Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, Africa - 6 day Machame Route

Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, Africa - 6 day Machame Route

Page Type: Trip Report
Date Climbed/Hiked: Jul 24, 2014
Activities: Mountaineering
Season: Summer

Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, Africa - 6 day Machame Route

We had a great 6 day trip doing the standard Machame Route, aka "Whiskey Route", on Kili,
followed by a 5 day safari to the Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti Nataional Park in Tanzania.
We had a group of 14 people with the Colorado Mountain Club.
12 of us live in Colorado, 1 in Oklahoma, 1 in the Washington D.C. Area.
All 14 made it to the Crater rim on Kili and 11 made it to the main summit.
So it was a highly sucessful climb.

This is my personal TR of our trip.
There may or may not be an official TR to post.
I haven't seen it yet.

Pre-trip info.
This trip was in planning and preparation for almost a year.
We ended up with 14 people on the trip.
7 of us knew each other before the trip.
Vern Bass the trip leader held a planning and info meeting on 2/6/2014.
Most of the people planning on going were there as well as
another CMC member, Steve Bonowski, who has lead several trips to Kilimanjaro in the past,
to give lots of details on what to expect.

We set up a team web site, with all the details about our trip:schedule, team members, sponsors, service projects, etc.

We also have a page for the current status and location of the team on the mountain.
The hope was to be able to post a daily update on the team during the trip.
In reality, the cell phone service with digital internet access was very limited in the
entire Kilimanjaro - Serengeti NP area.
There was often voice only cell service but no digital internet service.
Consequently I was only able to post intermittently,
particularly on Kili directly and the drive to/from the THs.
Ironically, I actually had good consistent digital service in the middle of
Serengeti National Park, but very little on Kili!  
See the postings during the trip on the

There is also a page with post-trip info like
GPS maps, links to pics, this and any other TRs that are written:

4 days before flying out of DIA, Weds evening at home,
as I was organizing and packing gear for the trip,
I slipped going down the basement stairs while carrying gear and
cratered on the basement floor on my left side.
It happened so fast I don't really remember it well.
My left arm was under my side and my left ribs came down hard on my elbow.
My left hip join got stretched hard somehow.
My left ankle sprained some and my left thumb got jammed somehow.
The ankle and thumb healed up in 1-2 days.
My ribs and hip were very sore and painful the entire trip and afterwards.
I either cracked or separated some ribs and strained some hip flexor tendons.
The only way I really made it through was with daily does of Ibuprofen.
That made things tolerable but still soar the whole way.
Consequently I didn't sleep well at all on the whole trip which made the challenge a bit harder.
But if Spenser West could make it up Kili with no legs,,

and these Military Vets
and these too,
could make it on prosthetics,
I wasn't going to let mere body aches & pains stop me.
Not to mention all the training, preparation and expense I had already invested.
By the time I got home, the pains were lessening but by no means gone
and it took several more weeks afterward to consider myself healed.

Days T-4 to T-0:
Travel from Denver to Dullus, Washington D.C to
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to
Kilimanjaro International Airport, Moshi, Tanzania to
Marangu Hotel, Marangu, Tanzania.
www dot maranguhotel dot com.
Rest at hotel, hike around the area with a local guide from the hotel.

For the climb, we used the guides and porters arranged by the Marangu Hotel.
See review at TripAdvisor dot com.
They are a family own business that
has been organizing climbs of Kili since the 1930s and
CMC has used them many times for climbs up Kili.
They did a superb job of organizing the guides, porters and cooks for our group.
The hotel is also a great place to stay, even if you're not there to climb or go on safari.
We highly recommend it.

For our group of 14 client climbers, we had
- 1 head guide, Reggie,
- 6 assistant guides, many of whom are also qualified as head guides.
- 14 porters, 1 per client
- Additional porters for group gear and food
- Several cooks and assistants
- 45 total support people for 14 clients, 59 total!!!
The guides, porters and cooks all did a great job.
They were very professional, friendly and worked really hard.
The hotel also arranged all our transportation to/from the airport, the climb and safari.

Day 1, Thursday 7/24:
7:30 AM in the hotel courtyard:
Organize gear and meet the guides, porters and cooks for our group.
~10:30 AM:
Left the hotel to ride 2+ hours in the
1983 Mercedez truck w 188,000 km on it when the odometer died,
to Kilimanjaro NP Machame entrance station, ~6000’ el.
We ate lunch at the TH while the guides checked us in and got the permit.
We had to fend off monkeys to keep our lunch!
We left the TH ~1:30PM.

We had a great hike to camp near Machame Hut, 3021 M, ~9911', arriving ~4:30 PM.
Distance 10.75 Km, ~7 mi; Gain: 1210 M, ~4000', all on excellent trails.

Weather was cloudy all day.  The jungle forest is amazing.

The cooks and guides made a great dinner for us.
They even have a dining tent that barely fits all 14 of us!
It was cozy and the aroma of the food filled the tent!
No data internet cell service here at all.

Everyone was off to bed early.
Wake up is at 7AM.

Day 2, Friday 7/25:
Hiked to Shira camp, 3839M, 12,595'.
Distance 5.3 Km, ~3.3 mi; Gain: 818 M, ~2700'.
Right on schedule.

