In February 2020, working as Challenge Leader for Action Challenge, I lead an expedition to Kilimanjaro. All 15 clients reach the top with me and our team doctor!
For photographs of this expedition see Tanzania – February 2020
This expedition is arranged by Action Challenge
Kilimanjaro Challenge – Northern Circuit
6 Feb 2020: Arrival
We arrive at Kilimanjaro International airport. After customs and immigration formalities, we drive to our hotel in Moshi.
7 Feb 2020: LONDOROSSI GATE(2,100 METRES) STARING POINT (2,389/7838FT ) MTI MKUBWA CAMP(2,785/9137FT)
Altitude gained: 396m
The Northern Circuit Route begins at Londorossi Gate (2,100 metres) in the West, the same start point as the Lemosho Route. The drive to Londorossi Gate takes approximately two hours from Moshi. Registration with the Kilimanjaro National Park authorities occurs at the gate and then we drive to the trailhead starting point were we have lunch before the short first-day trek to Mti Mkubwa Camp (2,785 metres) begins. Dinner is served when we reach Mti Mkubwa Camp.
Distance: ~4.8km / 3 miles
Trekking time: 3-4 hours
8 Feb 2020: MTI MKUBWA CAMP (2785M/ 9137FT) – SHIRA I CAMP (3504M/ 11496FT)
Altitude gained: 719m
We spend the first-hour trekking through the last section of rainforest path before entering the low alpine moorland zone which follows up onto the Shira Plateau. The trek is relatively short and gradual, ending at Shira Camp 1 (3,504 metres).
Distance: ~7.9km / 5 miles
Trekking time: 5-6 hours
Zone: Rainforest / Low Alpine Zone
9 Feb 2020: SHIRA 1 (3504M/11496FT) TO MOIR HUT (4161M/13651FT)
Altitude gained: 657m
A long trek heading east, we trek through heather moorland and rocky paths and then enter the high alpine desert zone. The morning is spent trekking up to Scott Fischer camp at 4,000m, where we have lunch. After lunch, we continue on the northern circuit heading to Moir Camp at 4,161 metres.
Distance: ~ 9.8km / 6.1 miles
Trekking time: 5-7 hours
Zone: Low alpine zone / High alpine zone
10 Feb 2020: MOIR CAMP (4,155M/13,632FT) TO BUFFALO CAMP (4,033M/13,232FT)
Altitude loss: 122m
Today involves a moderately steep scramble and climb out of Moir Valley to climb the summit of Little Lent Hill at 4,375 metres. From here the route follows a series of inclines and declines crossing several ridges and valleys with more rocky scrambles, skirting around the northern slopes of Kibo to Buffalo Camp (4,033 metres). The trek gives great vistas out across the plains that lie north of Kilimanjaro and stretch out to the Kenyan / Tanzanian border. We arrive at Buffalo Camp in the mid-afternoon for lunch after a long day hiking.
Distance: ~9.2km / 5.8miles
Trekking time: 7-8 hours
Zone: High alpine zone
11 Feb 2020: BUFFALO CAMP (4033M/13,232FT) – RONGAI 3RD CAVE (3800M/12,467FT)
Altitude lost: 200m
Today starts with a climb up the Buffalo Ridge and then continues east around the northern slopes to the Rongai Third Cave at 3,800 metres. The trek is shorter than the day before and by now we are feeling well acclimatized to the altitude. We arrive at the Third Cave just around early afternoon for lunch.
Distance: ~6.8km / 4.3miles
Trekking time: 4-5 hours
Zone: High alpine zone and low alpine zone
12 Feb 2020: RONGAI 3RD CAVE (3800M/12,467FT) – SCHOOL HUT (4800M/15,748FT)
Altitude gained: 917m
Today involves a steady incline up and over the Saddle which sits between the peaks of Kibo and Mawenzi Peak. We then continue walking south-west up to School Hut (4,800 metres). After arriving at School Hut we are served lunch and then get some shut-eye as we will be awoken before midnight to start our summit attempt. We prepare all our gear, including warm clothes, insulated water bottles, snacks, headlamp, and camera before going to bed.
Distance: ~10km / 6 miles
Trekking time: 4-5 hours
Zone: High alpine zone and glacial zone
13 Feb 2020: SCHOOL HUT (4800M/15,748FT) – SUMMIT ( 5,895 M/19341FT) – MILLENIUM CAMP (3,827 M/12556FT)
Altitude gained: 1178m
Altitude lost: 2068m (descent)
We are awoken around 11:00pm (12 Feb) and then have breakfast before beginning to climb the steep incline up to the slopes of Kibo under the cover of darkness. Our first check-point is Hans Meyer Cave where we take a short break. The climb steepens as we approach Gilman’s Point (5,681 metres), which will be around 6-9 hours after departing School Hut. We take a moment to enjoy the approaching dawn and the incredible view out and across to Mawenzi Peak, We still have 2-3 hours trekking to reach Uhuru Peak. From Gilman’s we trek in snow along an undulating path around the crater rim until reaching Stella Point then we continue on the final gradual slope to the summit. A brief stop for photos at the top then we retrace our steps back around the crater rim to Stella Point (5,739 metres) where we turn south and head down the heavily screed slopes of Kibo to Barafu Camp (4,680 metres) for lunch. After lunch we continue down the rocky path to Millennium Camp (3,950 metres) for our final night on the mountain.
Distance: ~5.9km / 3.7 miles ascent and 8.4km / 5.2 mile descent
Trekking time: 8-12 hours ascent and then 5-8 hours descent
Zone: Glacial zone and all preceding zones
14 Feb 2020: MILLENIUM CAMP 3827M/12,556FT – MWEKA GATE 1633M/5358FT – MOSHI 970M
Altitude lost: 2194m
After breakfast we continue the long descent down to the Mweka Park Gate. This path is initially rocky and then very slippery – so we take our time and be careful. As we reach Mweka Park Gate our crew welcome us and the celebrations being. We have lunch at the gate and then a heartfelt ceremony of appreciation with our support team.
From the gate, a vehicle takes us back to our hotel in Moshi (about 30 minutes). We have a long overdue hot shower, dinner and celebrations and receive our summit certificates!!
Distance: ~12.2km / 7.6 miles
Trekking time: 5-7 hours
Zone: Rainforest zone
15 Feb 2020: Depart
After breakfast we go into Moshi town for some last-minute shoppoing and coffee and cake at the Union Cafe. We return and then are taken to Kilimanjaro Airport for our flight home.