Often called the "Whiskey Route" this is a scenically beautiful trail, longer and much gentler than Umbwe or the Marangu route (the "Coca Cola Route"). Our itinerary provides valuable acclimatisation by having extra, but shorter walking days during the trek.
General: Accommodation is camping throughout in 3 person mountain tents shared by two people. All your equipment will be carried by vehicle or local porters, you only carry a day-pack with personal gear. When camping you will not have to participate in camp chores. We buy fresh produce locally and to ensure good standards of hygiene all food is prepared by our own staff. We can cater for special dietary requirements and there are no extra food-kitty payments.
Day 1: From Arusha drive to the Machame Park gate, then a gentle climb up through the original montane forest, carpeted with unique "busy lizzie" flowers, begonias and ferns. First camp amongst the giant heather at 3,000m. Ascent of 1,200m and 5-6 hours walking.
Day 2: Emerge from the giant heather zone and hike through fine open moorland to camp by the Shira Cave at 3,840m. Herds of eland up here (& occasional lion!) and there are fascinating geological features in the old volcanic caldera which can be viewed during a half hour optional walk in the afternoon. Ascent 840m and 4-5 hours walking.
Day 3: From Shira, climb towards the main peak Kibo, with the western glaciers clearly visible across the rugged high-altitude desert of volcanic rocks and boulders. Skirting around its base and under the imposing Western Breach, descend into the sheltered Barranco Valley for mid-way camp at 3,950m. 5-7 hours walking and only 110m total ascent - but having climbed higher and dropping back down assists acclimatisation.
Day 4: Up the steep Barranco Wall with some sections of very easy scrambling and drop down again to the Karanga Valley. This is a short walking day, around 3 hours, and again you climb about 300m but drop back down again to around 4,000m. There’s an optional further acclimatisation hike in afternoon up onto the scree below the glaciers.
Day 5: Up to a new camp about 100m above Barafu Hut perched high on a rocky bluff at 4,000m. Fantastic views across to Mawenzi peak, and a bit less to climb tomorrow morning! This is another short walking day, about 4 hours with a 700m height gain, and time for a good rest in the afternoon immediately before the hard summit day.
Day 6: A bracing 1am start to climb the steep frozen scree. This is unavoidable on any route but we aim to reach Stella Point on the crater rim for sunrise - another 40 mins and you’re at the highest point on the continent, usually in warm sunshine. We return on the Mweka descent route. Walking time 7 hours and 1,300m ascent to the summit, 5-6 hours and 2,800m descent to our camp in a clearing amongst the giant heather at Mweka. This is a long and hard day - you’ll feel tired but absolutely ecstatic after you’ve done it.
Day 7: A 4-5 hours descent through the forest to Mweka Gate to collect our certificates and meet our vehicle. Return to Arusha, arriving early to mid afternoon.
- All transport - 4WD Land Rovers, Buses or safari vehicles
- Accommodation as detailed - 3 person tents shared by two people when camping
- Camping equipment (except sleeping bags and personal kit)
- Services of guides and porters
- All National Park entrance and camp site fees.
- All food - breakfasts, packed lunches and evening meals
- Donations and payments to local community project
- International flights
- Accommodation & airport transfer before or after the trek
- Travel and personal accident insurance
- Visa, passport, vaccinations, medicines
- Expenditure on personal bar bills (including all additional drinks) drinks, souvenirs, personal items
- Optional excursions/activities not detailed in itinerary
- Any additional services requested
As such, I selected Maasai Wanderings for the good reviews I had and also because it is part of the Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project (you can have more details here: http://www.mountainexplorers.org/) that was a concern for me after my first experience. And what I can say is that I have not been disappointed, everything was perfect from the beginning to the end.
We were guided by Julius and his team that I recommend. He is a very nice guy, likable, always calm, encouraging you and giving all information required when you need it. He is adapting to you, and most of the time the first days, slowing you down to maximize a progressive acclimatization. I was interested by flowers and history of Kilimanjaro (snow cover, geology) and this guy is a big library.
Food was very good, varied and always in good quantity. It is surprising to see what the cooker is able to do in such conditions. There was a big mess tent where all meals were taken when it was not possible outside. The cooker is cooking just in front of you. The tent had also two extension rooms on each sides dedicated for staff (relaxing/sleeping). It was funny to see that despite of the altitude, the coldness etc. they were always happy, smiling, talking all time etc.
Everybody was dressed properly and adapted to the mountain conditions, even for the shoes. This is important to note because I have been very sad when I saw few other porters from other companies dressed just with a tee-shirt with holes everywhere or not descent shoes. When we reached the last camp (Barafu Hut) at around 13:00, one of the porter was sick and Julius, the guide, decided to escort him down to the gate quickly. He was back to Barafu Camp few hours before we left the camp to climb the final step and came with us! Everybody in the team successfully reached the top Uhuru Peak and of course everybody was very happy. Once again it has been an excellent trip and experience. I keep a lot of good memories.
For these reasons I recommend clearly Maasi Wanderings, for the quality of the guiding, the food, the tents, the team, all the equipments provided (and in good shape).”