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All organization of wildootsafaris and adventures team made all possible from Tents, meals and guiding
Thanks so much wildrootsafaris
16 of us climbed KIlimanjiro for compassion uk children's charity and what an amazing experience all I can say is if you have 1 trip do this 1 as it will challenge you physically and emotionly.
Amazing views on a daily basis and SNOW yes snow in Africa lol
Summiting in the middle of the night is difficult, but worth it. Marangu Hotel staff are the greatest outfitters to help you climb Kili. No one comes close to their professionalism and how comfortable and safe you feel when climbing with them.
I climbed Mt Kilimanjaro via the Machame Route August 16-22, 2013
We summited on the full moon August 21.
Climbing Kilimanjaro was my #1 on my bucket list and has been my dream for the past 5 years.
For so many personal reasons, successfully climbing it has been one of my biggest accomplishments.
It was also the HARDEST thing I have ever done- physically and mentally.
I chose the Machame route for several different reasons.
One- the Machame is known to be the most beautiful route. I would have to agree- you come up the west side of the mountain- transverse thru the south side of the mountain and end up on the east side- which is the side you summit on. the only side of the mountain you don't get to see is the north side. But because you get to be on the west side of the mountain- you can see the best sunsets and see mt meru in the distance. Being on the east side of the mountain- allows you to see Mawenzi Peak and ofcourse you see the most amazing sunrise on summit night.
Two- The machame route allows you to acclimitize better. If you did your research then you know about the "climb high, sleep low". On Day 3- you climb up to Lava Tower, then descend to camp. Day 4, you climb up the Barranco Wall then descend again back to camp
Three- The Barranco Wall. Anyone that likes a lil rock scramble should include this.
Four- The Trek between Lava Tower and Barranco Wall- the Giant Senecio trees are amazing
Five- I would also advice to climb the 7 day Machame vs the 6 day- because of the extra stop at Karanga camp. Trust me- on day 4- after you climb the barranco wall and trek several miles up and down a few valleys like Karanga Valley, you will want to stop at Karanga to rest for the night instead of continuing several miles more to Barafu. Also Karanga camp- is to me the most beautiful camp. The views at sunset and also in the morning are spectacular!
I chose the full moon summit because the moon is a powerful and beautiful energy. It also lit the summit night trek. although you should bring a good headlamp- i didnt need it for most of summit night. you will need it at night at camp especially when you have to go to the bathroom or to see in the tent at night. i had the black diamond ICON headlamp and it was amazing and worth the money !
My advice for people is to do your research and be prepared as best as you can. Make sure you have a good checklist for your gear. Climb kili, the company I used had a great checklist. I also cross referenced with other checklists that I found on the web but that's just how I am with research.
The two hardest parts for me on the trek were the freezing cold nights and of course summit night/day.
Make sure you have a good 0 degree sleeping bag. I had a Big Agnes Ethel sleeping bag. I bought it because it was the only rectangular 0 degree bag. Mummy sleeping bags are too small for my taste- i like to move around while i sleep. Make sure you also have a good warm parka- you will use it at nights while camp and of course on summit night. The days were warm in august but boy, when the sun goes down like 6:30-7pm at night- IT GETS COLD! freezing cold. sometimes you would see frost on the ground in the mornings. I read trip advisor before my trip and I took the advice of bringing a hot water bottle and I am so glad I did! the guys would boil water for me and fill it up every night- it kept warm from 8pm till about 3-4am. The sun would rise about 6:30am. sometimes I would use hand warmers in wool mitts and toe warmers on my socks. you will have to use the bathroom in the middle of the night- especially in you opt to use diamox. getting up in the middle of the night in the freezing cold was hard. make sure you have you headlight near you so you can take it with you.
