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Ever since tourism expanded on Kilimanjaro the Marangu Route has been the most popular trail, and with a path that takes in such glorious features as the deep rich forest of the south-eastern slopes, the flower-filled Maundi Crater and the wind-blown high-altitude desert of the Saddle, it’s not surprising. The Marangu Trail is also the only trail where you sleep in huts rather than under canvas. Do not, however, be misled into thinking this route is easy – indeed, many people fail to reach the summit on this route because they have failed to acclimatize properly. For this reason, we have included a ‘rest’ day in our itinerary, where we spend two nights at Horombo Huts in order to increase our chances of acclimatizing properly – and making it to the summit safely!
Note that the following itinerary is for six days. Climbers will take a ‘rest day’ (or, more accurately, an ‘acclimatization day’) on day 3. This point needs emphasizing: a five-day trek is not recommended as it does not give your body sufficient time to acclimatize. This means that you are less likely to reach the summit – and are endangering your health too. For this reason we do not arrange five-day treks.
Distance: 8.3km (8.75km if taking the Nature Trail Loop):
Altitude Gained: 818m
Our trek begins at Marangu Gate (1905m), the home of the park authorities and the busiest gate on the mountain. We put particular emphasis on being as early as possible at the gates, for many reasons. For one thing, it means we don’t waste time queuing up to register but can be processed immediately – which means we can get trekking sooner! This first day takes us deep into the jungle bearding Kilimanjaro’s lower slopes. Being one of the first on the trail means we have the path ‘to ourselves’, enabling us to appreciate the mountain more and increase our chance of spotting wildlife on this first day, before they are frightened off by the noise of other groups. So we’ll be keeping an eye out for the beautiful colobus monkeys as well as blue monkeys, as well as some of the flowers for which Kilimanjaro is famed, and in which the Marangu Route excels, such as the vivid red Impatiens kilimanjarii and Gladiolus Wastonides.
Having taken lunch in a small clearing known as Kisamboni, we continue up the slopes past small waterfalls alongside a babbling stream, to the Mandara Huts, our accommodation for the first night. Another advantage of setting off early on this first day is that you can choose the best spots in the dormitory before the other trekkers arrive, and you can be sitting enjoying the popcorn served by your crew whilst other trekkers are still struggling up the slopes. Those with the energy can join me for a brief stroll to the Maundi Crater, home to some of the lesser-known flowers on Kilimanjaro, and a place that offers stunning views east towards Mombasa and the Indian Ocean. Or, alternatively, you can simply sit, relax and reflect on the first day while your crew, as they will on every day of the trek, cook your evening meal.
Altitude Gained: 998m
Today is an important one in your Kilimanjaro trek: a day when you not only climb above the treeline and leave the forest behind, but also catch your first sight of both the Mawenzi summit, Kilimanjaro’s second summit, but also its snow-covered bigger brother, Kibo – your ultimate destination! Today is also the day that we start to really pace ourselves, taking each step slowly, to help us acclimatize to the increasingly rarified air. We are now in the heath and moorland zone, Kilimanjaro’s second vegetation zone, with such unusual plants as the giant groundsel and Lobelia deckenii decorating the path. Our destination on this second day is the Horombo Huts (3721m), a chilly but welcoming set of A-Frame huts offering glimpses of Kibo to the west. Popcorn and a hot drink will be served to you upon arrival, followed by dinner in the evening.
The third day will be a ‘rest day’ – though that doesn’t mean we actually rest! Instead, today’s walk takes us up the southern slopes of Mawenzi, to get some of the best views of Kibo to be had anywhere, as well as a gorgeous panorama overlooking the wild and inhospitable desert of the Saddle. We also visit places such as the strange Zebra Rocks – rocks streaked over the centuries by water until they resemble the flanks of a zebra. This day is not just about sightseeing, however, for the rest day serves a more important purpose than that: helping your body to acclimatize fully, to make the rest of the trek easier – and hopefully help you to reach the summit too!
Distance: Approximately 9.6 km
Altitude Gained: 993m
After breakfast you now continue your ascent into the Alpine desert habitat. From Horombo there are two trails to the “Saddle” (which refers to the area located between the peaks of Mawenzi and Kibo). There is an upper route (right hand fork) and lower route (left hand fork) to choose from. The upper route (right hand fork) should be very familiar, as you will have climbed most of it the previous day (on your acclimatisation hike) towards Mawenzi hut. This section is very stony and eroded.
