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“Kilitreks & Safaris”
Review of Mount Kilimanjaro

Mount Kilimanjaro
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8 days Kilimanjaro trekking via Lemosho route
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Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Reviewed 15 October 2009

We used this company for climbing Kilimanjaro & safari in Tanzania - and they were absolutely fantastic. Alex - the owner - personally picked us up and was there to meet and greet us at each key time. They took extreme care to ensure our comfort and safety and the Impala Hotel Moshi is a super location. The guides they used for both the climb and Safari were outstanding. They were also competitively priced and gave me ONLY honest accurate answers.
I would recoomend travellers consider using them.
Rohan - Canada.

6  Thank RJAYS
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 14 October 2009

We had planned for over a year and a half to come to Tanzania in Sept and attempt to Climb Kilimanjaro. We had been training hard, lots of hill walking and being up Snowdon most weekends - We had chose Shira route taking 8 days in total on the mountain. We didnt really want it to be the 2 of us and we did want to see a bit more of Tanzania too, Other than the mountain - so we opted for a UK based tour company 'Explore'. Which used local Tanzanian tour groups & guides to have the best knowledge and info of the local area. Organising us a safari and a short stay in Zanzibar too.
Shira route is the longest on the mountain, but is the best in terms of acclimitisation....
We Flew with British Airways from Manchester to London, Kenya airways from Heathrow direct to Nairobi and then with Precission air onwards to Kilimanjaro airport. Was a long tiring journey but so so worth it and did not have any delays...
We met up with the rest of our group in Kilimanjaro airport. There was 15 of us in total, plus our tour leader 'Max'. It was an amazing group - all like minded people and a variety of ages! ranging from 22 - 59. We got transfered on a mini bus just under an hour to Moshi a local village where we would spend the night resting before we headed to the mountain. We stayed in lodge style rooms, very basic but did the job. Weather was not very warm, although it wasnt cold either, just very cloudy!
Next morning was here before we knew it we had a good breakfast in the hotel then got briefed about the day & route ahead. We then loaded into 3 jeeps and drove to the Londrossi gate to commence our adventure. We all signed in to say we were entering the mountain, having a peek at the celebrity comic relief signitures too as they did the same route. Had a bit of lunch and got going.
The first day was so so dusty, not too energetic either. The aim on the mountain was never to be out of breath always walking slow and controlled. So you could acclimitise well..... Walking poles were very helpful for this, i had never really used them properly before, but couldnt imagine doing something like this without them now.
We got to Shira 1, the first campsite to be suprised with our tents all set up and the tea cooking - the porters we had with us were amazing the always leave camp after you and get there before you. We had around 40 porters for our group of 16..... Food was suprisingly good on the mountain we always had tea & coffee followed by some kind of soup then a meal. The chiefs did so well to make the food they did! Even had chips one night, imagine lugging those potatoes all the way up the mountain. We ate in two huge yellow, mess tents. Also a nice suprise was we had porter loo's that came with us on the whole trip! not many groups had these! Camp life was great and i really got into it, quite miss it know actually. You got into such a routine of eating tea, chatting a little in the mess tents and then an early night. As soon as the sun went down it was very cold, so the best place was to be in your sleeping bag...
You rose early about 6.30am with the porters banging your tent asking whether you wanted tea or coffee, ha! Followed shortly by a bowl of warm water to wash with in the first few camps - this soon stopped at around camp 4 as it was very cold in the mornings and it would just freeze! Days on the mountain consisted of waking 6.30, breakfast 7, packing everything away in your tent for 7.30 and then get walking...... You would walk till lunch time when you would arrive into your next camp. Porters would have everything all set up and lunch cooking. Have some lunch and then a couple of hours rest to purify your water etc (Tip: Best water purifier which we found was 'Aqua mira', you put 7 drops of part A & 7 drops of part B and shake then leave for 40mins - so much better than idione or chlorine as Aqua mira had no taste. We got it from Amazon)and head off on an acclimitisation walk. The idea was climb high and sleep low!
I think the coldest night we had was at Lava tower campsite 4100m it was an open site, winds were strong and temperature got to -10 all our water in the tent for the next day had frozen and my partner said i had icicles on my hat as i slept from the condensation of my breath..... Thank god i didnt need the toilet in the middle of the night there!
We eventually got to the summit night camp and rested, we had tea at 4pm loads carbs really - potato stew and pancakes, then went back to our tents to rest. Just a case of lieing there with your eyes shut for most people till 11pm. I did manage to get a few hours of sleep in from lunch till 4pm so i wasnt to bothered - although the stress on rest at this point couldnt be enough! We were told to put your thermals on and a few layers now and the rest at the bottom of your sleeping bag to keep warm. 11pm was very cold and dark and everything was alot harder then. Be organised and bags packed, with lots of snacks was the key....
We were due to set off from camp at 11.30pm for the summit. Headtorches on and poles in position....
I was all set but my partner was not feeling very well at all, he had an upset stomach (last thing you need at -7 on the mountain). He dosed himself up on immodium but it wasnt doing much good. But he still persisted - We had 2 Tanzanian guides with us this night and our english one 'Max', along with 6 assistant guides which were well acclimitised and experienced porters. These porters were monitoring us every step of the climb, always checking everything was ok. Helping us with water out of our bags, as the platypus tubes had frozen solid, even ones with thermal covers on! You didnt even feel like eating at that altitude i was just sucking glucose tablet sweets all the way.
3 hours had passed and everyone was getting tired, we were walking on pure scree. Every step foward we were sliding two back. This is how it went for 7hours and we had only ascented 3km.... It was the hardest moment of my life. I was so focused on the persons feet in front of me, as the only light was my headtorch. Every time i looked up i would loose balance and just see other headtorches winding the way higher and higher up the mountain. This was so off putting, soon i realised headtorches were turning into stars.....
Guides were telling us not long now nearly at Stella point as people were nearly asleep on there feet. We were an hour away! I felt my legs were not mine just jelly. We both persisted on, my partner was not feeling very good at all at this point. But he kept popping immodiums! He had an amazing assistant guide with him though walking behind him. People in our group soon started becoming unwell as the altitude and shear exhaustion set in. People had nose bleeds, sickness and fainting spells. Was not good. I just kept walking - hoping it cant be too much longer.
Finially we were at Stella point - there was about 8 of us together out of the original 15. My partner and i slumped on a rock back to back and just both cryed. It was unbelievable, we looked out and the sun was about to rise there was a orange/red glow along the horizion. No one could talk, not a grown man without a wet eye. The guides were hugging us and saying well done apparently around the next corner was the summit sign.
They didnt let us rest long and moved us walking again - what seemed like forever was about another 45mins to the sign. We already felt so accumplished, you found a boost of energy from within to do the last bit. People passing were congratulating us! It was fantastic.... We finially got to the sign at 6.30am 16th Sept, 2009. It was the best feeling in the world - i just hugged it, to my amazement i turned around to find my boyfriend on one knee. Where he asked me to marry him & i said yes once i found the words to be able to speak again the poor guy. It was all too much to take in - it was the most amazing thing in my life and i highly recommend it to again one who is slightly thinking about it. It did only take us 2 hours to get down which you slid most of the way down the scree...... We used Ashante tours once in Tanzania! Explore was the UK based company. All 15 plus guides made it to the top of Kili (we can know call it this) that morning, pushing through all difficulties had on the mountain! Well done to everyone!