Smart wool products were amazing- one shirt, my top/bottom thermal base layer, balaclava and socks helped to keep me warm and it is true when they say that smart wool doesn't smell! LOL! Make sure you have a good pair of worn in hiking boots. I had a waterproof gortex pair of Vasque. my feet were always dry. Didn't think I would need gaiters but trust me- there is so much dust- they will help keep the dirt away from getting into your boots. Bring a comfortable pair of sneakers/hiking sneakers for camp to give your feet rest/relaxation. When they say that you will reuse clothes, it is true! Try to keep you base camp bag and your backpack light as best as you can. 30-35lbs is the limit for the base camp duffle. I used the North face base camp duffle and it was awesome/strong. Climb Kili porters would put our bags in another bag so i would be certain that nothing would get wet. It also never rained except on the last day from Mweka camp to Mweka gate in the rain forest. I also bought 3 compression bags to put my sleeping bag/pillow and my clothes in to keep them dry in case of bad weather and also to compress and make more room in my base camp duffle. the Sea to Summit compression bags are awesome! i brought a small pillow and glad i did- i also put clothes under it to prop me up more too. i don't like sleeping flat. yes , you won't shower for seven days. if you use a good company like climb kili, they will give you a small bucket of warm water in the mornings and when you arrive at camp every day. its enough to wash hands and face. otherwise, you will use baby wipes. other than the day in the rainforest- you don't sweat much. Baby wipes are important and a nice treat but they are heavy for your bag- so I advise to bring no more than 2-3 packs of the 56 wipes for the 7 day trek. I was advised to use Huggies Natural Care Baby Wipes and i have to say they were awesome! i brought toilet paper but didn't need it because my company provided it. tissues were important for me- so i brought a 6 pack- it was useful for runny nose, blowing your nose after the dusty treks( your boogers will be black!!!!) and they were useful on my treks when i had to use the bathroom. Hand sanitizer is useful after bathroom times. Bring lots of ziplock bags- carry one on your trek. I would put my garbage in them and dispose of them in the camp garbage once I arrived there. Using the bathroom ( behind rocks) during the trek is inevitable but I would NEVER dare to litter on Kilimanjaro. Many times i saw how people littered along the trail in the places where people would go to the bathroom and it is a shame. Some people are savages! People should clean up after themselves and not disrespect nature. Good trekking poles help ALOT for balance and to take pressure off knees/joints. 3L platypus water bladder was my favorite and always works well for me.
Start intense training at least 3-6 months before you go- depending on your activity level.
The gym is NOT enough to train for Kilimanjaro. Yes you can supplement your training with cardio ( running, stair master with pack/weight, yoga, spin) and strength/weight training for legs etc BUT you will have to HIKE to get good training for this. Hiking 5-10 miles per hike/day is ideal. Hiking with elevation gain is important too. I only had mountains that had 1500-2000 ft elevation in the NYC area to train so I was limited but I would do hikes where I would ascend and descend several times. You have to understand that when you climb Kili, you are hiking EVERY DAY for 7 days with no rest days in between. The trails are not straight and flat. you will be ascending and descending many many times throughout your day hikes. Good trekking poles will help. it would be beneficial that you increase your hiking distance/time/intensity - the closer you get to your trip. other recommendations ( although i wasn't able to do this ) would be to get an elevation training mask or go to place that trains for altitude as well as go to a lace like colorado that has 14,000 ft mountains you can climb to see how you respond to the altitude.
Learn how to pressure breathe for summit night!
Make sure your medical kit is complete! Be prepared for everything! I opted to use Diamox and I have to say that I barely had any symptoms of altitude sickness! I am from NJ/NYC area and we are at 33ft above sea level- so i didn't feel confident to NOT use it because I never have been above 6000 ft. i took diamox 250mg twice a day and I started using it since Day 1 at machame camp. The only time I had a slight headache- was descending after Lava Tower but if I popped my ears, then I felt ok. Yes your appetite will decrease as you get higher and higher so try and keep a good appetite as long as you can! always drink 3-4L a day. That is the secret weapon! the moment you stop drinking- you will fall victim to altitude sickness nausea/vomiting and headaches). Immodium, tums and antibiotic for diarrhea/upset stomach are important. Although they boil your water/cook your food, there is always a small chance that you can get a lil sick ( nausea,diarrhea ). It hit me on day 4 but I was able to recover the same day ( thank god). Some people weren't that lucky. I also brought zofran for nausea- although i didnt need it- it helped some of my fellow trekkers who got really sick. cold medicine like dayquil or inhaler like Albuterol can help with bad cough/cough.
bottom line- you will worry about gettin sick but the best way to prevent or treat your symptoms is to be prepared!
