Front Range Mountain Guides of Colorado
Kilimanjaro : 19,340 ' and 3 Day Safari
Africa's highest peak, one of the "seven summits" in beautiful Tanzania
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Kilimanjaro. The name is recognized around the world and is synonymous with the lure of Africa and adventure. The Highest mountain on the African continent, one of the seven summits, and the world's largest single mountain land mass.
Our expeditions to Kilimanjaro are carefully planned down to the last detail to ensure you have the most comfortable experience possible while climbing the flanks of this giant.
Our journey begins near the town of Moshi where we meet your plane upon its arrival into the Kilimanjaro airport located less than one hour from the starting point of this trekking adventure. Your first night you will be staying in the comfort of the quiet and somewhat secluded Impala Hotel complete with a swimming pool and excellent dining, outside of the small but busy town of Moshi, giving you a well deserved night of rest from your long journey to Tanzania. The Impala is one of the top hotels in this area.
Our trek begins with guides and porters loading our Land Rovers with gear, food, cooking supplies, sleeping and dining tents. We also bring along a portable toilet which comes in handy at the campsites along the way, as the outhouses on Kili are in fair condition at best much of the time. Our portable restrooms have a privacy tent with a portable toilet set up inside that is always clean and reserved for just our group’s use. We choose to climb the Machame route for several reasons. First, it's one of the two most scenic routes on the mountain with a diversity of vegetation and scenery that is remarkable. Second, it gives us the opportunity to better acclimate by gaining elevation more gradually and thus a less strenuous period of acclimatization. We spend six days and five nights climbing this route with an extra night to rest after the summit day before descending on the seventh day to the park gate after the climb. Each day ranges in length from four to six hours of hiking to the next camp.
All along the way the scenery changes and we get ever more spectacular views of the mountain. As we arrive in each camp, our porters have already set up our tents, and prepared clean, hot wash water to freshen up with before our dinner which is always a well portioned and different delight each evening. Our cook has attended a special mountain cooking school so he knows how to cook under these conditions.
Our first day on the trail we enter a beautiful, lush world of ferns, vines, and vegetation that is quite interesting, along with calls from birds that you probably haven’t heard before. Monkeys are occasionally visible in the upper canopy, and the eerie but interesting views of trees covered in “old man’s beard“ are showing up as we gain elevation an make our way to the Machame camp for the evening in about 6 hour’s time.
The second day’s scenery gradually changes from the moorlands to the subalpine and a more open setting with awesome views of the Shira mountains in all their splendor and of Kilimanjaro’s southwest flank. The sun is abundant here, and wearing a wide brimmed hat with plenty of sunscreen is the order of the day. Our trek takes about 5-6 hours to reach the Shira camp at 12,598 feet.
The third day we pass by the famous Lava Tower as we head towards the Barranco camp with spectacular views of Kili’s south side framed in the clouds and of the Barranco Wall with its' steep, winding trail leading up higher and higher out of the Barranco Valley. Our trek on this day climbs to a little over 14,000 feet then descends again back to about the elevation we slept at the previous night, about 13,000 feet. A truly special place.
The next morning, our fourth day on the mountain, we break camp and begin our ascent of the Barranco Wall. The scenery is nothing short of spectacular as we gaze down onto waterfalls and a human snake of climbers and porters making their way up the steepening path below us. After several more hours we finally reach the Karanga Valley, where we spend our fourth night on the mountain. We choose to camp in this valley for a night to give ourselves one more extra day to properly acclimate and to feel more rested when we reach the Barafu camp which is our high camp and can be reached in only about 3 ½ hours form the Karanga Valley. Without this camp, the journey between Barranco and Barafu would be over eight hours and gain about two thousand feet more in elevation. Instead, we are more rested and better acclimated when we reach Barafu camp’s higher elevation the following day. The Barafu camp is a colder and starker environment as it is located at just over 15,000 feet.
From here at about 12:30am. we begin our seven hour climb to the roof of Africa. Our climb through the night is marked with beautiful views of the stars, planets and galaxies the entire way. By morning light, we are approaching Stella Point, the second highest point on the crater rim, where the temperatures drop significantly, and the arctic air is bone chillingly harsh. Another two hours or so we finally reach the highest point, Uhuru peak at 5895 meters. After mutual congratulations and photo time, we descend to the Barafu camp and rest for an hour, have some hot drinks and soup, and descend to the Mewka Camp for the evening. At this point a good long rest and plenty of sleep are very welcome and allow us to descend in comfort the next morning after a good night's sleep at this lower elevation.
On the seventh day, we walk out to the Mweka gate, where our transportation is waiting to take us back to the luxury of the Impala hotel for hot showers, a great dinner and a comfortable bed. There’s also a swimming pool at the hotel. If you are in the mood the next day, you can have a dip. We also know of local people who will give you a great one or two hour massage for a fraction of the cost you would pay in the states. It’s something to consider after almost fifty miles of walking and climbing in the past week.
After a second night of rest at the hotel you have the option of going on either a 3 or 5 day safari which will certainly be a memorable highlight of your time in Africa. We travel to Ngorogoro crater conservation area and Lake Manyara to see all the African animals you think of, up close, often within feet of our vehicles, including lions (simbas in Swahili), elephants(tembas) rhinos, cheetahs, leopards, hippos, giraffes, zebra, wildebeast, baboons, monkeys, warthogs, hyenas, and a host of bird life too numerous to mention here. We stay in “tented camps” one or two nights which are very large tents with two to three beds each, a bathroom with a shower, hot and cold running water, along with a sink. These “tents” are built on large platforms off the ground with a thatch roof covering them, and are really more like a cottage than a tent, and are extremely comfortable. They are sought after by the “more informed” safari goers.
Next we head for Ngorogoro, a huge ancient extinct volcanic crater teaming with wildlife. Because of the lake and freshwater springs, animals living
here do not have to migrate during dry seasons. We cap off our safari with a visit to one of the traditional Maasi villages
to meet and interact with a local, traditional Maasi family, where you can meet men who like Mr. Barak, one of our friends who has 18 wives!
We are his guests and have full access to homes which are traditionally made from sticks, thatch and cow dung. On one of our visits this past
year, we were treated to meeting one of his wives and she honored us with allowing us see her one month old child. Another hour drive from the
Massi village brings us back to Arusha and we stop by the famed “Heritage Gallery” where former presidents and heads of state have visited to
browse and perhaps purchase carvings, paintings, or the precious tanzanite stone to bring home. That evening we have a final dinner together and
say our goodbyes before leaving a very special place in the world. One you'll never forget.
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