The recommended lower route (left hand fork) is much easier and nearly an hour shorter, and it also passes the last watering point at 4130m. You will have to fill your water bottles with all the water you will need until your return to Horombo hut in two night’s time (unless you are willing to buy Mineral water at Kibo hut). Once again remember to slow down and drink enough water!
Situated in the barren Alpine desert is Kibo hut, a stone build block house which has bunk beds for 60 climbers, but no streams with water nearby. It is however possible to buy mineral water and soft drinks at the camp office. There are platform toilets behind the hut.
The summit is now a further 1195m up and you will make your final ascent the same night. Prepare your equipment, ski-stick and thermal clothing for your summit bid. This should include the replacement of your headlamp and camera batteries and make sure you have a spare set available as well. To prevent freezing it will be wise to carry your water in a thermal flask. Go to bed at round about 19h00 and try to get as much rest and sleep as possible.
Distance: 6.25km to Uhuru Peak; plus 15.75km back to Horombo Huts (16.55km for Mawenzi Alternative)
Altitude Gained/Lost: 1181m to Uhuru Peak, then 2174m descent from Uhuru to Horombo Huts
Rising at around midnight, we begin our slow march up to Gilman’s Point (5719m) on the edge of the Kibo crater, past such features as Hans Meyer Cave (5259m). It’s a steep, slow, cold march and a test of your endurance – this is where you’ll earn your Kilimanjaro certificate. Nevertheless, providing you have avoided altitude sickness and have acclimatized well, there is no reason why you shouldn’t make it up to Gillman’s. This we reach, all being well, at around 5am, though it can be much later depending on both your condition and the conditions on the mountain.
Our work is not yet over, however, for it’s around another hour and a half to Uhuru Peak. The gradient on this last section, especially by the standards of this night, is relatively flat – but at this altitude, every step can be exhausting. It is also a glorious walk, however, with glaciers and snowfields on one side and with views over the Kibo Crater on the other. At the end of the trail lies our ultimate destination, Uhuru Peak, the highest point in Africa! Here, if we’re on time, we can watch the sun rise over the African continent, take photos – and take a breather too!
After a rest at the top, we continue back down to Kibo Huts – a walk that is considerably quicker than it was on the way up! At Kibo we take breakfast and relax for an hour or so, before continuing our march down the mountain, through the Saddle, heath and moorland zones before stopping, finally, at the Horombo Huts once more. We should arrive there at about 4pm – and you have been walking for around 16 hours, less breaks! Exhausting but, if you made it to the top, you’ll think it was worth it!
Distance: 20km (20.75km on the Nature Trail)
Altitude Gained/Lost: 1816m
And so we come to the last day of our trek, as we march back through the forest to Marangu Gate, smiling smugly at all those coming up the slope the other way. Stopping at the Mandara Huts for lunch, we continue heading down until we once more reach Marangu Gate, where those who conquered the mountain – or at least made it to Gillman’s Point – collect their certificates. A jeep will be waiting to take everyone back to their hotel – and the land of cold beers and warm showers. Your adventure of a lifetime is at an end!
— Your trek is at an end. —-
EXPERIENCED MOUNTAIN GUIDES
We hire only professional mountain guides certified as “Wilderness First Responder” and “Wilderness First Aid” with 7+ years of successful climbing experience!
MODERN OUTFIT AND EQUIPMENT
We use only modern outdoor outfit from North Face, Black Diamond and Marmot. These brands were successfully tested under stern Himalayan and Arctic conditions.
For extra safety, we equip our groups with oxygen systems, satellite phones, radio stations and medical kits.
CUSTOMIZED MEAL PLANS
Individual diet for every climber allows us to ensure the highest quality standards
NO AGENTS INVOLVED
Our prices are free from commissions and markups. Our team is located in the heart of Tanzania and we personally control everything here.
MORE THAN 200 SUCCESSFULLY EXPEDITIONS ANNUALLY!
In 2017, 1151 climbers from around the World climbed the highest point of Africa with us!
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