Pole- Pole! Go at your own pace. there will be people faster than you and there will be people slower than you. Bottom line- we all make it to the same camp. People adjust to the altitude differently. Hiking Kilimanjaro isn't a race. You should enjoy the trek- the different climates you go through, the plants, the flowers, the views. Stop and take pictures. Stop for small breaks when you have to. Stop to use the bathroom when you see a good spot. Stop and drink you water. I never understood why people are in such a rush when they hike. Personally to me- I like to enjoy my surroundings.
Also say hello/ be friendly to other people! Your entire trek- you will see the same people on the trail. I said hello to pretty much everyone and called everyone by where they were from. Chicago, England, Ireland,Espana,South Africa and Harry from the Netherlands!!......... and They called me "Jersey" lol. I will probably never see any of them again but the great energy and smiles and encouragement they gave me in return will stay with me forever! xoxoxo
Beware of DUST/dirt ! it is everywhere. Alot of people, like myself , came off the mountain with the worst dry cough and i'm certain it was from the dust on the trail. people pass you and you inhale it. its hard to prevent it with a bandana as you get to higher altitudes because its hard to breath when you cover your mouth. i ended up having the cough until 3 weeks after i summited. I even had to go to the ER to get medicine to help stop my intense coughing. I believed it also got worse because i did the safari afterwards- and again there is alot of dust when you are in the safari trucks.
Get a camera that is freeze proof. I bought an Olympus T2 camera and I had great pictures- even at the top. My(backup) iphone also didnt freeze at the top. I kept both inside my parka
solar panels worked great. i had a goal zero nomad 7- and i was able to charge my phone/ipod and camera everyday. we had great weather everyday. FYI-solar panels don't work if you dont have sun. yes it was a chance that i could have had bad weather but i am happy that i brought my solar panels. i charged them (and additonal battery pack you can purchase) by trekking with them on top of my backpack. you can also charge them once you get to camp
GPS.... i loved to know at what elevation i was during the treks or at the camp sites at so this was useful for me -especially summit night
use your sunscreen and lip balm! even though I used them, i still got burned! i had my entire face peeling by the end of the trek because on day 2- i wore a bandana and didn't realize how strong the sun was. wearing a hat at all times would be advised if you want to avoid this. i had blisters on my lips and burns on the tops of my fingers from the sun while holding the trekking poles. i was fully covered otherwise but i am sure that i would have gotten burned more if i wasn't covered!
SUMMIT NIGHT advice
Once you arrive at Barafu Camp ( base camp)- try and get as much rest before you attempt summit night. Try and eat and definitely drink your water. Get your summit night gear together and wear for layers before the sun goes down and before you sleep. that way when you wake up at 10 or 11pm- you are already dressed. I made a summit night checklist and followed it to help me prepare that last day at Barafu camp. You will be nervous, you will be cold, you will worry but then you find comfort because every one feels the same way!
When they say that summit night is long and grueling, they are right on point. It is cold and it is windy. You also will be short of breath. Mentally preparing is of the upmost importance. The first several hrs since leaving Barafu camp were bearable although i knew that what awaited me would be worse. I think once you pass Kosovo camp ( yes there is a camp between barafu and stella and i didn't know until we walked past it) but once you pass Kosovo camp- that is when the intense part starts. Endless switchbacks. The cold gets colder, the winds get stronger, the air gets thinner. I summited on the full moon- so even though I started with my headlamp- i ended up turning it off after a while because the full moon lights your way. I didn't even use my ipod on summit night because it was more important to me to communicate with my guide about how i was feeling then to turn on/turn off my iPod which would be difficult when you had handwarmers,1 pair of gloves and 1 pair of mitts on.
