DAY ONE: The bus will depart Nairobi early in the morning at 4:00 a.m. for the seven hour journey to Tanzania. You will sleep for the first part of the trip. Take some snacks and plenty of water to have on this trip. Your first stop will be at the border between Kenya and Tanzania, called Namanga. We recommend that everyone stays in the bus. The bus driver or a designated team member will take all your passports to the desk at the border to process you out of Kenya. Keep all your windows closed since there will be many locals who will try to sell you things. These people are generally not safe, so please don’t purchase anything from them. Once you pass through the Kenya border station you will stop at the border station on the Tanzanian side. Again, remain in the bus. The bus driver (or designated team member) can proceed to the station and process your visas. Keep your windows closed at this stop as well. Your driver will take your passport and a $50 US bill to purchase your visa for Tanzania. Once this process is complete, you will continue on to Arusha, which is about 2 hours from your final destination. You will generally stop at the Mt. Meru Hotel to use the restroom or send a quick email at their internet café. You usually only stop for 15-20 minutes, so make sure you hurry.
Your next stop will be in Moshi where you will meet up with your guide, Bryson. Bryson will have his other guides and enough porters for your team. In Moshi, you will stop and eat and also get some kerosene for those of you who have appropriate stoves. The whole group (including porters and guides) will accompany you to the mountain gate at Marangu. By the way, Bryson is making walking sticks for you which he will give you at the base of the mountain.
Each person will sign in at the gate and begin the climb to the first base camp, Mandara Hut. Please depart the gate before 3:00pm in order to get to Mandara hut by the time the sun goes down. The elevation of Mandara is 9,000 feet and this first leg of the climb is beautiful. You will be hiking through the rainforest over roots of trees, hearing waterfalls and seeing the tropical sights only found on Kilimanjaro. It is usually very misty and can be sometimes very wet and slippery. Keep that in mind as you are stepping over roots—you may be fine in t-shirts and tennis shoes, but if it is raining you will want to be careful. Take time on this segment to take pictures and enjoy the beautiful scenery because the hike will only take you about 3 hours. Also, be prepared that this first leg feels like a lot of “stairs” over the roots and the switchbacks make for a pretty steep climb. The starting elevation is 4,500 feet and you make it up to 9,000 feet in about 3.5 miles—you may want to keep that in mind when you are training. The rest of the climb (except for the last ascent) will not be this steep. Once you arrive at Mandara hut, collect your Kili bags from the porters and proceed to your assigned sleeping places in the A-frame huts. You may want to change your shirt and put on a
fleece since you will most likely be wet from the mist and from sweating. Change your shirt as soon as possible, because if you catch a chill right after you stop hiking, it will be difficult to warm up. You will cook your dinner that night at the lodge at Mandara, then prepare yourselves for bed. Once the sun goes down, there is not much to do unless you have a flashlight and want to read or write in your journal.
DAY TWO: Take Another 250 mg diamox with breakfast. Diamox is a diuretic and will help to relieve the pressure on your brain as you increase in altitude. Some of the side effects are tingling in the hands and face and frequent urination. While these side effects may be a bit annoying, Diamox will significantly increase your ability to summit and to avoid altitude sickness. Once you summit you will no longer need to take Diamox, so you will only have to endure the side effects for a couple of days. This is a rest day. Take it easy all day. Acclimate. You can read, write in your journal, catch up on some sleep, etc. Drink plenty of water all day, which will help you avoid altitude sickness. Make sure to purify enough water today so when you wake up Monday morning you will be ready to hit the trail. Take another 250 mg Diamox with dinner on Sunday.
