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How to Prepare for Your Kilimanjaro Climb

workout

It stands to reason that climbing a mountain, especially one such as Kilimanjaro  requires a certain degree of physical fitness.  This is, of course, very true – hiking is a physically taxing activity.  But it’s only part of the equation.  If you’re planning to climb Kilimanjaro, there are quite a few things you should be doing besides going to the gym.

Fitness First?

First, we’ll go over the kinds of physical activity that will help you on the mountain.  Lifting weights may help you look more impressive at the beach, but your ‘bis and tris’ aren’t going to get you to the summit.  The best possible training for hiking up a giant mountain is simply to hike up smaller ones.  If you live in an area where this is possible, go for it.  If you don’t have easy access to mountains or even decent hills, any hiking is preferable to none.  Get your body used to walking at a steady pace for hours at a time; uphill, if possible.  Don’t worry about speed – your guides are going to make you walk slowly, anyway, so just worry about maintaining a steady pace.

If you want or need indoor activities to help get your body ready, there’s one word to keep in mind – cardio.  Muscles may not get you to the top, but that doesn’t mean that working out is a bad idea.  Cardio (or aerobics) keeps you in shape by getting your body to run as efficiently as possible, which means it takes less oxygen to operate your key systems.  Think of it like getting a car ready for a long, tough trip.  It doesn’t need an overhaul, just a tune-up to improve fuel consumption, the condition of tires, belts, and wiring, and to ensure the engine runs as smooth as possible.  You’re not getting more muscles, just improving the efficiency of what’s already there.

All this being said, a word of caution: Physical fitness is great, because you’ll feel better on the mountain, but the better you feel, the harder you’ll want to push, and the harder you push the more likely you are to fail.  We’ve all heard the adage ‘slow and steady wins the race,’ and never has there been a better time to take it to heart.  Your guides will constantly say, “Pole, pole,” which translates into English as “Slow, slow.”  It may even get on your nerves at times, especially in the first few days; you’ll just know that you can go faster than the snail’s pace the guides are setting, but there is a very good reason for this.  Wait a few days, and you’ll notice the fatigue setting in in little ways:  Catching up to the group after stopping to tie your shoe leaves you out of breath.  Getting out your water bottle or even taking a sip from you Camelbak takes noticeable effort.  It won’t take long for that steady pace to make perfect sense, and you’ll be grateful for it by the time you reach the peak.

Altitude & You

altitude and oxygen levelsAltitude sickness is a real hazard for anyone making the climb up Kilimanjaro.  Contrary to what you might think, it’s not the actual height of the mountain that’s the problem.  The real issue lies in the fact that you’ll be going from a very low altitude to a very high one rather quickly, and as you progress, your body will constantly be having to adjust to different pressures and oxygen levels.  Different people respond to altitude adjustment in different ways, so unfortunately, there’s absolutely no way to tell how the altitude will affect you.

The best possible way to prepare for this is to do some hiking, as mentioned before, and camp overnight at different altitudes fairly soon before your trip to Tanzania.  Not only will it help your body adjust to altitude change, but it will also help you prepare for the trip mentally.

Otherwise, all you can do is keep an eye on your health while you climb, and if you start to feel strange, even if it’s just a small thing, let your guides know.  A good guide will be able to spot symptoms of altitude sickness and know how best to handle it, so keep them informed.  Above all, keep to that slow and steady pace.  More than exercise and good equipment, pole, pole is what will get you to the top without any major issues.

Getting in the Right Head Space

Your mental game is just as important as your physical.  This is a long, strenuous journey, even for experienced hikers and backpackers.  Don’t go in assuming you know what to expect because you’ve climbed the mountain just outside of town on every Labor Day for the past ten years.  Yes, that will help, but Kilimanjaro isn’t like that.  Kili’s not like anything, really – a lone mountain comprised of three volcanoes standing at nearly 20,000 feet is pretty unique, as is the experience of climbing it.  Keep an open mind.

You’re in this for the long haul, and you don’t want to wake up every morning wondering how you’ll possibly find the motivation to press on.  Don’t get yourself down; Kilimanjaro is a challenge, and the whole point of challenges is that they’re not easy.  Persevere, and you’ll be able to tell your friends and family all about how you climbed the tallest free-standing mountain in the world, and you’ll know that you earned those bragging rights.  If you do find yourself losing it, talk to the guides and your fellow climbers.  You’re all in it together, and the guides may even have some little tricks for you to keep your eye off the difficulties and on the prize.