14  Thank Danielle P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 13 October 2009

On the 4th September 2009 at 6.45am we made it to Stella Point, followed by Uhuru Peak at 8.00am which meant we had successfully reached the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro (elevation 5,895 metres or 19,340 feet). We completed the Machame Trek over 7 days which. While the first 4 days on the mountain where not overly challenging physically......the Barranco Wall is worthy of a mention due to having to manoeuvre oneself up a rock face with a long way to fall below! One rock is called kissing rock so you get the idea! The trip was visually spectacular from the minute we started the hike, raring to go our tour guides immediately told us to slow down and we were tasked with executing the 'Pole Pole' approach (slowly slowly) up to each campsite. We also had to be drinking 3-4 litres of water a day to support acclimatisation so at least it meant we had the camera's out often to take heaps of photo's. The group of 6 were supported round the clock by an outstanding team of 17 Porters, 1 Cook, 2 Tour Guides and literally mountains of food – we had fried eggs, boiled eggs, watermelon, pasta, sausages, soup, roast chicken, toast all the way up, and learning Swahili to interact with the crew was a real highlight.

Our summit day started at Barafu Camp and ended at Mweka Camp. We woke at 11pm and after a hot drink and final preparations our group started the final accent at 12.15am. Beneath the full moon to light our path, we executed our 'Pole Pole' approach like a giant caterpillar traversing up the ridge, the stomach butterfly's were raging, nerves were high, it was cold, very cold and all you could do was put one foot in front of the other:-

Left, Breath in through nose, Right, Breath out through mouth...no panting, causes dehydration, dehydration equals altitude sickness, severe altitude sickness means we won't get to the top...

