Kilimanjaro

Background Information:

 

Location: 03 degrees 07' S, 37 degrees 35' E in the United Republic of Tanzania

Altitude: 19,340' (5,963 meters)

Tidbits: Highest free-standing mountain of earth

Highest point in Africa

Most expansive view on earth (you can see approximately 60,000 square-miles from the summit)

Time Zone: GMT +3 hours

Maps: The best map I found was the 1:75,000 Topographical Map of Kilimanjaro published by EWP, Mountain and Wilderness Guides, Haulfryn, Cilycwm, Llandovery, SA20 0SP, UK (tel: 01550721319). The map is printed on water-resistant, tare-resistant paper and is available in many specialty map, mountaineering, and travel stores.

To call Tanzania by phone: 011- 255 (for Moshi/Kilimanjaro area) followed by the phone number.

Practical Information:

When to go:

There are two seasons in Tanzania. Rainy and not. The "not rainy" seasons are from December through March and June through October. The December through March dates tend to be a bit warmer than their June-October counterparts.

I decided to leave for my trip on January 20, 2000.

Inoculations and Medications

You should check with your physician as to which medications and inoculations to take. Please note that some inoculations must be taken a month in advance in order to build up an effective immunity prior to your trip. Yellow Fever is prevalent and a vaccination is generally required in order to enter the country. You should make certain that you receive an World Health Organization Vaccination Card from your physician. According to international regulations, the Yellow Fever (only) inoculation must contain a certified stamp from your physician. Most travelers clinics and infectious disease specialists have this stamp; however, many general practice physicians do not have it (and some do not even know what it is).

Border crossings are sometimes an iffy business, so it's not a bad idea to follow the letter of the law and get the proper medical stamp so that you will not have any problem at the border.

I received a total of four inoculations this trip. The first was Hepatitis-A. This disease is rampant throughout Asia and Africa and can be passed through casual contact with food and other methods. In order to build up an effective immunity you must receive two injections, spaced six months apart. You should receive the first injection at least one month before your trip. The second inoculation I received was a tetanus and diphtheria booster. The third inoculation was for typhoid. The fourth was a Polio booster.

I decided not to receive a hepatitis-B injection, since this disease is mostly passed on by exchange of fluids, rather than casual contact. I also decided not to receive a cholera injection, since there can be adverse symptoms associated with the injection and the injection only gives partial immunity. I experienced some very minor irritation at the site of the injection for a few days, but other than that, there were no problems.

I also received prescriptions for several medications. The first was an anti-malarial medication. These are tablets that are taken once a week. The first one is taken one week before your trip. You continue taking them weekly until four weeks AFTER you leave Africa. The next drug is Cipro, which is an antibiotic that is taken for travelers diarrhea (you only take the drug after the onset of diarrhea). I also received a prescription for Diamox This drug helps with the acclimatization process. And is taken twice a day beginning three days before reaching high altitude. It is a diuretic, so you can experience tingling in your fingers and frequent urination. Since I have been to altitude before without any significant reaction, I decided to take this drug with me, but not take the pills unless I experienced high-altitude mountain sickness. I also brought Imodium and Tylenol (note that Advil, aspirin, and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications can adversely interact with Diamox, so check with your physician.

Visas:

A visa is required in order to enter Tanzania. You can purchase a visa at the airport, but I preferred to get mine in advance. The easiest way was is call the Tanzanian Mission in New York (212-972-9160) and verify the current procedure. When I traveled, I was instructed to download a visa application at www.tanzania-online.gov.uk and then send a certified check in the amount of $45 made payable to the "Tanzania Mission" and send it to the Tanzania Mission, 205 East 42nd Street, Room 1300, NY, NY 10017. Again, you should call the Tanzania Mission first and verify that these are still the correct procedures and determine the current fee. If you are going to be landing in Nairobi, you will need a multi-entry visa from the government of Kenya.

