Participating in a Kilimanjaro tour, climbing the highest mountain in Africa, has long been on my personal bucket list. It is time to put the big project into practice. How does the hike work on the individual stages? How do you feel about it? What to pay attention to? Part 2 of my experience report, from Barranco Camp to Mweka Gate.
What do you learn in this article?
Kilimanjaro Tour: My Experience Report 2/2
“It’s not the mountain we conquer – but ourselves!” – Edmund Hillary
The quote from Mount Everest – first climber Hillary gets to the point: The tour to the summit of Kilimanjaro is well suited for deep thoughts and self-reflection. The time without distraction from technology and alternative activities is long, you are early in your sleeping bag, hiking has a meditative character.
This is part 2 of the Kilimanjaro Tour. Don’t miss part 1 of my report on climbing Kilimanjaro!
In Part 1, I report on the arrival to Moshi, the first 3 days of the tour starting at the Machame Gate of Kilimanjaro National Park, about the acclimatization at the Lava Tower to the arrival at the Barranco Camp. It continues on day 4.
Kilimanjaro Tour Day 4: Barranco Camp – Karanga Camp – Barafu Base Camp
Start: 3,900 meters; Stopover: Karanga Camp (3,995 meters); Destination: Barafu Camp at 4,673 meters
Climbing passage through the Barranco Wall
At 6 o’clock it is day again … the pots are beating each other.
Restful sleep? Well, at least in part – before and after my forced night trip.
Quite surprisingly, there are cakes for breakfast in honor of our honeymoon couple. Yes, you read that right, there are quite a few couples who spend their honeymoon – or at least part of it – on Kilimanjaro. You really notice how the team tries to keep the motivation up in the group. It is sung when the cake is cut.
Here at Barranco Wall we even have a “toilet with a view”. A fantastic view from the rocky outcrop as the fog slowly clears.
In addition, an outstanding all-round view: to the summit, which is getting closer and closer, and to the valley.
The floor is frozen hard again. I almost automatically slip into my heavy hiking boots.
The group struggles through the Barranco Wall, climbing passages and sometimes difficult sections. Quite different from the more or less continuous comfortable uphill running. However, special climbing technique or experience is not required. Climbing up here in the rain would be an absolute disaster – and probably really dangerous.
I personally really enjoy it! A great day, apart from the summit, my highlight.
Again there are incredible beautiful views: to the colorful group, the summit, far into the green valley, to Mount Meru, small stone towers, the ever smaller camp from which we started in the morning.
It is even time for an extended photo break with the group, the mood rises noticeably again, the “valley of altitude sickness” from the previous day seems to be over.
There follows a long march through the scree field – there have been no trees for a long time.
Lunch break in Karanga and ascent to Base Camp
The Karanga Camp is within sight – but there is still a deep valley in between.
Acclimatization at its finest is announced again today, the constant up and down does the rest.
Today we have lunch in the Karanga Camp at 3,995 meters, we are now discovering our exhibition tent from afar. After the meal it becomes clear that we are far from having reached the end of today’s stage.
The group pulls itself up a long slope at a snail’s pace, it pulls tremendously, a group of windbreakers and hooded heads.
Apart from a few grasses, there are no plants at all.
The summit is now in sight, hard to imagine that we’ll be up there in less than a day. Everything is white, covered in snow.
But you can also clearly see how far it is. Even from today’s goal, the Barafu Camp at 4,673 meters, there are still over 1,200 vertical meters.
It’s going very slowly, “Pole Pole“. The guides deliberately slow us down. Alone I would run much faster – and would probably have a lot more to do with altitude. One thing you can definitely learn on the Kilimanjaro tour: patience. “Hope & Love” is written with stones on the side of the path – everyone now has hope again.
Kilimanjaro Tour: Arrival at Barafu Base Camp
After another hour of walking through the scree, we reach the Barafu Base Camp on a rugged plateau
The latrines are on a steep slope, luckily we have our own toilets.
Of course, as always, our group is not the only one in the respective camp, but it doesn’t seem totally overcrowded. It is early November, not the peak season. So far we have been extremely lucky with the weather. We are told that due to bad weather, climbing the summit was suspended just a few days ago – too dangerous. A destroyed telegraph pole testifies to this weather. We happy …
The mood is good in the camp. We are joking that the wifi is not working again, whether we want to go to the sauna or the bar tonight, for happy hour with kili shots. Of course there is nothing like that in the Spartan camp.
Everyone is extremely tired from the day.
I can no longer move, but at least there is no noticeable height. Already at 5:30 p.m. the instructions are, an equally early dinner. Sun goes down during dinner – a higher priority for me than eating.
The clouds have cleared and give a view of the previously unseen surroundings beyond the camp. An absolute dream.
