This is our most popular itinerary for its beauty and the excitement of spending an overnight at 18,800 feet inside the crater on Kilimanjaro. Climbers spend 9 total days on the mountain for maximum acclimatization. The route takes us from the west across the Shira Plateau, with an ascent to the base of the Lava Tower, which you will be able to climb for magnificent 360 degree vistas. In the early morning, we approach the crater from the southwest through the Western Breach, a rock scramble made challenging by snow, loose rocks and high altitude. After the overnight camped in the soft sand of the crater, we have a sunrise climb to Uhuru Peak before descending toward the southeast and incredible views of Mawenzi, Kilimanjaro’s remnant volcanic cone.
Your trip leader will pick you up upon arrival at the Kilimanjaro International Airport and bring you to Mbahe Village, located in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro, approximately 2 hours from the airport. Accommodations are in SENE’s private cottages at Simon Mtuy’s Mbahe Village Farm.
You have the morning to rest and relax. Enjoy delicious “homebrew” coffee, grown and roasted on thefar m, and meals made with fruits and vegetables from the garden. Your trip leader will provide a climborientation and equipment check. This is also a day to take a guided tour around Mbahe Village, the Mtuy family farm, and to swim in the river and waterfall running through Simon’s land. B.L.D.
In the morning we depart on the 3 hour drive to Simba Farm in West Kilimanjaro. Simba is an old colonial farm presently owned by the Bruinsma family, good friends of Simon who have farmed in Tanzania forover 25 years. The farm produces market vegetables and barley and wheat for local beer companies. The setting offers breathtaking views of the African savanna and Mount Meru to the west. Above the farm is the lush mountain forest, where we will hike for 2 to 3 hours to a gorge where colobus monkeys can be seen. We all gather together for dinner to discuss final details and anticipate the start of the climb tomorrow. B.L.D.
After breakfast we drive to Londorossi Gate, where you will meet your other guides and mountain crew and enter the Kilimanjaro National Park. From the trailhead we walk for a few hours uphill through the thick and undisturbed montane forest to our camp for the night. Many beautiful flowers are seen en route and with luck we will observe colobus monkeys and possibly signs of elephant. In the evening you may hear the unforgettable shrieking call of the tree hyrax. B.L.D.
Today we reach the west side of the Shira Plateau in a hiking time of 6 hours. Taking our time walking through the forest allows us to observe its animal and bird life. The day’s hike takes us from the montane forest, through a transition zone, and into the heath zone, where old lava flows are visible. Your guides will point out unique environmental differences that characterize each zone. After a picnic lunch we reach the edge of the Plateau and eventually our camp that offers a dramatic view of Kilimanjaro and its permanent glaciers. B.L.D.
Today is an easy paced acclimatization day of 4 to 5 hours hiking. Camp is set higher on the Shira Plateau with more expansive views of Kilimanjaro. There is a conditioning hike in the afternoon where you can examine the clusters of giant lobelias and senecios that grow at this elevation. B.L.D.
Today is another important day for acclimatization as we hike for 5 hours to an elevation above 15,000 feet. We will pass through the alpine moorland zone where plants are extremely hardy and consist of lichens, grasses, and heather, to reach Kilimanjaro’s alpine desert zone. After an early afternoon rest we have a special 2 hour SENE adventure climb up the Lava Tower. This rock scramble will prepare you for the climbs ahead. B.L.D.
We spend a second night at Lava Tower to adjust to the high desert environment, taking day hikes to higher elevations and marveling at the stark yet magnificent vistas up and down the massif. As with every day on the mountain, the guides twice daily measure your vital signs, including oxygen saturation, to assess your acclimatization to the extreme altitude. B.L.D.
We climb higher up the mountain from the west, moving pole pole (meaning “slowly” in Kiswahili) to let our bodies rest from the exertion and to acclimate to the thin air. Total hiking time is only about 2 hours. With clear weather you will have a close-up view of the Western Breach, through which we will ascend to the crater tomorrow. B.L.D.
We will rise well before sunrise, eat a hearty breakfast, strap on SENE-provided helmets, and begin our ascent of the Western Breach by 5:00 a.m. The climb is a steep and invigorating challenge, but with several days on the mountain behind you, you will be physically and mentally sharp for the ascent. The trail has sections of scree and sections requiring scrambling over boulders. As you reach the lip of the crater your elation will be second only to that when summiting Uhuru Peak tomorrow. The wide crater floor is a magnificent arctic moonscape; our camp is set in soft sand near the indigo streaked Furtwangler Glacier.
After an early breakfast we make the final ascent to Uhuru Peak, reaching the 19,340 foot summit of Kilimanjaro by 8 a.m. At this early hour, before the clouds close in, you will have spectacular views ofAfrica in all direc tions. After a stay of 20 to 30 minutes with tea, snacks, and plenty of photos, we descend 2 to 3 hours to Barafu Camp for lunch, rest, and to take off extra layers. Continuing downhill 3 to 4 hours to the edge of the Mweka Forest, we reach the final night’s camp – 7,000 feet below the summit! Eat, share your experiences of the climb, and sleep soundly. Congratulations, you touched the Roof of Africa! B.L.D.
Our last day is another descent of 7,000 feet with 4 to 5 hours of hiking to the trailhead at Mweka Gate. The trail is steep in places and within the forest may be slippery if wet. At the gate we will temporarily say goodbye to our mountain crew and enjoy a hearty picnic lunch. The trip leaders will take you back to SENE’s Mbahe Village Farm for a hot shower and a celebration dinner with the whole team. B.L.D
Rest and relaxation day at the farm. Optional activities include light hiking, swimming, exploring the village and local school, visiting with the neighbors, drumming, tasting homemade banana beer, or shopping in Moshi Town. For those returning home you will be transferred to the Kilimanjaro International Airport to catch your flight. Those heading out on safari or to Zanzibar will continue your exciting African adventure. B.L.D
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