- About Tanzania
- About Kilimanjaro
- Important Note
- Route Options
- Downloads (2010 Kilimanjaro Catalogue)
The United Republic of Tanzania lies on the east coast of Africa and shares borders with Kenya, Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, DRC, Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda. The mainland area was a German colony until the end of World War I when it was passed on to be governed by Britain under mandate from the League of Nations. In 1961, the territory of Tanganyika declared independence from Great Britain and formed the Republic of Tanganyika. A year later the Republic of Tanganyika was inducted into the Commonwealth. The offshore islands of Zanzibar gained independence from Great Britain in 1963 and a year later joined with Tanganyika to form The United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar which was later renamed to its present name.
The country has a population of around 37 million people with the mainland mostly comprising of African ethnicity and Zanzibar mostly Arab Muslim. Swahili and English are the two official languages of Tanzania. Dar es Salaam is the country’s biggest city and has been the capital since independence. However, the inland city of Dodoma has been ear-marked to become the new national capital and is now the legislative capital of Tanzania.
Tanzania has an extremely rich natural heritage which is protected within 14 national parks covering more than 42,000 square kilometres under the authority of Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA). This includes the world famous Serengeti National Park which sees the annual migration of millions of wildebeest and other wildlife. The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is another worthwhile place to visit with plenty of natural wonders to behold.
The monetary currency is the Tanzanian shilling which consists out of 100 cents. 1 US dollar would buy roughly 1305 shillings and 1 rand would buy roughly 174 shillings (17 October 2006). The country’s main industries are agriculture (including coffee, sisal, cotton, nuts, bananas and tobacco), mining (gold, diamonds and tanzanite) and tourism. The increasingly popular precious stone, Tanzanite, was discovered in the Arusha region in 1967 and has since become internationally sought after. Tanzania has an established and growing mobile communication sector and Vodacom provides cellular coverage on Mt Kilimanjaro - the highest GSM mobile covered point in the world.
Mt Kilimanjaro is an extinct volcano located in the Kilimanjaro National Park in the north of Tanzania and consists of three cones namely Kibo, Mawenzi and Shira. The Uhuru peak on the Kibo-rim is at 5895m a.m.s.l. Africa’s highest point and also marks the world’s highest free-standing mountain.
Situated roughly only about 300km south of the equator, the region has no distinguishable seasons in terms of temperatures, but rainfall is more common during certain months. Mt Kilimanjaro (which is Swahili for Shining Mountain) with its permanent ice cap almost looks out of place in this tropical location. Sadly, this ice cap is rapidly receding due to global warming and may completely disappear within a couple of years’ time.
Kilimanjaro is a natural wonder in the sense that its slopes can be distinctly divided into six different ecological zones. The rich volcanic soil has attracted people to settle at, and cultivate the slopes up to about an altitude of 1800m. Above these cultivated areas, a lively rainforest stretches up to about 2800m. This rainforest receives an average of 2000mm annual rainfall which mostly falls during the monsoon of March to May and then also during October and November.
The forest then opens up to a heath landscape which stretches up the slope to a height of 3300m. Above this height, the landscape opens into a rocky moor land which stretches up to 4000m. From 4000m upwards, vegetation becomes scarcer due to a dry, desert climate and big temperature differences between night and day. This region is called the Alpine desert and it stretches up to an altitude of 5000m. From 5000m upwards is the Summit region which is covered in snow and permanent glaciers.The first ascent to the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro is credited to German Hans Meyer and Austrian Ludwig Purtscheller in 1889 with local scout Johannes Kinyala Lauwo as their guide. Lauwo has reportedly reached the summit nine times before the Meyer-Purtscheller expedition.
