Travel is finally becoming a safe option as COVID vaccines continue to become more available across the globe. We are so excited to share in the success of two WWTrek groups reaching the summit of Kilimanjaro in June! Our local crew members and our intrepid guests were all thrilled to be exploring the highest mountain in Africa, especially with hardly any other groups around. One of our very own office mates, Corinne, joined the first group up Kilimanjaro and captured a daily account of their adventure. Enjoy a brief visual trip up to the summit of Kilimanjaro along the Machame Route!
What an epic adventure! A rightful bucket list goal, to say the least. After being introduced to Tanzanian culture by strolling a village and schoolhouse with a local guide, then exploring a coffee plantation and enjoying the finished product, we all endured a gear check in preparation for the trek ahead. As we approached the Machame Gate, our crew was taken aback by how empty the parking lot was. The popular starting point is known to be packed with excited trekkers, but there was literally only one other vehicle present! Off we went… Up the mighty “Queen of Africa”, Mount Kilimanjaro. Every single day of the trek was unlike the last, trekking through various eco-zones, from misty rainforest to arctic glaciers. An incredible and unforgettable experience that we’ll all get to relish in for years to come!
Day 1: Machame Trailhead to Machame Camp
We started the upward trek! The entire day was spent ascending through misty and mysterious rainforest, with lovely elephant trunk flowers sprinkled along the trail.
Day 2: Machame Camp to Shira Camp
After formally meeting the amazing crew, we left the humid forest for higher moorland ground. Being above the clouds was surreal. An epic day ended with an epic sunset.
Day 3: Over Lava Tower Pass (15,190’), then down to Barranco Camp
Another scenic day of acclimating that ended with a very wet descent. The thick mist that turned into rain was unexpected, but getting to walk among unique Dendrosenecio kilimanjari, aka Dr. Seuss trees, was worth the soggy efforts.
Day 4: Barranco Camp to Karanga Valley Camp
We started climbing the Great Barranco Wall, an absolute highlight of the trek, forcing us to use hands and feet. Major celebration commenced at the top of the wall! The clouds continued being incredibly dramatic, swiftly rolling in and out of camp as the sun set.
Day 5: Karanga Valley Camp to Kosovo Camp
We ascended to Barafu Camp for lunch, which is where most groups camp before the summit push. We carried on upward to the higher Kosovo Camp for the night and had the area all to ourselves, gazing straight up at our next venture – the top of Kilimanjaro.
Day 6: Summit Day!
We woke at 12am to start trekking by 1am sharp. Camp elevation was 15,995’ and our goal of Uhuru Peak was 19,341’. The next camp required descending 9,000’ – so no time to spare! Our trek was scheduled to summit with the full moon. It was surreal being guided by the moonlight, with no need for headlamps. The ascent was real-deal! The steepness mixed with exhaustion and lack of oxygen hit us all in various ways. Our amazing guides sang the entire way to keep the motivation high, and it worked. Five hours in, we reached Stella Point as the sun started rising and the moon was setting. By then, my water bottles had completely frozen! We all had at least four layers on top and bottom, and were still struggling to keep warm. An hour later, treading over glacier ice, we reached Uhuru Peak, the highest point in Africa! Not much time is spent at top considering how elevation impacts every individual differently. No bother, the descent was incredibly fun as we speed “skied” down the scree. We enjoyed a break and brunch down at camp (it was still morning after all), then started the descent to Mweka Camp at 10,040’. What a day!
Day 7: Descending, and Exiting Mweka Gate
Exhausted may be an understatement, but the feeling of accomplishment was beyond measure. The final six miles to our exit at Mweka Gate were back through lush rain forest, making us all reminisce over Day 1. We celebrated our success with cake! Then the crew’s song and dance brought some tears out of us all… What a treat to be with such an amazing group and crew. What an accomplishment!