I traveled to Tanzania via Cape Town and Nairobi. I chose the Machame Route because you don’t use the same path to descend as you take to climb up and you are descending via the Mweka Route. In addition this route has one of the most scenic views.The Machame Route is approximately 62 km/37 long and usually lasts for six days and five nights; however I did it only in 5 days as I decided to go all the way down from the top (which cost me loosing 2 nails from my toes)
I did my trek in the beginning of the rainy season which was quite challenging as I had to climb with a rain or snow every single day although this has a positive side also as that period is not popular and the routes are not overcrowded.
Also I had some problems with my camera therefore I can only share a few picture. I did however managed to take some great shots on my Go Pro camera -please see my short video clip here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NoGTOcFx-sY
I chose the local travel agency called Kilimanjaro Travel Adventures after seeing several recommendations on Tripadvisor and definitely I can recommend them to you.
DAY1: Trekking from Machame Gate (1.640m/5.380ft) Machame Camp (2.850m/9.350ft)
•Distance: 11 km
•Hiking Time: 6 hours
It took about an hour to drive from Moshi to the Park Gate by a local mini van (I am sure the driver was under age:) . The journey passes through villages, and coffee and banana plantations.
The trek starts from Machame Gate in a beautiful rain forest. When I was there it was quite muddy. I really enjoy the flora.
We arrived to the camp after 4pm completely soaked. I was truly appreciating the hot drinks and dinner being served by the chef.
DAY 2: Trekking from Machame Camp(2.850m/9.350ft) to Shira Camp (3.810m/12.500ft)
•Distance: 5 km
•Hiking Time: 5 hours
I woke up at 6:00am and after quick breakfast we start walking about 7:00am. The distance was not long; however pretty steep and rocky.
We arrived to the camp around 1:00pm. I meet some friendly guys from Austria and US on that day. I managed to climb in my trainers as my trekking shoes were completely soaked (I would not recommend it to anyone).
DAY 3: Trekking from Shira Camp (3.810m/12.500ft) to Barranco Camp (3.975m/13,000ft ) via Lava Tower (4.673m/15.330ft)
•Distance: 10 km
•Hiking Time: 7 hours
We set for the Lava Tower at 7:00 am. This is very important part of the trek for acclimatisation. When we arrived to Arrow Glacier it was quite foggy and we could not see much.Some people felt the attitude for the first time. Luckily I was feeling ok.
From Lava Tower I started descending to the Barranco Camp and passed by loads of giant groundsels also called senecio trees.
DAY 4: Trekking from Barranco Camp (3.975m/13,000ft ) to Barafu Camp(4.673m/15,300ft)
•Distance: 9 km
•Hiking Time: 8 hours
Today the hike was quite scenic. I could see the mountain from many different angles. For the first time I felt the altitude and got bit of a headache.The camp is set on the rocks. If your tent is below you will have to climb about 50m to the toilets which I can say are in much better condition comparing to those located in the lower camps with a ceramic tiles.
Our chef was creative from day 1 and again served me a great dinner. I went to sleep straight after to rest before the summit day.
DAY 5: Trekking from Barafu Camp(4.673m/15,300ft) to Uhuru Peak - Summit (5.895m/19.341) -Park Gate, Transfer to Moshi
•Distance: 5 km ascent / 22 km descent
•Hiking Time: 7-8 hours ascent / 8-9 hours descent
After a few hours of sleep we woke up before 11:00pm and shortly started to climb. Some parts where quite slippery, but I did not need to use the crampons. I had to take several short breaks to catch my breath. It was bit windy but since we were constantly moving I was not feeling cold. We pas by past Gillman's Point, arrived to the stella point about 4:30am and then about one hour later we reached the summit. I was delighted with the achievement and after about 5 - 10 minutes of queuing up for the usual photo I started heading back to the camp from where two hours later after I stared descending to the gate.
At the gate I arrived later that afternoon where I got my certificate. I was extremely tired and realised that I lost two nails from my toes what did not really matter to me at that point. I was just happy that I have arrived safe and at the same time I managed to reach the top.
In the beginning I was bit apprehensive about using the local agency, but soon I realized that it is a good option because locals will not only offer you a good service but also can offer you a good discount.
I trained for the trek about five times/weeks. For a better result I suggest starting your training at least three months before the trip, focusing not only on lifting weights but also on cardio like, running, swimming and cycling. I have include into my training exercise like walking on the stairs with a heavy rucksack and running with a duct tape over the mouth.
At last for better acclimatisation drink loads of water it will help you to avoid the altitude sickness.
Climbing Kili was a great experience and I would definitely recommend this to everyone. I hope I will go back there at some point
Please feel free to contact me should you have any questions or if you need an advice about the trek or traveling to Tanzania/Kenya.
I am also crowdfounding for my Cho Oyu dream expedition. Please check out the link if you would like to help:http://www.gofundme.com/2i1wxg
Thanks for reading!