MOUNT KILIMANJARO & SAFARI (19,340FT/5,895M)
Crowned by eternal snows, the mighty Kilimanjaro (19,340 ft.) is the highest free-standing mountain in the world and dominates its landscape unlike any other mountain. Located in Tanzania, this dormant volcano looms over five ecosystems and large game reserves, and is certainly one of the world’s most impressive sights. The terrain is nothing short of dramatic. As a mountaineering company, we treat this adventure as a mountain climbing expedition. We offer scheduled departures for two routes on the mountain: the Machame Route and the Lemosho Route.
Kilimanjaro is unique in many ways, but stands as the only one of the seven summits (the highest points on each continent) that is truly a nontechnical climb. Using well-marked trails to the summit along with our expert guide staff, a fit enthusiast has an excellent chance of reaching the summit.
Kilimanjaro is an attractive climb for anyone interested in a physical challenge: climbers, wilderness enthusiasts, and hikers alike. Over the past 20 years, we have emerged as a leader in guiding climbs on Kilimanjaro, applying expertise from other formidable mountains to the wilds of Africa. We consider the Kilimanjaro climb and safari expedition to be one of the most appealing and treasured adventure experiences we offer.
Following our climb, we begin a four-day safari to the spectacular game parks of Tanzania, Ngorongoro Crater, The Tarangire River and National Park, and Serengeti National Park. Throughout the safari, we lodge in luxurious hotels and travel by Land Cruiser across the Great Rift Valley, following wildebeests, lions and other indigenous wildlife.
Start: Kilimanjaro Airport, Tanzania
Finish: Kilimanjaro Airpot, Tanzania
Destination: Mount Kilimanjaro
Physical Rating: 4
Kilimanjaro is a dormant volcano composed of three extinct volcanic cones of varying ages: Kibo (5,895 m); Mawenzi (5,149 m); and Shira (3,962 m). It is one of the world’s highest free-standing mountains: its mass rises 4,800 m above a rolling plain that averages 1,000 m above sea level. After reaching a height thought to be 5,900 m during its last major eruption 360,000 years ago, Kibo has been eroded by glaciers, rivers, and landslides to its present height. It is believed that Kilimanjaro, like its neighbor Mt. Kenya, is losing glaciers due to localized deforestation and global warming.
The Name Kilimanjaro
Given the stature and greatness of Kilimanjaro, there is relatively little recorded history of the peak. Even the origins of the name present somewhat of a dilemma. Many people believe the name derived from the Kishwahili tribal name, Kilima, meaning “mountain.” The local Wachagga people claim to have no name for Kilimanjaro, but did name the dual peaks “Kipoo” and “Kimawenzi.”
Depart country of origin for Kilimanjaro International Airport, Tanzania (JRO).
Arrive in Tanzania. Airport pick-up and transfer to the Four Points The Arusha Hotel (formerly New Arusha Hotel) in Arusha, Tanzania.
Orientation and gear check. We meet over breakfast at the hotel and join a detailed group orientation covering all aspects of the climb. After lunch we have a through equipment check, and those interested can join a walking tour (offsite) of Arusha before dinner. O/N Four Points The Arusha Hotel.
Machame Route start to finish. Data is approximate.
Distance: 64 km/39 miles in 7 days
Elevation gain: 4,891 m/16,044 ft.
Elevation loss: 5,020 m/16,444 ft.
We travel by Land Cruiser to the Machame trailhead, winding through coffee fields and small forests of ferns and flowers. After registering with the park service, we meet our porters from the Chagga Tribe, indigenous to the slopes of Kilimanjaro. They are an integral part of our African journey and become friends and provide insight into their culture and society. Our climb begins on the edge of a rain forest (elevation 5,800 ft.). Below the watchful eyes of the monkeys, we trek seven hours to the Machame Camp (10,000 ft.) and set camp for the night.
Climb Day 1 Start: Machame Gate 1,830 m/6,000 ft.
End: Machame Camp 3,000 m/9,900 ft.
Elevation gain: 1,200 m/3,900 ft.
Time: 6 hours on average
Distance: About 10 km/6 miles
Leave the Machame Camp, cross a small valley, and begin our ascent. The environment changes from heath forest to moor lands. These moor lands are littered with two species of giant groundsel, senecios and lobelia. Halfway up the trail we meet a river gorge and ascend across the Shira Plateau (12,300 ft.). We sleep at Shira Camp.
Climb Day 2 Start: Machame Camp 3,000 m/9,900 ft.
End: Shira Camp 3,800 m/12,500 ft.
Elevation gain: 800 m/2,600 ft.
Time: 4–6 hours average
Distance: About 8 km/5 miles
Today we climb to 14,800 ft. while crossing a ridge and viewing the plains far below. Here we eat lunch and admire the ancient glacier ice of the Breach Wall before dropping to our 12,800-ft. campsite at Great Barranco.
Climb Day 3 Start: Shira Camp 3,800 m/12,500 ft.
End: Barranco Camp 3,900 m/12,900 ft.
Elevation gain: 2,100 ft.
Elevation loss: 520 m/1,700 ft.
Time: 7–9 hours average
Distance: About 10 km/6 miles
* Day includes critical acclimatization gain/loss
* Lava Tower option: additional 600 ft. of gain/loss
We climb up and over the Great Barranco, topping out at about 14,500 ft. before dropping to our camp at the Karanga River at about 13,000 ft. This completes another day of acclimatization as we pass below the famous Breach Wall, the largest ice and rock face in Africa. The Breach Wall climbing route, known as “The Icicle,” was first climbed in the early 1970’s by Reinhold Messner. Daytime temperatures can reach 80 degrees F, while evening temperatures often drop below freezing.