Currency:

The official unit of currency in Tanzania is the Tanzanian Shilling. It is virtually impossible to exchange currency into Shillings (and perhaps more importantly, from Shillings, back to your native currency) anywhere outside of the airport in Tanzania. Don't bother. Everybody takes dollars. Stick with US currency and you'll be OK. For the current exchange rate, click here: http://finance.yahoo.com/m5?a=1&s=USD&t=TZS.

Bring lots of small US$ bills ($1's and $5's). If you haven't been warned already "There is no change in Tanzania". A $20 bill is a small fortune and, in most cases, you will not be able to get change. If you do get change, it will be in Tanzanian Shillings. Stick with US currency.

Also, it is common practice to add a 5% - 15% surcharge for using a credit card. If you use travelers checks, a fee of approximately $15 is added per transaction. The vendors are just passing down the fees that the bank charges them. Using travelers checks can get pricey. It's also inconvenient since the vendors will insist that you write your full name, home address, and password number on EACH travelers check.

For my trip, I decided to pay for the hotel room (only) using travelers checks. Everything else was paid in cash. Other than tips, this did not amount to a great deal of money.

 

Electricity:

Just be happy if you can get it.

 

Children:

It was interesting to note that there were no children on the plane. None. Also, I didn't see a single child at the hotel or the safari. Under Tanzanian park rules, a child must be at least 10 years old to ascend Kilimanjaro above 3,000 meters.

Route Selection:

There are several wonderful routes up the mountain. I selected the Machame route. This route winds it's way up the mountain.

Hotel and Climb Reservation:

There are several reliable companies in both the US and Tanzania that can arrange your hotel and climb. The truth is that the vast majority of the US companies end up booking the climb with the local Tanzanian hotels, mark up the price by 300% to 800%, and end up selling you the same package. If you make a little extra effort, you can save a LOT of money by booking your climb and hotel DIRECTLY with a firm in Tanzania.

I booked my trip with Keys Hotels Limited, a small family-run hotel located in Moshi. They had top-notch accommodations including private baths, air conditioning, hot water, a swimming pool, and numerous western luxuries (in-room bar, TV, etc.). The hotel will also make your climb arrangements and take care of EVERYTHING from the minute you land at the airport until the moment you depart. Try to book both the climb and hotel with the same firm... you'll end up saving a LOT of money and there are less hassles since the guides are more carefully selected since the hotel's reputation depends on them. The Keys Hotel offered both climb and safaris at very reasonable rates. I did not have enough time for a safari, so I ended up booking the climb through them. They offered both 6 and 7 days climbs on the Machame route (as well as other routes). The 7th day gives you an extra day to acclimatize and visit Arrow Glacier. I selected the 6 day climb.

I paid $850 for a comprehensive package. The package included a hotel room on the day of arrival and day before departure, transfers to and from the airport, park fees and rescue insurance (which totals about $400 of the $850 charge), all meals at both the hotel and during the climb, porters, cook, guide, and tent. You can't go wrong for this kind of money! US firms were offering identical packages for $2,000 - $4,000. The keys hotel can be contacted at +255-55-52250. They also have a web-site at http://www.btinternet.com/~keys.hotel.

 

The general procedure is that you call them and tell them the dates and options you would like for your trip. They will quote a price and request a small deposit ($100 in my case as a single traveler) to be sent (either a wire or a bank/cashier's check) by special carrier (DHL, etc.). The balance can be paid upon arrival by either credit card, travelers check, or cash. Most hotels cannot accept credit card deposits over the phone due to problems that they experience in Tanzania with fraudulent transactions. To get the deposit check to Tanzania, I got a bank check from my local bank. There was no fee for this service, however, some banks charge a dollar or two. I then sent it at the US Post Office by International Express Mail. The cost for this service was about $20 (private carriers wanted between $60 and $100). It arrived in three business days. It was a little extra work to book directly, but definitely worth it.

