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You can do it - Make your own Trip
Kili is the tallest mountain in Africa, the tallest free-standing mountain in the world at 19,340 ft/5,895m tall. It is around the same elevation as Everest base camp! But at least you don't sleep at that elevation.
The minimum time to climb is 5 days, but the longer you take, the more likely you will make it since it is the altitude that stops most trekkers. The YouLi Adventure group took 8 days on the mountain along the Lemosho route, and ALL 8 made it to the top. You can climb it if you are in good trekking fitness (we recommend doing lots of trekking on weekends to train up) and can acclimate (that's up to your genetics and pace).
With 8 days the success rate is over 80% but every group varies. So be ready for some to have to turn back early. Because it is the altitude sickness that stops most people, the more time you take, the better chance your body has to acclimate. You can also take the same route in 7 days if you have a chance to acclimate somewhere else before tackling Kili.
17 Days Include:
- 1 Travel Day to arrive
- 1 Day to rest
- 8 Day Kilimanjaro climb
- 1 Day to rest
- 5 Day Safari
- 1 Travel Day to return
Check out the 8 week training program linked in the tasks to get yourself to the right level of fitness.
Afrikabisa Adventures and Safaris delivers a custom tour package for your group that includes the the climb on Mt. Kili and an optional safari a multi-day tour in the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater. You can also add on a few days in Zanzibar to unwind indepdedently. Feel free to add/adjust whatever you need to make this trip happen!
The YouLi Adventure tour included a StartSomeGood campaign to raise money for Monochrome International, an Australian charity that is supporting schools in Tanzania by selling coffee sourced from Kilimanjaro growers. We raised enough to send a young girl to school for a whole year! You can add on a fundraising component if you like or just focus on your own personal challenge.
Get a copy of this trip to do it yourself! It's easy to make an account on YouLi, invite people to join you and create transformational experiences.
DAY 0: PRE-CLIMB: Coffee Plantation Tour
This is an optional activity.
We will be taking a tour of a high elevation coffee plantation to experience Tanzania and get exposure to high altitude before the climb.
We will be picked up from the hotel at 9AM.
Includes lunch, coffee and perhaps some extra surprises. Bring cash for shop and tips.
Check out the youtube video to see a hint of the experience - but trust me, it is worth being there in person.
DAY 1: Drive to Lemosho Gate - Sleep at Big Tree Camp
Location : Big Tree Camp, Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Technically this is the first day of your climb, but really you spend most of it in a car or waiting for your porters to be counted/weighed and the rangers to be satisfied/bribed.
The trouble with the Lemosho route is that the gate you start from doesn't have rangers to check you in, so you have to go to Londorossi gate to checkin and THEN drive another hour back to the gate you'll start from.
When you finally get to walk, you will be thrilled to be moving. We got lucky because it was not raining, so the cars went straight to the trail, apparently that road can be impossible to drive on when wet, in which case you start your hike with 1km on the muddy road.
We started (along with at least 5 other groups) in the jungle and were lucky to see monkeys along the way. It was an incredible start to the climb.
We arrived just at dusk at the Big Tree Camp. It's a cozy site and the mosquitos were coming out.
DAY 2: Leave the jungle - Sleep at Shira One
Location : Shira One Camp, Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Day 2: "Shira One” (3,550 m), (6-7 hours walking)
We soon leave the forest behind and enter the moorland zone of giant heather. The trail climbs steadily with wide views to reach the rim of Shira Plateau.
The transition from rain forest to moorland is sudden. And then you see the hill that you are tackling that day. It is the first real taste of the challenges to come.
There is almost no shade, so be sure to have your sun protection on hand - even though you start hiking in the cool shade of the rain forest. It is also extremely dusty, so have your bandana ready to put over your mouth and nose. Take your allergy pills if you are sensitive to the dust.
This is the day you start to feel a bit of altitude and they make you rest for longer than you'd expect at the top of one hill to help you adjust. It's mostly flat from there.
