Kilimanjaro - Africa's Tallest Peak

Date

January 2020

Location

Tanzania

This past January 2020, my sister and I took a two week trip to Tanzania after the holiday. We flew Ethiopian Airlines through Addis Ababa, a major airport hub that routes visitors all over the continent.

Date

January 2022

Location

Tanzania

This past January 2020, my sister and I took a two week trip to Tanzania after the holiday. We flew Ethiopian Airlines through Addis Ababa, a major airport hub that routes visitors all over the continent.

It was clear as we made our way towards boarding that all the westerners with the North Face backpacks and Patagonia T-shirts were also headed to Kilimanjaro. After arriving we were shuttled to Moshi by our guides at Kessy Brothers Tours. They were a local company that was referred to me by a friend. They were great and I would highly recommend them. Before the hike we spent a few days in Tarangire National Park, Ngorongoro crater and Lake Manyara national park. Another thing I would highly recommend to anyone heading to climb Kilimanjaro. The safaris in Tanzania are incredible.

January 6, 2020

Mti Mkubwa Camp

Ascended 7,380 ft to 9,160 ft. We departed Moshi for the Londorossi Park Gate where we ate our boxed lunch while Urio and Japani checked us in with the mountain service. The starting point was packed with hikers, guides, and porters. From here we had an easy hike along the forest trails to Mti Mkubwa (big tree) campsite where we spent the night. Tanzania doesn’t allow single use plastic bags into the country or plastic water bottles onto the mountain.

January 6, 2020

Mti Mkubwa Camp

Ascended 7,380 ft to 9,160 ft. We departed Moshi for the Londorossi Park Gate where we ate our boxed lunch while Urio and Japani checked us in with the mountain service. The starting point was packed with hikers, guides, and porters. From here we had an easy hike along the forest trails to Mti Mkubwa (big tree) campsite where we spent the night. Tanzania doesn’t allow single use plastic bags into the country or plastic water bottles onto the mountain.

January 7, 2020

Shira 1 Camp

Ascended 9,160 ft to 11,810 ft. This was a long day. I spent the night prior to our departure vomiting outside my tent. I’m pretty certain it was a mix of the fish we had for dinner and the anti-malaria pills (malarone) that messed me up. I’ve suffered nausea from malarone before and it isn’t fun. In retrospect it honestly wasn’t worth taking for the four days of malaria exposure before starting the hike. There are no mosquitos on the mountain due to altitude. I suffered through the day and couldn’t hold anything down. We eventually made it to camp. I had some popcorn and water and went to bed.

January 7, 2020

Shira 1 Camp

Ascended 9,160 ft to 11,810 ft. This was a long day. I spent the night prior to our departure vomiting outside my tent. I’m pretty certain it was a mix of the fish we had for dinner and the anti-malaria pills (malarone) that messed me up. I’ve suffered nausea from malarone before and it isn’t fun. In retrospect it honestly wasn’t worth taking for the four days of malaria exposure before starting the hike. There are no mosquitos on the mountain due to altitude. I suffered through the day and couldn’t hold anything down. We eventually made it to camp. I had some popcorn and water and went to bed.

January 8, 2020

Shira 2 Camp

Ascended 11,500ft to 12,600ft. I felt significantly better after waking up. Everything seemed to be out of my system and I had a full breakfast and rehydrated. It was a fairly easy day hiking across the moorland and plateau to Shira 2 camp. Had some down time at camp after arriving and took some walks to further acclimate.

January 9, 2020

Barranco Camp

Ascended 12,600ft to 12,700ft. From the Shira Plateau, we continued hiking to the east towards the Kibo Peak and the Lava Tower, called the “Shark’s Tooth.” We then hiked up to Arrow Glacier at an altitude of 15,997 ft, the highest point of the day before hiking back down to Barranco Camp (12,700ft). This day plays a big role in the acclimatization. I had stopped taking Diamox (altitude pills) before we started the hike. I tested them out for a day and immediately felt tingling in my feet and hands. It’s a fairly common side effect but was a bit concerning. The best acclimatization is water and going nice and slow. It was stressed by the guides that “Sea level fitness” only gets you so far until your body is used to working at higher elevations.

