About the challenge
The highest freestanding mountain in the world, Kilimanjaro is also the highest mountain on the African continent at 5896m. Its snow-capped summit rises high above the dusty African plains; huge permanent glaciers flow down from the summit, spectacular views and beautiful ice formations are the reward for pushing your limits both physically and mentally. Our trek takes the Machame route, allowing gradual acclimatisation to the altitude and an excellent chance of reaching the summit. We pass through thick forest, moorland and scree en route to Uhuru Peak, the highest point. This is a challenging trek at altitude, climbing one of the most impressive and well-known mountains in the world.
Day 1: Depart London
Day 2: Arrive Moshi
Arrive at Kilimanjaro International Airport; transfer to Moshi town, where we can admire the views of Kibo, the crater at the summit and the youngest of Kilimanjaro’s three volcanic cones. We check in and relax, with time to sort out our kit for tomorrow before dinner and a briefing. Night hotel.
Day 3: Machame Gate – Machame Camp
Trek approx 18km / 5-7 hrs
One hour’s drive from Moshi lies the gate to the Machame route, where we complete park formalities, meet our crew of porters and start to climb! The first section of the route climbs steadily and passes through magnificent, dense rainforest. This path is less well-trodden so it can get somewhat overgrown in places and it is often wet and muddy underfoot. Night camp: Machame Camp (3100m).
Day 4: Machame Camp – Shira Caves
Trek approx 9km / 4-6 hrs
Our route continues on up through the forest until we reach the steep ascent onto the Shira Plateau, where there are rewarding views of the mountain. Looking back, you will be able to see Mt Meru rising high above Arusha town in the distance. Night camp: Shira Caves (3840m).
Day 5: Shira Caves – Barranco Hut
Trek approx 15km / 8-10 hrs
Walking now on high moorland, the landscape changes the entire character of the trek. We traverse the southwest side of Kilimanjaro, passing underneath the Lava Tower and the final section of the Western Breach and finally reach camp at Barranco Hut (3900m), a tin shack where we pitch our tents. The day has been spent at altitude (up to 4600m), but we have followed the mountaineering code of ‘walk high, sleep low’ to aid your body’s acclimatisation to altitude. Night camp: Barranco Hut (3900m).
Day 6: Barranco Hut – Karanga Camp
Trek approx 5-7 hours / 10km
Our day starts by descending into the start of the Great Barranco, a huge ravine. We then exit steeply, up the Great Barranco Wall, which divides us from the southeastern slopes of Kibo. It’s a climb over rock, not technical but long and tiring. Passing underneath the Heim and Kersten glaciers, we head towards the Karanga valley. From here we have a steep climb up from Karanga valley to our night’s camp at Karanga camp, set at 3963m. For those feeling strong we will go for a mid-afternoon acclimatisation trek up to around 4200m before descending back to camp for the night. After this point our water supply will be strictly limited to drinking until we descend. Night camp: Karanga (3963m).
Day 7: Karanga Camp – Barafu Camp
Trek approx 4-5 hours / 8km
After a good night’s rest and breakfast, we set off on our walk to Barafu camp at 4600m. The climb will take us across desolate scree slopes with no vegetation around us at all. It’s a tough steep walk made more difficult by the altitude. On arriving at camp we eat and spend the afternoon resting as we prepare for a long night and day ahead. It is important to keep hydrated and warm. We have an early dinner and then try to get some sleep as we will be getting up at between 11pm and 12pm to start the climb to the summit. Night camp: Barafu (4600m)
Day 8: Barafu Camp – Summit – Millennium Camp
Trek approx 20km (7km climb); 12 – 14 hrs
We avoid walking too long in the heat of the sun today by starting while it’s dark, and walk steeply upwards to the summit glaciers. We will be climbing scree for 4 to 5 hours but gain incredible height over a short distance. The views are spectacular. We should be on the crater rim at Stella Point (5739m) as the first rays of the sun hit us. Spectacular ice cliffs within the crater surround us and the views to jagged Mawenzi – Kilimanjaro’s secondary but more technical peak – and beyond are breathtaking. Another hour’s walking takes us to the summit, Uhuru Peak (5896m); Uhuru means freedom in Swahili. We begin our descent by returning to Stella Point and then descending on scree slope and track back to Barafu Camp for breakfast, before finally heading down to camp for a long well-earned rest. On our descent we have fabulous views of the plains and Mawenzi. Night camp: Millennium Camp (3720m).
Day 9: Millennium Camp – Mweka Gate – Moshi
Trek approx 10km; 5 hrs
A gentle trek takes us down through the rainforest to Mweka Gate, where we complete park formalities and receive certificates, which you can hang up with pride! We are then met by our vehicles and return to the hotel in Moshi, where you can treat yourself to a welcome shower (and a cold beer or two!) before our big celebration. Night hotel. (Dinner not included).
