CLIMBING KILIMANJARO: UP TO 5.895m

notte-in-tenda-sul-kilimanjaro

Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest african mountain and the tallest free-standing mountain in the world and it is one of the highest volcano of our planet. Each year around 25.000 people try to climb it up the top but just 2/3 can. The biggest problem is the altitude sickness because the starting is point is just few hundred of meters above the sea level.

Kilimanjaro has three craters, two of wich (Mawenzi and Shira) are extict and one, Kobo is merely dormant and could erupt again.

I this stratovolcano you can find almost all the ecosystems : cultivated land, rainforest, moorland, alpine desert and the artic summit.

Machame Route

The starting point is Machame gate (1.700m) and you’ll get there by car from Moshi (830m.a.s.l.). One of the most important thing to make it to the top is take more days to climb to acclimatate and walk slowly (pole pole), as our guide, Alì, told us more than once.

When you are going to start your trek all the group are together at the “gate” to get you daily bag packed and let the resto of your stuff to the “porters”. You are going to have usually 3 guides for a 5 people group plus 10 porters who have to carry also all what you need to eat and sleep.

Day 1 – The beginning

Machame-route-starting-point

At the beginning of the trek I observed how the young “swahili” are in a queue waiting to be charged as a donkey, and it destabilise me. Their spirit of goodwill and sacrifice is admirable. They wait respecting the order to be ready and go to set up our “camp”.

The way from Machame gate (1.640m) and the first stop, Machame camp (2.850m) turns into a slope where it’s not always easy to go ahead. Indeed some big stones scatterend around the way which make the walk less stable. And while you are tired carrying you 6-10kg on your back it happens to see those willfull guys who, witouht blinking an eye, overtake you with a big smile and a big drope of sweat on their face.

As soon as we joined the camp everything was ready and after few minuted we had some popcorn to make us want to eat. In fact, when you trek in the mountain you are not always hungry due to the altitude and tireness. But when you trek you need power.

Starting point
  • Machame Gate (1.640m)

Duration
  • around 5h-7h

Distance
  • 11km

Arrival point
  • Machame Camp (2.835m)

Day 2 – A short but difficult walk

Laure-e-Simo-secondo-giorno-ascesa-kilimanjaro

It’s an hard and short way the one to get Shira camp (3.810m) and we knew it. But it seemed to us that it was hard and not short at all. Indeed we walked 5h an half to get to the “camp” going through tortuos and slope path full of rocks.

I had pain on my groin during all the way and I had a big headache once arrived. It’s pretty important to relax and recover your energies to face the next day, and so I did. We were amazed to see an amazing sunset and a big moon just behind mount kilimanjaro’s peak beofre to go to sleep.

Starting point
  • Machame Camp (2.835m)

Duration
  • around 4h-6h

Distance
  • 5km

Arrival point
  • Shira Camp (3.850m)

Day 3 – Acclimatatisation

Kilimanjaro-giorno-3

This is one of the most important day for the acclimatisation. before to get the Barranco camp (3.976m) you will go to Lava Tower at 4.630m. The lanscape is desertic due to the high altitude. Even if it’s a pretty hard walk the Lava Tower and the view on Mont Meru are wonderful.

One of the hardest moment is when you walk on the crest of the mountain where it’s really windy and cold. I was already suffering from stomacache (travel’s diarrhoea) and headache, so it was pretty hard.

It’s a long way to complete the third day and it takes approximately 6h an half. From this moment on the cold will be part of your trek. Our guide advice us to go to the toilettes before going to sleep because it’s definitely not pleasant going out in the freezing night, but if you have a stomachache it’s different 😅.

Starting point
  • Shira Camp (3.850m)

Duration
  • around 4h-5h

Distance
  • 7km

Arrival point
  • Lava Tower (4.600m)

  • Lava Tower (4.600m)

  • around 2h-3h

  • 3km

  • Barranco Camp (3.900m)

Day 4 – To sleep in a tent at 4.600m

bacio-a-4.600m

On the fourth day you have to be ready to an hard first walk. You have to go up to the Barranco wall, around 257m high, which is more climbing than walking. It’s impressive how the porters go from rock to rock with this heavy bag one their back and other burdens on the head.

Once you ar on the top you will enjoy one of the best Kilimanjaro’s view over the valley. You are at 4.200m and the lanscape seems to be fake due to the carpets of clouds around you.From here you can see Monte Meru.  Going down on the other side you are gonna cross a river which is the last water source you are gonna have from that moment on. So the water it begins really precoius and you have to use it just for eat and drink but not to wash yourself.

Barafut camp at 4.860m is where we spent our last night before the final assault. According to our schedule we should have eaten at 5.30pm but we have eaten at 7pm. It doesn’t sound a big deal but when you have to wake up at 11.30pm to start to walk at midnight it is. We didn’t have enough time to sleep.

The night have been frozen and it has been pretty hard to fall asleep.

Starting point
  • Barranco Camp (3.900m)

Duration
  • around 8h-10h

Distance
  • 9km

Arrival point
  • Barafut Camp (4.680m)

Day 5 – On the top

Laure-e-Simo-in-cima-al-Kilimanjaro

The day of the final assault. Wake up call at 11.30pm and general meeting with our guides who warn us about our clothes cause it would have been really cold. And then we left.

