Ultimate Kilimanjaro, 10 nights

African Environments signature climb….we do this the best!

This very successful itinerary allows the most time for acclimatization and therefore has the greatest summit success rate. The extra night at Lava Tower gives the body even more time to acclimatize to the altitude gradually, greatly increasing summit success rate and comfort. The route has the added benefit of traveling across the Shira Plateau; a World Heritage Site and one of the Kilimanjaro wilderness areas.

Day 1: Itikoni Camp, Arusha National Park (at 6,400ft)

Arrive at Kilimanjaro Airport and transfer to a special private luxury camp inside Arusha National Park. Our camp has large canvas style tents with en-suite toilet and shower.  Both the dining and lounge tent are heated with “bio brick” burning stove, very comfortable and well-staffed. Our campsite provides you with the opportunity to spend your first two nights in the Equatorial Montane Forest on the slopes of Mt. Meru. This camp is at 6,400 ft, helping you acclimatize in preparation for climbing Kili. The walking from the camp is exciting and provides great opportunity to see animals and tropical birds while on foot. A half day acclimatization hike can take you to over 8,000ft, excellent for acclimatization. 2- hr drive from the airport.

Day 2: Itikoni Camp, Arusha National Park (at 6,400ft)

Our exclusive camp looks out onto Kilimanjaro, Meru, and the Ngurdoto Crater. We spend the morning enjoying the spectacular setting and relaxing after the long flight. After lunch, we gather for a briefing and a gear check for the Kilimanjaro climb. You will separate your Kili gear from any items you want to store in Arusha during your climb (your extra baggage not needed for the climb is transported to the first lodge we stay in after the Kili climb). An afternoon hike takes us into the lush cedar and podocarpus forests of Mount Meru, set within Arusha National Park. The hike is a great way to acclimatize to the altitude and we’ll also have a good chance of seeing the unique black-and-white colobus monkeys of the park and perhaps bushbuck or giraffe, along with a host of avian life. Our hike also offers impressive views of the dramatic ash cone of Mt. Meru’s summit. We gather for a Welcome Dinner at camp in the evening.

Day 3: Montane Forest – 9,000 ft

After driving approximately one hour to the Kilimanjaro National Park forest edge we walk about three hours through the undisturbed forest to our camp for the night. With luck you will be able to see colobus monkeys and signs of elephant and other forest wildlife on your walk to camp.

Day 4: Shira Plateau West Side – 11,600 ft

Taking our time walking through the forest will help us spot some of the plentiful game and bird life. The day’s hike will take us up through the Montane Forest and the Hagenia forest zone. You will see the unique environmental differences that characterize these equatorial zones.

Day 5: Shira Plateau East Side Moir Camp – 13,600 ft

Our hike today will be about four hours across the Shira Plateau, a World Heritage Site, and one hour up the western slope of the Kibo Massif. Camp will be in the upper heath zone in full view of the Western Breach.

Day 6: Pofu Camp – 13,200 ft

Today we will hike approximately six hours to camp just under Lava Tower, a 300 foot high volcanic lava plug that juts out of the sidStarting the day at 13,600 you ascend out of the Moir valley to 14,200 where a short detour to Little Lent Hill is an option for those who want more hiking and a nice view.  From here you continue to climb a couple hundred feet before descending to 13,400 then traverse at this level to Pofu camp.  The hike offers awesome views across the West Kilimanjaro and Amboseli National Park plains, home land to the well-known elephant population that has been long studied by Cynthia Moss and Joyce Poole for many years. 

6.2 mile hike. 5 – 7 hrs hiking

Day 7: Third Cave – 13,000 ft

A welcome shorter hiking day today following mostly along the vegetation ecotone between the classic moorland and alpine desert vegetation zones.  Stunning views of massive volcanic formations. Camp is in a beautiful and remote area with views of the interesting lunar landscape. 

3.6 mile hike 3 – 5  hrs hiking. 

Day 8: School Camp – 15,600 ft

Reaching camp you are less then 3,000 vertical feet from the summit and you are truly in the rock and ice alpine zone of Africa’s highest mountain.  This camp is often described at the “quietest, least used camp” on Kilimanjaro.  Today you will see a demonstration of our high-altitude safety equipment and experiment a bit with the hyperbaric chamber and the supplemental oxygen system.  Today is short mileage but a continuous climb.

3 miles  5 – 7  hrs hiking

Day 9: Summit Crater Camp – 18,800 ft

We will wind our way up the ascent route above School Camp to the summit crater rim at Stella point.  From Stella’s point you will descend into the summit crater and on to the Crater Camp.   Those who still have the energy on top can explore the inner crater and the ash pit before moving to our highest camp on the crater floor. This spectacular high camp is next to the Furtwrangler Glacier with stunning views westward toward Mount Meru and the setting African sun.  

6 -8 hrs hiking

Day 10: Summit Day and Mweka Camp – 10,000 ft

We will start our ascent to the summit (19,340′) early enough in the morning to be on the summit near dawn. This final ascent is only 800 feet. This is quite a contrast to the 3,000 foot slog required to summit via all the other ascent routes on Kilimanjaro. After taking in the view from Uhuru Peak we will begin the long descent to Barafu Hut and down to our final camp near Mweka Hut. 

8 – 10 hrs, 8 miles

Day 11 Descend and to Arusha

It takes about three to five hours to make the 4,500 foot descent to the Park Gate and pick-up. We will have our lunch at the gate and say goodbye to our mountain staff before heading to the hotel near Arusha for a farewell dinner and either overnight or a day room and departure. Extend your Tanzanian vacation with African Environments on safari, walking safari or other adventures.

3 – 5 hrs, 4 miles

Other Kilimanjaro itineraries:

Wilderness Shira, 9 nights

This complete Kilimanjaro itinerary is the most successful trek on the mountain with 98% of the climbers reaching the summit. One of the best features of the route is the longer, slower ascent which gives the body time to acclimatize to the altitude gradually, greatly increasing the success rate. The route has the added benefit of traveling across the Shira Plateau, a World Heritage Site and one of the Kilimanjaro wilderness areas.

Acclimatization Machame, 8 nights

Kilimanjaro’s Machame Route has the advantage that, the summit day goes up and down the same trail (see map below). Allowing each member of the group to climb as high as he or she is able before descending with one of the guides. This eliminates the need to sleep in the summit crater, lessening the total number of nights needed for acclimatization. Machame/Barafu passes though five different environmental zones from the tropical montane forests on the lower slopes to the barren scree of the summit. Between Barranco camp, night 4, and Barafu camp, night 6, the route traverses under the huge hanging glaciers of Kili’s steep southern flanks. Arguably the most scenic area found anywhere on the mountain.

Machame, 7 nights

This is a beautiful 7 night/8 day route following the Machame and Barranco Valleys before making a direct ascent to the Kibo Summit. Only 5 nights on the mountain makes acclimatization more difficult, it helps to have spent two nights at our 6,000 ft private camp on Mt Meru. This route traverses under the massive southern glaciers of the mountain offering stunning views of the Southern Ice Fields. The final ascent is up and down the same trail so it has the great advantage of allowing everyone to climb as high as they can before descending with a guide.