 

Packing List:

Dress around the hotel is very informal. It is hot and humid, so shorts and short-sleeve shirts are in order. The hotel will provide group camping gear (tents, sleeping mats, cookware, plates, utensils, etc.). You will need a good sleeping bag (I recommend a bag rated at 20 degrees). You'll probably want to use your own sleeping pad.

For the first three days of your climb, you'll be wearing shorts or lightweight long pants and tee shirts. At night, you'll want a flannel top. Bring a flashlight with extra bulbs and batteries, a water-purifier (capable of removing viruses) waterproof pants and shirt (a Gore-Tex coat can serve double-duty as a raincoat and as an outer coat for summit-day), and a good pair of sunglasses, preferably with side panels. You want flannel shirt and pants and gaiters to keep scree out of your boots. For footwear, I bought a pair of sneakers and a good pair of Gore-Tex lined boots (Saloman). I ended up wearing the sneakers around camp, and on the first and last days of the climb. The other days are very rocky and you'll want the boots. I also highly recommend trekking poles, plus common sense items (first aid kit, bug repellent, non-cotton clothing, two roles of toilet paper, soap, toiletries, good wool socks, etc.). Bring a heavy-duty duffel bad WITH A SMALL PADLOCK to stuff everything in. The padlock serves double-duty. First, it will help prevent any probing or pilfering of your personal belongings when your porter is out of site and it provides extra security to keep your duffel's zippers firmly secured so that it doesn't pop-open during the nearly 100 miles of trekking that you will be doing. If the duffel is not waterproof, stuff everything in plastic trash bags within the duffel. This is critical since your supplies will get drenched if it is raining. You should also bring a small waterproof daypack, large enough to fit a jacket, an extra pair of socks, first aid kit, food, flashlight, money, rain-gear, water bottles, camera, etc. (and anything else you'll want with you during the day as you climb).

Getting There:

There are two primary methods of getting to Kilimanjaro from the United States and Europe. The first is flying to Nairobi, Kenya, staying overnight, and taking a bus or shuttle across the border to Tanzania and arriving in Moshi many hours later.

Advantages:

  1. Airfares to Nairobi are competitively priced and there are several flight options from several airlines

  2. It gives you the opportunity to visit Kenya

Disadvantages:

  1. Nairobi is a dirty, crime-ridden city frequently referred to as "Nai-Robbery"

  2. You must pay for two nights additional hotel lodging (one night after arrival and one night after departure).

  3. You must take a long bus ride, with a border crossing between Kenya and Tanzania, to arrive and depart to/from Tanzania.

  4. You must purchase a "multi-visit" Kenyian visa in order to initially enter the Kenya on your flight, and then to return to the country when you come back from Tanzania.

  5. If you objective is to climb Kilimanjaro, you lose one day on arrival and one day on departure for travel between Nairobi, Kenya and Moshi, Tanzania

The other method is to fly into Kilimanjaro airport (airport code: JRO).

Advantages:

  1. There is direct service from Amsterdam on a frequent basis (the return flight makes a single stop in Dar es Salam and continues on to Amsterdam without a change of planes).

  2. You avoid one border crossing and the need to purchase a Kenyan visa.

  3. It is the most efficient (time-wise) method of arriving in the country. You can land on Monday and start your climb on Tuesday.

  4. You do not need to book extra nights at a hotel, or arrange bus-transportation.

Since I wanted to minimize time away from the office, my itinerary looked like this:

 

January 20th- Depart San Francisco for Amsterdam, non-stop, on KLM. Arrive the morning of the 21st. I used my frequent-flyer files for a free business-class ticket (80,000 miles). A coach ticket would have been $596.