Stopping to catch your breath is important. At some point, pressure breathing may be how you have to breathe until you get to the top. That was the case when I reached 17,000 ft. A few times I cried because I couldn't catch my breath and thought I would have to turn around. a few times I cried because my thumbs were in extreme burning pain from frostbite. if it wasn't for my amazing guide, Emanuel, I would have never made it up to Uhuru Peak. He was patient and supportive the entire time. He carried my pack for me which was a huge relief. I was so blessed and very grateful for his help. The worse part of summit night is the last 1000ft right before Stella Point. So so hard! Many people made it to Stella Point/Uhuru Peak at sunrise 6:30ish but I didn't. I was in the last 1000ft and i didn't care at that point. I still saw the sunrise. All i wanted to do is continue and keep putting one foot in front of the other. I probably made it to Stella Point at 7:30am- and I left at 11pm from Barafu because i was a slow trekker. Once the sun comes up however, it helps to motivate you to keep going even though by that point you are exhausted! truely exhausted!
Getting to Stella Point was joyful/tearful for me. There you take a break, take pictures and enjoy your first views of the top. You get excited because you can see Uhuru Peak in the distance. But Uhuru Peak is about 1 hour from Stella Point. The fatigue and the altitude makes you slow down so what looks like what should be a 20-30min walk ends up being a 1hr walk. Walking from Stella Point to Uhuru Peak is slow and tiring but the glaciers you see for the 1st time amazes you.
Once you get to Uhuru Peak, you just want to sit down and take it all in. You will have to wait to take your turn to take your photos with the sign. I didn't mind that i didn't reach Uhuru Peak until 9:15am because there wasn't many people at Uhuru when I got there and didn't have to feel rushed to take my photos. Make sure you remember to bring your camera,back up camera/iphone, any signs that you want to take your photos with. i put all of that on my summit night checklist so i didnt forget. Quite honestly, the altitude and the anxiety/worry can make you forgot to remember things so a checklist is helpful.
I wished I had more energy to stay at the top and take in the views more but the cold and the fatigue really gets to you. Honestly,I couldn't wait to get back down! and thats not like me at all. I normally like to take my time and enjoy the views. the glaciers were exquisite. the area around the ashpit was so vast and enormous. i could see people trekking in the distance near the ash pit- the people who i assumed camped at crater camp.
don't forget to take a small rock form the top for a souvenir. and its a great souvenir for YOU or someone else who is a fan of kilimanjaro! trust me. i wish i had brought more back with me! there aren't many souvenirs you can get for Kilimanjaro. There are only a few spots that sell good "Kili" souvenirs like " i just did it" tshirts, "i love kili" and " i just did it" pins, patches, maps, and magnets. that's pretty much it
Descending from Uhuru Peak/Stella Point back to Barafu camp...was easier to breathe BUT it is also very exhausting for me. I used all my energy to reach to the top that I just had no more in me. My guide helped me down the mountain. Even though it only took 2-3 hrs to get back to camp- the fatigued made it seem like eternity. I nearly passed out in my tent once I arrived to camp. I refused to eat and wanted to sleep. They let me sleep one hour before having to trek 4-5 more hours to Mweka Camp at about 10,000ft elevation located in the rain forest. Although you descend, the trail is very rocky which makes your already enhausted body feel even more exhausted. Once I reached Mweka camp- i refused dinner as well and ended up sleeping 12 hrs. And I slept GREAT! Probably my best night of sleeping.
Tipping was a headache especially when you have to collect from the entire group- some people who you only meet since starting the trek. All literature tells you that 300 bucks is enough tip for the Kili Trek. What they don't tell you is how the tipping ceremony is. Once you arrive back at Mweka camp- you have lunch, then they give you your certificates, then entire crew sings for you then its the tipping ceremony. The literature states that you can give the money to the guide and they can divide it up but it is more wanted by the staff that you divide it up and give each person their tip that way you( and they ) know that each person got their share.
"base" tip guide........
Head guide should get $15-30 dollars /per day from the group
Assistant guide should get 10-20 dollars /per day from the group
Chef gets $10-20 dollars per day from the group
Camping porters (waiter,toilet,tent porters, your personal duffle bag porters) $8-10 dollars/per day per group
General porters- $5-8 dollars per day/per group ( but it really should be $7 or 8) they work hard!!!!! carry the heavy loads
I recommended getting a full list from your head guide of the names/job of the entire crew that you would be tipping by the time you reach Mweka camp. It would be responsible of you as a trekker to get to know your crew during your trek. That way, you know who is in your crew and you know who you are tipping. They truly work hard for your group so that you can have a good experience!