Before 7 p.m. everyone is in the tents, all in anticipation and anticipation. The meeting in full gear for the march to the summit is scheduled for 11 p.m.! If you can, sleep a little …
Knowledge of the day
Oh, what a great mountain world and a great adventure!
Kilimanjaro Tour Day 5: Barafu Camp – Stella Point – Uhuru Peak – Barafu Camp – High Camp
Start: 4,673 meters; Stopover: Uhuru Peak (5,895 meters); Goal: high camp at 3,950 meters
The long long march through the night
It is pitch dark, it is freezing cold – everything as usual in the morning. Only this time it is not morning, it is 11:30 p.m. when the group starts to move after a little or too little sleep and a first cup of tea / coffee.
Some are already heavily masked when they start running, others still have clothing reserves in the daypack.
4.3 kilometers and 6 hours are planned for the march to Stella Point, 5 kilometers and 7 hours to Uhuru Peak – at least as the signs in the camp say. My lamp shines only very weakly, it looked much stronger at home. After a while I give up and extinguish the lamp, following the light cones of the others.
With us 12 hikers, 10 guides (!) Are on the way, which makes almost one per participant. It shows once again how important security is and that the focus is on convenience. In contrast to us, the guides run without headlamps, without sticks.
The group slowly struggles through the dark, step by step, at a snail’s pace. I’ve probably never walked so slowly, it’s hard to imagine. In contrast to the last few days, we are tired before we even start. Then there is the cold, which is much more intense at night, and the ever increasing altitude.
In between, I constantly ask myself when we exceeded 5,000 meters.
The short breaks are mostly used to create additional or thicker layers of clothing – if still available.
The maximum I can wear is a long-sleeved Merino shirt, my Mammut hiking sweater, a 200 fleece sweater, a down jacket and the windbreaking hardshell jacket.
And it goes on and on through the night, step by step, hour by hour.
Some of the group sleep half or fully while walking, staggering again and again towards the edge of the narrow path, only to be steered into the right lane by the man behind them with a light shove.
Kilimanjaro Tour: Banger looking up
We want to be at Stella Point at sunrise. It makes me all the more startled when the red stripe on the horizon widens, but the edge of the summit still seems unreachably far away.
When the sun comes up around 5:30 a.m. – 6:00 a.m., we actually take a break somewhere in the middle of the slope, serving coffee and tea. It becomes clear that we are at least 2 hours behind schedule. Nevertheless, coffee has rarely tasted so good – and it has actually only been this brown broth made of powder for days.
The guides are slowing down the pace more and more. On the way up I get more and more impatient. It is like every morning the best weather now, bright blue sky. Now you have to have a great view from Stella Point and especially from the summit. BUT: The last few days always brought clouds in from a certain time. How annoying would that be? Due to “delay” on the way to the summit a restricted view!
Hard intermediate sprint to Stella Point and march to the summit
The last hour to the edge of the summit, I pick up the pace, I still feel fit enough despite a long hike. Was that particularly clever? Probably not, the extremely slow pace makes sense.
I am the first to reach the dome. The view from Stella Point of the snowy and icy crater landscape is simply incredible, Uhuru Peak can also be seen.
My drinking water in the bag and in the bottle is now frozen.
At Stella Point the group gathers again and starts the storm to the summit.
We all reach the summit together, around 9:15 a.m., almost 10 hours after leaving the base camp. Uhuru Peak, 5,895 meters high. The literal highlight of the Kilimanjaro tour.
Both EVERYTHING and TOGETHER are remarkable, I never thought that everyone could do it before. Many have had to fight hard for it in the past few hours.
After my little sprint to Stella Point, the way to Uhuru Peak is extremely exhausting for me, the air stays away, the legs are heavy and you have to re-motivate yourself for every step.
Despite exhaustion, the atmosphere is exuberant, everyone hugging, the obligatory summit photo is taken, and of course everyone poses individually in front of the sign.
Our honeymoon couple also gets the reward for many exhausting days: their joint summit picture, which will surely occupy a special place in the house in the future. I’m grinning at faces with nosebleeds.
Everyone still enjoys the – literally – breathtaking view of the glacier and crater landscape, then the first begin the descent.
Because of the tiredness I almost forgot the “summit schnapps“, a sip of Tanzanian brandy from my hip flask, which went through the kilometers up the mountain especially for this moment.
Descent in the tunnel of tiredness and exhaustion
Then the descent begins for me too, it will seem like an eternity. I’m dead tired, just drag the sticks after me over the rubble. The way down is quite dangerous because the concentration drops extremely. As I walk I sleep half, I have to be woken up every break.
I get tears in my eyes at the sight of the camp so far away. On the spot I would like to just stay, sleep a few hours and then follow to the camp. Even at over 5,000 meters on the cold stones, it doesn’t matter. To sleep is now possible everywhere.