The town of Moshi can be found at the southern foot of Mt Kilimanjaro. With a population of about 150,000, it is the capital of the Kilimanjaro region. Moshi is mainly populated by the Chaga and Maasai people. The Chaga is a tribe of Bantu origin, whose main activity revolves around agriculture. Their main crops are Arabica coffee and bananas. The Maasai is traditionally a semi-nomadic tribe and pastoralists with cattle- and goatherds being their primary possessions. Maasai are one of the best known African tribes internationally, with their brightly coloured clothing and warrior jumping dances being especially recognisable. Moshi is a Swahili word meaning Smoke and the town is named so because of the clouds mostly covering the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro from this, the southern side.
To the west of Moshi, and situated at the foot of Mt Meru, lies the city of Arusha with a population of roughly 280,000 people. Arusha is the capital of the Arusha region. It is a far more industrialised town than Moshi with tourism and floriculture being thriving industries. Apart from the indigenous people, Arusha also has a large community of people from Indian descent. The word Arusha is Hindi for Rising Sun. The city’s clocktower supposedly marks the halfway mark between Cape Town and Cairo.
Halfway between Moshi and Arusha lies the Kilimanjaro International Airport, which receives flights from, amongst others, Air Tanzania and KLM. It is a modern airport which was opened in 1971 as part of Tanzania’s tenth anniversary of independence celebrations.
It is important that prospective Kilimanjaro expedition members understand that reaching the summit is not guaranteed. There are many factors that influence the chances of summit success and our first priority is always safety and enjoyment of the journey as a whole.
Venture Forth offers all trekking routes on the mountain:
- Marangu Route (hutted camps)
- Machame Route (tented camps)
- Rongai Route (tented camps)
- Lemosho Route (tented camps)
6 days - hutted, portered trek.
This is the most popular and “easiest” route for ascending Mt Kilimanjaro, which is why Marangu route is also nicknamed the Coca-Cola route. Accommodation on Marangu is in huts with beds and mattresses at every camp and the hiking days are the shortest (except for the summit attempt) of all the routes. Venture Forth only offers the Marangu Route as a six day option (4 days ascending, 2 days descending) with an additional acclimatisation day included.
On day one, you are transported from the hotel to the Marangu Park gate (1800m asl) where you sign in and then start your ascent of Mt. Kilimanjaro. On this day you will be hiking approximately 10km through the rainforest and gain an altitude of 1000m. Your first night is spent at Mandara Huts.
The next day you will start your hike from Mandara, walking about 15km through the heath- and moorlands with stunning views of Mawenzi and Kibo until you reach Horombo Huts after another 1000m elevation gain.
Day three is a very important acclimatization day where you will walk up to Mawenzi Huts at an altitude of approximately 4600m and then return to Horombo Huts for the night. This aids greatly with acclimatisation and much improves your chance of summit success.
Day four will be quite a long day, so you will set off earlier than the previous mornings, walking through 16km of alpine desert up to your camp for the night, Kibo huts (4700m).
From Kibo Huts, early the next morning, you will make your attempt to stand at the highest point in Africa, Uhuru peak. You will be woken at roundabout midnight. By far the most difficult day, you have to walk over steep and rugged terrain at an extreme altitude. Gilman’s Point should be reached at dawn and Uhuru Peak is another 2 hours’ hike further on.
A short time is spent on Uhuru Peak allowing you time for savouring this amazing personal achievement! You will then head back down to Horombo Huts where you will spend the night.
The final day is another long day, but a lot easier going downhill, with the air getting richer with every step. You will walk back down to Marangu Gate where your transport back to the hotel will be waiting.
6 - 7 days - classic, portered trek.
This route, which is also known as the Whiskey route (considered “harder” than the Coca-Cola Route), approaches Kibo from the south-western side and is widely regarded as a very scenic route to climb Mt Kilimanjaro. Accommodation is in tents, erected every night by your support team, and meals are served in a dinner tent or on a blanket outside. The Machame route can be done in six days, but an extra day is recommended for proper acclimatisation, and allowing more time for rest before the summit attempt. The hiking days on the Machame Route are longer than on the Marangu Route except for the summit attempt, which is little shorter.