January 10, 2020

Barafu Camp

Ascended 13,800ft to 15,100ft. We set out for the Mweka Trail which leads you to the Barafu Camp. It was a fairly easy day trekking over some pretty fun rock formations. We seemed to climb straight up and then walk on flat terrain over and over again. Nothing required ropes or any climbing gear, but there were a few fairly steep, tricky passes over the rocks. We got to camp pretty early and enjoyed the two peaks of Mawenzi and Kibo. At every camp along the way, the guides are required to check you in to camp and document your status on the mountain.

January 10, 2020

Barafu Camp

Ascended 13,800ft to 15,100ft. We set out for the Mweka Trail which leads you to the Barafu Camp. It was a fairly easy day trekking over some pretty fun rock formations. We seemed to climb straight up and then walk on flat terrain over and over again. Nothing required ropes or any climbing gear, but there were a few fairly steep, tricky passes over the rocks. We got to camp pretty early and enjoyed the two peaks of Mawenzi and Kibo. At every camp along the way, the guides are required to check you in to camp and document your status on the mountain.

January 11, 2020

Summit and Mweka Camp

Ascended 15,100 ft to 19,300 ft and then back down to 10,200 ft. After a few hours of sleep we woke up at 11:30 for a midnight departure for Uhuru Peak (the summit). It had snowed all night so we were shaking the snow off of our tents as we climbed out to start moving. I slammed some coffee and a granola bar and we were on our way.

The sky was black and we were one of the first groups out of camp that morning. All you could see in the darkness was what was illuminated under the moon and the headlamps of the hikers dotting the ridge-line. As we approached 12:30 am you could start to see the camp waking up behind us. I had on every layer of clothing at this point. A t-shirt, two long sleeves, a down layer and my fleece. I was pretty warm with the exception of my toes and fingers.

It was fairly easy going at first but as we climbed I definitely felt the altitude. It was completely draining. I was a zombie. I had no appetite and I forced down some water whenever we took a breather. We trudged along and made it to the summit around 6:20am and were able to see the sunset as we reached the top. The sky was clear and we were sitting above the clouds.

We enjoyed 30 minutes at the summit before heading down in the sunlight. Oddly enough this is when I started feeling a headache from the altitude change. It was pretty slow going and I stripped down to the t-shirt to avoid overheating. Never before had I experienced such a drastic temperature change. Frostbite was a concern 5 hours prior, and at 7:30am I was covered in sunblock and sweat. All of the snow from the night before was melting as we hiked down, and by the time we got back to camp nothing was on the ground but dirt and rocks. The surrounding area had completely changed. I took a 3 hour nap and then we made our way back down to Mweka campsite where we spent the night.

January 11, 2020

Summit and Mweka Camp

Ascended 15,100 ft to 19,300 ft and then back down to 10,200 ft. After a few hours of sleep we woke up at 11:30 for a midnight departure for Uhuru Peak (the summit). It had snowed all night so we were shaking the snow off of our tents as we climbed out to start moving. I slammed some coffee and a granola bar and we were on our way.

The sky was black and we were one of the first groups out of camp that morning. All you could see in the darkness was what was illuminated under the moon and the headlamps of the hikers dotting the ridge-line. As we approached 12:30 am you could start to see the camp waking up behind us. I had on every layer of clothing at this point. A t-shirt, two long sleeves, a down layer and my fleece. I was pretty warm with the exception of my toes and fingers.

It was fairly easy going at first but as we climbed I definitely felt the altitude. It was completely draining. I was a zombie. I had no appetite and I forced down some water whenever we took a breather. We trudged along and made it to the summit around 6:20am and were able to see the sunset as we reached the top. The sky was clear and we were sitting above the clouds.

We enjoyed 30 minutes at the summit before heading down in the sunlight. Oddly enough this is when I started feeling a headache from the altitude change. It was pretty slow going and I stripped down to the t-shirt to avoid overheating. Never before had I experienced such a drastic temperature change. Frostbite was a concern 5 hours prior, and at 7:30am I was covered in sunblock and sweat. All of the snow from the night before was melting as we hiked down, and by the time we got back to camp nothing was on the ground but dirt and rocks. The surrounding area had completely changed. I took a 3 hour nap and then we made our way back down to Mweka campsite where we spent the night.