Thirdeyemom

Kilimanjaro: Day 4 Climb to Karanga Camp

Author’s note: This post is part of a series on my recent trip and climb of Mount Kilimanjaro, to read all posts click here

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I was relieved and rewarded by finally getting a good night of sleep. I couldn’t believe how good it felt! It was my first real solid sleep in over a week. I am sure that my body had finally given in due to mere exhaustion after a week of travel, jet lag and sleepless cold nights on the mountain.

I woke up feeling invigorated to start the day’s climb, a relatively strenuous yet short hike up and over the Barranco Wall to Karanga Camp at 13,780 feet (4,000 m). Our group set off early trying to beat the long lines of people climbing up the narrow path. The first hour of the hike was a bit frustrating. If someone in front of you stopped to rest, the entire long queue of hikers below would have to also stop and one thing is for certain when I hike, I don’t like to stop unless I absolutely have to.

Hike to Karanga Camp Machame Route Kilimanjaro

Trail marker showing us the way.

Hike to Karanga Camp Machame Route Kilimanjaro

Pretty wildflowers

Hike to Karanga Camp Machame Route Kilimanjaro

Saying goodbye to Barranco Camp as the morning sun rose up over the mountain.

I was relieved that overall it wasn’t too insanely crowded on the mountain. Every night there were perhaps a couple hundred people at each camp and summer is generally high season for Kilimanjaro climbs. The only time of year that it is worse is on New Year’s Eve when thousands of climbers attempt to summit to bring in the new year.  For me, I find the experience much more peaceful and enjoyable when there are less crowds. I feel much closer to nature and its delicious solitude when I’m alone or in a small group. Unfortunately, the first hour of the hike up the narrow trail of the Barranco Wall would prove irritating but once we passed the lines of people it was nothing but wide open space.

Hike to Karanga Camp Machame Route Kilimanjaro

Climbing up the Barranco Wall

Hike to Karanga Camp Machame Route Kilimanjaro

Looking down at our campsite

Parts of the climb involved using fingers and hands to pull oneself up the rock. Hiking poles proved frivolous and just got in the way. I remember my friend Neha’s lovely analogy about the necessity and use of hiking poles and how it relates to life. Some days a climb requires a little support and other times you just use your own hands. This part of the climb, we were all on our own.

Once we scaled Barranco Wall, the climb was much easier, affording spectacular views of the valley below. I felt like we were resting on top of a pillowcase of clouds.

Hike to Karanga Camp Machame Route Kilimanjaro

Hike to Karanga Camp Machame Route Kilimanjaro

Hike to Karanga Camp Machame Route Kilimanjaro

Hike to Karanga Camp Machame Route Kilimanjaro

Hike to Karanga Camp Machame Route Kilimanjaro

We arrived at our camp well before lunch, much earlier than usual, and had all afternoon to rest and relax. A nagging part of me wanted to continue on the next 3-4 hours to the next camp, Barafu, which is what the 6-day Machame Route follows (We were taking the 7-day Machame route meaning we would spend the night at Karanga Camp instead of the next camp, Barafu). There are pros and cons of doing the climb in six verses seven days. If you do it in six days, you are closer to getting back to a normal bed and a shower, however, it is much more exhausting. If you take the seven-day route, it is longer and you are exposed to sleeping outside for one more night but there is a greater chance of acclimatization and hence success rate at reaching the summit.

As we walked, the landscape became barren once again with little or no vegetation. All that remained was brownish-black rock. Hike to Karanga Camp Machame Route Kilimanjaro

Hike to Karanga Camp Machame Route Kilimanjaro

Hike to Karanga Camp Machame Route Kilimanjaro

And a well-worn trail.

Hike to Karanga Camp Machame Route Kilimanjaro

Hike to Karanga Camp Machame Route Kilimanjaro

Then finally we saw signs of life once again. Our campsite was near.

Hike to Karanga Camp Machame Route Kilimanjaro

The location could not be any less beautiful than the last. I could feel that we were in for another magical night.

Hike to Karanga Camp Machame Route Kilimanjaro

Hike to Karanga Camp Machame Route Kilimanjaro

Hike to Karanga Camp Machame Route Kilimanjaro

Hike to Karanga Camp Machame Route Kilimanjaro

Hike to Karanga Camp Machame Route Kilimanjaro

Looking up behind us at the peak!

Hike to Karanga Camp Machame Route Kilimanjaro

View from inside my tent

The all too familiar camp life…

And my new friends…

Hike to Karanga Camp Machame Route Kilimanjaro

One of our young waiters

Hike to Karanga Camp Machame Route Kilimanjaro

The porters always know where to find the hot spot for receiving cellphone calls.

When in Tanzania, join them!

Hike to Karanga Camp Machame Route Kilimanjaro

Me with the porters trying to make a call home.

It was a much more relaxing day than the rest. I was glad we had an entire afternoon to take it easy before the big summit push. I would soon discover that the sunset views would be equally spoiling again. I was getting used to living in the clouds.

26 comments

  1. Pingback: Kilimanjaro: Day 4 Climb to Karanga Camp | Fly by Sanaba Tours

  2. Nicole, how cold was it at night? Also, did the porters have to carry enough water for the entire hike or was there a place along the climb to get fresh water? And I can only imagine those latrines. Phew. Was everything carried back down the mountain? It looks pristine and very clean.

    • I would imagine it was anywhere from 15-25 degrees but I’m just guessing. It is hard to know. All I know is that at dinner when the sun set, I had on long underwear, two jackets and many layers and some nights was still cold. As for the water, they have water the entire way except for one part of the trek which they have to carry. It was very clean as everything is picked up and carried, all trash. We had our own “tent toilets” which were cleaned every single day so they actually weren’t bad. They were portable. I never used the “tourist latrines” but that is what Nepal is all about!

      • After I figured out what to wear I was ok in the morning as the sun was up. Going to the bathroom in the middle of the night however was the worst! It was so cold and took so much energy to get out of the bag, dressed and out of the tent and back in again. My least favorite part of the trip.

  3. Ooh, scaling that wall looks fun! I always love a good rock scramble! And after that, I was surprised to see how flat it was! I guess Kilimanjaro does look like that when I think about it – a wide base to get up, then lots of flat (or flattish) before what almost looks like a separate mountain perched on top.

    • Yes so true. There are parts of where it is flat for a little bit and then other parts that are rather steep. Except for the summit day, it really isn’t too incredibly steep. I’ve done much worse! 🙂 What you are seeing as the peak that looks like a separate mountain is the summit. It is all done in one long night/day pretty much!

  4. maamej

    I love that picture of the climbers taken from below & also the flowers. Looks like every day is better than the last. I’m imagining with some yearning how fresh the air must have been.

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