On day one you will be transported to the Machame gate at 1700m where you will sign in before setting off on your hike through the rainforest. Your first night will be spent at Machame Camp (3000m asl).
On day two you will hike from the campsite through the heath- and moorlands up to the Shira campsite at an altitude of approximately 3800m. The Kibo Cone as well as Mt Meru can be seen from here.
On the third day you will walk into the alpine desert region, up to the Lava tower at an altitude of 4600m before descending down to Barranco camp (3900m). This day aids in the acclimatisation process and, if you feel strong, gives you the opportunity to scramble to the top of the impressive Lava Tower!
The next day you will start by scrambling up the imposing Barranco Wall from where you will have amazing views of the surrounding landscape. You will continue on to the Karanga campsite where you will overnight. (If you choose to do Machame in six days, you will not overnight at Karanga, but instead continue on to Barafu Camp)
On day five you will hike from Karanga to Barafu (4600m) which will be your summit camp. This is a short 2 - 3 hour hike, but the terrain gets gradually steeper all the way to Barafu camp. By taking the 7 day option you are afforded a lot more time to rest at Barafu before your summit bid.
You will be woken at around midnight for your summit attempt on day six. This will be the hardest of the trekking days so far with a long slow prod up to Stella Point which you should reach at dawn with another 2 hour hike to Uhuru Peak. After enjoying your moment on the Roof of Africa, you will descend by the same route to Barafu camp and then down the Mweka Route to Mweka camp where you will overnight.
Your final day sees you hiking down the mountain through the beautiful and lively rainforest to Mweka Gate from where you will be transported back to the hotel.
6 days - classic, portered trek.
The Rongai Route is relatively easier and also more scenic than the Marangu or Machame routes, and the associated success rate is very high. Accommodation is in tents, erected by your support staff, and meals are served in a dinner tent or on a blanket outside. The route starts on the northern side of the mountain just south of the Kenyan border, and is one of the least utilised routes. The descent is down the Marangu Route on the south side of the mountain, so climbers see the mountain from two sides.
On day 1 you are transferred from the hotel to Nale Muru village (1950m asl) where you sign in and start the hike. You will hike through agricultural fields and a pine forest before the track starts climbing gently but steadily through the rain forest to the edge of the moorland zone where you will overnight at 2600m with extensive views over the plains of Kenya.
Day 2 ascends steadily to Second Cave (3450m) with suburb views of Kibo and the Eastern Ice Fields on the crater rim. From here we leave the main trail and head out on a smaller path towards the jagged spires of Mawenzi until we reach Kikelewa Camp situated in a sheltered valley at 3800m.
The third day is added to aid acclimatization. It starts with a short, steep climb up some grassy slopes which is richly rewarded by spectacular views and a true wilderness feeling! You will leave the greenery behind before reaching the next camp at Mawenzi Tarn (4330m) situated dramatically below the towering Mawenzi. You should get to camp fairly early in the day and the afternoon is spent relaxing or exploring the surrounding area. (It is possible to skip this day and go directly on to Kibo Campsite to shorten the itinerary.)
On day 4 you will cross the lunar desert of the saddle between Mawenzi and Kibo to reach Kibo campsite (4750 m / 15,584 ft) at the bottom of the crater wall. The remainder of the day is spent resting in preparation for the final ascent before a very early night!
Summit day will be by far the steepest and most demanding part of the climb and you will set off around 1am. The route follows a switchback trail through loose volcanic scree to reach the crater rim at Gillman’s Point (5685 m / 18,652 ft). Here you enjoy the spectacular sunrise over Mawenzi before making the three hour round trip to Uhuru Peak (5895 m / 19,341 ft), passing close to the spectacular glaciers and ice cliffs that still occupy most of the summit area. The descent to Kibo Huts (4700m) is surprisingly fast and, after some refreshment, you continue the descent to reach the final campsite at Horombo Huts (3720 m / 12,205 ft).
The final day takes you through the forest to the Park gates where the transport will be waiting.
8 days - classic, portered trek.