Climb Day 4 Start: Barranco Camp 3,900 m
End: Karanga Valley 4,055 m/13,300 ft.
Elevation gain: 400 m/1,300 ft.
Elevation loss: 300 m/1,000 ft.
Time: 4–5 hours average
Distance: About 5 km/3 miles
From the Karanga River we climb about five to six hours to our High Camp at Kosovo (15,600 ft.). As we wind through beautiful and rarely traveled regions, we enter a high desert plateau, littered with volcanic boulders. Looking south, we view the desert plains as the pinnacles of Mowenzi Peak tower before us. At Kosovo, we prepare for the summit attempt. We spend our time packing and preparing for the early morning, 2 a.m. departure.
Climb Day 5 Start: Karanga Valley 4,055 m/13,300 ft.
End: Kosovo Camp 4,815m/15,800 ft.
Elevation gain: 700 m/2,300 ft.
Time: 5 hours
Distance: About 5 km/3 miles
Summit day! Awake at 11 p.m. for a light meal and midnight departure. We climb wearing headlamps until the predawn light is reflected off the African plains. Following a distinct ridge, we approach the crater’s rim, then traverse northwest along the rim to the main summit, Uhuru Peak (19,344 ft.). From here we view the Bismarck Towers, rock pinnacles along the rim, the vast crater floor, the tiny Furtwängler Glacier, the ash pit, and the large northern ice cap. We then descend back to High Camp for a short rest and lunch before packing up and continuing down to our last camp on the mountain — Millennium Camp — at 12,250 ft.
Summit day average times:
Kosovo—Summit 7–8 hours
Summit—Kosovo 2–3 hours
Kosovo—Millenium 2.5–3 hours
Climb Day 6
High Camp to Summit
Start: Kosovo camp 4,815 m/15,800 ft.
Summit: Uhuru Peak 5,896 m/19,344 ft.
Elevation gain: 1,080 m/3,544 ft.
Time: 9–11 hours average return to Kosovo
Distance: About 7 km/6 miles
Kosovo Camp to Millennium Camp
Start: Kosovo Camp 4,815 m/15,800 ft.
Millennium Camp 3,733 m/12,250 ft.
Time: 2.5–3 hours
Distance: About 5.6 km/3.5 miles
The sunrise is exquisite as we awaken at 5 a.m. below the towering mountain. We depart by 7 a.m., descending through the lush green landscape of the Mweka route into the thickest jungle we have yet encountered. The environment becomes primordial, with 20-ft. fern trees creating a prehistoric atmosphere. After reaching the Mweka Gate, we enjoy a festive celebration with our crew, followed by a hot buffet lunch. Our two-hour return drive to Arusha has us back in time for showers, and to enjoy a celebratory dinner together. We will have a 30-minute safari briefing before dinner. O/N Four Points The Arusha Hotel.
Day 7: Start: Millennium camp 3,733 m/12,250 ft.
End: Mweka Gate 1,800 m/5,580 ft.
Elevation loss: 2,033 m/6,670 ft.
Time: 5 hours average
Distance: About 13.5 km/8.4 miles
(Safari itinerary subject to change. Based on team size and availability, travel order of safari parks may be reversed).
Begin the safari to Tarangire National Park. This beautiful valley overlooks African grassland, sprinkled with acacia and baobab trees and is known for its variety of large mammals. Here we overnight comfortably in a deluxe safari lodge.
After enjoying a long, leisurely game drive between herds of wild animals and along miles of Africa’s seemingly endless roads, we will come over a slight rise and the lodge appears almost immediately below us. Built to blend in with the vastness of its surroundings, Tarangire Sopa Lodge lies hidden among the kopjes, ancient baobab and grasses of the Tarangire National Park – home to the greatest concentration of elephants in Africa. Many can be seen around the lodge, allowing visitors a close encounter.
After breakfast we travel 2.5 hours over the Great Rift Valley and into the highlands above Karatu to Ngorongoro Crater. We spend the afternoon in Ngorongoro Crater, one of the world’s most incredible natural wonders. Here we encounter herds of zebra, antelope, buffalo, elephant and hippo. Lion prides are very common and you are likely to see cheetah as well. We overnight comfortably in a deluxe safari lodge perched on the rim of the crater.
Facing the always magnificent sunsets to the west, and located at the highest point on Ngorongoro crater’s entire rim, Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge stands well over half a km above the crater floor and offers unparalleled views across this enormous caldera.
Themed around traditionally circular African houses with conical roofs, and decorated with examples of Africa’s rich tapestry of artistic traditions by way of rich woodcarvings and sculptures, the lodge harmonizes perfectly with its dramatic surroundings. But the drama does not just stop with the great outdoors: it also flows through the split-level interiors of the main building which all offer an unsurpassed generosity of space while somehow managing to combine an almost magically welcoming ambiance of both warmth and coziness.
After breakfast we proceed around the Ngorongoro crater rim and descend into the savanna to Serengeti National Park. We enjoy a game drive through the Southern Serengeti National Park en route to a deluxe safari lodge and dinner.
Located on the edge of the escarpment overlooking the plains of the southwestern Serengeti National Park, home to many thousands of wild and rare animals, Serengeti Sopa Lodge lies within an area of out-standing natural beauty. An oasis of cool relaxation from the equatorial sun. The lodge allows its guests to experience magnificent sights and enjoy interaction with the land and animals difficult to find elsewhere, while at the same time enjoying the highest level of cuisine and hospitality.
There is an option for a spectacular sunrise balloon ride. We enjoy a morning game drive in route to Seronera, where we will catch our flight. We fly back to Arusha (weather permitting) for a farewell lunch at the Arusha Hotel, and then prepare for late night international departures.
Arrive country of origin.