Kilimanjaro routes

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Kilimanjaro routes

Postby Onestepmore » Sat 30 Nov, 2013 1:07 am

Reopening this old thread for some advice.

Myself and two work colleagues are starting to plan a trip in east Africa for 12 - 18 months' time. I'm considering arriving earlier and climbing Kilimanjaro,though I am worried about security in Nairobi - actually getting to the organisers of my tour in one piece, as a lone female traveller (not sure if I could connect immediately from Nairobi airport to Kilimanjaro airport)

Advice from those who have climbed it - what approaches do you recommened? I'd not be doing this as a fast trip, some of the routes I am looking at give you more time to acclimatise.

Machame Route - 6 days climbing - most popular, more challening? Approaches from the south west, scenic
Marangu Route - 5 days climbing - starts from the SE, utilises some huts, most direct, busy, i think this route backtracks
Rongai Route - 6 days climbing - more remote, ascent and descent on opposite sides of the mountain. said to have a higher success rate and is the 'easiest' route, fewer people use this route
Lemosho Route - 8 days trekking - starts from the west, fewer people, more scenic, most unspoiled, better for less experienced climbers, joins with Machame after a rainforest beginning, is a couple of days longer (more time to acclimatise?) - this is the one I am leaning towards at present after preliminary research
Shira Route?
Umbwe Route?
Western Breach?
Mount Meru?

Also, which groups did you go with?
I just had a look at the link in the post above, which is where I saw the latter routes that weren't mentioned as choices where i have been reading.
http://www.ultimatekilimanjaro.com/index.htm

Edit - I just discovered it's possible to fly directly from Sydney to Moshi (Kilimanjaro) airport in Tanzania

EDIT - I just realised this was in Bushwalking Discussion. I'll cut and paste and make a newer post under 'international'
Can a moderator remove this from here please?
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Re: Kilimanjaro routes

Postby wayno » Sat 30 Nov, 2013 4:27 am

my brother in law is doing it in sept. i can give you his feedback when he's done it... he's going with a british outfit , they used to have an office in nz but have closed it since, cant remember which route he's taking or the outfit at the mo
he went with them because they specialise in fund raising online and he works for a charity he wants to raise funds for.
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Re: Kilimanjaro routes

Postby Picaro » Sat 30 Nov, 2013 8:56 am

I did the Rongai route in Sept. with Zara Tours. https://www.zaratours.com http://zaratours.wordpress.com/about/
Had a great time. If you do Rongai, I'd recommend the extra day to Mawenzi Tarn, for the beauty as well as an acclimatising day. Plenty of folk who wouldn't describe Rongai as "easy". As you'll see Zara's pricing is keen. Quite a few companies charge much more, and it turns out to be with Zara's infrastructure, but with the other company's guide.
I hope to get back in a couple of years to do Machame.
Avoid Kenya Airways if at all possible, what a nightmare. What Airline does Sydney-Kilimanjaro direct, I'd be keen to know ?
I added a short Safari afterwards which was icing on the cake. They even have a day trip to Arusha NP if time is short.

Oh, and if you do it in the dry season, make preparations to deal with the dust…..face scarf etc.
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Re: Kilimanjaro routes

Postby vieve » Sat 30 Nov, 2013 10:37 am

I climbed Kilimanjaro in June 2012 via the Shira route with the following camps:
1) Shira One, 3550m
2) Shira Hut Camp, 3840m
3) Barranco Camp, 3900m
4) Karanga, 4000m
5) Barafu, 4600
6) Summit early morning via Stella Point, then descend to Mellenium Camp
7) Finish at Mweka Gate

It was a great route (although I don't have anything to compare it to) - not too hard, good scenery and not to many people until we got to the section where many of the routes merge.