The way is felt longer and shorter instead of shorter, only after 4 hours our small splinter group reaches the camp. Since so many guides came up, everyone can run at their own pace with a guide. It was a stroke of luck that I would have stayed somewhere on the slope and slept alone.
The bitterness is the certainty that we still have to walk from the base camp to the next camp for the night at least two hours – unimaginable that my body is even going through it.
Halfway there, more of our G-Fighters come towards us to take the daypacks off and support them. We are incredibly grateful for that.
We have a little time to sleep until lunch. I fall into the tent in full summit gear, just take off my hardshell jacket, and after lunch we actually walk a good two hours to the High Camp at 3,950 meters. Slightly downhill, the summit of Kili behind. It’s amazing that we were up there just a few hours ago.
There’s another surprise for dinner: CAKE! “Congratulation for Summiting”. Small gesture, big impact. Everyone is so happy to have made it. Exhausted but happy. “Kejkii, kejkiiiohooo” or something similar sounds the song of the guides for the cake, in which everyone joins in.
Of course it will be a very short day again, especially today. Before 8 p.m. everyone is in the tents and sleeping – the last time on the mountain, the last time in a sleeping bag, the last time freezing when getting up at night
Knowledge of the day
“Pole Pole“, even if you think you could be faster!
Kilimanjaro Tour Day 6: High Camp – Mweka Camp – Mweka Gate – Moshi
Start: 3,950 meters; Stopover: Mweka Gate (1,800 meters); Destination: Moshi at 800 meters
From the high camp there is an absolutely fantastic view in the morning before breakfast. A seemingly endless sea of clouds in the valley, from this appears Mount Meru and the Kili rises majestically directly above our camp. Wow!
After the delicious breakfast, it’s time to say goodbye to the G-Fighters. Moving speeches to say goodbye to the porters There is a lot of singing and dancing again, everyone is said goodbye individually. I address a word of thanks to everyone, a short hug. It is clear to everyone in the group that we would never have made it without the G-Fighters. They gave us as much comfort in the camps and on the mountain as possible under these circumstances. Asante Sana – Thank you very much!
Today is about 6 hours on the program, the last stage of the Kilimanjaro tour. 6 hours downhill, past the Mweka Camp and back into the rainforest. Everyone is on the move after a successful day yesterday.
We reach the Mweka Gate, the exit from Kilimanjaro National Park. Significantly, there are the first raindrops here. So far we have been very lucky. We officially register in the book as we do every day.
Kilimanjaro Tour: Back from the peaceful mountains
The window panes of the Ranger office are the first look in the mirror in 6 days.
How strange … Hardly on the bus, it starts to rain properly. Even during lunch in the nearby area, it rains like pails, continuously.
It is clear to everyone again what great luck we had. Such a weather, even at a short time during the hike, would be extremely damaging to the mood. The wet clothes would never have got really dry even in the cold.
Back to the hotel. And now further highlights that you would otherwise take for granted: running water. Shower. Warm shower! Sockets. WIFI. A bed.
The final meeting takes place in the small conference room of the hotel. We sat in the room with its Kilimanjaro route wall painting 6 days ago, in fearful anticipation of what awaits us on the long way up
Now everyone has a happy expression on their face, the first beer (of course “Kilimanjaro”) in front of them and the cell phone back in their hands.
There will be a ceremonial closing ceremony with a certificate and bracelet. Everyone is extremely proud.
After a delicious dinner, a few more Kilimandjaro beers with the slogan “If you can’t climb it, drink it!” and the first goodbyes go to bed. The next morning, after breakfast and the departure or onward journey of all group members, an extremely impressive tour ends.
Knowledge of the day
Unfortunately, the danger is far too great to quickly fall back into the daily grind with a cell phone and all imaginable comfort. You could experience a great tour with a great group without that!
How to get cheap from Moshi to Kilimanjaro Airport?
Mostly, only expensive shuttles from Moshi to the airport are offered. If you want to save a little money for your next trip, here’s how:
Start with a “Dalla Dalla” (Tanzanian tricycle rickshaw) to the Moshi bus stand. From here you get on a bus to Arusha. Do not be confused by the bustle and shouting in the bus parking lot. Especially as a white person, you are eyed and approached from all sides.
Tell the bus driver that you want to go to the airport.
He will let you out at the KIA Bus Stop, at the crossroads from Arusha – Himo Road to Kilimanjaro Airport Road.
From here you take a taxi. Since there are only around 7.5 kilometers straight to the airport, the cost of a car is no longer significant. For the more adventurous you can also take the inexpensive motorcycle taxi. Not easy with two backpacks, but doable!
Have a good trip and good luck on the highest mountain in Africa 🇹🇿
If you have any questions beyond the articles, feel free to write me!