We felt cold since the beginning of the walk, especially because the way was steep and we were going slowly. The more we were going up the more the cold seep into our bones. The weakest part of our body (our feet and hands’s finger) seemed to freeze.

Meanwhile two friends of our group start to have the first problems due to the altitude. It was dark and the way up to the top seemed without no end. After I asked more than once how lond was it left I finally got my answer, which I preferred to do not have : we were at halfway. So I spoke with our guides and we choose to divde the group in two groups. So I could go ahead alone with my girlfriend guided by Alì.

From this moment on we start to go up straight and not following anymore all the other people doing a “serpentina” up to the mountain. Alì always took care about us but we didn’t have any problem, apart that we were really cold, so we kept going faster. It was still dark when we got Stella Point (5.739m). We were over the moon to be on the top of the mountain, but after we took a picture Alì told us that we had still few meteres left (156m).

Stella Point is the place where more than 60% of the people stop. I have to be honest that I thought about it, then I put my camera in my bag and we start to walk again. Eh voilà, we got Ururu Peak at 5.895m.a.s.l. after 6h trekking into a cold night.

It’s adviced to stay there not more tha 20 min so, after celebrating all together we started our way back. We tought that the most difficult part was over but sometimes go down it’s harder than go up. Our quadriceps were burning and the ground was slippery due to the thousands of pebbles scattered around. We stopped several time and we were so tired that we wanted to puke. At 8.30am we get Barafut camp where we could take a well-deserved rest.

We could sellp up to the early afternoon before to go down to High Camp (3.795m). It wasn’t the place where we had to stop but we did it cause our friends of our group needed it. So we didn’t make up to Mweka camp.

Starting point
  • Barafut Camp (4.680m)

Duration
  • around 6h-8h

Distance
  • 5km

Arrival point
  • Ururu Peak (5.895m)

  • Ururu Peak (5.895m)

  • around 5h-8h

  • 12km

  • High Camp (3.950m)

Day 6 – Celebration

festeggiando-il-Kilimajaro

It’s the last day and we wake up call it’s early. At 6.30am we opened our eyes and at 7am we were already walking. We were tired so the last way down was pretty hard for all the group. The signature on the “official Kilimanjaro’s book” is the consecration of our climb. Indeed all the trekkers have to sign and let a comment of their adventure.

Two of the three guides (Philip and Alì) that took us up to Ururu Peak accpeted our invitation to eat together. So we went all eating to a restaurant and cheers together.

Starting point
  • High Camp (3.950m)

Duration
  • around 3h-5h

Distance
  • 10km

Arrival point
  • Mweka Gate (1.640m)

Useful infos

You need at least 5 days to go up and one to go down to acclimatize. Each extra day will increase you chances to succeed.

You can climb Mount Kilimanjaro alle the year-round.

  • April, May and November are the most rainy months.
  • Between June and Septemere it’s the coldest period.
  • January and February are the hottest months.

I don’t recommend you to go there during the rainy period.

You have to carry a daily bag which is mostly around 5-6kg and you can give another bag of maximum 15kg to the porters. You have to find a deal with you agency or with the hotel where you sleep to let your unnecessary stuff.

You are gonna sleep in a tent, so you need a hot sleeping bag (at least -5°) and some thermic clothes.

Do not forget some warm clothes, gloves, raincoat and sunscreen.

You have to put a budget at least of 100$ per day, woithout tips. At the end you are gonna have to let the tips which is at least 100$ per person. Most of the time it can be more expensive.

I’ve choosen MACHAME ROUTE because it offered me what I was looking for and it last the amount of days I was lookinf for.

  • Rongai route, it starts from the nord side and go down from the south side of the mountain. It last normally 6 days and it’s relatively easy. But it’s one of the most expensive way and it offerend the less beautiful landscapes.
  • Marangu Route, it is well known to have the easiest path. Moreover it’s the only way where you can sleep into the huts during the trekking. It lasts normally 5 days and this is the main reason why lots of people fail, as well as thinking that easier way it means “adapt to tourists”. It’s still a really hard trek.
  • Shira Route, It starts on the west side and it cross Machame route, even if you have different alternatives. It’s more expensive tha Machame cause the starting point it’s further from the village. As Machame Route it’s for people who has a good trekking level and don’t mind to sleep more days in a tent. There is an high rate of succes.
  • Lemosho Route, as Shira route it starts from the west side and it intersects Machame route. It’s one of the longest way cause you have to spend more days in the rainforest where you can see some animals. That’s why it’s more expensive, otherwise it’s similar to Shira route.
  • Umbwe Route, it’s the most direct, steep and dicccult route, even if it doens’t require any technical skill. You will get Barranco camp the second night while if you chose any other way you are gonna get there on the third or fourth night. It’s better to have some esxperince in mountain climbing to have more chances to succed.
  • Machame Route, it’s a pretty physical way even if it has a good succes rate, around 60%. f you chose between 6 or 7 days you have good chances to get acclimatize. You have to sleep always in a tent and you have to go up to the Barranco wall, a steep climb of 156m. It’s perhaps the way with the best landscapes and it’s one of the reason why it’s also one of the most popular.

If you need more information you can check the following website www.mountkilimanjaroguide.com.

Photo gallery Kilimanjaro

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