If you have some extra time I would highly recommend adding on a trip to Mt Meru/Socialist Peak (4,500m). We climbed this first and it was a great way to acclimatise before tackling Mt Kilimanjaro. In fact, Mt Meru ended up being the highlight for me. You ascend 1,000m every day so it is tough but the views and terrain are magical and best of all there are very few other people. It is a 4 day trip as follows:
1) Start at Momella Gate (1,500m), ascend to Miriakamba Hut (2514m)
2) Ascend to Saddle Hut (3570m). If you arrive early enough and feel up for it you can do an optional climb to Little Meru (3,820m).
3) Early morning summit - Socialist Peak (4,556m). We stopped at Cobra Point (4,350m) to watch the sunrise which included views of Kilimanjaro peaking out above the clouds. Descend to Miriakamba Hut (2514m)
4) Descend to Momella Gate (1,500m)

I booked my trip with World Expeditions, although 'The African Walking Company' provided all the guides, chef, porters, etc. They were fantastic and I would definitely do a trip with them again.

I used frequent flyer points to fly to Johannesburg so ended up flying Johannesburg > Nairobi > Kilimanjaro Airport. I only had a short layover in Nairobi and did not feel unsafe walking around alone in the airport. My biggest issue was that I wasn't sure if my bags were checked all the way through to Kilimanjaro so I ended up getting a transit visa (US$20) to exit the airport and make sure my bags weren't waiting for me on the baggage carousel (of course they weren't). It was probably a good move as I made it back to the gate well before others making the same journey as there were long queues at the transit desk in the airport. On the way home I flew Kilimanjaro > Dares Salaam > Johannesburg.

Here are a couple of photo's from the Mt Meru trip:
Attachments
Ash Cone.jpg
Descending Socialist Peak - views of the Ash Cone
Ash Cone.jpg (50.09 KiB) Viewed 7258 times
Kilimanjaro.jpg
Kilimanjaro - View from Saddle Hut
Kilimanjaro.jpg (28.35 KiB) Viewed 7258 times
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Re: Kilimanjaro routes

Postby vieve » Sat 30 Nov, 2013 10:43 am

Actually, just looking at the Ultimate Kilimanjaro website and it looks like I actually did the Lemosho route not the Shira route. We started at the Londorossi Gate and trekked through the rain forest to Shira 1 Camp....
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Re: Kilimanjaro routes

Postby Picaro » Sat 30 Nov, 2013 11:13 am

Just remembered, looking at Vieve's pic….some routes are tent only while some have hut accommodation. That was a factor in deciding in Rongai for me, since its tent only, and less populous.

BTW…I love the Tanzanian people. !
Last edited by Picaro on Sat 30 Nov, 2013 11:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Kilimanjaro routes

Postby vieve » Sat 30 Nov, 2013 11:16 am

Picaro, my photo's are from the Mt Meru trip (hut option only as far as I'm aware), but I think you are right about some routes on Kilimanjaro having a hut option. The Shira/Lemosho route was tent only too.
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Re: Kilimanjaro routes

Postby vieve » Sat 30 Nov, 2013 11:36 am

And here's a couple of photo's from the Lemosho/Shira route...
Attachments
Kili from Shira One.jpg
View of Kili from the Shira One camp.
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Greenery.jpg
Day 3: Walking to Barranco Camp
Greenery.jpg (87.8 KiB) Viewed 7237 times
Walking.jpg
Day 5: The route to Barafu.
Walking.jpg (65.47 KiB) Viewed 7237 times
Final Camp.jpg
Barafu Camp.
Final Camp.jpg (76.5 KiB) Viewed 7237 times
On Top.jpg
Magical views from the summit of Kili
On Top.jpg (28.55 KiB) Viewed 7232 times
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Re: Kilimanjaro routes

Postby Chris » Sat 30 Nov, 2013 10:18 pm

A friend did it recently and found the camps extremely noisy with constant chatter from the locals, so would strongly advise taking earplugs. He had great trouble sleeping due to the noise and didn't quite get to the top, as he was literally falling asleep on his feet after the very early start on summiting day. Very disappointed, particularly when he realised later how close he had been to the top :(
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Re: Kilimanjaro routes

