Jambo! Welcome to Tanzania. Your hike begins in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro in Marangu. The hotel is a short walk from the village’s bustling market and some excellent coffee shops. It is also very close to some beautiful waterfalls and ancient Chagga caves. Please make sure you are at the hotel by early evening, as your trip starts with a full briefing and kit inspection by an experienced Kilimanjaro climber. This will take place before dinner. Your insurance details and next of kin information will also be collected. Check with hotel reception for the exact location of the meeting. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, consider arriving a day early so you can attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. In the event that someone is late, the meeting may have to be rescheduled for the following morning. Notes: This trip visits places that are at high altitude, and as a result some people can suffer from altitude sickness, regardless of age or physical health. Please see the ‘Health’ section of the trip notes for more important information on this. Also note that if you are doing an Intrepid safari in Tanzania in combination with your climb of Kilimanjaro, you can speak with your consultant about the possibility of either finishing your trip in Arusha (if doing the safari first), or starting your safari trip in Arusha (usually Day 2 of the safari). This will save you having to transfer back to Nairobi only to travel the same road (7–8 hours each way) the following day.
Today you will hike from Kibo Hotel to Mandara Hut, a distance of 8 kilometres (approximately 3–5 hours). First you will meet your guides and porters after breakfast. Each person will have a personal porter, and there are extra porters for camping equipment and food. It takes about 15 minutes to get to Marangu Gate at the entrance of the Mt Kilimanjaro National Park (1,860 m). We will register as a group, which can take some time, depending on how busy it is. From here it is a long but easy walk through dense rainforest to the first mountain hut. In the forest you will find many species of brightly coloured birds and different types of monkeys. We'll walk through giant heather on our way to Mandara Hut (2,725 m) where we will stop for the night. From here you might choose to take an optional walk to the nearby Maundi Crater. If the skies are clear, take in excellent views of the nearby town of Moshi far below.
Your second day on the mountain involves another long hike over a slightly steeper stretch. The total distance from Mandara to Horombo Huts is 12 km (approximately 5–7 hours). Today you will see the rainforest give way to open and rolling alpine meadows dotted with giant heather trees. Once out of the forest canopy, the twin snow-tipped peaks of Kibo and Mawenzi lie directly ahead. These are two of the three great cones of Kilimanjaro (the other being Shira). During the day's walk we will traverse several ravines before reaching the hut, which is set in a rocky valley. There is time to enjoy a wide variety of vegetation and changing landscapes on the way to Horombo Hut (3,780 m). We will spend the night here at the hut.
Today we walk the 10 kilometres or so from Horombo to Kibo Hut (approximately 5–7 hours). As the journey progresses, you will notice the landscape gradually becoming more rugged and rocky, and the air noticeably thinner. To adhere to this, we will adjust our walking speed and pace ourselves. Marvel at giant groundsels and lobelias while you travel across the sparse moorland. Skirting Mawenzi Peak, arrive at the stark lunar landscape of the Saddle. Reaching Kibo Hut in afternoon (4,740 m), take the opportunity to have an early night.
Your guides will wake you up at 11 pm and hot tea will be served. Prepare for the last leg of the trek – to the summit. The distance from Kibo Hut to Uhuru Peak is 6 km (approximately 6–8 hours), and the descent to Horombo will be approximately the same amount of time. The trek begins beneath the stars as we zigzag our way up a large scree slope, guided only by torch light, to reach Gilman's Point (5,685 m). With some luck, we'll arrive in time for breathtaking views of the sun rising behind Mawenzi Peak. This is the stretch that most people find the hardest, and you should be prepared for a very cold morning. The dramatic spectacle of the sun rising over the ice fields of the crater will make the early start worthwhile. For those who still have the energy, it's a further walk (approximately 2 hours) along the rim of the crater to Uhuru Peak (5,896 m), the highest point in Africa. From here there are amazing views of the crater, ice fields and plains below. After photos and time to catch your breath, descend back to Horombo Hut for a well-earned rest.
Continue your descent through alpine meadows and rainforest to the park gate. The distance from Horombo to Marangu Gate is 20 kilometres (approximately 5–6 hours). Here your transport awaits and you will return to the hotel for a relaxing shower – a real treat after the physical exertions of the last few days! Over a celebratory meal we can relive and share our experiences of the past five days on the mountain.
You are free to depart at any time on the final day of your trip. A transfer to Kilimanjaro Airport or a shuttle to Nairobi can be arranged locally. Please speak to your leader about this at the welcome meeting.