Here is our itinerary for Your Mount Kilimanjaro journey. In case you missed the full video, you can check it out here. I hope you find some value and resources from our trip. If you have any questions please comment or drop me a message.
Day 1: ARRIVAL
We arrived into Kilimanjaro Airport and transfer to Itikoni acclimatization camp in a beautiful and remote location only one hour from the airport at 1,980m on the lower slopes of the 4,562m Mount Meru. Our campsite was within Arusha National Park which is set in the atmospheric indigenous, high forest with tremendous views into the crater of Mt Meru and from ‘sundowner knoll’ across to Kilimanjaro. The accommodation was in comfortable en-suite tents, with separate mess tents - the camp was a cozy place to start our stay in Africa. The amazingly delicious food was an additional bonus.
Day 2: ACCLIMATIZATION
Due to Kilimanjaro’s rapid ascent profile, altitude sickness is quite common. So the day before the climb was spent on valuable preparation – after a hot breakfast, in the morning we had an acclimatization hike through the lush forests, passing waterfalls and gorges, with the opportunity to spot some of the shy forest wildlife from bushbuck to the elegant Colobus Monkeys. In the afternoon, the safety team, led by Tom, gave a detailed trip briefing followed by a discussion of expectations and concerns. We conducted final kit checks to ensure that everyone has the correct equipment for the harsh conditions on the mountain.
Day 3: TRAILHEAD - FOREST CAMP
We drove approximately one and a half hours to the National Park forest edge. From there we walked about 3 hours through the undisturbed forest to our camp for the night. We were able to see Colobus monkeys and signs of elephants on our walk to camp.
Day 4: FOREST CAMP - SHIRA PLATEAU
Taking our time walking through the forest helped us spot some of the plentiful game and bird life. The day's hike took us through the Montane Forest and the Hagenia zone. We were able to spot unique environmental differences that characterize these separate equatorial zones, moving from covered forest to more open heather and scrubland. The final section of our walk brought the Kibo Massif into view ahead of us.
Day 5: SHIRA PLATEAU - MOIR CAMP
Crossing the Shira Plateau World Heritage Site, we reached the base of the great valley that drains the high ice fields on this side of the mountain. Following this deep valley upstream, we watched as the giant heath gradually shrinks from the 20-foot tall plants at the base of the valley to gnarled and twisted plants only 1 foot high near to camp. Our destination for the night was set on a flat plain below the cliffs near the head of the valley, close to the ruins of Moir Hut. The day's hike took us about 6 hours.
Day 6: MOIR CAMP - LAVA TOWER
Today we hiked approximately 4 hours to camp just under Lava Tower. This was our first introduction to the alpine zone, the only plant life being the hardiest of grasses and lichens, such as Senecio trees and jobelia plants. We also crossed the plains of long-dead rivers and pass the weird sculptures of exposed lava flows. Altitude sickness kicked in as we ascended to over 4300m. Skirting the impressively named ‘sharks tooth’, we dropped down a little before reaching our camp near the ancient free-standing lava plug called Lava Tower. As the day progressed, the spectacular Western Breach ascent route came into view.
Day 7: CONTINGENCY/ADDITIONAL ACCLIMATIzATION DAY
As most of the team was not feeling good, and altitude sickness became a norm, we decided to take an acclimatization day. The primary reason was that we were delayed by filming and logistics, and we would come to Arrow Glacier later than expected.
Day 8: LAVA TOWER - ARROW GLACIER
With the Western Breach ascent route in full view, we spent 2 hours climbing a steep section to the base of the route where we camped near Arrow Glacier.
This is an exposed camp with a real high mountain feel – it offered spectacular views across the Shira plateau and to Mount Meru in the distance.
Day 9: ARROW GLACIER - CRATER CAMP
With an early start at 3 AM and with over 700m to climb, we winded our way up the Western Breach, non-technical climbing route, about six hours to the crater rim. For many this was the hardest day of the climb, the route is exposed, and there was snow and ice on the ground as steep loose scree gives way to firmer rock on the ascent. The top third of the climb involved scrambling with minimal to moderate exposure. It was one of the most memorable classic mountaineering days in Africa and compares with many Alpine and Himalayan experiences. Those with the energy explored the inner crater and hike to the crater ash pit – complete with stinking sulfur and steam fumaroles - to peer into the depths of the mountain- before moving to our spectacular high camp on the crater floor next to the Furtwangler Glacier. Temperatures dropped to 3°F (-16°C) during the night.
Day 10: CRATER CAMP - SUMMIT - MWEKA CAMP
Summit day! After breakfast, we started our ascent to the summit at 5,895m early enough in the morning to be on the summit by 8:00 AM. Camping at such high altitude means that altitude sickness was fairly severing for most people at this point. Even though it’s only 250m of elevation from the camp to the summit, it’s up to a steep valley, so we set off before daylight. After taking in the view from Uhuru Peak, we began the long descent to Barafu Hut and on down to our camp near Mweka Hut.
Day 11: MWEKA CAMP - MWEKA GATE – HOTEL
It took about 3 and a half hours to make the 1,370m descent to the roadhead. Here we had our lunch and said goodbye to our mountain staff. Then we moved to Arusha for overnight.
Images shoot by Joseph Edwards