DAY THREE: Take one 250 mg Diamox in the morning with your breakfast. Bryson will get you up so you can eat, purify water (there is a sink behind the lodge where you can purify water), gather your gear and get ready to leave. Bryson typically will want you on the trail by about 8:00am. The climb from Mandara to Horombo is mostly through scrub brush (like sage brush) and is a mixture of small hills over a dirt trail, which is very well-groomed. Take plenty of water and snacks for the trail (and your camera). It’s a good idea to have your poncho in your backpack because you can never be sure when the weather might change. Once the porters take your Kili bags each morning, you will not see them again until you arrive at the next base camp. Remember to always hike at the POLE POLE (po-lay, po-lay) pace. This means slow and steady and it is the best thing you can do for your body. No matter how good you are feeling, how in shape you are, or how easy the climb might be, go “pole pole.” The Diamox will help with your altitude sickness, but if you hike too quickly, you will get sick. Take it easy as you hike, there is no prize for the first one there.
You will arrive at Horombo hut (12,500 feet) by mid-afternoon. It is there you might first start to feel the effects of altitude sickness. Don't worry if you vomit or feel light headed or sick; it should pass quickly. You will want to take it easy once you make it to Horombo. Gather your Kili bags, proceed to the assigned sleeping hut and go to the lodge to cook your dinner. Take another 250 mg of Diamox with dinner. Keep in mind that the higher you get in altitude, the colder it gets at night. You will definitely need your fleece at Horombo and maybe a hat or something to cover your ears. The view at Horombo is spectacular—you will be able to see Uhuru Peak (the summit) and even the city lights of Moshi as you look down through the cloud cover. Get some good sleep because the next day is a long hike. Horombo is the next to last place you will be able to purify water so take enough. There is a small stream half way between Horombo and Kibo huts where water can be purified.
DAY FOUR: Bryson will get you up so you will have time to organize your gear and eat. Take another 250 mg Diamox with breakfast. You will depart for Kibo hut (15,500 feet) at about 8:00am. The climb from Horombo to Kibo is somewhat desolate. You will hike along the saddle which consists of nothing but volcanic scree and a lot of dirt. There is no vegetation after you pass about 13,000 feet and it tends to get colder on your way to Kibo. Make sure you have your lightweight gloves, fleece, hat/ear warmer in your day pack so you can pull them out if you need them. When you get to Kibo hut (probably between 2 and 4pm) you will be tired and probably feeling the effects of altitude sickness. When you arrive at Kibo take another 250 mg Diamox. Kibo hut is made of cement and has a few large rooms full of bunk beds. Go to your assigned room (all of you will be staying in the same room) and begin to organize your gear for the ascent to the summit the next day. It is pretty cold at Kibo, so it’s best for everyone to cook their dinner early (around 4 or 5pm) to keep the room somewhat warm. Set out your cold weather gear and prepare everything you will need for the summit trip. You will want to get in your sleeping bags early and try to get some sleep. As a note, it will be difficult to sleep here because of the altitude. You may have crazy dreams; feel sick, light-headed or nauseated. Don’t be worried because this is normal. Make sure to drink plenty of fluids.
Bryson will get you up at about 11:30pm to prepare to leave for the summit. Take another 250 mg Diamox when you get up (with some food). You probably won’t feel like eating, but it’s a good idea to try to get something down since you will need the energy for the hardest part of the climb. You will leave Kibo hut at about midnight to begin the ascent to the summit. Have your flashlights/headlamps accessible with extra batteries, as well as your snacks and water. Don’t bring more than you need to carry. If you have an MP3 player, you can use it on your way to the summit, if you need a distraction. Otherwise, try to connect with the mountain and use the time on the mountain effectively to reflect on you and what you can do to become a better person. It is a great experience if you can prepare yourself ahead of time to leave all your personal “baggage” at the summit of the mountain. So doing will provide you with a very personal experience vs. just climbing a mountain. While you head to the summit, the porters will remain at Kibo Hut. Your gear will remain behind in your room (which will be secured) and one of you will take the room key with you. Make sure you dress as if you were going skiing. Thermals, ski pants, ski hat, ski gloves, fleece/sweater, wool socks and ski coat. It will be very cold when you leave Kibo and will only get warmer as your body warms up from hiking. Take snacks in your backpack, your camera, and adequate water with you. If you don’t have some way to protect your water bottles or camelback straws from the cold, there is a good chance your water will freeze. Run the camelback straw alongside your arm underneath your warm clothes. If you don’t have a water bottle protector, keep it in a wool sock, which is better than nothing.
