our way to the Umbwe Caves camp located in the lower heather zone.
Shortly after leaving camp the forest starts thinning and is replaced by rockier terrain, sparser undergrowth and straggly, moss-covered trees and Giant Heather and Erica. The path continues along a narrow, but spectacular ridge. As you gain higher altitude you may catch glimpses of Kilimanjaro rising majestically ahead of you – etched against the blue sky. Transitioning to the moorland zone you will encounter giant lobelia and grounsels. As you approach the Barranco Valley the path flattens along the Umbwe ridge and then you descend a short distance to Barranco Camp
Today’s hike is shorter than yesterday though it is steeper, it will take you hardly 3 hours and you will be at lava Tower camp . At this altitude, plant life is reduced to mosses, lichens and a few everlasting flowers. White-necked ravens soar close by, and friendly alpine chats hop around our tents. We could see the unusual lammergeyer or bearded vulture soaring high above us.
From here it is another steep climb up to the Arrow Glacier campsite where we are right under the Western Breach, and surrounded on three sides by steep rocky slopes and cliffs. To the south, the terrain drops down into the Great Barranco Valley 3,000 feet below. The views from Arrow Glacier camp are spectacular. To supplement our acclimatization, we take an afternoon hike up a spectacular ridge further up the Western Breach before relaxing in camp. This camp is famous for the absolutely magnificent sunsets, which illuminate the African sky. Early dinner and then off to bed as the temperature drops to freezing.
Around 5 am we rise to a light breakfast, tea or chocolate and begin our ascent of the Western Breach. We are usually an hour into the ascent when the sun rises behind Kili and we look forward to the sun cresting the breach and warming our bodies.
Early on the climb is straightforward and as we ascend higher some hand over hand scrambling is required in four sections and we may encounter snow. As we stop and rest the views of the Great Baranco Valley as the sun rises are stunning as we look back over Lava Tower and the Shira Plateau we crossed just a few days earlier.
As we crest the crater rim we are greeted by the Northern Icefield and Furtwangler Glacier. The wide crater floor is a magnificent Arctic moonscape and our camp is set in soft sand adjacent the indigo streaked Furtwangler Glacier. For those trekkers who are up to it, dramatic and fascinating excursions to the Reusch Ash Pit and Northern and Eastern Ice Fields can be launched from Crater Camp. We leave the barren moonscape features of the crater floor and begin our zigzag pattern through shallow snow if we are lucky for the final 300m push up the crater’s southern rim.
Arriving at the summit you feel a huge sense of elation and accomplishment you have done it, you have made it to the highest point in Africa. We spend as much time as you need to appreciate your accomplishment, as this is a day to remember for the rest of your life! The time you will spend on the summit will depend on the weather conditions and temperature. We begin our descent passing alongside the iridescent blue Rebmann and Tarzel glaciers before reaching Stella Point and continue a 2-3 hour steep, dusty and demanding descent to Barafu Camp where we stop for a well deserved rest for lunch and remove some of our many layers of clothing as the day begins to heat up. Leaving Barafu we descend due south for 4 km, losing a lot of altitude over the next 2 hours. After about an hour we come to a crossroads. To the left is a little used trail to the Horombo Huts on the Marangu Route and to the right is the Southern Circuit leading to the Keranga Valley. At this point the Millennium Camp comes into view and our spirits are lifted as we eventually arrive at the Millennium Camp in the early afternoon where a meal awaits. Today is the longest, and the most mentally and physically challenging of the trek, but a life changing day that will stay with you forever, as you have conquered the heights of Kilimanjaro.
Today your legs will be further tested as the path descends steeply through the lush Mweka Rain Forest. The trail is steep in places and the going slippery if wet. The route follows the crest of a broad ridge separating two river valleys until it meets with a road that leads us for the last 40 mins to the Mweka Park gates where we stop for a well deserved picnic lunch and collect our certificates from the Kilimanjaro National Park Authority. Post celebrations and tipping ceremony, we are taken by either private bus or 4wd to our hotel in Arusha.
Depart Tanzania or continue your dream with an amazing safari extension. For trekkers not continuing with a safari we provide transfers to Kilimanjaro International Airport or bus station for your onward journey.