Day 10: Free time Moshi – Flight
Free day, allowing you to explore Moshi, where there are some good markets, and relax with your fellow achievers. You can also opt to visit a Community Project we support on a long-term basis – a children’s home near Moshi. We return to the hotel mid-afternoon in time to transfer to the airport for our international flight home. (Lunch not included)
Day 11: Arrive UK
Discover Adventure reserves the right to change the route or itinerary for safety reasons should local conditions dictate.
The cost includes all accommodation as well as all flights, transfers, camping equipment (other than sleeping bag and mat); all meals except two as specified in the itinerary; National Park entry fees and all other sites visited as part of the itinerary. Experienced Discover Adventure leaders and doctor (depending on final group size) are also included, along with a local support crew of porters, guides, cooks and drivers.
It does not include personal travel insurance, airline fuel supplement if charged by the airline, two meals as specified, tips for local crew, Tanzanian entry visa or international airport tax. It also does not include any entrance fees to any optional sites you may wish to visit on your free day. Remember to allow extra for drinks, souvenirs and other personal expenses. Please note that costs may fluctuate and we have no control over any changes. We strongly recommend you carry a credit card in case of personal emergency.
Group flights leave from London Heathrow or Gatwick, (we regret that we are unable to book connecting flights), and are booked through Discover Adventure Ltd under ATOL licence 5636. By travelling with Discover Adventure you are protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are most likely to fly with Ethiopian Airlines, however, we don’t always fly with the same airline so this is a guideline only. You will usually receive confirmed flight details several months before departure. Our itineraries are always based on current flight schedules and are therefore subject to change by the airline. If you prefer to book your own flights please ask us for a land-only cost.
We camp for five nights during the trek in two-man tents; you will be sharing with someone else on your trek. Camp facilities include tables, chairs and dining-tents. The hotel in Moshi is a comfortable, clean hotel with private facilities, but please do not expect the same standards as you would in a tourist hotel in the UK!
All food is included when camping. The food is great, will give you plenty of energy, and there is plenty of it. Two meals as specified in the itinerary are not included.
Being vegetarian or having other dietary requirements is not usually a problem provided you let us know well in advance. Please do not expect as much variety as you would have access to at home – we will be in rural areas and among people of a different culture who may not understand your requirements, however willing they are to help. If you know there are plenty of foods you cannot eat you may wish to bring extra snacks from home so you can top up your energy supply. Please feel free to ask us for advice.
Discover Adventure Crew
Your trip will be led by experienced Discover Adventure leaders. Our leaders are selected for their experience in harsh wilderness environments, knowledge of travel in remote areas, friendliness and approachability, sense of humour and ability to safely and effectively deal with any situation that arises. You are in very safe hands with a Discover Adventure leader.
All our leaders are from the UK or other English-speaking countries. Most work for us on an ad-hoc basis and have ‘real’ jobs in-between trips! We never send our leaders to the same destination for months on end – we want them to be as enthusiastic about your trip as you are. Although our leaders are trained in expedition first-aid, they are accompanied by an expedition doctor or medic (dependent on group size), who is there to look after the well-being of the whole group and deal with any incidents. They help the leaders to ensure the trip runs smoothly and encourage you when things get tough. The number of crew looking after you will depend on the final size of your group, but an average-sized group in Tanzania would be led by two leaders and a doctor. At Discover Adventure we pride ourselves on our high leader: trekker ratio and believe it leads to greater trip enjoyment as well as excellent trip safety.
Local Support Crew
Our local support crew is made up of local guides, drivers, cooks and porters. Your local guide knows the local area well, and is a great source of knowledge about local customs and lifestyles. Drivers, cooks and porters do not always speak much English but are very friendly and approachable. The Discover Adventure crew work closely with the local crew to ensure your trip runs smoothly and safely.
Your leader will arrange a collection of tips for the local support crew at the end of your trek. Tipping is not obligatory, but once you see how hard they work on your behalf you will be happy to donate something! All our local crew are paid wages, but bear in mind that the average wage in this country is far below what you would spend on a normal night out.
Vehicles take the group to the start of the trek and pick us up at the end. Porters carry all luggage, food, water and camping equipment. There are strict rules restricting the weight of the load a Kilimanjaro porter is permitted to carry. Space is limited and hard-sided luggage is not suitable, so it is essential that your kit is packed in a soft sailing bag, rucksack or expedition kitbag. Ask us about our specially-designed low-cost kitbags if you don’t have one already. You should also bring a small daypack to carry for items needed during the day as you will not have access to your main luggage until the evening.
Your safety, and that of the rest of the group, is our highest priority. Our trips are designed and planned with safety in mind. Your crew will be equipped with radios and emergency satellite phones, extensive medical kit and other safety apparatus where necessary. They always have access to our 24-hour emergency back-up in the UK. Our leaders are responsible for safety on the trip, and will make any changes to the itinerary they deem necessary should local conditions dictate. Pre-trip administration – such as compulsory medical questionnaires and travel insurance – is all done with your safety in mind.