Getting into Gear

Gear is important.  These things can be crucial to the climb, and while your operator should provide some things, such as tents, most of it will be on you.  The tour company will often have things they’ll rent to you, but there will likely still be options, and you should do some research into what gear is best for you. Most gear that is available for rent is not high quality, especially if you opt for a low priced operator (don’t!)

You want good boots that you’ve already broken in and know are comfortable over long periods of time.  You’ll want to wear multiple pairs of socks, so make sure your boots are big enough to accommodate them, and that they’re not too tight – tight boots cut off circulation to your feet, and that’s the last thing you need.  A pair of high-quality boots is easily one of the most important pieces of equipment website like this you can invest in.

The importance of a good night’s sleep can’t be stressed enough, and there’s no better way to ensure decent rest than with a high-quality sleeping bag.  At minimum, get a bag that’s rated for -10 Celsius/14 Fahrenheit.  Down bags are good, because they’re light and pack small, but they can be quite pricey, and can be an unnecessary drain on your budget if you don’t plan on using it again.  Whatever you get, regardless of whether your rent or buy, make sure it fits.  You never want to go on a camping trip without having at least gotten in your sleeping bag, and Kilimanjaro is no exception.

1111_camelbak_blue_lWhile it may seem like a small thing, a good water bottle or Camelbak can be an absolute life-saver.  You don’t want to be wrestling with your bottle at 15,000 ft or find out that your off-brand Camelbak knock-off has holes in it on the first day.

This is by no means a complete checklist.  The tour company should provide you with one, and you should pay it very close attention.

Routes & Guides

Before you do anything else, you should be choosing your route and tour operator.  There are several ways up the mountain and they all take different amounts of time.  This is a test of endurance, and it will take you 5-9 days to reach the top.  Any more is generally unnecessary, and any shorter is considered unsafe for the average visitor.  Of course, the longer the trip, the more it will cost, but keep in mind that this isn’t a race – the key is to finish, and you’re more likely to make it on a longer, steadier route than a quick short one.

There are tons of tour operators that go up Kili, and they range from excellent to unsafe.  As a general rule, you get what you pay for.  Mistakes on the mountain have cost people there lives, so you want reputable guides who know what they’re doing and don’t cut corners.  Remember, you’ll be spending the better part of a week with these people, and you’re spoiled for choice, so if you don’t like the feel of one operator, cross them off the list and keep looking.  Asking them about the food and equipment they provide will also give you a good idea about the quality of the service.

My personal recommendations for Kilimanjaro operators are  The African Walking Company and Ultimate Kilimanjaro for the best prices and service.

Green Beret Climbs Kilimanjaro for Charity

Nate Boyer has never been one to let tall odds deter him from tackling challenges.

NateBoyerPic

Despite encountering many rejections because he lacked a college degree, he managed to talk his way into a United Nations refugee camp in the Darfur region of Sudan so that he could volunteer there.

Without ever having played organized football, he walked on at the University of Texas as a 25-year-old freshman, worked his way into the starting lineup as a long snapper and ultimately earned a scholarship.

At age 34, after serving as a Green Beret in Afghanistan and Iraq, he pursued his dream of trying out for an NFL team, playing in several preseason games despite being too small and too slow.

Now Boyer is preparing for his next uphill battle: climbing the 19,341-foot Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa’s tallest free-standing mountain. His “Conquering Kili” mission has two objectives: raise money for Waterboys, a nonprofit group in which NFL players work to drill drinking water wells in East Africa, and heighten awareness of the struggles military veterans face adjusting to civilian life back home after their service.

Boyer plans to make the climb over five to six days in February with his friend Blake Watson, a former Marine who lost his leg in an IED explosion in Afghanistan. He is trying to raise $1 million in pledges for the climb, enough money to drill 22 wells. The number 22 holds special meaning for the veteran: it’s also the number of veterans who die from suicide each day.

