Friday, November 29, 2013

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro

September/October 2013

After we completed the Inca Trail in 2011, we set our sights on climbing to the highest point in Africa and the highest free standing mountain in the world, Mount Kilimanjaro. We chose the 7 day Rongai Route and the following is a summary of our time on the mountain.

Day 1

We started at 8 am from Moshi by meeting our guide and checking our packs. We drove for about an hour to get our permits, but were delayed due to issues for about 3 hours (there were two other groups from two separate companies and we were all delayed), so we started late at the gate at 3 pm. Almost as soon as we started it started raining (a good test of our wet weather gear!), and we arrived at camp about 6:30 pm.

3 hours walking -7 km - 1950 m to 2600 m

Day 2

Day two started better, with us leaving camp about 830 am, with a clear view of the mountain (first time since we arrived in the area), reaching camp at 3:15 pm

7 hours walking - 9 km - 2600 m to 3600 m

Day 3

Today we walk to Mount Mawenzi, which is clear this morning as we start to walk around 9 am. Its a steady climb today, but a short hike in time and km.

3 hours walking -4  km - 3600 m to 4300 m

Day 4

Today is the acclimatization day. We spend the morning after breakfast walking to the base of Mount Mawenzi at 4,500 m. Here we get great views of tomorrows summit and tomorrows camp. After lunch we rest.

Day 5

Leave around 9 am for Kibo Hut, which is at the base of the Kilimanjaro summit. It looks so close but yet so far. Mostly flat walking except for the last hour after lunch. Its very busy at Kibo as this is where those doing the Marangu route also sleep (however in huts instead of tents).

4 hours of walking - 8 km - 4300 m to 4700 m

Day 6 - Summit Day

Up at 1115 pm on day 5 to start for the summit at midnight on day 6. It was a hard slog from 4700 m to 5700 m which is the first point (Gillman's), which we make by 5:30 am. Its another 1.5 hours on an easier hike to the peak, at this point the three of us in the group were feeling unwell. Hitting the peak at 7 am made you feel better for a point in time!

Walking back to the Kibo Huts was easier but still exhausting. But that's not all.....we then have another 4 hour walk (or 9 km), almost all downhill.

12 hours - 20 km - 4700 m to 5895 m to 4700 m to 3700 m

Day 7

Our last day, a relatively easy one, just a long day. The different terrains as we headed down was interesting, reaching the rain-forest by lunch to the Marangu gate. We got back to the hotel by 4 pm.


6 hours - 20 km - 3700 m to 1700 m

Its tough but worth it, Zara Tours and the guides we had Dixon and his assistant Isaya were fantastic, and I highly recommend them.

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