The Lemosho is often considered the more remote “mountaineers option.” It is a longer 8 day trek allowing for better acclimatisation than most of the other routes. Accommodation is in tents, erected by your support staff, and meals are served in a dinner tent or on a blanket outside
On day one you are transferred from the hotel to Londorossi Park Gate (2250m) from where a 4×4 track leads to the Lemosho Glades (2100m). You will then hike along the forest trails for approximately 3 hours until you reach Mti Mkubwa Camp for the night.
On day 2 the trail becomes gradually steeper and you enter the moorland zone. The trail crosses a number of streams until you gain the Shira Ridge (3600m) and then drop gently down to Shira Camp 1 located on the Shira Plateau.
Day 3 takes you on an easy walk across the plateau to Shira Camp 2 situated on the moorland meadows near a stream. You can choose to do any of a variety of walks along the Plateau to aid with acclimatisation.
The next day you continue towards the east and later towards the south-east in the direction of Lava Tower. From here you continue towards Arrow Glacier (4876m) and then downwards to the Barranco Hut (3860m) where you will overnight. This day will dramatically increase your acclimatisation for the rest of the trek.
On day 5 you will scramble up the imposing Barranco Wall affording you magnificent views across the mountain and then you will continue on to Karanga Valley Camp (4200m) for the night.
The next day takes you on a 2 -3 hour hike with the route getting gradually steeper to Barafu Camp (4600m) where you will rest and prepare for your summit bid.
Early on day 7 you will leave for your summit attempt which will first take you to Stella Point and then on to Uhuru Peak (5985m) and the highest point in Africa! After a short period on the summit you will descend via the same way and then continue to Mweka Camp (3100m) for your final night on the mountain.
On day 8 you will descend to Mweka Park Gate where the transport will be ready to take you back to the hotel.
Add-ons and Options for these adventures:
Venture Forth can arrange any of the following with your Kilimanjaro excursion:
- Tanzania offers fantastic game viewing options with a visit to the Serengeti always a spectacular option.
- Explore the Spice Island of Zanzibar and maybe get in some scuba diving or snorkelling.
- How about some more climbing up one of Kibo’s nearby sister peaks like Mt Meru. This is also an ideal option to add-on before ascending Kilimanjaro as it assists greatly with acclimatisation.
Numbers and Guide/Client ratio:
We can accommodate groups of any size. Guide to client ratio on summit day is usually no less than 1 guide to every 3 clients.
Trekkers must be of good trekking fitness and able to carry a day backpack continuously for many days. No previous trekking or high altitude experience is required. Trekkers must be at least 14 years of age to be allowed on a summit attempt.
Visa and Medical Requirements:
Foreigners wanting to enter Tanzania are required to obtain a visa from the Tanzanian government. It is advisable that this is done beforehand. Another pre-requisite for entering the country is proof of yellow-fever vaccination. The DTP-vaccination (diphtheria, tetanus & pertussis), vaccination against Hepatitis, and Cholera and Malaria precautions are also strongly advised. Venture Forth will assist you with more information and arrangements.
Venture Forth will provide you with a suggested fitness program on receipt of deposit payment. We will also provide you with a fitness consultation with our in-house fitness expert, Andre Hawarden. If you are not Cape Town based, Andre will do an online consultation with you and guide your training.
Catering and Porters:
All routes are fully catered and porters carry most of the load. You will only need to carry a day pack with your warm clothes, lunch and water.
You will require all trekking equipment and clothing suitable for high altitude mountain conditions. Venture Forth provides mountain tents and mattresses. Certain personal items can be hired from Venture Forth. Please download the Kilimanjaro Expedition Packing List. Venture Forth will help you with equipment procurement and obtaining good prices.
All flights and transport will be arranged by Venture Forth.
Recommended follow-up programs:
- A day, maybe 2, at a spa! (or any other Soft Adventure)
- MDT Advanced Mountain Leader course
- Climb to the Roof of the Americas and summit Cerro Aconcagua