Been up Kilimanjaro?

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Been up Kilimanjaro?

Postby Aubrey » Wed Jan 18, 2006 7:39 pm

My wife and I are thinking about doing Kilimanjaro sometime in 2007. Have any of you been up it? If so, please reply with some info. on your trip (i.e., How much did it cost? How long were you in Africa? Which route did you take? How long did the climb take? What was it like? How difficult was the route you took? etc.). Thanks a lot, in advance, for any responses.

As a sidenote, it was very sad to read about those that died on Kili recently ... one of which was a man from Longmont (just 15 minutes from my house).


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Postby scheelt » Thu Jan 19, 2006 8:56 am

I'm leaving for Kili in 2 and a half weeks. Plan on doing the Umbwe route, currently closed as that is the route where the accident occured. Cost so far $1130 for 3 nights hotel (with breakfast) and 6 days/5 nights on the mountain (includes all meals), airfare is around $1300 (Madrid to Kilimanjaro International) on KLM. My guide company recommends $400 to cover guide/porter tips, food (for night in the hotel), and souviners. I'll provide details when I return (middle of February)

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Postby Aubrey » Fri Jan 20, 2006 9:35 pm

Awesome! Please do provide info. on your trip when you return. I for one would greatly appreciate it.

Is the $1,300 airfare flying from Denver? (You don't have your location in your profile ... I'm wondering if you live in Colorado Springs, based on your avatar.) The $1130 part sounds like a bargain. God, in a normal week at home I probably spend that much on coffee, eating out, and beer. :lol:

scheelt wrote:I'm leaving for Kili in 2 and a half weeks. Plan on doing the Umbwe route, currently closed as that is the route where the accident occured. Cost so far $1130 for 3 nights hotel (with breakfast) and 6 days/5 nights on the mountain (includes all meals), airfare is around $1300 (Madrid to Kilimanjaro International) on KLM. My guide company recommends $400 to cover guide/porter tips, food (for night in the hotel), and souviners. I'll provide details when I return (middle of February)

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Postby scheelt » Sat Jan 21, 2006 12:05 pm

I lived in the Springs until July when I moved to Spain, boy do I miss doing 14ers. I'm flying out of Madrid. There are a few airlines that serve Kilimanjaro but the only one I trusted was KLM. The others appeared to be small regional African airlines (not sure how safe they are and the maintenance of the airplanes might be somewhat questionable). The only flight KLM offers is out of Amsterdam and believe it or not but it was cheaper to fly from Madrid to Kili through Amsterdam than getting a ticket for just Amsterdam to Kili so if you consider KLM you may want to look carefully at using them or Northwest, their partner, for the transatlantic poertion of the flight.

I did a serach for guide companies on the internet and based on the comanpies sites I chose one and then I started reading independent reviews and they seemed to confirm the selection I made. I'm using Zara International out of Boulder. You can check out their site at I'll let you know about their service as well.

A little over 2 weeks and counting!

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Postby scheelt » Tue Feb 21, 2006 4:33 am

Reader's Digest Trip Report. Email me and I'll send you the detailed version with pictures ( )

Climbing Dates: 9-13 Feb 06
Route: Umbwe (selected this route because it was the most difficult and least used)
Group: Me and 7 Canadians, plus 3 guides, 2 cooks and 24 porters (so much for the solitude of the road less travelled)
Weather: Clear between 9 pm and 9 am, foggy from 9 am to 9 pm (everyday)

Day 1: Met guides at the hotel (2,300ft) and went to the Umbwe gate of Kilimanjaro National Park (5,000ft) where we met the porters and signed in to the park. NOTE: The porters perfer duffel bags to back packs. My pack was shoved into a gunny sack along with other stuff and carried up the mountain balanced on the porters' head! Wow, these guys were amazing. After signing in we began climbing, well, actually walking. The first day was through rain forest jungle where we saw wild monkeys. The guides stress a super slow pace. Pole Pole (Poh Lay), Swahili for slowly. I initially though that it was for aclimatization but later found out it was to give time to the porters to get to camp ahead of the clients to set up. It took us about 4 hours to arrive at the Umbwe Caves camp (9,200ft).

Day 2: Left camp about 8 am. I convinced my guide that Pole Pole was not for me (this is where he said camp woulnd't be ready when we got there. Hakuna matata, it really means "no worries") so he and I set out at a quicker pace. Twenty minutes after we started the jungle gave way to a Moreland environment and the first view of the glaciated summit. There's not a lot of snow on Kilimanjaro. After a couple of short scrambles (50 feet or less) and 3 more hours of walking we arrived at Barranco Camp (13,200ft). Barranco camp is where 4 routes come together. I hiked a short way father up the mountain and counted over 100 tents with more going up. All told I would estimate 500 people (climbers/porters) were camped here with all of them following the same route in the morning.

