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10. Mount Kilimanjaro

A two day trek on a mountain in Africa


View African Adventure on debinnh travels's travel map.

We arrived at the Aishi Machame hotel in Moshi later than expected (the brochure said it would be a 40 minute trip to Moshi from the airport and it was actually over 2 hours). The room was basic but nice. We immediately got to work trying to figure out what to bring with us and what to leave at the hotel to pick up on our way back. Even though we were not going to the summit, the thought of two days hiking uphill and back was stressful to me, I was not sure I could do it. The next morning at our briefing we were given the final recommendations for packing including what we needed in our day packs, paid to rent hiking poles for me, sleeping bags and a fleece jacket for me. We also rented a waterproof duffel bag to put our duffel into, just in case. It didn't rain at all when we were hiking, so it was not needed, we got lucky!

We were doing a private hike, which we really appreciated when we saw groups on the trail. We could set our own pace. Our staff included three porters, a cook, a waiter, a head guide and an assistant guide. The guides stayed with us, but we didn't see the porters much. We saw the cook and waiter at mealtimes. We had multi course hot meals for dinner, breakfast and lunch the next day, as well as tea service each day on the mountain. And the food was really good! Porters and cooks carry all the gear and food up the mountain, mostly on their heads! Our guide explained that they learn to walk with buckets of water on their heads from a young age, so this is normal to them.

As for the climb, I was surprised at how well I did. We were on the Marangu trail, considered the easiest trail on the mountain. The assistant guide saw my camera and that I was using walking poles, so he offered to be our photographer and took the camera. After a "tea" stop on the first day, I suggested that Rick and the assistant guide go ahead since Rick prefers a faster pace than I do. The head guide stayed with me. Slowly but surely I made it to Madara hut high elevation camp, with a few stops to take in scenery and catch my breath, have a snack or just to photograph flowers with my iPhone. Rick had challenged himself and kept up a good pace to get to camp an hour ahead of us. After we got to the cabin, we had lunch then when on a short hike to a crater, which didn't have much to see, but the real purpose was to help prevent altitude sickness while we slept "climb high, sleep low", as the crater was at a higher elevation than the camp. Rick did the crater hike twice, once when he got there and again with me. Neither of us had issues with altitude sickness. We had climbed from 1860 meters (6100 ft) to 2700 meters (8850 ft) and a distance of about 11km. After a warm dinner, we headed back to the cabin for an early night's sleep, we had more climbing to do in the morning. During the night I got up to look at the stars. It had been a long time since I had been in such a dark location and could see so many stars!

The next morning we headed up the mountain, I was sure after 100ft that I should stay behind, but fought that feeling and forged ahead. Again after a while I set Rick off with the assistant guide. They made it to the designated distance then turned around and met up with me on the way back down. Rick said he wasn't that far ahead of us, as he kept a more reasonable pace that day. Our best guess is that he made it to about 12500 ft and me a bit less. The next hut on the trail was at 12200ft and it was downhill a bit from where he stopped. I was also higher than the camp (we could see it at one point on the trail). We guessed we had gone about 8-9 km. After a quick tea and bite to eat, we headed back down. When we got back to Mandara huts we stopped and packed up camp and had lunch before continuing down to the base. Downhill was much more difficult than uphill and I was sore, but happy that I did it. Rick thinks he could do the summit, I am sure I could not!

When we got back down the mountain, we drove back to Moshi to drop off our rentals and pick up our bags. We tipped the staff and said our goodbyes. We went back to Arusha and spent the next two nights at Machweo Wellness retreat. The place was nice (but with too many stairs to climb after the mountain!). The food was very good and surprisingly expensive. We did laundry, relaxed, and read. The next morning after breakfast I had a massage, which was sooo needed! That afternoon we packed and were ready to go home, but we had to wait one more day.

The flight from Arusha included a quick stop in Dar el Salam before heading to Doha. At Arusha we got a quiet space and slept for a while between flights, then finally were on our last leg home.

Comment: I highly recommend Altezza, the company we used for the Kili trek. They were well organized and the guides went above and beyond just leading us up the mountain, teaching us about the flora and fauna and making sure we were ok the whole trip. An example: when the guide found out I have type 1 diabetes, he sent someone to the pharmacy to get glucose tabs to carry just in case I needed them. Of course, I had plenty of glucose and snacks of my own, but knowing they did that really gave me confidence in them. Also the quality of the gear we rented was top notch and clean.