Preparing for the challenge
Terrain is very varied as we pass through different eco-systems as we ascend the mountain. We trek on overgrown forest paths, moorland, rocky trail and scree. Much of the walking is rough underfoot. Lower down it can be wet and muddy; higher up barren and arid.
This trek is challenging in itself, but the main challenge lies in the altitude. The Machame Route allows for excellent acclimatisation to the altitude as it contours around the mountain, rather than going straight up, and allows you to trek higher than you sleep at important points on the ascent. Symptoms of being at altitude include tiredness, shortness of breath, headaches and nausea. Altitude affects people differently and being super-fit is no guarantee of being less likely to feel the effects. Where a participant is suffering from the effects of altitude, it may be necessary to walk them back down the mountain. There will be more information about altitude in the information pack we send you upon booking.
Clothing & Equipment
We are trekking on a remote mountain, where we could be exposed to bad weather at any time so be prepared for all quickly changing conditions and temperatures. We provide you with a detailed packing kit-list on registration, as well as details on useful discounts you are entitled to as a Discover Adventure customer. We are always available if you need advice.
Late March to early June and November are Tanzania’s rainy seasons. For the rest of the year the weather is equatorial and very pleasant, with often a cool breeze on the mountains. Although warm by day, and hot on the valley floor, altitude has a great effect on temperatures and it will get cooler as you climb higher. It will also be cold at night, sometimes below freezing, and extremely cold at the summit.
Our challenges attract people of all levels of experience and fitness, all ages and backgrounds. We expect all participants to train hard in advance to achieve this challenge, but we respect everyone’s limits. We design our challenges so that everyone can go at their own pace: this is not a race. For logistical and safety reasons we sometimes need to re-group, so the front-runners will find themselves waiting for the slower ones. Please relax, and remember that this is a team effort that enables people to achieve their personal goals and earn sponsorship. We are always happy to talk through the trip in more detail with you if you are worried about your fitness at any stage.
Passport & Visa
A valid ten-year passport is essential; it should be valid for at least six months after departure from Tanzania. Most nationalities, including UK citizens, require a visa for entry into Tanzania. We will send you more information about visas nearer to departure.
We insist that you have had a Tetanus injection in the last ten years, and highly recommend protection against Polio, Hepatitis A and Typhoid. A Yellow Fever certificate is necessary if arriving from an infected country (being in transit at an airport for less than 12 hours doesn’t count). Although you are unlikely to encounter any mosquitoes while you are above 1000m, protection against malaria is recommended as there is a risk at lower elevations. You should always check with your GP or travel clinic for up-to-date travel health advice as it does change.
For most people, the main attraction of travelling to a different country is to see new sights and enjoy new experiences. Sometimes those new experiences can make life harder or more inconvenient than you may like, such as toilet hygiene or different food, or simply a different attitude to solving problems. This is all part of the challenge you are signing up for! We are very privileged to live in a country with a high standard of living, and travelling exposes us to different challenges – all of which help broaden our horizons. We can guarantee that coming face-to-face with experiences outside your normal ‘comfort zone’ will help you bond with your fellow trekkers and provide you with plenty of things to laugh about! A sense of humour and sense of adventure are two of the most important things to bring with you!
Worldwide Sustainable Tourism
Long before ‘Responsible Tourism’ became a recognised phrase, we designed and ran our trips to ensure they made minimum impact on the environment and a positive impact on the local communities we pass through.
Discover Adventure Projects
We are supporting a tree-planting project in Peru and a children’s home in Tanzania on a long-term basis. If you would like to ‘give something back’ please consider donating £5 to our projects when you sign up. Please see opposite if you would like to visit the project in Tanzania after your challenge.
Community Project: Extension
In Tanzania we support a community project on a long-term basis – a children’s home near Moshi. At the end of your trip you will have the opportunity to visit it; many people list this as a highlight of their trip. You are welcome to take gifts such as unwanted children’s clothing, toys or books with you; some people simply donate left-over spending money. To give something back in a more practical way, you have the chance to extend your stay for an extra 3 days. You could be involved any of the myriad jobs that are needed to provide care for the children and keep the home running, or you may be helping to improve the facilities and buildings, or helping with the home’s community outreach programmes. You may also have an opportunity to visit different children’s homes and participate in projects with the children, e.g. schoolwork, play and similar social activities. Please see side panel opposite and click on the link within for more details.
We encourage all our customers to offset emissions connected with their trip. You can offset at any time in the lead-up to departure by visiting Climate Care via our website and making a donation to a worthwhile project supported by them. Alternatively, if you wish to take more practical action in the UK you can volunteer for a day with TCV and work on an environmental project local to you. Work may include construction footpaths, dry stone walling, creating wildlife habitats or planting trees in your community. Volunteer today at www.tcv.org or call 01302 388883.