 

January 21st- Overnight in Amsterdam. I stayed at the airport Sheraton. I didn't want to have to deal with concerns about rush-hour traffic trying to catch my departing flight. The airport Sheraton is located directly in the terminal of Schiphol airport. I paid approximately 295 Guilders for the room (about $150). You can check rates at http://www.sheraton.com. I selected an "endless weekend" rate and got a free buffet breakfast included. There is a shuttle train that departs from Amsterdam every 15 minutes. Roundtrip fare is only a few dollars. So, I got in a day of sightseeing.

January 22nd- Depart in the morning on KLM for Kilimanjaro airport. This ticket was a bit pricey...almost $1,200. The 8 hour flight arrives at 9:10pm. The hotel made arrangements to pick me up at the airport. Overnight at the hotel.

January 23rd-January 28th- Depart for my climb

 

January 28th- Return to the Keys hotel for overnight.

 

January 29th- Depart Kilimanjaro airport at 10:10pm for Amsterdam, via one-stop (no change of planes) in Dar es Salaam. Arrive in Amsterdam at 8:00am on January 30th.

 

January 30th- Check in at the airport Sheraton in the morning (I could have caught the morning flight back to San Francisco, but I wanted a day to unwind and get in a little extra sight-seeing) the rest of the day was free to explore Amsterdam.

 

January 31st- Return flight to San Francisco.

Day 1:

My KLM flight departed from San Francisco and landed in Amsterdam at Schipol airport on time. I have traveled all over the world and I can safely say that Schipol is the finest airport that I have ever been to! Passing through immigration took less than 1 minute. By the time I reached the luggage carousel, my bags were waiting there for me. Schipol has plenty of free luggage carts, so I loaded up my bags and went through Customs. This consisted of a single question (what is your business in Amsterdam), and I simply told them I was overnighting on my way to climb Kilimanjaro. I was wished good luck, and sent through. There were no swarms of people in the arrival area, and directional signs were clear. In fact, the airport was more like a luxury shopping mall complete with restaurants, stores, hotels, a train station in the terminal and a Casino. I rolled the cart directly into the Sheraton without leaving the airport, got my room keys, and, using the same cart, rolled it into my hotel room. The entire process from plane to room took less than 15 minutes.

Since I had the remainder of the day free (my connecting flight to Kilimanjaro wasn't until the next morning), I caught a few hours of sleep and then took the train directly from the airport terminal to Amsterdam Central Station. Trains leave every 15 minutes or so, and the train ride is about 20 minutes long. The round-trip fair is just a few dollars.

 

Day 2:

The next morning, I rolled my luggage cart out of the hotel and directly to the baggage check-in station. Immigration, customs, checking, etc. took about 20 minutes in total. There are no special airport taxes that need to be paid prior to departure. The flight to Kilimanjaro was on KLM and relatively comfortable. The majority of the passengers were Americans. Most were older and planning to go on safari.

We landed at Kilimanjaro airport on time. The airport uses the rollup stairs and all the passengers file into a rather small reception area. You can exchange currency and purchase a visa in this area if necessary. The passengers must then pass through a health-inspection station. Basically, the agent just checks to see that you have your yellow international vaccine card and that it has been properly endorsed to show you have been vaccinated against yellow fever. You then take about 5 steps forward and pass through a more orderly line through immigration where they check your visa and stamp you passport. A few steps more and you pickup your luggage, which the airport personnel have placed into neat rows. Free luggage carts are available for all passengers and there are lots of airport personnel, many dressed in colorful uniforms, available to assist you.

 

After luggage is in hand, it's 10 more steps through a doorway into the "terminal" (a small room). Here the safari companies and hotels have their representatives standing in line with sign cards waiting for their guests. I immediately located the representative from the Keys hotel, who was waiting there with a sign-card with my name. She was also waiting for another party, which ended up not showing up, so we were the last to leave (about 15 minutes after the others). The hotel uses Toyota Land Rovers. Since it was late at night, the airport security personnel was concerned that we would be driving alone along the road at night, so they sent 4 police officers to accompany us for the first portion of the drive. It was a balmy night, and the roads were empty.