How it started

Boyer had just been released by the Seattle Seahawks in August when Chris Long, a defensive end with the St. Louis Rams, asked him to join the Waterboys effort to drill wells in Tanzania, the home of Kilimanjaro. Boyer, looking for a way to continue serving the Third World, a prime motivation for his joining the military, quickly agreed to help.

As he was working out on a stair stepper, he noticed one of the options on the machine was “Kilimanjaro.” Boyer took that as a sign of fate and suddenly realized he would climb the legendary mountain while in Tanzania with the Waterboys.

Long founded Waterboys, which has a fund-raising captain on each of the 32 NFL teams, after climbing Kilimanjaro in 2013. From the mountain, he was captivated by Tanzania’s beauty, but also deeply impacted by the level of poverty and suffering he saw among its people because of a lack of clean drinking water.

Nearly half of the country’s population lack access to clean water.

“Seeing it for myself, the women and children walking miles to collect dirty water riddled with disease, I couldn’t walk away without doing something,” Long said in a Waterboys promotional video.

Waterboys’ slogan, found on t-shirts they sell on their website, is “Dig Deep.” For Boyer, the group was a natural fit. It’s not the first time he’s felt called to serve others who are less fortunate. After graduating from high school in 2004, the northern California native, inspired by Time magazine photos of people suffering from drought and war in Sudan, talked his way onto a United Nations relief trip and volunteered in a Darfur refugee camp.

“Something inside of me was telling me, ‘You have to go over there. You have to help these people somehow,” Boyer told ESPN’s Sportscenter Featured, in a piece the show called “The Long Shot.”

He is now just as eager to help 10,000 people in Tanzania obtain clean drinking water. But first, he’ll conquer Kilimanjaro with Watson, hoping to inspire his fellow veterans back home who struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

“We’re going to climb the mountain, which is going this site www.punapharmacy.com to be a great challenge, and will be amazing to us, but this is kind of a way for us to continue service,” Boyer told Army Times.

He said he thinks one of the main reasons so many veterans die from suicide is because they lack a sense of purpose.

“It’s tough when you can’t find something that you think will ever be as important as what you did in the military,” Boyer said. “More than anything, it’s showing what we’re capable of as veterans.”

A new purpose

Watson, who has been in a wheelchair for the past five years and hasn’t been upright on his leg for more than three consecutive weeks, has been training hard at Adaptive Training Foundation, a Dallas-based gym that former NFL linebacker David Vobora founded for adaptive athletes.

After suffering his injury and returning home, Watson became addicted to opium pain medication during rehab. Training for kili has given him a new sense of purpose.

“Some of my guys didn’t win their battle with PTSD when they got back,” Watson told freelance journalist Dani Wexelman, “so I owe all those guys who stuck with me to press on.”

 

 

Where is Kilimanjaro?

Kilimanjaro1Mount Kilimanjaro is located in Tanzania, a country in East Africa. The mountain is located in the north eastern part of Tanzania, near the Kenyan border. It is located very close to the Equator.

Tanzania itself borders eight countries: Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique.

Tanzania is one of the safest countries in Africa, with a good infrastructure for tourism. It is also one of the largest countries in Africa (about twice the size of California). The country was formed as a union between the mainland (Tanganyika) and the Zanzibar Isles. The population is 39 million. Over 120 languages are spoken here! Swahili is the official language.

map-africaMore than 1,000,000 people visit Tanzania every year. Most tourists go on safaris or climb Kilimanjaro. Tanzania is the only country in the world that has more than 25% of purchasesildenafil.com its land dedicated to National Parks and conservation areas. Tanzania has more than 4 million wild animals.

The climate in Tanzania is tropical, for the most part. On the coast, it is hot and humid. There are two rainy seasons.

 

Do I Really Need All that Gear to Climb Kilimanjaro?

Outdoor Clothing 1
The gear lists for climbing Kilimanjaro are quite extensive (and expensive). People often wonder if one really needs all of that to climb Kilimanjaro. Well, the answer is yes and no.

YES – BRING EVERYTHING ON THE GEAR LIST.

Why Yes? Because Mount Kilimanjaro is a really tall mountain. The very top of the mountain falls under the “Extreme Altitude” category and is in the Arctic ecosystem. So you have to be ready for very, very cold conditions, including high winds, snow, hail, sleet, and rain. Under these kinds of weather, if you don’t stay dry and warm, you can die of hypothermia.