Anyway, i was in a group of 6. we had a total of 26 guys in the crew- one head guide, two assistant guides, 1 cook, 1 waiter porter, 1 toilet porter, 1 tent porter, 1 duffle bag porter for each person, and the rest were general porters who brought the equipment/tents/food and supplies etc.
For example- we were on a 7 day trek. so we gave our head guide $140 from the group ($20 x7 days), the 2 assistant guides each $105 from the group ($15 x 7 days), the cook $105 from the group( $15 x 7), the waiter porter, the toilet porter, the tent porter all got $70 dollars each from the group and the rest got $50 dollars per porter from the group $7 x7 days=49 but we rounded to 50 dollars since we were low on singles. if you collected approximately $270 from each person then you would total about $1620 from the group of six to be able to tip appropriately.
I recommend someone bringing enough envelopes to help divide the tips. if you pool 200-300 bucks from each person in the trek, you should be able to have enough to tip each person their base tip. small bills like singles, fives and tens will help you enormously in this process!!!!
Ofcourse if you had someone in the crew that was especially helpful to you then you can tip EXTRA to that person AFTER you gave your base tip for the entire crew. for example my head guide was also my summit night porter and he helped me many times everyday on the trek so i tipped him generously. I also tipped the waiter extra because he made me very comfortable during the trek like filled up my hot water bottle, served me a plate of food in my tent when i was too tired or sick to join in the mess tent. things like that. i also tipped my personal duffle bag porter. i gave a lil extra to the cook, toilet tent and tent porter.
You can also give some of your gear to the crew. to tell you the truth, money is more useful to them but if you have gear that some of them can benefit from, then its up to you. My head guide and assistant guides had pretty good gear on- from either what the company gave them or what past trekkers gave them. However, the rest of the crew doesn't have good gear so those are really the porters who can benefit most from your warm gear,boots etc. I gave smart wool socks, my gaiters, my insulated water bottles. Most of my good gear, I will use in upcoming hikes/trips. That is why I gave money as tips. Other trekkers gave their down jackets, warm gear, solar panels, boots etc
Hopefully that will help you future Kili trekkers as far as tips etc
Ok I wanted to share with you my favorite things or advice on each day of the machame route- briefly
Day 1- Machame gate to Machame camp.
Rainforest. Gradual incline on clear path. I saw blue monkeys when I first started. Good pictures- at the Machame gate, at the "Machame start/hope you have a good climb" sign. At ever camp you arrive at , there is a sign that bears the camp name. it is usually near the hut you have to sign into. every camp you arrive to, you should sign in the book. When the clouds clear, you can see your first view of the Kibo peak. Hard as it seems, it is hard to see Kili from Moshi because of the clouds. You def can't see Kili from Arusha. My1st time seeing the peak was at machame camp. You know you are almost at machame camp once you leave the rainforest and enter heather land. don't forget to look up at the stars at night!
Day 2-Machame Camp to Shira Camp.
Heather land into Moorland. Starts to get dusty. Start to see the Ravens and hear them "fly" over you. May see few Giant Senecio trees, beautiful Lobelias (make sure you look at them from aerial view!!!!!!) just amazing. You will be above the clouds at this point. Once you arrive at camp- sign in. if the clouds clear, you will have a closer view of Kibo peak. This is the 1st night that will be cold since you are on the Shira plateau! Shira camp has the BEST sunset out of all the camps!! Can see Mt Meru in the distance. Everyone is sleeping by 9pm. its eerie when you go out to pee
Day 3- Shira Camp to Lava Tower then to Barranco camp
Moorland. Trek to Lava Tower has some nice views of the Kibo peak. its warm until the clouds start to rush in and then it becomes chilly. Once you hit the intesection of Lemosho and Machame route- it was very cloudy/low visibilty . Lava tower for me was very cold. I couldnt wait to descend. it is steep at first but once you step into Giant Senecio tree land, the trek is magical until you reach Barranco wall. It feels like you are on another planet! small waterfalls. the fog adds to the ambience to the land. It was one of my favorite parts. Once you hit barranco camp, you are amazed at the site of the barranco wall and the Kibo peak towering over it to the left side! this is another camp that gets cold at night! Brrrrrrr. dont forget to look up at the stars at night! Noone is up when you have to pee- eerie still.
