Soaring above the rippling tea plantations and low hills of northeastern Tanzania, Mount Kilimanjaro (19,340') is Africa’s highest peak. Follow the less traveled Shira Route up the western slope, hiking eight days through the spectacular landscapes of five temperate zones. On this once-in-a-lifetime trek, take in extraordinary views extending hundreds of miles, and experience the sunrise from the roof of Africa.
Climb the tallest free-standing mountain in the world and sleep on its crater floor.
Explore rain forests, heather moors, lava formations, and glaciers.
Learn about the unique flora and fauna of the mountain with local naturalists.
Itinerary - 10 Days
Day 1 — U.S./Arusha, Tanzania/ Arusha National Park
Arrive at Kilimanjaro International Airport, and drive into Arusha National Park to our deluxe camp situated at the base of Mount Meru, a 14,980-foot volcano. The camp is at an elevation of about 6,200 feet, which will help our acclimatization. Private Deluxe Camp (D)
Day 2 — Mount Meru
Gather for an orientation, check your equipment, and set out on a warm-up hike along the lush slopes of Mount Meru, the fifth-highest peak in Africa. Keep your eye out for the distinctive black-and-white colobus monkey of the region, as well as bushbuck, duiker, buffalo, giraffe, rare birds, and if we’re lucky, elephant and leopard. Private Deluxe Camp (B,L,D)
Day 3 — Begin Trek
A short drive brings us to the edge of Kilimanjaro’s montane forests, where our trek begins. The trail winds up through mossy jungle where colobus monkeys dangle from branches. Walking alongside local naturalists, we’ll learn about the plants and animals that inhabit this ecosystem. Our camp will be set up when we arrive, with refreshments ready for us in the dining tent. (Altitude: 7,000'-9,500', 3-6 hours hiking) Camping (B,L,D)
Day 4 — Shira Plateau
Each day begins with morning tea and hot water delivered to your tent by our guides. After breakfast, our hike continues through the forest before crossing into the sub-alpine hagenia zone. We’ll take our time, soaking in the spectacular scenery while acclimating to the altitude. (Altitude: 11,300', 6-8 hrs hiking) Camping (B,L,D)
Day 5 — Moir Camp
Trek across the Shira Plateau, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and then follow the trail up the western slope of the Kibo Massif. Here in the upper heath zone, the snowy summit looms above our camp, glowing in the late-afternoon light. (Altitude: 13,100', 4-6 hours hiking) Camping (B,L,D)
Day 6 — Lava Tower
Continue along the massif today, hiking slowly into the alpine zone, where rocks and scree harbor only the hardiest lichens and grasses. Camp at the base of Lava Tower, a volcanic plug that juts 300 feet into the air. (Altitude: 14,300', 5-7 hours hiking) Camping (B,L,D)
Day 7 — Arrow Glacier
Spend a few hours hiking to the foot of the Western Breach and make camp near Arrow Glacier at 15,700 feet. Then relax at camp and take in extraordinary views of the sunset high above the clouds. (Altitude: 15,700', 2-3 hours hiking) Camping (B,L,D)
Day 8 — Crater Camp
Set out on one of the most challenging parts of the trek: the Western Breach, a steep wall of rock that rises to the lip of the crater. Inside the inner crater, venture to the edge of the ash pit and explore the magnificent glacier and its natural ice sculptures. Then move to our camp, set high on the crater floor. (Altitude: 18,500', 7-10 hours hiking) Camping (B,L,D)
Day 9 — Summit: Uhuru Peak
Rise with the sun and head for the summit, climbing 1,000 feet and arriving by 9:00 a.m. From our lofty perch 19,340 feet above Africa, take in the magnificent sweep of sky and peaks. We’ll savor the moment, then descend steeply via the Mweka Route. Stop for lunch and time to rest at Barafu, before continuing to our camp where a well-earned feast awaits. (Summit: Altitude: 19,340', 1-2 hours hiking. Descent: 10,500', 8-10 hours hiking) Camping (B,L,D)
Day 10 — Arusha/U.S.
Hike into the rain forest and down to the Mweka Gate, a rapid descent of 4,500 feet. Drive back to Arusha for a celebratory dinner before transferring to the airport for our return flights. Dayrooms at the Dik Dik Hotel (B,L,D)
National Geographic Adventures are unique, active itineraries for intrepid travelers that combine spectacular places, cultural interaction, and physical challenge. You'll explore fascinating, off-the-beaten-path places with top guides, and wherever possible, meet National Geographic experts in the field.
Please note: To add a 4-day Serengeti safari after the climb, please see our Tanzania: Kilimanjaro Climb and Safari itinerary.
Price is per person, double occupancy. For a single room/tent, add $500. Airfare and fees for Tanzania National Parks are not included. Round-trip economy air between New York and Arusha is estimated from $1,600. Tanzania National Park fees are $1,820 (subject to change for 2014).
Designed for very fit and experienced hikers. Trips rated ULTIMATE CHALLENGE typically have 10 or more hours of activity per day, hiking 12 or more miles on remote, mountainous, exposed terrain with steep ascents/descents, and uneven trails at altitudes often exceeding 14,000 feet. Itineraries with kayaking will have 10 or more miles of paddling per day. Prior experience hiking at high elevation and a doctor’s release will be required.
Click here for a description of all activity levels.
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