To combat this, you need waterproof items – jacket, pants, gloves, boots. You also need warm items – fleece, down, and multiple layers.  Typical temperatures are like 0 to 20F. But, it could be -20F! And you could be hiking for maybe eight hours. Trust me, it can be so cold that you actually do not want to rest because it is more miserable to sit down than to keep climbing (although that is miserable too). You need to have the right clothing in case you run into the worst conditions.

NO – THE GEAR LISTS ARE OVERKILL.

Another side of me says, no you don’t need all that stuff. Why? Look at what the guides and porters wear. Guides are pretty well equipped with the staple items. They have waterproof tops and adequate layers of warm clothing. But they don’t usually have waterproof shoes/boots and some don’t even carry gloves. I suspect that many don’t have waterproof pants. The porters have less. They try to make due with carrying as little of their own things as possible given that they carry the load for the team as well. Granted, the porters do not go to the summit so they do not regularly experience the worst weather that Kilimanjaro has to offer. The bottom line is, if the crews aren’t fully equipped, it also follows that we don’t absolutely need everything that most kit lists bado cams say we do (though its probably a good idea).

Secondly, because Kilimanjaro is a supported climb, if you run into trouble the staff will help you. It sounds bad, but it is true. If you are cold, a guide would give you their clothing – whether it be their gloves, hat, gaiters, jacket, etc. They feel it is their responsibility to get you to the top even if they have to sacrifice their comfort to do so. And if it ever got really bad, you can just descend quickly, in a day. So the price to pay for not having the right clothing is a missed summit, but you won’t come back with missing fingers or toes, or left to freeze on the mountain.

WHAT TO DO – THE BOTTOM LINE

Let’s be practical here.

You can certainly make due by having less numbers of something. For example, on my trips I wear one pair of underwear, one pair of pants, and one tee shirt for the ENTIRE time. I take two pairs of socks just in case one gets wet or if I have to double up. I don’t take gaiters, trekking poles, wet wipes or snacks. I am able to do this because I have enough experience on mountains to know what I can get away with. If you don’t, it’s best to just stick with the list.

You paid a lot of money to climb Kilimanjaro so you should do it right. Assemble the right kit. If you don’t want to buy it, fine. You can borrow from friends, or rent from the local shops in Arusha or Moshi, or from your operator if they stock anything (usually they have sleeping bags, sleeping pads and warm puffy coats). It’s better to have it and not need it, then need it and not have it.

 

Climbers Conquer Kilimanjaro in Their Fight Against Cancer

It was 18 years ago that Brian Berryman saw his mother, Mary Frances Berryman, die from multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer.

That traumatic life experience helped drive him to become an oncologist at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, Texas.

“She died before a lot of newer therapies were available,” Berryman told NBCDFW.com. “So that fuels me both personally and professionally.”

Berryman’s efforts to help his patients fight the cruel disease recently motivated him to tackle another feat: Reaching the peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro, the African continent’s tallest free-standing mountain at 19,341 feet.

Berryman didn’t do it alone. He and 14 others, a group that includes four patients, formed 2016 Mt. Kilimanjaro Trek – Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma. Together they raised $235,333 for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, for research and awareness.

Multiple myeloma is the second-most common type of blood cancer and has one of the lowest five-year survival rates of all cancers, Berryman recently wrote on the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation’s website.

Although there isn’t yet a cure, Berryman credited the MMRF with the creation of seven new treatments that have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The drugs have tripled the lifespan of multiple myeloma patients, Berryman said.

The MMRF is funding 21 more treatments in various phases of development, giving thousands of patients new hope, Berryman said.

“We couldn’t save my momma’s life (in 1997) but we are saving lives every day,” Berryman wrote, “and giving that precious gift of life and hope.”

The climbers called themselves “Team Living Proof” because they are living proof that the MMRF and its partners are “curing cancer now.” The team included Berryman’s friend and patient, Dr. Charles Wakefield, a 12-year multiple myeloma survivor.

“We’d like to turn this into a manageable, curable disease that you can live with,” Wakefield told NBCDFW.com. “It’s an achievement for me, it’s an achievement to be part of a team, but the bigger picture is we’re doing a lot for multiple myeloma.”