We camp in the center of the plateau at “Shira One” (3,550 m).
On arrival in camp: lunch will be served.
You arrive in time to enjoy the sunset and moonrise. There is also an optional acclimation hike (1 hour). If you have the energy, I recommend it.
DAY 3: Cathedral - sleep at Shira Hut
Location : Shira Hut Camp, Kilimanjaro
Climb Day 3: Shira Hut (3,840 m), (4-5 hours walking)
100 m altitude gain
An easy day to help acclimatization and to explore the volcanic rock formations of Shira Plateau. We walk to the summit of Cathedral before reaching the next camp at Shira Hut (3,840 m).
The optional extra walk to Cathedral is worth it. There are few climbers and when the clouds clear, the views are stunning.
This campsite has stunning views, close to the glaciated dome and the jagged rim of Shira Plateau. The views from here of Mt. Meru floating on the clouds are simply unforgettable.
Remember that even if you feel energetic you must still conserve your energy and be smart, this is the day many of us started to experience altitude sickness.
There is a really bizarre rock field on the last stretch before the Shira Hut and before the helicopter pad. I was too tired to properly enjoy it, but it felt very Zen and I would have loved to hang there for a bit.
DAY 4: Lava Tower - sleep at Barranco
Location : Barranco camp, Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
[5-7 hours walking]
Watch the linked video to see how our porters inspired us for our hard day ahead - dance moves are worth waiting for.
A morning of gentle ascent and panoramic views, leaving the moorland plateau behind to walk on lava ridges beneath the glaciers of the Western Breach. After lunch near the Lava Tower junction (4,550 m) we descend to the bottom of the Great Barranco valley (3,900 m), sheltered by towering cliffs and with extensive views of the plains far below.
Lunch at Lava tower: snack packs provided - but you only have 20 minutes to be there, so eat fast!
On arrival at Barranco: you will have tea, popcorn, and peanuts.
I found this part of the climb is when I really felt the altitude. I was cranky and not happy when told I could not stay to rest longer.
But the descent through the strange trees lightened my mood (and the extra oxygen as we went lower).
Barranco camp was my favorite of all the camps. The view in both directions is spectacular, hearing the water rushing by on both sides down deep cliffs made me feel like I'd arrived somewhere special.
DAY 5: Climb the Barranco Wall - Sleep at Karanga
Location : Karanga Camp, Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
[4-5 hours walking]
A steep climb up the Barranco Wall leads us to an undulating trail on the south-eastern flank of Kibo, with superb vistas of the Southern Ice fields. The terrain changes to scree, with pockets of lush vegetation in sheltered hollows, and there is only a short distance to our camp at Karanga (4,000 m), the last water point on the way to the summit.
This was my favorite day, climbing the wall was a technical challenge that kept you focused on your hands and feet and watching for the nimble porters weaving past you on unsafe alternate paths. The best is being able to see the groups ahead trailing up the wall as you approach.
You'll really be feeling the altitude today.
Lunch at Karanga: Chips chicken, fruits, juice packet
Dinner: Brown rice (pilau) or white rice
Day 6: "Easy peasy" walk - "sleep" at Barafu
Location : Barafu Camp, Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
[3-5 hours walking]
Within this day we follow an easy path on compacted scree with wide views that gains altitude unrelentingly to reach the Barafu campsite (4,600 m) for lunch. There is a short acclimatization walk to the plateau at the bottom of the South-East valley (4,800 m).
The remainder of the day is spent in preparation for the final ascent before a very early night.
Watch the video for Jen's narration just before heading to bed for a nap prior to the climb.
Day 7: Summit & Descent
Location : Uhuru, Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Climb to Uhuru Peak (5,896 m) descend to Millenium campsite (3,800 m)
Up 1 km of elevation and down 2 km in one day. This is when you will feel the cold and altitude even if you have not up to this point.
