Day 1: Machame Gate to Machame Camp
Elevation (m): 1800m to 3000m, Distance: 11km, Time: 5-7 hours, Habitat: Montane Forest.
Drive from your accommodation to the Mount Kilimanjaro National Park Gate. Once you reach the park gate, you will sign in at the Park office and make your final preparations to start the climb. Our path takes us through rain forest on a winding trail up a ridge to Machame Camp where we will camp overnight.
Day 2: Machame Camp to Shira Camp
Elevation (m): 3000m to 3850m, Distance: 9km, Time: 4-6 hours, Habitat: Moorland.
After breakfast, we start walking, leaving the rainforest behind, and continue our ascent, crossing a small valley and up to a steep rocky ridge, covered with heath. Our route now turns west onto a river gorge. Dinner and overnight at Shira campsite.
Day 3: Shira Camp via Lava Tower to Barranco Camp
Elevation (m): 3850m to 4600m to 3950m, Distance: 12 km, Time: 6-7 hours, Habitat: Semi-desert.
This is a very important day for acclimatization and will help your body prepare for summit day. This will be our toughest day so far and you may start to feel the symptoms of altitude. We will ascend to Lava Tower at 4600m and take our lunch there to acclimatize. Following this we descend to spend the night at Barranco campsite. This offers great photographic opportunities of the Western Breach and Breach Wall. The camp is situated in a valley below the Breach and Great Barranco Wall, which will provide you with a memorable sunset while you wait for your dinner.
Day 4: Barranco Camp to Karanga Camp
Elevation (m): 3950m to 3930m, Distance: 7 km, Hiking Time: 4 hours, Habitat: Alpine Desert.
Today starts with a short, but fun, scramble, to the top of the Great Barranco Wall. We then traverse over scree to the Karanga Valley (3930m) beneath the icefalls of the Heim, Kersten and Decken Glaciers. We will stay overnight at Karanga campsite.
Day 5: Karanga Camp to Barafu Camp
Elevation (m): 3930m to 4600m, Distance: 6kms, Hiking Time: 3 hours, Habitat: Alpine Desert
We leave Karanga campsite behind to meet the junction connecting with the Mweka descent Trail. From here we continue up to the Barafu Hut. You have now completed the Southern Circuit, which offers views of the summit from many different angles. At camp, we can rest, enjoy dinner, and prepare for the summit day. The two peaks of Mawenzi and Kibo are to be clearly seen from this position.
Day 6: Barafu Camp to Summit to Mweka Hut
Elevation (m): 4600m to 5895m (and down to 3100m), Distance: 7km ascent/23km descent, Time: 6-8 hours ascent/6-7 hours descent, Habitat: Stone scree and ice-capped summit/Alpine desert.
You will be woken at 23:30 with some quick tea and biscuits. We start our trek to the summit between the Rebman and Ratzel glaciers. We will head in a north-westerly direction and ascend through heavy scree towards Stella Point on the crater rim. This is the most mentally and physically challenging part of the trek. At Stella Point (5732m), we will stop for a short rest and will be rewarded with the most magnificent sunrise you are ever likely to see (weather permitting). At Uhuru Peak (5895m), we will have reached the highest point on Mount Kilimanjaro and the continent of Africa. It can be very cold at night at these elevations, but it will be quite warm by the end of the hiking day. From the summit, we descend down to the Mweka Hut camp site, via Barafu for lunch. Trekking poles will be needed for the loose gravel going down to Mweka Camp (3100m). Later in the evening, we will enjoy our last dinner on the mountain and a well-earned sleep.
Day 7: Mweka Camp to Arusha
Elevation (m): 3100m to 1800m, Distance: 8 km, Time: 3-4 hours, Habitat: Montane Forest.
We descend down to the Mweka Park Gate to receive your summit certificates. At lower elevations, it can be wet and muddy. Gaiters and trekking poles will help. Shorts and t-shirts will be suitable (keep rain gear and warmer clothing handy). Drive back to Arusha.