Postby creeping_moses » Wed 11 Dec, 2013 11:07 am

Hi,

I completed Kili in January of this year. I climbed the Lemosho route over 7 days with Zara. I booked through Ultimate Kilimanjaro from home in Hobart not realising that they are just a one woman operation in the USA that then outsource you to operators on the ground (Zara). Zara are good and not too expensive. Their set up in Moshi is excellent but a bit too touristy and western for my liking (high fences, big gates, security...all a little over the top). If it is possible book direct with Zara. There are plenty of much more expensive operators on the mountain (Thompson was a big one when I was there) and you pay for stuff I would rather not have such as access to O2 towards the top of the mountain (if you need O2, get the hell down the mountain immediately), porters who sing and dance you songs each night (I watched some of these from afar and it was just really awkward) and extra unnecessary luxuries. I would recommend traveling with a company that carries their own portable toilet. This sounds luxurious but is better for the mountain and your own health. The drop toilets on the mountain are old, disgusting and sometimes dangerous (one collapsed down a cliff face a while ago at Barafu Camp taking a climber with it to her death). The new toilets there are positioned over the cliff also and I did not like the look of them...

I recommend Lemosho route for its beauty and authentic experience. I reckon it's silly not to tent on Kili unless you have a good reason not to. The more direct routes are less fun, more crowded and steeper (acclimatisation becomes a greater issue). Remember that every year people die on the mountain for various reasons, and it is an arduous undertaking. If I were to go back to Kili, not that I will for a long time, I would be looking to do the Northern Circuit route to get away from the crowds and see the sides of Kili that very few see. Despite its checkered past, I would be doing the Western Breach summit route after the Norther Circuit, to add some actual mountaineering into the equation and stay at least a night in the crater on the summit. This would make Kili overall much harder, but be a superb experience. I wish we camped a night in the crater when I was there.

Do not expect to have a superb wilderness experience on Kilimanjaro. It is crowded (even Lemosho is by my standards), very dirty in sections (general trash, toilet paper etc) and many of the porters and even guides do not respect the mountain as we would in Australia. Noise is an issue, rubbish an even bigger issue (i.e. porters pouring bags of trash into crevasses high on the mountain) and the huge variety in nationalities on the slopes makes for some interesting situations. If you are expecting this and take a very relaxed, minimally concerned approach to your climb, you will have a great time. Many of the Americans I climbed with did not do this and had a crap time worrying about everything from the degradation of nature by their porters to how much sleep they were getting to the amount of water they were drinking to the temperature of the water they were washing their hands in to the sort of music the porters had playing on their radios strapped to the loads they carried on their heads... it all becomes too much.

Regarding security across East Africa. I spent 3 months in the region and had no hassles. However, I am a young male. I was travelling with a young white female and she only had an issue once and this occurred in Nairobi when we were both walking together through a dodgy area. A man ran up to her and tried to pull down her skirt (it was a long below the knee dress thing). This was obviously scary and unfortunate, but for 3 months in East Africa we thought it wasn't very bad and that similar things do happen in our own countries. The huge, huge majority of people in the area are a delight to deal with. Be careful though as most people are looking to make money. Be friendly, but ever vigilant.

Nairobi is somewhat dangerous. You are foolish to go anywhere at night on foot, no matter how many people you're with. Always take a trusted taxi driver (organised by a hotel or restaurant, never from the street) at night and only get out of cars when you know where you are heading once out and that it is a short distance. This is just common sense for Nairobi and the same applies for Jo'burg and Lagos. I would not be worried at all about Nairobi airport, as these places tend to be safe but I am unsure what the big fire they had there recently means for travel there. You should look into this is you haven't already. Following recent events, I would be staying away from big Nairobi shopping malls and the bigger hotels/restaurants/cafes. All this being said, Nairobi is a fascinating city and I enjoyed my time there greatly.

