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Mount Kilimanjaro, Climbing Mt Kilimanjaro
|Lemosho Glades Mt. Kilimanjaro Hiking|
|Marangu Route Trek up Mt Kilimanjaro|
|Machame Climb on Mount Kilimanjaro|
|Umbwe Hike on Mt Kilimanjaro|
|Shira Route Climb on Mt Kilimanjaro|
Snows of the Mighty Kilimanjaro
Once dismissed in the Western world as an impossible myth, the world's highest free standing, snow-covered equatorial mountain has now been charted and climbed, and stories of her resident man-eating spirits are relegated to the realms of folklore. But Mount Kilimanjaro continues to preserve a mysticism that defies all recent knowledge of her slopes. Images of the towering snow-covered cone rising majestically from fertile green foothills have become a powerful motif of Tanzania's extraordinary extremes. Few could deny a very distinct sense of awe when the cloud clears to reveal a glimpse of the towering peaks, shining bright in the equatorial sun.
Kilimanjaro represents a powerful life force for the local Chagga people and all those who have made their lives around this mountain, providing rich volcanic soils for agriculture and an endless source of pure spring waters. One of the most amazing aspects of the mountain in the present day is the accessibility of its peak to climbers with no mountain climbing equipment or real previous experience of scaling such heights. Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in the world that regular tourists can climb, although it remains a considerable feat of human endurance! The breathable oxygen at the top is less than half the amount than is common at sea level, and climbers cover at least eighty kilometres on nothing but their own two feet over the five days it takes to reach the top and return.
The number of climbers has escalated to over a thousand a year during the last century, quite a development since Hans Meyer made history as the first European to scale the highest point of Kilimanjaro in 1889. The increasing numbers each year have made it necessary for the National Park to insist that all climbs are pre-booked, and passes are no longer issued at the last minute at the park gate. Although it is possible to simply trek a route to the pinnacle of Kibo without relying on professional climbing equipment, it remains a hard and serious endeavour that requires a level of physical fitness, stamina and a realistic awareness of the potentially damaging effects of high altitudes. Many tour operators request that clients consult a doctor before attempting to scale the mountain, and have a physical check-up for overall fitness.
Routes up Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania
With most of the old lowland forest now cultivated and settled, the first experience of the mountain environment begins with the dense vegetation of tropical montane forest between 1850m and around 2800m. Cloud condensation mainly gathers around the forest, so this area is usually damp or drenched with rainfall, creating an intriguing mass of plant life and running rivers between endemic tree species. The area of heath just beyond the tree line also enjoys a relatively misty and damp environment as cloud clings around the density of trees. This is covered with heather and shrubs such as Erica Arborea and Stoebe Kilimandsharica, and a number of dramatic looking Proteas.
From around 3,200m a wide expanse of moorland extends beyond the heath and the cloud line, so that here the skies are generally clear, making the sunshine intense during the days and the nights cool and clear. The climbing incline remains gentle, but thinning oxygen provides less fuel to energise the muscles and can dramatically slow the pace of walking. Hardy endemic species of Giant Groundsels (Senecio) and Lobelia (Deckenii) towering up to 4m high thrive in this moorland zone and give the landscape a strangely primeval atmosphere.
Even higher, beyond 4,000m, this sensation intensifies as the landscape develops into a more bizarre alpine desert, with sandy loose earth and intense weather conditions and temperature fluctuations so dramatic that barely any plant species survive other than everlasting flowers, mosses and lichens. Only the odd lichen survives beyond 5000m, after Kibo Huts and beyond the Saddle, where the landscape is predominantly rock and ice fields. Here, climbers experience the final steep push to the summit.
The easterly routes, Marangu, Mweka, Loitokitok and Rongai all converge west of the saddle near Gillmans Point, between the peaks of Mawenzi and Kibo. Kibos crater is roughly circular with an inner cone extending to 5,800m, (100m lower than the summit at Uhuru Peak). At the centre an inner crater with walls between 12 and 20 m high contains another concentric minor cone, the centre of which falls away into the 360m span of the ash pit. This is the 120 metre deep central core of the volcano, and casts sulphurous boiling smoke from its depths despite the frozen, snowy outskirts.
