There will be a trip briefing this afternoon/evening. Please bring with you your passport and insurance details, and your air ticket details. The briefing will cover all aspects of your trip and will include the distribution of any hired equipment you have booked.
We transfer to Momella (a distance of about 45 kms) and the trek starts from Momella Gate (1,500 m) in late morning after completing the necessary registration formalities. The track soon passes some open grassland, with a good chance of seeing buffaloes and warthogs, and then continues as a steady climb through mountain forest. We take lunch at, or near, the Fig Tree Arch, which is big enough to drive a car through! After lunch, the route continues through less dense forest, where there are an abundance of birds and monkeys. The black and white colobus monkeys are particularly fascinating to watch. By mid-afternoon, there are the first closer views of the towering cliffs and the Ash Cone. We reach Miriakamba Hut (2,514 m), situated in an idyllic grassy glade, in time to enjoy the last of the afternoon sun and beautiful views over the surrounding plains towards Kilimanjaro. Approx 3-6 hours walking.
We ascend to Saddle Hut situated in the saddle between Little Meru and the summit. Today is a short day but a steep and sustained climb all the way. We walk through attractive, open, and lush mountain forest to reach the halfway point of Elephant Ridge. This has excellent views of the summit ridge and across most of the crater floor. Whilst resting, you might spot elephants or other animals from here. The path continues uphill through giant heather and other moorland vegetation to reach Saddle Hut (3,570 m), where lunch is waiting for us. The afternoon is free to rest and enjoy the views. The more energetic can make the short climb to the nearby summit of Little Meru (3,820 m) for superb views just before sunset. Approx 3- 6 hours walking.
An early start at around 2 a.m. to climb steeply to Rhino Point (3,800 m), and then continue along an undulating ridge of ash and rock to reach Cobra Point (4,350 m) around sunrise. The views are stunning: the cliffs of the Crater rim, the Ash Cone rising from the Crater floor, Kilimanjaro floating on the morning clouds, and west towards the Rift Valley if the weather is clear. The summit of Socialist Peak (4,566 m) is an hour more on a superb but often steep path. The route back to Rhino Point in the sharp morning light on a narrow ridge between the sloping outer wall of the crater and the sheer cliffs of the inner wall is one of the most dramatic and exhilarating walks in Africa. We rest, and have brunch at Saddle Hut before continuing the descent to Miriakamba Hut (2,514 m). This is a long day with 10 to 12 hours walking at high altitude. Note: The ridge between the summit and Rhino Point is exposed in places, and is not recommended for those who suffer from vertigo. In icy conditions or in strong winds, it may be impossible for anyone to progress beyond Rhino Point. Sunrise from here is equally as spectacular as from Cobra Pt.
We take the direct route down towards Momella through open grassland and mixed forest, with good chances of seeing wildlife. This trail has excellent views back towards the crater and over the plains of the National Park. We should reach Momella by midday and from here we drive to Marangu. Approx 2 -3 hours walking.
After completing the necessary registration formalities, we transfer by road to Nale Moru (1,950m) to begin our climb on this unspoilt wilderness route. The first day is only a half-day walk on a small path that winds through farmland and pine plantations. It is a consistent but gentle climb through attractive forest that shelters a variety of wildlife. We reach our first overnight stop by late afternoon at the edge of the moorland zone (2,600m). Approx 3-4 hours walking.
The morning walk is a steady ascent up to the 'Second Cave' (3,450m) with superb views of the Eastern icefields on the rim of Kibo, the youngest and highest of the three volcanoes that form the entire mountain. After lunch, we leave the main trail and strike out across the moorland on a smaller path towards the jagged peaks of Mawenzi, the second of Kilimanjaro's volcanoes. Our campsite, which we reach in late afternoon, is in a sheltered valley near Kikelewa Caves (3,600m). Approx 6-7 hours walking.
A steep climb up grassy slopes is rewarded by superb panoramas of the Kenyan plains to the north. We leave vegetation behind close to Mawenzi Tarn (4,330m), spectacularly situated in a cirque beneath the towering cliffs of Mawenzi. The afternoon will be free to rest or to explore the surrounding area as an aid to acclimatisation. Approx 3-4 hours walking.
We leave our attractive campsite to cross the lunar desert of the 'Saddle' between Mawenzi and Kibo to reach Kibo campsite (4,700m) at the bottom of the Kibo Crater wall by early afternoon. The remainder of the day is spent resting in preparation for the final ascent before a very early night! Approx 5-6 hours walking.
We will start the final, and by far the steepest and most demanding, part of the climb by torchlight at around midnight. We plod very slowly in darkness and cold on a switchback trail through loose volcanic scree to reach the Crater rim at Gillman's Point (5,685 m). We will rest there for a short time to enjoy the spectacular sunrise over Mawenzi. Those who are still feeling strong can make the three hour round trip along the snow-covered rim to the true summit of Uhuru Peak (5,895m), passing close to the spectacular glaciers and ice cliffs that still occupy most of the summit area. The descent to Kibo Hut (4,700m) is surprisingly fast and, after some refreshments and rest, we continue descending to reach our final campsite at Horombo (3,720m). This is an extremely long and hard day, with between 11 and 15 hours walking at high altitude.
A sustained descent with wide views across the moorland takes us into the lovely forest around Mandara (2,700m), the first stopping place on the Marangu route. The trail continues through semi-tropical vegetation to the National Park gate at Marangu (1,830m). We leave the local staff to return to our hotel in Marangu by mid-afternoon for a well-earned rest and a much needed shower and beer! Approx 5-6 hours walking.
For anyone on the group flights the day can be spent resting in the hotel garden or exploring the village for souvenirs. There is a highly recommended but optional village walk that explores Marangu for half a day. This village is a fascinating mixture of small but fertile coffee and banana farms, friendly Chagga people, and some beautiful scenery with waterfalls and magnificent views.