12.30 - It feels like hours, watch check, it has only been 15 minutes - damm, air is thin, breath, drink water, breath...
01.00 - Dark, cold, nervous can we make it, not sure... can't see summit. Is there a top to this bloody mountain...
02.00 - Still dark, getting colder, left toe numb – does that mean I have frostbite? Curse sales woman who sold me socks that were meant to go to -20...
03.00 - Why are we doing this, tears, must stop tears – they will freeze on face and cause frostbite marks...
03.15 - Camelback water tube freezing, using body heat to defrost water....
04.00 - Shattered mentally, can't quit, told too many people, raised too much money – bloody ego, bloody pride, bloody mountain, bloody cold
04.30 - Toilet break – arghhhhhhh 18,000ft -20 can your butt freeze at -20?

At 5.00am we continued to scramble up loose gravel and scree - we stopped for a breather as physically we were just doing it tough and we were all exhausted mentally, two members of the team were carrying serious colds, another member of the team was sick from nausea on the way up, all of us were wondering what the hell we were doing, but after a few morale boosting comments, quite a number of Maltesser's and barley sugars washed down with water – one of the team sharing mine as the water in his 'anti freeze bottle had frozen' – we kept going. As dawn began to break and the sun started rising above the mountain – the view took our breath away – it was simply spectacular, it lifted our spirits just at the right time and got us to the top of the mountain. Once we reached Stella Point we were handed a cup of tea! Yes, our porters rocked! We then headed to the summit, we took photos and had a few quiet moments to ourselves on what we had achieved. The sun was shining, the glaciers glistened, life is beautiful at 20,000 feet...

After about 30 minutes on the summit we started our retreat down the mountain from 6000mtr to 4600mtr (quick break for a rest and lunch! i.e. collapse on sleeping bag) we then continued down to 3000mtr and staggered into camp at 5/6pm – we had been hiking close to 15 hours that day and covered 24kms.

A lady from the next camp showed me her heart rate calorie counter highlighting she has burnt 6,500 calories climbing Mt. Kili that day...! I think I consumed 6,500 calories in Maltesser's...!

Each day at camp we had to sign into the 'Guest/Registration Book' for the national park, there were literally hundreds of names before us – but one quote/comment in a column stood out “It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves” - I now know that quote is courtesy of Edmund Hillary – but for our little group after 12 months preparation, 72km's along the Machame Route, crossing five climate zones up the mountain from tropical to glacial - the message of the quote was being lived that day.

Our entire trip was organised through Base Camp Tanzania who were oustanding in every aspect. I would highly recomend them if you want to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro safely and with the best preparations for success to reach the summit. We departed for Safari a day after returning from the mountain.

34  Thank ExpatJetsetter
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 8 October 2009

I went with Ultimate Kilimanjaro. The guide, Richard, was awesome, the porters worked so hard, the food was way better than I expected. Except for the summit day, it was easier than I expected. The summit day was hard as could be, but still awesome.