(11-15 hours walking)
We will start our ascent by torchlight at about 1 a.m. so that we can be up on the Crater rim by sunrise. The steep climb over loose volcanic scree has some well-graded zig-zags and a slow but steady pace will take us to Stella Point (5,735 m), in about five or six hours.
Reaching Stella Point earns you a Silver Certificate.
We will rest there for a short time to enjoy the sunrise over Mawenzi.
Those who are still feeling strong can make the two hour round trip from here along the crater rim to Uhuru Peak (5,896 m), passing close to the spectacular and ice cliffs that still occupy most of the summit area. And if you're lucky you'll see a plane flying by on the way to JRO, wave to the latest arrivals to inspire them for the climb they are coming to do!
Reaching Uhuru Peak earns you a Gold Certificate.
The descent to Barafu is surprisingly fast (sandrun), and after some refreshment, we continue to descend to reach our final campsite (3,800 m) Millenium. NOTE: you will find this last leg, although "easy", to be quite hard to mentally tackle since all you want to do is lay down.
FOOD: Lunch at Barafu: Stew banana with potato. Dinner: spaghetti and sauce of chicken, soup, and chapati, fruits, and tea, in the night tea and biscuit.
Day 8: Descent & Back to Hotel
Location : Mweka Catholic Parish, Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
[4-6 hours walking]
We come down a different route than we ascended, so we will quickly reach our gate and waiting vehicles.
We will descend quickly - this was a killer on my knees. I recommend poles for this portion of the hike alone.
One person forgot to tighten their shoes on the descent and got blisters. Be warned.
Quick breakfast before we break camp for the last time. I had suddenly lost my appetite after the whole trip without being nauseus. But at least it wasn't dusty anymore!
A sustained descent through lovely forest with lush undergrowth takes us to the National Park gate at Mweka (1,650 m). The walk is only a couple of hours through the lush forest.
The path was muddy and slippery, adding an extra challenge, but it was mostly a smooth final day.
At Mweka gate we waited a bit for our certificates and our van to arrive and return us to the "real world".
We had lunch at the hotel - not the best - but better than having to go out. Most of us wanted to rest, shower and reconnect to our digital selves. You may want to make sure your tour operator arranges a lunch for you.
We had arranged for massages, but they ran on Africa time, so we only had time for some people to get them.
Location : Parkview Inn, Moshi, Tanzania
This is the hotel we stayed in prior to the climb and for the night we returned. It is not luxury, but it is clean and the staff are helpful. The pool is freezing, but available if the heat gets to you. On a clear day you can see Kilimanjaro. It is walking distance to a supermarket and cafes. There is a park across the street you shouldn't enter at night. There are guards at the gate and everything seemed secure.
Ask for a ground floor room on the night you return to avoid the stairs.
This hotel has a good reputation for stuff remaining safe.
You can leave bags and valuables (in a safe). Recommend having a lock for your bags.
Make sure you keep the slip of paper they give you. We left cash, computers, and iPads. All of it was safe upon our return.
Safari : 4 Nights/5 Days
Location : Serengeti, Tanzania
I recommend a minimum 4 day version. But 5 is best to get a chance to enjoy the scenery.
We drove to the Serengeti (12 hours stuck in the car), but I'd suggest flying to Serengeti and driving back. It is dusty during the dry season, so be prepared.
Serengeit - 2 nights
Ngorongoro - 2 nights
Serengeti : Hot Air Balloon
If you are only doing a 4 day safari, you'll not have a lot of time to sleep in, so remember that doing this requires a 4AM wakeup a couple of days after doing the Kili climb.
If you have never done a hot air balloon, DO IT.
So Long ... Departure
Many of us added on a few days in Zanzibar to the end of our trip. It isn't cheap and there are better tropical islands, but it was a fun excursion.
Visit the turtle aquarium if you are near Nungwi - it is low budget but you get to pet the turtles!
Moshi, Shanty Town, Kilimanjaro Region, Tanzania