Kilimanjaro – Debut to High-Altitude Hiking and Blogging

8 Day hike through Lemosho route to Uhuru Peak

8- Day Lemosho Route

Thank you for visiting my blog site and your interest in 8 day Kilimanjaro hike itinerary. We picked this longer route of 72 km (45 miles) to allow for acclimatization and maximizing success rate to the summit. This trail passes through few different ecosystems such as dense rain forest, moorland, alpine desert, snowy desert, the glaciers, and of course the summit. Without further adieu, let me take you on this splendid journey where one will push through  their physical and mental limitations.

Day -1 and 0:

We landed at Kilimanjaro airport at night and got the visa in the airport. Custom officers were very friendly and eager to learn visitor’s language. Freddie and Victor from Embark exploration co were waiting for us by the time we came out of the airport. We reached Parkview Inn in Moshi and rested that night.  In the morning through the clouds peaked the spectacular Mt. Kilimanjaro which made my anxiety of trekking dissipate.

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At the hotel
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Hotel room
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First sight

We met with our guides Augustine and Isiah  who went through the trek details and checked our gear. They took us through the quaint town of Moshi. We ate lunch at Indo-Italian restaurant and walked back to the hotel. We ate dinner at the hotel that evening, checked gear one more time and went to bed to get ready for the big hike.

Day 1:

In the morning, we ate breakfast at the hotel and left our valuables and suitcase in the hotel locker. We departed Moshi for Londorosi gate which took 4 hours in the Jeep. At the gate we finished formalities of passport copy check and ate lunch while our baggage and porter’s baggage was weighed. After another 30 min journey, we reached the gate on our way to first camp, MTI Mkubwa which means big tree in Swahili. Trail started at Lemosho gate.

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Londorosi Gate

Lemoshi entrance lead into thick rain forest with a sight of white tailed monkeys and birds. Path was surrounded by wild strawberries and colorful flora.

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Rain Forest

It took us 3 hours to get to first camp Mkubwa after 4 miles and reaching elevation of 9,500 ft from 7,800 ft. We were welcomed by the singing and dancing of our crew at the camp entrance. Tent was set up and we had some popcorn and cookies along with hot coffee/tea. We cleaned up and ate dinner before setting our sleeping bags. When we came out of the tent in the night, sky was beautifully lit with stars.

Day 2:

Next day morning after breakfast, we continued hiking through the forest. Trail lead us through Moorland, a Savannah of tall grasses, heather, and volcanic rock draped with lichen beards. We ascended through lush rolling hills as the terrain changed. Our crew was waiting for us at the lunch tent where we had lunch.

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Day 2 Hike
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Moorland
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Moorland
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Moorland flower
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Moorland path
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Lunch tent

We continued hiking through Moorland after lunch and got first view of Mt. Kilimanjaro on the way. We passed several streams and reached Shira ridge before coming to Shira 1 camp at 11,500 ft. This took 5 ½ hours for the 5 miles and view of kibo from the camp was beautiful. We walked around the camp,had dinner in the evening, and went to bed. Night was cold if we stepped out of the sleeping bag.

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Shire Camp 1

Day 3:

We headed to Shira 2 camp after breakfast. We hiked for 5 hours through Shira Plateau, Shira Cathedral to Shira Camp at 12,630 ft. Shira is one of the highest plateaus on earth. On the way, we saw buffalo hooves and Salamander. We passed Giant Senecios, massive plants which develop one branch after 25 years. You can do the math and guess the age of the plant by its branches. We reached Shira 2 camp and camped above the clouds that evening.

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View of Kili
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Buffalo hoof
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Salamander
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Day 3 Path
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Giant Senecios

Day 4:

Our 8 hour hike to Barranco camp started after the breakfast. We started our hike at 12,630 ft and reached 13,000 ft to the camp, but hiked upto 15,000 ft of Lava Tower by mid day covering total of 9 mi. We passed towards the peak of kibo which was alpine desert. Half way through the hike, we changed direction towards Lava Tower also called Shark’s tooth. This is where I first felt the altitude which made my breathing tough. We sat down for sometime before lunch and felt slightly better. After lunch, we continued to Arrow Glacier at 16,000ft before descending to Barranco Hut at 13,000ft. After a long day of hiking and altitude effects, we had dinner and slept. Nights were getting colder and colder. I had to get my Parka out at night.

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Lava Tower
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Incline to Lava Tower
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Path
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Lava Tower Path 2
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Way to Lava Camp
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Above the clouds

Day 5:

Day 5 starts with the view of Baranco wall which is a steep ridge. Even though distance is only 2 mi, climbing this wall while almost kissing rocks was no fun. We hiked through alpine desert  to reach Karanga valley campsite. When we reached camp, majestic view of sunset with sun rays above the clouds was breathtaking. We watched starlit sky, milky way, and moon in the pristine wilderness.