They took nine days to ascend Uhuru Peak, a relatively fast time in light of some of their health conditions. They endured a combined 1.5 inches of rain with a mean temperature of 78 degrees Fahrenheit and average winds of 8 mph.

Berryman told NBCDFW.com that the group members did plenty of cardio exercise, running, biking and hiking to prepare for the climb. Improving their endurance was critical to prepare for the decreasing air pressure, which made it harder to breathe in oxygen, as they climbed higher in altitude. To prevent altitude sickness, it was also important to ascend slowly, giving their bodies time to adjust to the changing air pressure.

Here’s a look at the men and women who made up Team Living Proof, with some excerpts of their remarks taken from their website:

Stan Wagner, 61, Brooklyn, NY, patient: Diagnosed in the spring of 2012, he’s been in remission for nearly two years. He said cancer has pushed him to do things he’d never thought of doing, including climbing one of the world’s tallest mountains. “Cancer sucks,” Wagner wrote on the team’s website, “but it’s definitely not going to stop me.”

Bob Dickey, 48, Shell Beach, Calif., patient: Dickey had high praise for the MMRF, which spends 90 percent of its revenue directly on research. “This is not just some feel good organization that sends out fliers to cancer awareness,” Dickey wrote. “I have, and am, personally taking drugs which they funded the research on. And now… it’s payback time.”

Jeff Goad, 55, Chicago, patient: Goad said he was diagnosed five years ago after suffering what he thought was a back injury while playing softball. He had been in remission until a month ago when he developed a lesion in his hip. His wife, Ramona, made the climb with him. “This climb of Kilimanjaro with my wife and the rest of this terrific team is truly climbing for my life,” he wrote, “and for the lives of every other MM patient.”

Jamie Slater, 40, Brooklyn, NY, founder of Team Living Proof: Slater is a co-worker of Wagner and has lost many friends and loved ones to various forms of cancer. She had long wanted to climb Kilimanjaro and started learning from Wagner about multiple myeloma. Wagner put her in touch with the foundation, and she helped found the team. “I wanted to climb Mount Kilimanjaro but didn’t want to do it for me,” she wrote, “I wanted to do it for a reason much bigger than me.”

Alicia O’Neill, 56, Santa Barbara, Calif. and Stamford, Conn.: O’Neill works in communications for the foundation. She has run 10 marathons, several of them alongside MM patients, and she said she had dreamed of climbing Kilimanjaro for 30 years. “I can’t imagine anything more amazing than taking on this incredible feat with others who are benefitting from the work that we are doing at the MMRF,” she wrote.

Marty Murphy, 47, Raleigh, N.C.: Murphy is director for patient education of CURE Media Group, whose CURE magazine has 1 million readers and educates people about all types of cancer. “These cancer patients have overcome financial, emotional and physical challenges during their cancer journeys,” he wrote, “and now, with the support of their family and friends, are battling yet another obstacle by taking on this feat.”

Colleen Smithson, 27, St. Louis: Smithson’s mother died from MM in October 2014. After going into remission for a year, the cancer re-emerged in her lungs, ultimately shutting them down. Smithson said she wanted to take part in the climb to raise money for the MMRF “so that other patients might have the opportunity my mom didn’t have: a cure.”

Julie Ryan, 44, Camas, Wash.: Ryan’s mother was diagnosed with MM in 2002 but is doing well. “Keeping up the progress of fighting this disease is my sole motivation for this climb,” Ryan wrote. Joining her on the climb was her twin sister, Jana.

Jana Cannon, 44, Camarillo, Calif.: Cannon has run numerous 5K’s, 10K’s and half-marathons as part of the MMRF power team, but she never dreamed she would be asked to climb Kilimanjaro for the foundation, she wrote. Cannon said she was “quite nervous” about the climb but “to do this for such a great cause, and to do it with my twin sister, Julie, will truly be an experience of a lifetime.”

Mark “Splinter” Harder, 50, Chicago: Harder was the trip’s documentarian, responsible for filming and capturing images of the climb. He wrote that he has had many loved ones suffer different types of cancer, including his mother, sister, grandparents and aunts. He said this project has taught him that there is room in today’s world, with advances in drugs and treatment, for the term, cancer “survivor.” “People get diagnosed, they get treated and they are free to live life having survived that bout with cancer,” Harder wrote.