4  Thank joygem
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 13 September 2009

I just returned from Mt. Kilimanjaro. It was my first, and probably my last high altitude mountaineering trip. Watching the sun rise from the top of the mountain was great. However, the experience was offset by the five days of relatively short hikes at a frustratingly slow pace that it took to get there. If you want the bragging rights of getting to the top, or if you think the effort required to get to the top will be a life-changing challenge, by all means climb Kili. On the other hand, if you are fit and used to long miles with lots of climbing, you may want to consider a different trek at lower altitudes where you can do longer miles at a faster pace.
I did a seven day hike on the Machame Route. (To compare trip lengths, start counting with the first day on the mountain.) Due to the time required to acclimate to the altitude, on the way up the daily distances are short and the pace is slow. The route averages around 4.25 miles per day for the first 5 days, and our average pace was less than 1.25 miles per hour. The 4 mile ascent from Barafu Camp to the summit took 6 hours and 35 minutes for an average pace of .6 mph. To me, it wasn’t that difficult. You just had to keep putting one foot in front of the other. The statistics for the entire trip were about 40 miles, at an average pace of 1.25 mph (including breaks).
Trip review: For safety and peace-of-mind, I used Alaska Mountain Guides, an American-based guide service. They use Zara Tours to provide the local support: guide, porters, etc. It turned out that I was the only client on the trip. As a result there was me, the AMG guide, the local guide, and the porters. Since I was the only client, one would have thought that they would have adjusted the trip towards my preferences, but that turned out not to be the case. My biggest frustration with Alaska Mountain Guides was during the first two days when we could have hiked at a reasonable pace because we were at relatively low altitudes. Instead the AMG guide set a pace of 1.6 mph on day 1 and less than 1 mph on day 2. While I do lots of hiking, it’s not that I’m that young and fast. I’m 57 years old, and the AMG guide was only half my age. I kept trying to explain that I was on vacation and wanted to enjoy the trip. If walking at a faster pace hurt my chances to getting to the summit, it was OK. My complaints seemed to fall on deaf ears. After more complaining during dinner on day 2, the AMG guide let the local guide set the pace on day 3, and things improved a bit. However, the AMG guide lagged behind us walking at his mountaineering (step, pause, step) pace. His rationale was that he wanted to be sure that he properly acclimated. That didn’t help my opinion of AMG. I paid a premium price for Alaska Mountain Guides to send over a guide from the US, and it turned out that he wasn’t acclimated yet. I’m not an expert on altitude sickness, but I’m not convinced that a faster pace on the first couple of days would have mattered. I did choose a 6 rather than a 5 day climb to allow more time for acclimation. As the trip went on, our paces converged. The AMG guide’s pace didn’t seem to change, but by the summit day, the altitude slowed me down to his pace. The climb to the summit took 6 hours and 35 minutes – not blindingly fast, but a reasonable pace considering we climbed to 19,340’. Although the pace was OK, the summit day reinforced my frustration with Alaska Mountain Guides’ approach. At dinner the day before, I explained to the AMG guide that I really wanted to be on the summit to watch the sun rise, and if we had to leave at 11:00 or 11:30, that would be OK. Instead we left at 12:05 (by the book), the guide set the pace the entire way. Although we were past Stella Point when the sun came up, we weren’t at the top. It didn’t help when I later talked to another climber who raved about being on the summit in time to see the moon go down on one side as the sun was coming up on the other.
Summary: Although I successfully reached the summit, it wasn’t a great trip. To me, 30 minutes on the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro isn’t enough to justify the five days of trudging it took to get there. In the future, I’ll go on treks at lower altitude where I can go faster and farther. Alaska Mountain Guides approach didn’t help. I’ll also try and select companies that are more responsive to their clients’ preferences.

Other pieces of advice:
If you use a tour group that is based in your home country, see if you can find out who they use in Tanzania for local support. Check out their reputation, and the premium you are paying versus going directly to them. Also, see if they send along someone along on the trip. Understand if that person is an escort who is there primarily to coordinate the logistics with the local operator, or is a qualified mountaineering guide.
Chose an outfitter that provides chemical toilets for their group. There are pit toilets at each camp, but they can be pretty bad. In addition, they may be an inconvenient distance from your site. Also, check to see if your operator provides them at Barafu Camp. Many did not.
If you are fit enough to get there in time, you really want to be on the summit for sunrise. Also, it’s nice to go up on a full moon night so you don’t need headlamps. If you get lucky, you may be able to see the moon setting on one side of the mountain, while the sun Is rising on the other.
Be prepared for crowds. It’s not a wilderness experience. Expect a constant stream of porters passing you. (Based on my experience on the Machame Route.)
All of the outfitters provide equipment lists on their web sites. Compare several, as some are more detailed than others. The ones from the mountaineering companies (such as Alaska Mountain Guides) seem to be the most comprehensive.
Pee bottle – I was drinking 5 liters of water and taking Diamox. As a result I was waking up to pee every couple of hours. Enough said
Even if you prefer to use a Camelback, bring a water bottle for the summit day. The tubes on Camelbaks tend to freeze, while the bottles can be kept inside of your jacket. You can transfer water from your Camelbak to the bottle along the way.
See if your outfitter provides snacks while on the trail. My outfitter provided 3 meals plus afternoon tea. While that was sufficient on most days, it was inadequate on the summit day. I was on the trail for 9 hours by the time we returned to Barafu Camp. That’s a long time to hike without putting any fuel in the furnace. Luckily I brought along plenty of food. Bring what works for you. GU worked well for me.
Be prepared to treat your water. If you bring a Steripen, bring iodine tablets as a backup in case it fails

85  Thank rpgiii
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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