We travelled overland through East Africa, mostly in local buses and vans that the locals use to get around (they have different names in each country). We only caught one domestic flight the whole time, which was a flight from Moshi to Zanzibar (and I mean Moshi airstrip, not Kilimanjaro International). This flight was on a Cessna C206 five person plane with Coastal Aviation and it was awesome! I can recommend Coastal for flights within East Africa, and people I met along the way also recommend Tropical Air and Zanair.

In Uganda we travelled across the country on the back of motorbikes and it was awesome and fine. The highways are sometimes terrifying though, but the coaches that most Westerners use are the most dangerous as they go FAST and everything gets out of there way. I saw two coach crashes in my travels and they were bad. If on a bus, sit at the back and deal with the bumpy ride over sitting towards the front were you will be slammed in a head-on (the most common crash in Africa). The only time I was ever really scared for my life was in a coach that I foolishly brought a 'VIP' ticket for (it was $3 more than 'C class' for a 6 hour ride...) and I ended up sitting in this outlandish throne like seat 20 cm from the front window staring into the oncoming traffic as the lunatic driver weaved in and out of motorbikes, cattle, other coaches going both ways and trying to avoid the crater sized potholes of Eastern Kenya... I soon swapped seats with a little Kenyan boy who was in C class out the back of the bus (it seemed to make his year and his mother offered me a dozen hens eggs...but I felt terrible offering what I regarded as the death seat to a small kid... interesting ethical questions raised I guess!)

Like others, I recommend Mt. Meru. I found it fun and a nice small trip after some bigger and longer climbs.

Arusha in Tanzania (near Moshi, Mt Meru and Kili - the main city in Northern Tanzania) is more dangerous than Moshi and most paces in Tanzania. I didn't really like it there as the touts on the streets are everywhere and very persistent and will touch you/hold you and be aggressive. Dar es Salaam was fine for us but not a very exciting place at all so its not worth much if any time there. The airport there is very good. Overall, Uganda was my favourite country for both security and actual travel/mountaineering. The Rwenzoris are infinitely more exciting, challenging and wild than Kili these days.

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Re: Kilimanjaro routes

Postby Onestepmore » Tue 17 Dec, 2013 10:18 am

Great tips. I'll be looking into this more next year, but great info to start me off.
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Re: Kilimanjaro routes

Postby pamkaur14 » Wed 18 Dec, 2013 12:09 pm

Hi there,

I run a 'Travellers' group in Melbourne and we are in the process of organising a group trek to Mt Kilimajaro in October next year (2014). I saw your post and though it might be of interest to you seeing as you mentioned not being comfortable travelling alone.

Feel free to view the group at this link:
http://www.meetup.com/Travellers-Advent ... Melbourne/

and the trek link is here:
http://www.meetup.com/Travellers-Advent ... 137877422/

There are no costs to join the group and no hidden costs for the trek either - in case you are wondering. Just thought I'd offer some help. :)

Cheers.
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Re: Kilimanjaro routes

Postby Onestepmore » Thu 19 Dec, 2013 12:48 pm

Thanks, I'll certainly look into it when I get back from my Christmas trip. Cheers
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Re: Kilimanjaro routes

Postby Orion » Fri 20 Dec, 2013 1:22 pm

I went up the Western Breach seven years ago. Shortly after our visit there was a rockslide and deaths which closed the route for some period of time. So I can't say what it's like now, but my recollection was that it was kind of loose but basically no big deal. It was nice not to be on the most popular tracks. We didn't sleep in the crater, just popped up and over the top.

I didn't go very far afield in Africa. Aside from Kili we went on an animal jeep/camping safari and made an attempt on Mt. Kenya. While Kilimanjaro was a good experience it isn't what I think of first, second or even third when I remember my short trip to Africa.
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Re: Kilimanjaro routes

Postby creeping_moses » Fri 03 Jan, 2014 12:11 pm

Orion wrote:While Kilimanjaro was a good experience it isn't what I think of first, second or even third when I remember my short trip to Africa.


I feel exactly the same.
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