We were up at 7AM.
Breakfast at 8 AM.
Left camp at 9:14 AM.
Arrived ~2 PM.
5 hrs camp to camp.
Everyone made it with no problem and did fine.
Lots of easy rock scrambling today.

The guides and porters are great and
the loads they carry are amazing!
Food is great and plentiful,
including fresh eggs, fresh veggies, fresh chicken, veggie curry, etc.
All carried up by them!
The took very good care of us!!!
They even had our tents already setup for us when we got to camp!

Weather was totally cloudy again with occasional periods of sun on the hike.
By the time we got to camp it was just
partly cloudy with views of the upper mtn and
Great West Breach off the summit rim.

Reggie, the head guide,
lead some people on an extra hike to the Shira Caves this afternoon where
Reggie did Kung fu poses to entertain everyone there.

No data internet cell service here at all again.

Day 3: Saturday 7/26:
Had another great hiked to Barranco Huts, 3968', 13,077' via Lava Tower:
10.75 Km, ~7 mi; Gain: +788 M, ~2600’;
Loss: ~641M, ~2100’; Net: +147M, ~480'

Lava Tower is at ~15,180' so it was a good day for acclimatizing.
6 people got new personal altitude records,

We were up well before 7AM again.
Breakfast at 7:30 AM,
Left camp at 8:45AM.
Arrived about 3:45 PM.
7 hrs camp to camp.

Weather was cloudy and breezy most of the day with some sun in the PM.
This camp has great views of the upper mtn and
the Barranco Wall that we will be climbing tomorrow.
One of the highlights of the whole trip!
Another great dinner.
No data internet cell service here at all again.

Day 4: Sunday 7/27:
Hiked to Barafu Huts, 4662M, 15,295’
Distance 8.5 Km, ~5.25 mi; Gain: 676 M, ~2200’

The Barranco Wall was the highlight of the day.
Lots of fun rock scrambling and great views!

We were up well before 7AM again.
Breakfast at 7:30 AM
Left camp at 8:45AM.
Arrived about 2 PM.
7 hrs camp to camp.
Everyone made it with no problem.

Weather was mixed, clear in the morning and clouding up in the afternoon.

This is high camp and tomorrow is summit day.
So it’s:
Get some rest before dinner,
Eat dinner,
Rest some more before
getting up at 11 PM to leave at midnight for the summit.
No data internet cell service here at all again.
I was able to call a friend though and
have him post a short update for me.

Day 5: Monday 7/28: Summit Day:
Up at 11 PM, Sunday, after only a few hours rest.
Left camp a little after midnite, Monday.
It was a grueling shlog of a hike in the dark by headlamps and
it was fun watching the stream of headlamps, in otherwise total darkness, above and below.

All 14 of us made it to Stella Point, 18,848',
the point on the rim that counts as having climbed Kilimanjaro by the KNP.
11 hiked ~0.75 mi on to the summit, Uhuru Peak, 5895M, 19,343’.
Total distance 4.86 Km, ~3 mi; Gain: 1233 M, ~4044’
So it was a highly successful climb!

Awesome summit day! Tough but very rewarding.
Weather was clear until mid afternoon.
The stars at 15,000+’ with no city lights are a spectacle.
Sunrise from high on Kili was awesome too!

After leaving the summit we descended back to camp at Barafu Huts for a short rest and lunch
before descending further to the Mweka Hut to camp overnight.

Finally had good data internet service for a short time in the afternoon but
it disappeared in the evening.

Day 6: Tuesday 7/29:
We are back from the mtn.

Up early again, ~6 AM.
Left ~8 AM to descend the rest of the way to Mweka Entrance Station,
~7 mi and 7000' loss.
The last got there by ~1:30PM.
We signed the registration book to make if official,
which they are very strict about.

The hike down through the dense jungle was great.
Saw monkeys, birds, flowers, etc.
Returned to Marangu Hotel by ~3 PM,
after a lunch stop that made at least 2 people sick
by the time we got back to the hotel!  Bad choice!
We had great party with guides & porters to celebrate that evening.

Day 7-11, Weds 7/30 - Sunday 8/3
Safari to the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area and
Serengeti National park, Tanzania.
Great time. Saw lots of wildlife.  Lots of driving!!
Our safari guides were Safari Images, LTD. in Moshi, Tanzania.
See review at TripAdvisor dot com.
They also did a great job driving us all the way there and back and
taking great care of us at the camps and finding lots of wildlife.

Sunday night, back at the the Marangu Hotel,
there was much celebration till late in the evening for our highly successful trip and
what happens in Marangu stays in Marangu!

Monday/Wednesday August 4-6:
Return to Denver
Our 1st major schedule interruption of the whole trip occurred when
the flight from Kilimanjaro Intl Airport
was cancelled due to mechanical problems with the plan in another city.
And since there is only one flight per day, we were delayed a whole day. 

Since it was at the end of the trip is was no big deal.
So we were all home by Wednesday instead of Tuesday as originally planned.
We spent the 1st night in the Kili airport and
Ethiopian Airlines put us up for the day at the Churchill Hotel in Addis Ababa.
See review at TripAdvisor dot com.
It was a descent hotel but we saw the poverty 1st hand.


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