We arrived at the hotel about an hour later. Stepping into the Keys hotel is like stepping back in time. Simple and old world. Everybody who worked at the hotel seemed to know the guests by name. In fact I was greeted by name (as the only arriving guest that evening) as I entered the hotel. The hotel consists of about 40 rooms and some cottages. There is a bar area with a billiard table and TV, a dining room, a pool (the water looked a little green), and a small convenience store. There were no problems at check-in (I paid the balance by travelers check) and I was told that my guide would be waiting for me at 7:30 the next morning, or later, if I would like. The desk clerk told me that they thought I might be hungry after my long flight, so they had the entire kitchen staff stay and wait for me in case I wanted something to eat. The room was simple, but comfortable. It consisted of two twin beds, a table and chair, desk, night table, TV (with two stations to choose from), air conditioning (this is important!), small refrigerator, and private bathroom. Considering where I was (in the middle of Africa), a definite 4-star hotel. I stopped at the dining room and sampled some of the food (not bad pasta, chicken, vegetables, etc.). The only thing you pay for is your drinks. Here is a trick to survive your Africa trip. Drink bottled water!!! They sold both Key's brand bottled water and Kilimanjaro brand water. Both were fine and sold for about $2 for a very large bottle. Use it to drink and brush your teeth. Don't drink out of the faucet!

I spent the remainder of the evening sorting my gear. I would be taking a small daypack which would contain my critical supplies (money, water purifier, 1st aid kit, GPS (which I didn�t need), etc.) and a large duffel which would contain the remainder of my personal gear for the climb. I took my other belongings and checked the bag at the desk for my return.

 

Day 3:

In the morning I went to the lobby and was greeted, by name, by the front desk clerk and Lucy, who coordinates the climbs. She introduced me to my guide and told me that we'd be ready to go whenever I'm ready. I put my passport, my money, and one credit card into the hotel safe (they don't use individual safety deposit boxes, so I wanted to make sure I had a backup plan in case something happened).

One aspect of the trip that I liked was the fact that the hotel puts together private groups. Since I was alone, I wouldn't have to share a tent with strangers. My expedition team (and make no mistake, they thought of this, and equipped this, as an expedition) consisted of a guide, two porters, and a cook. All of these people were there to support me, and only me. For larger groups they add more support people. Each would be carrying about 50 pounds of supplies. The best part is that your porter carries your gear. So other than a day pack, I was traveling light!

I was given a boxed lunch, which consisted of a hard-boiled egg, roll, jam, orange juice, banana, and a small tuna sandwich. We departed early in two land rovers filled with gear (they supply all group gear including tents, stoves, food, etc.). I brought my own tent, but this wasn't necessary since the quality of their tents was fairly good. It was about an hour drive, through banana and coffee plantations and small villages, that brought us into the park and to the trail-head of the Machame route.

It took about 45 minutes to go through the formalities and obtain the climbing permit. This is all handled by the guide. I simply needed to fill-out the visitors register with my name, nationality, and passport number (you don't need to bring your passport to the climb, just the number). The guide then arranges and sorts out the gear for the porters. The Keys hotel uses their own porters. Other expeditions contract with porters at the trail-head. It's an interesting scene with lots of people trying to get the work for the day. Everyone is respectful of the climbers...in fact they won't approach you or talk to you unless you initiate a conversation. Most speak a little English. Most guides speak English rather well.

We started up the trail, which was slightly muddy, but well marked, that goes through the jungle. No machetes required. The vertical rise was rather easy. There are no views along the trail due to the vegetation. No animal, or unusual birds were noted. I walked at a rather brisk pace and the walking trekking poles I brought were invaluable. After about 4 hours, with only one 15 minute stop for lunch, we reached camp 1, the Machame hut.