Kilimonjaro:

Day 1:

Kilimanjaro: Welcome sign

Kilimanjaro: Welcome sign

Kilimanjaro:  The building at the start of the marangu trail

Kilimanjaro: The building at the start of the marangu trail


Kilimanjaro:  We have started our trek

Kilimanjaro: We have started our trek


Kilimanjaro: Me at the first picnic site sign where we had tea

Kilimanjaro: Me at the first picnic site sign where we had tea


Kilimanjaro: Rainforest on the Marangu trail

Kilimanjaro: Rainforest on the Marangu trail


Kilimonjaro: small waterfall along the trail

Kilimonjaro: small waterfall along the trail


Kilimanjaro:  Rick on the Marangu trail, just leaving the rain forest

Kilimanjaro: Rick on the Marangu trail, just leaving the rain forest

Kilimanjaro: Porters carrying their loads on their backs

Kilimanjaro: Porters carrying their loads on their backs


Kilimanjaro: Another hard working porter

Kilimanjaro: Another hard working porter


Kilimanjaro:  We made it to Mondara camp!

Kilimanjaro: We made it to Mondara camp!


Kilimanjaro: Mondara camp

Kilimanjaro: Mondara camp

Kilimanjaro: our hut at Mandara  camp

Kilimanjaro: our hut at Mandara camp


Kilimanjaro: Inside the hut, a little less luxurious than our other camps!

Kilimanjaro: Inside the hut, a little less luxurious than our other camps!


Kilimanjaro: Maundi crater side hike after arriving at the camp

Kilimanjaro: Maundi crater side hike after arriving at the camp

Day 2:

Kilimonjaro at about 10000ft

Kilimonjaro at about 10000ft

Kilimanjaro: Me and Rick and the Mawenzi peak

Kilimanjaro: Me and Rick and the Mawenzi peak


Kilimanjaro: Yes, that is an orange cook stove the porter is carrying on his head

Kilimanjaro: Yes, that is an orange cook stove the porter is carrying on his head


Kilimanjaro: Me at tea time on the mountain

Kilimanjaro: Me at tea time on the mountain


Kilimanjaro:  A view of the Marangu trail, it wasn't all like this, there were sections that were just a path, in the rainforest it had tree roots across, some sections were raised rock beds and the worst were the steps cut into the mountain

Kilimanjaro: A view of the Marangu trail, it wasn't all like this, there were sections that were just a path, in the rainforest it had tree roots across, some sections were raised rock beds and the worst were the steps cut into the mountain


Kilimonjaro: Marangu  waterfall

Kilimonjaro: Marangu waterfall

Kilimanjaro:  Us at the finish line

Kilimanjaro: Us at the finish line

Final Thoughts:

It was such a great trip, even with tiny blips, it went so smoothly. For us, with this being the first time to Africa, we are so glad we had it all coordinated through a travel agent who could set it up with people on the ground in Africa.

I can't lie, I loved the luxury of the Tanzania wing safari, but if anyone asked me how they should do a safari, I would say a mix of fly and drive. I would also recommend staying as close to the parks as possible, as some of the camps we stayed in took a while to get to the park. I loved the mix of lodges and tent "glamping" and think that is a great way to go. I don't know how much more "rustic" I would go, as I am not sure what the quality of food would be. Neither of us got sick, and we even had fresh fruit and salads on occasion, and once I had ice in a mixed drink, a testament to the quality of food at the high end places we stayed.

Everyone we encountered in both Kenya and Tanzania were friendly and welcoming. All of the guides we had were excellent. The visits to the Maasai villages were interesting and we were not pressured to buy or give money in either village. There were a lot of really nice handmade crafts available and the prices in the lodge shops were not that different than what we heard in the roadside shops. We purchased very little in the way of souvenirs, mostly because we are looking to downsize in the next few years and do not want to add to what we have. I plan to print some of my photos to hang in my home as memories of the trip.

Would I go back? For a safari, absolutely! (for another kili climb, not so much) We have so many other places we want to see, but I think another safari will be on the horizon for us. Next time we would probably do other countries even though we really enjoyed Kenya and Tanzania.

Thanks for reading!

Posted by debinnh travels 09:39 Archived in Tanzania

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