Day 4- Barranco camp, Barranco Wall to Karanga camp
Moorland/ alpine desert. The Barranco Wall was such a joy! It may be intimidating to those who never rock scrambled but once you start doing it, you will enjoy it. May not be good for those who have a fear of heights though. it will be amazing to watch the porters in action. there is a part of Barranco wall called "kissing rock" where you have to appear like you're hugging/kissing the rock to pass it. it sounds more intimiating than it is and its a great photo if you can have someone take it of you! Takes about 1 hr before you reach the top of Barranco Wall. Great time to take a break at the top. good photo views. 1st time I noticed being short of breath at rest. The closer you trek to Karanga the closer the Kibo peak is!!! Karanga has the best views of the clouds! just amazing! it was my favorite camp as far as the views!! at night, when its dark and if the clouds clear, Karanga camp is the only camp that you can see the lights of Moshi. Its just breathtaking. I saw it because i had to get out of the tent to pee and the clouds were clear.
Day 5- Karanga camp to Barafu
Alpine desert. The air is definitely getting thinner! the views of the Kibo peak and of the clouds in the distance are amazing! once you climb up to Barafu camp- you can see your first view of Mawenzi peak! Barafu is a very rocky camp. Closer to the peak then ever. Make sure that you start to prepare for summit night as soon as you reach camp!! you are starting later that night and once the sun goes down- forget it! COLD!!!! and windy!!!!
Day 6- Summit night and day- end at Mweka camp
Alpine desert/ALpine Summit then alpine desert again ,then Moorland, then Heather then rainforest. the LONGEST DAY EVER!!!!! i started at 11pm and didn't arrive to Mweka camp until 5pm the next day!
Day 7- Mweka camp to Mweka gate. 3 hr hike from camp. seems like forever but i'm sure it's from the fatigue of summit night/day. I got to see colobus monkeys at the end of the trek! once you arrive to Mweka gate- you can get your muddy boots and gaiters washed for $5! lunch, certificates are given out and tipping ceremony happens here.
Again- i climbed with Climb Kili. I was happy happy with their services. for one they send you a welcome packet once you put your down payment. the checklist is great. they given you hat, pens, sticker,small notebook,luggage tags,exercise plan. From the time I arrived to JRO until the time we left, we were well taken care of. emmanuel - the driver was friendly was reliable. he kept us informed of our itinerary. Emanuel, my head guide was so amazing and made my experience a great one! it was with his help- that i reached Uhuru Peak! i am forever grateful for his help. the assistant guides Mr G and Chi Chi Baba were awesome as well. Singa- our waiter was a joy. Magambo- the cook made delicious meals for us every day.The rest of the crew was so pleasant and friendly and so hard working. I wish them all the very best! John , our safari driver was also awesome! we got to see so much! the only animall we didn't see was the rhino- i was told they are the hardest to find.
For my pre and post hotel- had upgraded to the lovely Mt Meru hotel. 5 star. i wish that i stayed there additional days to enjoy the hotel more. very clean, there is a nice pool and the bar scene is pretty nice there.
we took a plane from arusha to the serengeti airstrip to start the safari. we went to serengeti, ngorongoro crater and tarangire national park. the sopa lodges at tarangire and ngoronogo crater were amazing! kilima valley luxury tent in serengeti was interesting and a very cool experience
Thank you Climb Kili!!!! ( www.climbkili.com)
Hopefully this will help all you future trekkers of Kilimanjaro! Hope you have an awesome and amazing time as I did.
Maria from New Jersey, USA
This is truly a place to be. You get a very good return for your money. The landscape was wonderful. Its a nice place to visit.
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