Alison M. Jones: Tours: Kenya, Part 1

All images by and © copyright Alison M. Jones

Mt. Kilimanjaro & Kenya Wildlife Safari
Part 1: Kilimanjaro Climb – Machame Route

Safari camp

I did this climb August 04 with my Maasai friend Jackson as a fundraiser for The Mara Conservancy. For my accounts of that experience, see Newsletters: 2003 Kilimanjaro Climb.

Day 1, Rivertrees Country Inn, Usa River, TZ. Arrive Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. Meet for transfer to Rivertrees, a delightful small inn on Usa River.

Day 2, Rivertrees Country Inn, Usa River, TZ. Relax and recover. Options: walk down the Usa River; visit a coffee farm, local villages, waterfalls; go horse riding; drive into Arusha for its market, Old German Fort and museum; or just unwind, strolling the gardens or lying by the pool.

Day 3, Arusha National Park – Marangu Hotel. Morning game drive in Arusha National Park’s pristine forests on Mt. Meru’s slopes, a backdrop during your climb. Picnic lunch, then you go to Marangu Hotel, base for the most experienced of Kilimanjaro operators. You have a thorough briefing, equipment check and dinner. Sleeping bags, ground mats and any forgotten items can be borrowed. Two-man bivouac tents are provided.

rocks and plants

Day 4, Kilimanjaro Climb. A 2-hour drive through Tanzanian rural life to register at the 6,000-foot Machame Gate, entrance to the most attractive route up the world’s highest freestanding mountain. The 6-hour hike to Machame Hut is through a lush tropical rain forest. Huge 100-foot Olea trees form a canopy for Colobus monkeys and Hartlaub’s turacos as you hike along a ridge between two streams. After 6.2 miles you reach the forest’s edge at 10,200 feet to find tents erected and dinner prepared. The food is wholesome and plentiful and the tea hot and sweet!

Day 5, Kilimanjaro Climb on Machame Route. Hike 4 hours in high montane forest up a steep ridge with views of volcanic Mount Meru, yellow-bearded trees and everlasting flowers. At 11,810 feet you drop into a river gorge before going onto the moorland of the Shira Plateau. After 4.4 miles you reach camp near Shira Hut at 12,800 feet where ravens circle above.

Day 6, Kilimanjaro Climb on Machame Route. Your path climbs to 14,850 feet. Vast fields of lava boulders, then everlasting flowers and alpine chats hopping on Alpine. After 4 hours the path passes glacial streams into the Barranco Gorge. Giant Senecia and lobelias provide a foreground to Kibo Peak. Lava Tower offers a challenge for those who wish! Without that detour, 6.2 miles and 7 hours bring you to Barranco Hut camp at 13,000 ft.

Day 7, Kilimanjaro Climb on Machame Route. Cross Barranco Valley’s frozen streams, scree and ridges. Scramble up Barranco Wall – not technical – to join the Kibo South Circuit. Arrive in 5 hours to a riverside camp in Karanga Valley at 13,450 ft.


Day 8, Kilimanjaro Climb on Machame Route. A gentle day for acclimatization. After 2 hours out you join the Barafu Path, part of the Mweka Trail. Two more hours on lava scree brings you to camp near Barafu Hut at 14,200 ft. You may trek to a higher camp at 15,200 ft. – colder and harder to sleep, but not as far to go the final morning. Early to bed.

Day 9, Kilimanjaro Climb on Machame Route. Awake at 11:15 pm for tea and biscuits, leave camp at 12:30 am for final summit. After steep climb on frozen scree and rock, pass along Rebmann Glacier and arrive at the crater rim near Stella Point (19,010 ft) hopefully at dawn (6–7 hours). It is 1-1/2 hours further around the rim to Uhuru Peak (19,341 ft) with all of Africa below and the thrill of having conquered Kilimanjaro! Descend 2 hours – skiing on volcanic scree – back to Barafu Camp for a meal, short rest, and perhaps a lammergeyer soaring overhead. Continue down the restored Mweka Trail for 4 hours to Rau Camp, just above the rainforest. A long day!

Day 10, Kilimanjaro Climb on Machame Route. Descend for 4 hours through beautiful rainforest to Mweka Gate to check off the mountain. A vehicle will return you to the Marangu Hotel where you’ll tip and bid farewell to your guides and porters, grateful for their invaluable contribution to your achievement. Then head to the best bath ever and a well-earned rest.

Part 2: Waters of Africa