The climb starts from Machame Gate (1,800 m.) and follows a ridge through dense montane forest. This is the richest forested area on the mountain, and also the zone from where 96 % of the water on Kilimanjaro originates. On sunny days, and especially in the dry season, this section is very lush and beautiful; it can also be a very muddy experience, particularly if it has rained recently! We have lunch at ‘Halfway Clearing’, a small opening in the trees, and continue climbing steadily. The gradient becomes gentler as the forest slowly merges into giant heather close to the next camp near the ruins of Machame Hut (3,000 m.). We may get our first closer look at the glaciated dome of Kibo if the evening clouds permit. [6-8 hours walking].
A shorter day that begins by climbing up a steep ridge to reach a small semicircular cliff known as Picnic Rock. There are excellent views of Kibo and the jagged rim of Shira Plateau from here,and it is a good rest point too! The trail continues less steeply to reach the Shira Plateau. We camp near Shira Hut (3,840m.) which has some of the most stunning views on Kilimanjaro; close to the huge volcanic cone of Kibo, the spectacular rock formations of Shira Plateau, and looking across to Mt. Meru floating on the clouds. [4-6 hours walking].
A morning of gentle ascent and panoramic views, leaving the moorland plateau behind to walk on lava ridges beneath the glaciers of the Western Breach. After lunch near the Lava Tower junction (4,550 m.) we descend to the bottom of the Great Barranco valley (3,900 m.), sheltered by towering cliffs and with extensive views of the plains far below. [5-7 hours walking].
A steep climb up the Barranco Wall leads us to an undulating trail on the south-eastern flank of Kibo, with superb vistas of the Southern Icefields. The terrain changes to scree, with pockets of lush vegetation in sheltered hollows, and there is only a short distance to our camp at Karanga (4,000 m.), the last water point on the approach to Barafu, in a narrow valley. There is plenty of time to rest, or for a short optional acclimatisation walk in the afternoon up the valley above the camp. [4-5 hours walking].
A short but steep climb out of Karanga, and an easy path on compacted scree with wide views to reach Mweka Junction (4,150 m.). We then climb steadily to reach the Barafu campsite (4,600 m.) and continue to the plateau at the bottom of the South-East valley (4,800 m.). The remainder of the day is spent resting in preparation for the final ascent before an early night. [4-5 hours walking].
We will start our ascent by torchlight at about 1 a.m. so that we can be up on the Crater rim by sunrise. The steep climb over loose volcanic scree has some well-graded zig-zags and a slow but steady pace will take us to Stella Point (5,735 m.), in about five or six hours. We will rest there for a short time to enjoy the sunrise over Mawenzi. Those who are still feeling strong can make the two hour round trip from here along the crater rim to Uhuru Peak (5,896 m.), passing close to the spectacular glaciers and ice cliffs that still occupy most of the summit area. The descent to Barafu is surprisingly fast, and after some refreshment, we continue to descend to reach our final campsite (3,800 m.) Millenium. Most of us will be too tired to notice the beauty of the forest surrounding the crowded campsite. [11-15 hours walking].