Day 3: My guide finally figured out my pace and decided that we would be the last ones to leave camp, literally. Today was dedicated to traversing around the southern edge of the mountain going over three ridges and through two valleys. First it was up to the high point for the day, the Barranco wall (14,000ft) This was a somewhat steep section but nothing that an 80 year old great grandma from Holland couldn't handle. A total of 4 hours walking found us ascending up the side of the Karanga Valley to the Karanga campsite (13,600ft). The walk was through high alpine desert that at times looked like the surface of the moon.

Day 4: More walking through the moonscape. Today was a gradual ascent to a high plateau where the trail leveled off for about 3/4 of a mile. The final push to Barafu camp (15,350ft) was a steep rock scramble. Time on the trail today was about 2 and a half hours. After a quick lunch it was time for bed. A fitful rest was interrupted for dinner and back to bed to get ready for the summit attempt.

Day 5: 1 am comes really early when the rest of the camp makes a ton of noise getting ready to depart. The climb from Barafu camp to Stella Point (18,850ft) is a sand and gravel slog. The body is tired (due to lack of sleep), it's dark even with a full moon, and every step forward results in sliding half a step back. By 5 am I made the crater rim at Stella Point. After a 20 minute rest and a couple of packets of Gu, it was on to the summit, Uhuru Peak (19,340ft). I arrived at 6 am. Believe it or not I had the summit to myself for about 10 minutes. I took the obligatory photo and then sat down and watched the most incredible sunrise I've seen in a long time. After an hour on the summit I started down. Skiing down the sand/gravel made the descent to Barafu camp a little less than an hour. The normal plan is to rest for a couple of hours and hike 3 hours to Mweke camp for the night and then 3 more hours to the gate the next day. Long story short, I napped for an hour and then hiked straight to the gate in about 5 hours for a 1 day 14,000ft descent.


- Climbing Kilimanjaro is very much like climbing Mt Yale. Extend the 4,000ft of Yale over 14,000ft and you'll have a good approximation.

- Whatever you do, DO NOT fly through Nairobi. Everyone who did this had some sort of problem.

- I climb pretty fast on 14ers and it carried over to Kilimanjaro, even after living near sea level for 7 months. I would be the last to leave camp in the morning and the first to arrive at the next camp by lunch. As it was just me and my guide we had more flexibility than most groups.

- The aclimatization was slow enough that I did the climb without any Diamox, ginko or any other type of altitude medicine and never felt a twinge of AMS. I had felt very very minor onset of symptoms a couple of times doing 14ers.

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Postby Merph42 » Tue Feb 21, 2006 10:56 am

I climbed back in Dec of 2002. Incredible experience!

I traveled with my dad and brother so I didn't do much planning for the trip, so as far as that is concerned I don't have specific numbers for you.

I'm from TX so granted the air is pretty thick down here, but I generally get to CO to climb at least 1-2 times a year. I didn't ever have a serious problem with the altitude mainly due to plenty of time getting acclimated. We spend close to 2 weeks which included some tourist time in Moshi and surroudning area. We climbed, then spent 5 days taking a guided safari. Which if you have time/$ I would highly recommend.

The terrain varies throughout your climb. We did the 6 day drip so we spent majority of the first and last days in the rain forest. (Miserable). In between those days you will experience everything from snow to desert to brief verticle climbing.

Remember to take plenty Nature Valley Bars and peanut butter. They cook some pretty weird stuff and you could get pretty hungry.

The people are some of the nicest you have ever met, but it is a real eye opening experience to say the least.

Overall be prepared for a good time.

Let me know if yall have any other specific questions.

Just remember "Poli poli"

"The road goes on forever and the party never ends."

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Postby glodder » Tue Feb 21, 2006 11:21 am

What a great report, scheelt!!

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Postby Aubrey » Wed Feb 22, 2006 1:32 pm

Hey, thanks a lot for the replies! This stuff really helps us plan/prepare.

Some of the questions/concerns I had were:
- quality of the food provided (did it satiate? did it make you sick?)
- Were there outhouses/pits along the way or at the camps for bathroom stops, or did you have to dig holes?
- How much did the trip actually cost, factoring in tips, etc.?
- What were some of the items you had to bring (i.e., items not provided by them)?
- Was there anything you wish you brought, but didn't?
- Roughly, how many miles per day did you hike?
- What were the temps like up high (i.e., type of warm clothing needed?) and in the evenings (i.e., 3-season sleeping bag good enough?).

Thanks, in advance, for any responses. I really appreciate your time!

