En Route to Tanzania

“The mountain is calling and I must go”…..

Elephants at Amboseli National Park with Mount Kilimanjaro looming in the background. Photo credit: Wikipedia Free Commons

Elephants at Amboseli National Park with Mount Kilimanjaro looming in the background. Photo credit: Wikipedia Free Commons

Hello from Amsterdam! The last two weeks have been a whirlwind starting with our family road trip to South Dakota followed by a week of family in town. I barely have had the chance to catch my breathe let alone pack and now I’ve begun my next adventure: Tanzania to climb Mount Kilimanjaro!

It is hard to believe that it is already here. A trip I have been dreaming of for over 15 years is soon about to become a reality. I will be climbing Kilimanjaro with an international team of women and men who work for Solar Sister, a non-profit organization based in Rhode Island that works to eradicate energy poverty in Africa by empowering women with economic opportunity. Part of the goal for this trip (besides the heavy duty training) is to raise $4,000 each which will provide funding to train 8 new Solar Sister women entrepreneurs in Sub-Saharan Africa. I am thrilled to tell you that I met my fundraising goal yesterday as I was frantically packing my bags! It feels amazing.

The itinerary will be quite challenging especially on the last day when we rise at 11:30 pm for the six-hour climb up to the summit and then return down to one of the lower base camps walking 8 or so more hours without much sleep. I have trekked a lot in my life but have never walked for so many hours continuously thus I am a bit nervous. Yet knowing me, the adrenalin will kick in and I’ll succeed. One thing in life I’ve realized is that you must follow your dreams and go for it. The only thing holding you back is yourself.

Our team is following the Machame Route which is often referred to as the “Whiskey” route and is more scenic and longer than the more popular Marangu Route.

Here are a few basic stats and details about our route for those who are curious, provided by our tour outfitter Edge of the World Adventures:

Distance Covered and Elevation Ascent: 62 miles/100 km Descent: 24 miles/38 km

Ascend from Machame Gate (1,490 m/4,890 ft) to Uhuru Peak (5895 m/19,340 ft) and return to Mweka Gate (6,500 ft/1,980 m) for 4,405 m/14,450 ft total gain.

I arrive late tonight and will have two days to rest and prepare before we begin our quest.

Mount Kilimanjaro Climbing Routes (Source: Wikipedia Free Commons)

Mount Kilimanjaro Climbing Routes (Source: Wikipedia Free Commons)

Day 1: Machame Gate (4,890 ft/1490 m) to Machame Camp (9,780 ft/2,980 m) 12km, 4-6 hours

We will leave our hotel in Moshi and walk to the  Machame Gate where we will register with  the Kilimanjaro Park Office, and begin our ascent into the rainforest arriving at the Machame Camp in the late afternoon. The temperatures will be relatively warm and will cool off as we ascend up the mountain.

Day 2: Machame Camp (9,780 ft/2,980 m) to Shira Camp (12,600 ft/3,840 m) 7km, 4-6 hours

This hike will meander through rainforest glades before ascending into the moorlands where the treeline ends and vegetation becomes much more sparse. We will continue up onto the Shira Plateau where we will get our first glimpse of the Western Breach and its stunning glaciers as you continue on to Shira campsite.

Day 3: Shira Camp (12,600 ft/3,840 m) to Lava Tower (15,190 ft/3,950 m) to Barranco Camp (12,960 ft/3,950m) 13km, 6-8 hours

We will head east up past the last of the vegetation on the mountain. Five hours of hiking will bring us to the striking landmark of Lava Tower (15,190 ft/ 3,950 m). We will stop here for lunch and some bonus acclimatization before we descend for 2 hours below the Western Breach into the Barranco Camp.

Day 4: Barranco Camp (12,960 ft/3,950m) to Karanga Camp (13,780 ft/4,200m) 7 km, 4 hours

We will climb the Great Barranco Wall and pass below the Heim Glacier before heading down through the Karanga Valley.

Day 5: Karanga Camp (13,780 ft/4,200m) to Barafu Camp (14,930 ft/4,550m) 5 km, 3-4 hours

We will continue east and cross several ridges and small valleys until we meet the Mweka Route that will take us to our camp at Barafu Hut.

Day 6: Summit Day! Barafu Camp (14,930 ft/4,550m) to Uhuru Peak (19,340 ft/5,895 m) to Mweka Camp (10,170 ft/3,100 m) 7 km up and 22 km down, 8 hours up, 9-10 hours down.

We will wake up between 11 – 11:30 PM for tea or coffee and a snack before departing on our way to Uhuru Peak. The first 6 hours will take us along multiple switchbacks through thick scree until we reach Stella Point (18,650ft/5,685. This is what most climbers consider to be the most challenging part of their climb. Depending on the pace up to this point, there is a good opportunity to enjoy a majestic sunrise during a short rest here. Keeping moving, we will make our way along the crater rim for another 1-2 hours until we reach our ultimate goal of Uhuru Peak. Then we will begin our descent back to Barafu Camp for some food and rest, and then finally we will have another 3-4 hour descent. until we reach our last camp of the trip.

Day 7: Mweka Camp (10,170 ft/3,100 m) to Mweka Gate (6,500 ft/1,980 m) 10 km, 3-4 hours

We will descend through a short, scenic, 3-hour hike to Mweka Gate where we will be happily met by transportation to drive us back to our hotel. A shower will never feel so good!

It is going to be a real adventure and challenge! I hope to post soon from Moshi, Tanzania! Now time to close my eyes a little as it is past midnight for me. I’m going to be tired….





  1. Good luck. I tried climbing it a few years ago (Lemosho route) but had to go down with altitude sickness. Are you going on safari as well?

  2. You will be fine and do great – I know many people who have climbed Kilimanjaro and while not a walk in the park, it’s doable by people much less fit than you! Congratulations on your fundraising and have a wonderful time – wish I were there to do it, too!

  3. I love the elephant shot – breathtaking! I hope you get to see them. That would be my #1 bucket list item: see an African elephant in the wild.

  4. Wow! It doesn’t seem that long ago that you told us about this upcoming trip – how the time flies. This will be a tremendous learning experience in all ways, and I look forward to your photos and insights about the hike and the SolarSisterSummit.

  5. Thrilled to hear that your ascent is about to become a reality and that you succeeded in meeting your fund raising goal! Can’t wait to see the photos! Go #SolarSister Go!

  6. This sounds unbelievable! I worked as a travel agent for a little while and had a young lady book a trip to kilimanjaro with me and ever since I’ve wanted to go – have fun, stay safe and can’t wait to read about the trip!

  7. Pingback: Inspiring You to Help Be the Change : #Blogust2015 | Thirdeyemom

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