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Day one – Machame Gate (1828m) – Machame camp (3020m)
Hiking time: 7 hours
Distance: Approximately 10.8 km
Habitat: Montane forest
Your day starts early with breakfast, followed by a drive from your hotel in Moshi or Arusha to the Machame Gate (1828m). The guides and porters prepare and pack the supplies and your equipment at the gate. After securing your permits at the gate office, you start your ascent through a gorgeous rainforest located on the Kilimanjaro, enjoying a picnic lunch along the way. You will arrive at the Machame Camp (3000m) where you will settle in for the night and enjoy dinner
Day two – Machame camp (3020m) – Shira camp (3847m)
Hiking time: 6 hours
Distance: Approximately 5.2 km
After breakfast you climb to the top of the forest and then at a gentler gradient through the moorland zone. After a short lunch and rest, you continue up a rocky ridge onto the Shira plateau. By now you will be able to see in an easterly direction, the Western Breach with its stunning glaciers. You are now due west of Kibo and after a short hike you will reach the Shira campsite at 3 847m. The night at this exposed camp will be colder than the previous night, with temperatures dropping to well below freezing.
Day three – Shira Camp (3847m) to Lava Tower (4642m) to Barranco camp (3984m)
Hiking time: 7 hours
Distance: Approximately 10.7 km
The route now turns east into a semi desert and rocky landscape surrounding Lava Tower, where you reach an altitude of 4642m after about a 5 hour trek. Lunch is served at a designated area. This is definitely the toughest day so far. It is normally around this point, where for the first time, some climbers will start experiencing symptoms of breathlessness, irritability and headaches. After lunch descent again by almost 658m to the Barranco camping area.
After reaching the high altitude of 4600m at Lava Tower, the true acclimatization benefit of this day becomes clear. This descent to Barranco camp takes about 2 hours and offers great opportunities to take some beautiful photographs of the Western Breach and Breach Wall. The camp is situated in a valley below the Breach and Great Barranco wall, which should provide you with a memorable sunset while you wait for your dinner to be prepared.
Day four – Barranco camp (3984m) – Barafu camp (4681m)
Hiking time: 8 hours
Distance: Approximately 9.4 km
Habitat: Alpine desert
After spending a night at the great Barranco wall, you make your way up this awesome looking obstacle, which in the end usually turns out to be easier than anticipated. Topping out just below the Heim Glacier, you will now appreciate just how beautiful Mount Kilimanjaro really is. The route then heads down through the Karanga Valley over intervening ridges and valleys, and then joins up with the Mweka route. This is the preferred route down from the summit, so remember it. Turn left up the ridge and after another hour or so, you should reach Barafu Hut.
The last water stop on the route is the Karranga Valley, as there is no water available at Barafu camp. Barafu is the Swahili word for “ice” and it is a bleak and inhospitable camping area to spend the night. Totally exposed to the ever-present winds, the tents are pitched on a narrow, stony, and dangerous ridge. Make sure that you familiarize yourself with the terrain before dark to avoid any accidents.
Day five – Summit attempt – Barafu camp (4681m)-Uhuru Peak (5895m)-Mweka (3090m)
Hiking time: 7 to 8 hours to reach Uhuru Peak, 6 to 8 hours to descend to Mweka Camp
Distance: Approximately 4.5 km ascent and 10.8 km descent
Habitat: Stone scree and ice-capped summit
At around midnight you will head in a north-westerly direction and ascend through heavy rubble towards Stella Point on the crater rim. For many climbers the 6-hour walk to Stella point is mentally and physically the most challenging on the route. At Stella Point (5739m) you will stop for a short rest and will be rewarded with the most magnificent sunrise you are ever likely to see (weather permitting). From Stella Point you will normally encounter snow all the way on your 2-hour ascent to Uhuru Peak. The time you will spend on the summit will depend on the weather conditions. Do not stop here for too long, as it will be extremely difficult to get going again due to cold and fatigue.
Enjoy your triumph and a day to remember for the rest of your life!
The walk back to Barafu from the summit, takes about 3 hours. Here you will have a well-earned but short rest and collect the rest of your gear, before heading down to Mweka hut (3090m). The route is not difficult and will take you down the rock and rubble path into the moorland and eventually into the forest. The camp is situated in the upper forest and mist or rain can be expected in the late afternoon. Dinner and washing water will be provided.
Day six – Mweka camp (3090m) – Mweka Gate (1641m)
Hiking time: 4 to 6 hours
Distance: Approximately 8.5 km
After an early breakfast, it is a short 4 to 6 hour and scenic hike back to the Park gate.
At Mweka gate you sign your name and details in a register. This is also where successful climbers receive their certificates. Those climbers who reached Stella Point (5739m) are issued with green certificates and those who reached Uhuru Peak (5895m) receive gold certificates.
From the Mweka Gate you will continue down into the Mweka village, normally a muddy 3 km (1 hour) hike where you will be picked and taken toyour hotel.