Camp 1 is located at 3000 meters. It should be noted that there are no "huts" available for sleeping. There is usually a park official in a single, small tin shack who is responsible for watching over things and has access to an emergency radio. Due to the clouds, there were not many views, however, at this elevation the trees were much smaller in size. The camp consisted of several campsites, which were flat areas cleared of rocks and debris. There are several outhouses, which consist of a wooden structure, some with doors, over a hole.

 

There is a water source at this camp (a can't recall if it was from a well with a hand pump or a stream). Everyone who departs on the Machame route camps in this area. Since we were the first to arrive, we were able to secure a nice spot and setup camp just before the rain started. About 80 people would be camping in this area that evening.

Here is some advice to make your trip more enjoyable...if you think you'll be roughing it in a peaceful, quiet and serene setting, forget it! The porters from all the campsites will be talking, laughing, playing tape players and radios well into the evening. This is a cultural thing and it's just the way it is...the sooner you accept this, the better time you will have. Also, the guides and porters will keep to themselves, so you may want to think about a traveling companion to help make the time go by.

Dinner was surprisingly good and consisted of onion soup, rolls, pasta, and steamed vegetables. I went to bed around 8:00pm. Daytime temperatures at the trail-head were in the mid-90's. Daytime temperatures at camp were in the upper 70's. Evening temperatures were in the 50's.

Day 4:

I was greeted in the morning by my porter. Breakfast was waiting and consisted of porridge, scrambled eggs, and rolls with butter. Upon completing breakfast, I pumped water through my water purifier and we broke camp. I was given a picnic lunch to put in my pack. This would be an easy day, crossing a valley and continuing along a ridge and camping at the Shira Hut at 3,800 meters. The weather was overcast and it began raining at around 1:00pm and continued for the remainder of the day. Due to the clouds, I could not see the peak (or more than a few hundred feet in front of me). It was a dreary and generally miserable day. There were only two other expeditions camped at the Shira Hut. Temperatures during the day were in the upper 50's. Weather at night fell into the low 30's.

Day 5:

At daybreak, the weather had cleared and I could see the massive mountain for the first time. I would swear it was a 15 minute walk away (it was actually a three day walk away). The air was unbelievably clear and you can see the snow and ice formations all the way up to the summit. It is truly breathtaking. This was another easy day. We ended the day camped at the Baranco Hut at an altitude of 3,940 meters. The weather continued to be bad and it began raining at 11:00am. We made camp in a storm at 12:30 and I spent a miserable day in the tent by myself. The weather finally cleared by nightfall and you can see the Great Barranco, a huge wall of stone and scree that extended for miles. You can also see a small stream with several minor waterfalls at the bottom of the valley. Daytime temperatures are in the upper 50's. Evening temperatures were in the upper 20's.

Day 6:

This would be the toughest day (excluding the summit push). 6-8 hours of moderately tough hiking, with thousands of vertical feet of elevation gain over ridges, then down valleys, then over the Great Barranco, and back down again, finally culminating with an ascent to the Barafu hut. There is no water at Barafu, so make sure that you get plenty of water, and start super-hydrating for the summit push at every opportunity (there is a small stream that you'll hit about noon time that will give you a chance to pump water). The Barafu area is extremely rocky and has magnificent views. You can see Mawanzi to the east and Mt. Meru to the west. It is at an elevation of 4,600 meters. Nighttime temperatures are in the low 20's. Daytime temperatures are in the upper 40's. The summit is about 5,000 vertical feet up, and about 6-7 miles out. One mistake I made was that I didn't open the container of bug repellent (DEET) for the past few days (there are no bugs after camp 1) and the pressure differential caused the container to burst. The DEET leaked out and was eating through my synthetic carrying case.