Jeff Levine, 37, Rockville Centre, NY: Although he had no direct connection to anyone with MM, Levine said he has long admired cancer survivors and those who work to develop new treatments and cures. He said he was excited to be climbing his first mountain and making his first trip to Africa.

Ryan Cohlhepp, 39, Westborough, Mass.: As vice president of U.S. oncology marketing at Takeda, a pharmaceutical maker that focuses on developing new MM drugs, Cohlhepp said he was eager to join the project. “Taking one step at a time, I am convinced that we are getting closer to the summit, and that means a lot to me as a person who has worked in myeloma for several years.”

Ramona Biliunas, 50, Chicago: The wife of Jeff Goad, Biliunas said the couple have always shared a love of the outdoors. Last year they hiked the Grand Canyon in intense heat. “We will tackle Mt. Kilimanjaro with the same thoughtful planning and physical preparation as we both fulfill lifelong dreams of that very special place,” she wrote. “See you at the top!”

Video:

7 Day Machame Route

MachameRouteMachame is known as the most scenic route to the summit. With alternating paths to the summit and back, along with a circumvention near the peak, you get to see different sides of the mountain including high alpine deserts, ice fields, and of course the peak.

The Machame route is also known as the “Whiskey Route” because it is more challenging than the tourist route, Marangu, which is often called the “Coca-Cola Route.”

Machame begins in the magnificent rainforest and climbs to a ridge leading through moorland to the Shira Plateau. It offers great scenery beneath the Southern Icefields before summiting from Barafu Camp.

To climb Kilimanjaro on Machame with my personally recommended operators, go here (African Walking Company) or here (Ultimate Kilimanjaro).

DAY 1: MACHAME GATE TO MACHAME CAMP

Hiking Time: 6-7 hrs
Total Distance: 18km
Starting Altitude: 1490m
Final Altitude: 2980m
Habitat: Montane (rain) Forest

After breakfast, we drive approximately 1 hour drive to the village of Machame. Depending on the condition of the road, it may be possible to drive 3km further from the village to the Machame gate of the Mt. Kilimanjaro National Park (1815m). After registering at the gate office, you start your ascent and enter the lush rain forest. Here, you will listen to the sounds of many exotic birds, and may evensee monkeys such as the black & white colobus – these monkeys are black with a long cape’ of white hair and a flowing white tail.

Most of today’s day is spent in the gorgeous and fascinating forested slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro, most of which is considered to be rainforest zone. It is very possible that we will see some rain today, or that at least the trail will be moist and soggy, and possibly muddy.

We cover a lot of distance today, though the gradient is gradual. We climb the lower slopes of the mountain, ending at the Machame Campsite, just beyond the rain forest and within the fascinating heath-land.

DAY 2: MACHAME CAMP TO SHIRA 2 CAMP

Hiking Time: 6-7 hrs
Total Distance: 9km
Starting Altitude: 2980m
Final Altitude: 3840m
Habitat: Moorland

Rise early and climb steeply through the heath land of savannah, and trees such as Giant Heather and Erica. You will reach a gentler ascent through the lower alpine moorland, which is notable for beautiful wild alpine flowers and the unique giant lobelia and giant groundsel (senecio kilimanjari) plants. If its a clear day, you will have direct views of Kibo, the peak and ultimate goal of your adventure.

After a short lunch and rest, traverse across the Shira plateau west towards a river gorge, and finally you will reach the Shira campsite. The night at this exposed camp will even be colder than the previous night, with temperatures dropping to well below freezing.

DAY 3: SHIRA 2 CAMP TO BARRANCO CAMP

Hiking Time: 7-8 hrs
Total Distance: 15km
Starting Altitude: 3840m
Final Altitude: 3950m (via 4630m)
Habitat: Montane Semi-Desert

Today we turn east and continue to climb pole pole (slowly, slowly) through increasingly rocky and barren terrain. We have lunch and ascend the rocky scree path to the Lava Tower (4630m). The trek now starts to become more difficult, as the trail steepens, and most hikers start to feel the affects of the altitude, such as weakness and lack of breathe.