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View from top of Baranco Wall
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Day 5 Path
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On the way to Karanga Camp
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View of Clouds
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Sunset with Meru Mountain in the Backdrop

Day 6:

This was a short day preparing for the summit. We started from Karanga camp at 13,100 ft to Barafu (base) camp at 15,300 ft through alpine desert. Half way, we hit the junction where Mweka trial meets Lemosho trial. We saw multiple views of the summit as we continued our journey to Barafu. From the camp, we could see Mawenzi and Kibo peaks. On this day, rescue helicopter came 3 times which made me little nervous about the summit. But, I was ready to try. There were lot of white necked ravens near the camp. We ate dinner at 5 PM and went to bed by 6 PM to summit.

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Barafu Camp at 15,300 ft

Day 7:

We woke up at 11 PM, got ready, and ate breakfast before heading into the dark, windy, and cold night to summit between the Rebmann and Ratzel glaciers.. This day was completely different than all the days we hiked. My breathing was heavy and I walked very slowly at this altitude. This was mother of all other days. I lifted my head and can only see the headlamps of other people above and below us. We ascended through heavy scree towards Stella Point on the crater rim. All I could do was focus on my breathing. I tried to eat snicker bar and walk at the same time which I couldn’t do. I just looked at my guide’s shoes and followed him. Our guides were taking care of us, making us eat and drink, and move in the right direction. Half way through, I wondered why I was doing this? We chugged towards the summit slowly. I saw few people turning back either with breathing issues and one person looked totally disoriented which didn’t help my medical brain of all the possibilities of altitude sickness and pulmonary edema. Hands were cold when we take off the gloves. Then sun rays started peaking through.

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Sunrise

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Stella Point 18,885 ft

We made it to Stella point, 18,885 ft. Air was so thin and my lungs didn’t seem to get enough oxygen. My legs were like jello. I wasn’t even sure whether I had the energy to roll down the mountain to the camp. Our guides sat us down at Stella point and asked us to make a decision as a family if we want to continue to the summit. In my mind, I was ready to turn back. Our daughter stepped in and said, “We came all the way here, let’s finish”. I sucked on the hard candy and started the ascent.  It took us another hour to the summit from Stella point. Oh boy, I was so glad that we didn’t turn back at the Stella point and continued to Uhuru peak, highest point on Mount KIlimanjaro. Words were not enough to describe the ecstasy we experienced reaching the summit at 19,341 ft.

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WE DID IT !!!!!
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Snow at the Summit
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Glacier

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It took us 8 hours to reach the summit. It was the most challenging portion of the trek both physically and mentally. Now, we made our descent to Barafu camp. It wasn’t easy coming down either with the exhausted body and mind. We made our way through loose gravel with trekking poles. We reached the base camp, rested for 45 minutes, packed up, ate lunch, and continued onto Mweka camp where trail was rocky. Camp was in the upper forest and we enjoyed the last dinner on the mountain. In one night and day, we went from 15,300ft to 19,341ft (and down to 10,000ft). It was 3 mi ascent and 7 mi descent that took 8 hrs to ascend and 6 1/2 hrs to descend.

Day 8:

We packed up, ate breakfast, and hiked through rainforest. We started at 10,000 ft and continued the descent down to Mweka Park gate at 5,400 ft. With elevation out of the equation, we ran through the rainforest. Path was all wet and muddy. Gaiters and trekking poles came in handy just like other days. We got a last view of the mountain peeking through the trees and waving goodbye to us. We reached the gate in 3 hours to receive our summit certificates. It was an amazing experience which we never experienced before. It was pushing the physical and mental boundaries we didn’t know that we could push through. Thank you Kili for letting us climb and bringing back safe. So long, Kili.

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Elephant Trunk Flower

Now, it’s time for nice shower and warm bed!!!!!

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Kili Kili Kili

Equipment:

We shopped at REI and Back country for all the gear including rain gear, osprey backpacks, gaiters, trekking poles, alpine pants, hiking shirts, pants, midweight base layer, lightweight base layer, mittens, liners, and sleeping bags. We bought headlamps, Salomon hiking shoes, wipes, toe and hand warmers, and bath wipes.

Food:

Food was fresh and delicious for everyone’s palate. Our guides and porters made us feel like family. Food was amazingly flavorful. Everyday was different including fresh fruit, porridge, toast, omelette, meats, hot soups, spaghetti, sandwiches, ugali, lentil fritters, fresh guacamole, pizza, and burrito. On day 8, Embark celebrated with a big party at a craft place near the Mweka gate. Our crew sang, danced with us after the feast that included chicken, whole fish, and much more. We presented each crew member their envelope with the tip amount and parted goodbye.

Planning:

We were so glad that we picked Embark for our trip. Their planning and execution was flawless and our porters made us feel like a family. A special shout out to our 2 guides, Augustine and Isiah without whom we wouldn’t have reached the summit and back.

Bonus:

On the way back, we met legendary high-altitude mountaineer Pat Falvey from Ireland who inspired us more with his stories of mountaineering and instilled the desire to do more mountaineering.