Day 7:

I woke up at 11:30pm and donned my high-altitude gear. This consisted of thermal pants, with a triple layer Gore-Tex pant covering, wool socks, gaiters, Gore-Tex insulated hiking boots, a thermal undershirt, a 300-weight flannel jacket, an Insulated Gore-Tex jacket, a balaclava that covered by head and face, insulated Gore-Tex mittens, and a headlamp and backpack. The temperature was in the 20's, so I was actually too warm and had my jacket partially unzipped. I made the mistake of keeping my water bottle on the outside of my pack.

My guide and I started our ascent in pitch blackness (don't leave any valuables in the tent). As we ascended into the night, all you can see is the bright stars in the sky, the silhouette of the snows of Kilimanjaro, and a single ribbon-thin line of light going up and down the mountain caused by the headlamps of the other climbers. After an hour or so of climbing, I turned the light off and climbed by starlight. As we ascended, the night became bitter cold. Climbers from the previous day told us that it was 25 below zero (Fahrenheit) at the summit just before dawn. My water bottle had frozen solid within 20 minutes. This concerned me since it would be 5 more hours to the summit, and another 4 hours back to camp.

Each step became more difficult and climbers were already turning back. It became a routine after a while...step, rest until you catch your breath, and step again. I felt utterly exhausted. My stomach was bothering me and, more importantly, at about 17,000 feet I experienced a loss of vision in my left eye (it was a deep, cloudy haze). I didn't know if it was ocular edema or cerebral edema, so, not wanting to take a chance (three climbers had died in January on the mountain from cerebral edema during the first 3 weeks of the year), I decided to climb down only 2,000 vertical feet from the summit. We returned to camp at 3:30am. Needless to say I was extremely disappointed, but I knew the mountain would be there next year.

Feeling generally miserable and unable to see very well, I decided that I wanted to descend to the trail-head. This would involve a 20 mile hike and a vertical descent of 15,000'! I wasn't sure how the guide would make the arrangements to get me back to the hotel a day early (I figured we'd have to camp at the bottom and wait to be picked up the next day, but as you will soon see, they have every contingency planned for).

We started the descent. My vision cleared up at about 12,000'. About half-way down, there is a table setup...beer and soda for $2 and water for $5. This little "store" is run by a ranger (supply and demand I'm sure he can get $20 a bottle for the beer if he tried). My guide told the ranger what happened. He radioed the park headquarters, which called my hotel. The hotel immediately sent a special land-rover to meet me at no additional charge. The remainder of the descent was uneventful. It was moderately steep and a very, very long hike. At the bottom of the trail, we signed out with the ranger. Normally, you get a certificate here for ascending to the summit. The driver from the hotel was waiting for me at the trail-head. The driver felt worse than I did, and clearly felt bad for me after walking all that distance and not making it to the top. He brought me a lunch and some juice. We had a 90 minute drive back to the hotel. There was a room waiting for me (remember, they weren't expecting me until a they received the call from the rangers) and my luggage was already in my room. I later learned that 25% of the people do not make it to the summit on the Machame route.

I tipped the guides, porter, and cook. This is very important since the majority of their income comes from tips and not the very small wages they make as porters. The standard tip they RECEIVE is $5 a day for porters and cooks, and $10 a day for the guides.

The hotel suggested that, since I had an extra free day, that I might want to go on safari. Not being a big fan of safari's, but not wanting to hang around the hotel for a day with nothing to do, I decided to go to Ngorongoro Crater.

A typical town in the most rural areas around Kilimanjaro

Drive to the trailhead past the Chagga people who are tree farmers

Guides hiring porters and sorting gear at the trailhead

My guide and some of the porters

My porter with a 30 pound load

Armed ranger controlling access to the trail. I'm told the #1 menace is...elephants!

Trailhead sign

An easy trail to start the climb...we will be going through 5 climactic zones along the route

Trail getting a little rougher

Summit view from Camp 1

A nice dinner in the middle of tthe mountain including tabale-cloth and chair!

Above tree line day 2

Camping at the Shira plateau, day 2/3

A nice view of the mountain and somme indiginous trees

Above the clouds at about 16,000'

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