This climb is ideal for those wanting more privacy, a slower climb, or a more scenic route. The traversing of the Shira plateau can be especially spectacular, and this route also ensures the best of the Machame route. The dates have been set to coincide with the full moon and the best weather conditions. All Mount Kilimanjaro Climbs include a large staff including the chief guide, an assistant guide, cook, and porters. Camp is superbly outfitted, including thick foam mattresses for all the igloo tents, a toilet tent, tables and chairs, and high frequency two-way radios for communication with base.
Day 1: Arusha
Whenever you arrive, you'll be personally met and transferred to a lovely resort in the foothills of Mt. Meru, Africa's fifth highest mountain. Those arriving especially early can book optional activities. Then, spend the afternoon with your mountain guide preparing for the climb.
Day 2: Forest
After picking up the requisite documentation at the park gate, the safari continues to the Lemosho Glades starting point. Less steep than the Machame route and less used, today's trek is through the forest that laces the foot of the mountain. This evening's camp is pitched in the forest at around 2750 metres.
Day 3: Shira
Today's trek takes you slowly up the edge of the Shira volcano. As you gain altitude the vegetation thins and exotic species of high altitude plants appear. Camp is situated near the rim of the ancient volcano and provides a good opportunity to get the first direct views of Kilimanjaro's peak. Camp is pitched at about 3500 metres.
Day 4: Shira
Trek to Shira Camp across the Shira Plateau, the flat caldera of a volcano that was actually bigger and is much older than Kilimanjaro. Views can be very weather specific but on good days are breathtaking. Bilious clouds are often observed melting down from its rim onto the heath covered plateau. Kibo also shines with a silvery luminance as the glaciers reflect the strong sunlight. At times mist covers the plateau - views come and go quickly. You arrive in time for lunch and then have plenty time to relax and even go for a short acclimatisation walk in the afternoon.
Day 5: Lava Tour
Today you will walk for 3 - 5 hours, enjoying sightings of the typical Kilimanjaro mountain vegetation and reaching a high point of around 4600 meters at our Lava Tower camp. The hiking takes us out of the heath zone into alpine desert where only the very toughest tussock grasses can survive. Freezing at night and blazing conditions in the day make this a hard place to exist. For those that are up to it we ascend the Lava Tower in the afternoon. Overnight Lava Tower.
Day 6: Karanga
Today we hike from Lava Tower to Karanga valley. The trail initially sets of down hill into the Barranco valley before ascending the Barranco wall. In this region there are significant numbers of very mature Senecios (giant groundsels). Lunch is taken on trail before heading onto Karanga valley and up to camp. In the afternoon we have time to relax and for the very active there is a chance to head over to the Karanga valley to look at some spectacular glacial scenery. Karanga Camp.
Day 7: Barafu
About 2 hours from Karanga you will come out on the Barafu path (part of the Mweka Trail). It is a further 1-2 hours to Barafu Hut. The last stage to Barafu hut is quite steep, and as always we advise taking it as easy as possible.
|Group of 9-12||US $ 1180|
|Group of 6-8||US $ 1210|
|Group of 3-5||US $ 1300|
|Group of 2||US $ 1400|
|Single Person||US $ 1520|
Package Includes and Excludes
Tips on What to Bring
Anorak, Fleece, Walking Boots, Water Proof Jacket, Pants, Shirts, Trousers, Skirts, Socks, Gloves, Sun Hut, Balaclava/Woolen Hat, Gaiters, Thermal Underwear, Towel, Toiletries, Toilet Paper, Sun Glasses, Snow Goggles, Water Bottle, Walking Pole, Torch, Sun Cream/Sun Block, Lip Salve, Penknife, Day Pack, Camera, Films, Four Season Sleeping Bag, Water Purification Kit And First Aid Kit.