Kilimanjaro is one of the world’s most accessible high summits, a beacon for visitors from around the world. Most climbers reach the crater rim with little more than a walking stick, proper clothing and determination. And those who reach Uhuru Point, the actual summit, or Gillman’s Point on the lip of the crater, will have earned their climbing certificates. And their memories.But there is so much more to Kili than her summit. The ascent of the slopes is a virtual climatic world tour, from the tropics to the Arctic.Even before you cross the national park boundary (at the 2,700m contour), the cultivated footslopes give way to lush montane forest, inhabited by many animals. – Marangu Route is also known as the “Coca Cola” or “tourist” route. It is the easiest and shortest route to the summit. This is also the only route with the comforts of sleeping huts at every campsite with solar lights and comfortable beds. The huts are communal, and the bunks have a sponge mattress and pillow. This route is usually done in 5 days but can be done in 6 days for better acclimatization. The extra day can be spent resting at Horombo or climbing the small peak of Mawenzi.
After breakfast and briefing, drive to the Kilimanjaro National Park Gate (about 1 hour), register, and commence the climb. Walkthrough the rainforest to the Mandara encampment. A side trip to Maundi Crater is a good way to see the surroundings including Northern Tanzania and Kenya. In the rainforest, look for towering Eucalyptus trees, birdlife, and Colobus monkeys. Elevation: 1860m/6100ft to 2700m/8875ft
You leave the glades of the rain-forest and follow an ascending path on the open moorlands to the Horombo encampment. Views of Mawenzi and the summit of Kibo are amazing. Look for giant lobelias and groundsels. You may begin to feel the effects of the altitude. Elevation: 2700m/8875ft to 3700m/12,200ft
Ascending, we now pass the last watering point, walking onto the saddle of Kilimanjaro between the peaks of Kibo and Mawenzi. Vegetation begins with the upper heathland but then disappears into “moonscape”. Dinner, rest and prepare for the summit climb. Elevation: 3700m/12,200ft to 4700m/15,500ft
Very early in the morning (midnight to 2 am), commence the climb to the summit on steep and heavy scree or snow up to Gilman’s point located on the crater rim. Continuing, we now ascend to Uhuru Peak, which is the highest point in Africa. There are unbelievable views at every turn. Have your picture taken at the summit to show your friends and family. From here we descend, stopping for lunch an d a rest at Kibo before continuing on to the Horombo encampment.The beginning of this climb is done in the dark and requires headlamps or flashlights. It will be very cold until you start descending, so you will need all of your warm layers. This is by far the most difficult part of the trek with many switchbacks. Going slowly “pole pole” and an optimistic attitude will get you there! Elevation: 4700m/15,500ft to 5895m/19,340ft
After breakfast, a steady descent takes us down through moorland to the Mandara Hut. Continue descending through a lush forest path to the National Park gate at Marangu. At lower elevations, it can be wet and muddy. Gaiters and trekking poles will help. Shorts and t-shirts will probably be plenty to wear (keep rain gear and warmer clothing handy). A vehicle will be waiting for you at Marangu gate to drive you back to your hotel in Moshi (about 1 hour). Elevation: 3700m/12,200ft to 1700m/5500ft