From the Lava Tower, we descend steeply for 2 hours down more than 600m into the Great Barranco Valley. This descent affords fantastic views and some great photo opportunities of the Western Breach and Breach Wall. You will also feel here the clear benefits of this acclimatization day as we lose altitude down to the camp.

Barranco Camp is set on a col (flat area) enclosed on three sides by the Breach Walls, and the Kibo massif itself. Hanging glaciers glint in the sunshine above, amidst the eerie landscape of plants such as the giant groundsels, and the uniquely endemic Giant Lobelia. This is definitely the toughest day so far, but incredibly beautiful.

DAY 4: BARRANCO CAMP TO KARANGA CAMP

Hiking Time: 4-5 hrs
Total Distance: 7km
Starting Altitude: 3950m
Final Altitude: 3990m
Habitat: Alpine Desert

Today we tackle the Great Barranco Wall, an imposing face above your camp. A steady climb up the eastern wall takes us just below the Heim Glacier, where we may have some awesome views of Kilimanjaro. Our trail continues down into the Karanga Valley.

DAY 5: KARANGA TO BARAFU CAMP

Hiking Time: 4-5 hrs
Total Distance: 5km
Starting Altitude: 3990m
Final Altitude: 4550m
Habitat: Alpine Desert

We follow the trail climbing through an empty and dry landscape up to Barafu Camp. The two peaks Kibo and Mawenzi can been seen from our camp. Barafu is the Swahili word for “ice”, and the camping area is on a ridge in an narrow and exposed flat area. Here there are ever-present gale winds that come off the mountain peaks.

In preparation for your final ascent the same night, you will familiarize yourself with the terrain before dark, and prepare your equipment and thermal clothing for the summit attempt. Sleep may be difficult, but you will lie down after dinner to rest for the 1345m final ascent.

DAY 6: BARAFU CAMP TO SUMMIT TO MWEKA CAMP

Hiking Time: 7 hrs to summit, 7-8hrs descent
Total Distance: 7km to summit, 23km descent
Starting Altitude: 4550m
Summit Altitude: 5895m Uhuru Peak
Final Altitude: 3100m
Habitat: Stone Scree, ice capped summit, Alpine desert

Today you will be woken at approximately in time to leave camp by around 12am, and after a warm drink and a light snack, you will begin the most difficult though most rewarding day of the trek your hike up to the top of Africa. Climbing through the dark, you will ascend northwest on rough scree passing between the Rebmann and Tarzel glaciers. After approximately 6 hours of slow but strenuous hiking, you will reach the rim of the main crater, Stella Point, at 5685m.

It is here where you will be rewarded with a breath-taking sunrise (weather permitting), which we enjoy while taking a short rest. From Stella Point the trail is normally snow-covered, and every step of the 3 hour ascent to Uhuru peak is challenging. At 5895m, Uhuru, which means freedom in Swahili, is the highest point in Africa. Take a few minutes to appreciate your accomplishment, as this is day to remember for the rest of your life! 

The time you will spend on the summit will depend on the weather conditions; the temperatures range from just below freezing at midnight, to between -12 C to -23 C just before dawn. We start back down the same trail, and descend back to Barafu camp. Here you will have a well earned but short rest and collect the rest of your gear. We then head down the rock and scree path into the moorland zone, reaching the forest, and eventually arriving at Mweka hut in the late afternoon.

Today is the longest, and the most mentally and physically challenging of the trek. But a day that will stay with you forever, as you conquered the heights of Kilimanjaro.

DAY 7: MWEKA CAMP TO MWEKA GATE TO MOSHI

Hiking Time: 4-5 hrs
Total Distance: 12km
Starting Altitude: 3100m
Final Altitude: 1980m
Habitat: Montane Rain Forest

At a much lower altitude than the last few mornings, today you will wake up full of oxygen and ready to descend the short hike to the Mweka Gate. Enjoy the forest on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro, and upon arrival at the Mweka gate, successful hikers will receive their summit certificates (gold for Uhuru Peale, Green for Stella point).

From the Mweka Gate you will continue down into the Mweka village for lunch, normally a muddy 1 hour hike. Upon arrival to Moshi in the afternoon, relax, or have that much-deserved shower and congratulatory beverage.