At about 17,000 feet you will stop at Hans Meyer Cave to rest. Do not sit down! You may want to sit or lay down to rest, but it will be very difficult for you to start again if you do so. Anyone
who has not made it to the summit usually made the error of sitting down at Hans Meyer Cave to rest. At Hans Meyer Cave, drink, eat some snacks and take another 250 mg Diamox (your last one). You will rest for 15-20 minutes, so keep moving to stay warm. Bryson will keep you informed and will sing songs to help you remain energized.
You should get to Gilman’s Point (18,600 feet) by sunrise. You will see the most spectacular sunrise (over Mt. Mawenzi) while at Gilman’s Point. Have your cameras ready. Once at Gilman's point, you might feel exhausted because you have just finished the hardest part! Don’t be discouraged and don’t turn back now, you are almost at Uhuru Peak, which is the true summit of the mountain. The climb between Gilman's point and Uhuru is about 2-3 hours. You can do it and Bryson will lead you the whole way. Stay with him and the other guides (Porters will not go above Kibo Hut). Once at the summit, you will stay for no longer than an hour. You may feel altitude sickness (and mostly headache) but that is expected and will go away as soon as you start the descent. It is cold at Uhuru. Take your pictures and then descend back down to Kibo Hut. The climb down is as hard as the climb up because of the loose scree on the mountain. Be careful and continue to go “Pole Pole.” You can get off the trail and go straight down (avoiding the switchbacks), but use caution—it can be very dangerous if you go too fast. The trip back to Kibo hut will take you about 3-4 hours. Drink plenty of water. Eat snacks. As mentioned, there is no more need for Diamox from the time you leave the summit. Once you make it back to Kibo, you might want to rest or take a power nap. Please do not rest for more than an hour or it will be almost impossible for you to make it down to Horombo before dark. You must leave Kibo by around 3-4pm for the 3 hour journey back to Horombo. Your porters will wait for you at Kibo so you can dump off your cold weather gear, they will then head directly to Horombo where you will meet them to reclaim your gear. Once you arrive at Horombo, you will want to go to bed. Eat something before retiring at your assigned sleeping hut, feeling good that you have just accomplished the longest and hardest day of the climb!
DAY FIVE: Bryson will get you up early so you can organize your gear, eat, and purify water. You will hit the trail by about 8am. The hike down is gentle and easier. but you are still encouraged to go relatively “Pole Pole.” You will pass Mandara Hut and should get back down to the gate between 2-4pm. Once at the base, you can take pictures, get your souvenir t-shirts in the gift shop if you want (they are about $15), etc. Gather the guides and porters together and line them up. Once they are lined up, walk through the line and shake their hands and thank them for helping you. By then, you will have bonded with a few of these men. If you want to personally give them t-shirts, watches, hats, etc. now is the time to do that. Make sure that everyone gets something, though. They will appreciate anything you want to give to them as a gift. One designated team member will present the tips (in separate envelopes) to the guides ($200 each guide, $230 to Bryson) and the porters ($70 each porter).
After making the presentation of tips to the guides and porters, you will be taken to the Kenyatta Court Hotel in Moshi. It is a safe and clean place where you will eat, clean up, and stay there that night.
DAY SIX: You will depart the Kenyatta Court Hotel Thursday morning at about 8:00 and make the trip back to Nairobi. You will stop again in Arusha at Mt. Meru Hotel and will arrive back to Nairobi around 5pm that evening.
Good luck to you. We know you can do this! It will be one of the best experiences of your life if you allow it.
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