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Postby scheelt » Thu Feb 23, 2006 3:52 am

- Food: Too much. The food was very good. Lots of fruits (mangos, bananas, pineapples and watermelon) and vegetables. In fact they served fresh hot french fries while we were camped at 13,000 feet. Every meal was served with white soup, which was good the first couple of days but then I started getting tired of it. I was a little leary about meat and chicken after day 2 due to the lack of refridgeration so I didn't eat it. Other meals included pasta (noodles and macaroni) and rice. I wouldn't be too concerned about food. I brought a bag of miniature snikers, a pack of beef jerky and 18 packets of Gu and brought about half of it off the mounain. Bottom line: The food was good and overly plentiful.

- There were outhouses at every camp. They were "squaters" and a lot of people missed. Hint: Get to camp early!

- Costs: Paid to guide service before departing: $1,162 (included extra night in the hotel, airport transfers and all mountain services)
Airfare: $1,250 (Madrid to Kilimanjaro via Amsterdam). Most folks coming from the states paid around $1,500 from JFK, Minneapolis or Detroit.
Tips: Guide $100, Waiter/porter $50, other 2 porters $42, cook $15
Other: $150 (Dinners, souveniers, internet services, bar tab, etc.)
Total: $2,600 +/-
- They'll rent you anything you want. Basically they provided all the tents, food and eating utensils. Aside from clothing I brought my own sleeping pad, sleeping bag, etc. Most website will provide a list of stuff you should bring.
- I wish I had brought used gear to give to the porters and guides.
- Point to point on the GPS showed most camps less than 2.5 miles apart. With the ups and downs and meandering we probably did no more than 5 miles a day. Most days people left camp around 8 or 9 am and made it to the next camp by 12 or 1 pm.
- The first day I wore short sleeves and pants. Days 2-4 I wore a long sleeve shirt and pants while on the trail. Once I got to camp I would put on a 200 fleece jacket. The summit night/day was another story all together. I had on a 200 fleece vest, 300 fleece jacket and a shell, 200 fleece pants and over pants, gloves and liners and a balaclava. At first this was overkill (thank goodness for ventilation ports) but by the time we reached the crater rim I was perfectly warm. Liner socks, midwieght socks and La Sportiva Trango boots did fine every day, including the summit day. My sleeping bag is a 0 degree bag. Two nights I put on the 200 fleece top and bottom and I stayed toasty warm. Generally the temperatures were very nice.

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Postby jbastian » Fri Jun 02, 2006 7:40 am


Just saw your post. My wife and I did Kili in 2003 and had an incredible time. We used an outfitter in Arusha called Black Mamba ( They were much cheaper than going with a US outfitter and we loved them. We didn't have some of the luxuries of the US outfitters (like table and chairs for lunch) but were really well taken care of. Fantastic food (our asst guide went to culinary school), great hiking pace and very knowledgable guides. I would highly recommend them. We've sent a few friends their way since then. They have a comments page on the site you can check out. Our trip report is probably still there. They can also arrange a safari for you before or after your trek.

We did the Machame route and put an extra day in for acclimitization around 14,000 feet. We paid about $1100 a person (not incl airfare) in '03 and it was just my wife and I in our group which was awesome.

I would love to tell you more. If you are ever in the Denver metro area let us know and we could hook up for a lunch/dinner or maybe we will pass each other on a 14er this summer. Shoot me an email if you want to hear/ask more.

Good luck and God bless,


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july 2003

Postby jakevan » Fri Jul 14, 2006 8:19 am

i am late on this post, but i might have some info that that made our trip rememorable. we climbed independent of a climbing agency. we hooked up with a guide before we arrived in moshi. we saved more than half of what other groups on the mountain payed and had the same food quality, number of porters, etc as other groups. we also took all of our own gear which saved us a bundle. all payments were split due to us not taking a package deal. we payed 650 with tips and stayed at the baffalo inn for a few dollars a night before and after.
we took the machame route which i would highly recommend. it is reported as the most scenic with the most diverse climbing community. in late july we were by no means the only group and one of the two or three american groups. expect freezing temps at night while getting sunburned during the day. there are also "choos" (outhouses) at ever camp. aside from the great info from other posts another thing i would recommend is learning a bit of swahili. we were in tanz for a couple of months before the climb. having even an elementary grasp on the language added to the experience vastly. the suprise of the porters and guides that "wzungu" (white people) knew swahili was great to see. they are very friendly and happy people so dont be afraid to talk to them. they will want to talk to you. check out the markets in moshi or arusha. see as much of the tanz culture as you can and dont be afraid to bargan! good luck and bwana safiwe!

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Postby timm19 » Fri Jul 14, 2006 10:30 am

a friend of mine just climbed it in Jan. Check out his website at for info on his trip. He had a great time.


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