Thirdeyemom

Transition through the eyes of a climber

There are few mountains in the world that have such an amazing ecosystem and transition of landscape as Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Rising up to 19,341 feet above sea level, the transition from cultivated crops, to lush forest, to heather, moorland, and alpine desert is astounding. I have hiked many mountains but have never experienced any with such a fascinating landscape as Kilimanjaro.

Machame Gate Kilimanjaro Tanzania

Welcome to the long journey up!

Although I’ve already written at length about my trip and am about to put it all to rest, I thought it would be fun to go through the pictures as if you are climbing the mountain for yourself so you can see exactly what I mean. These are brief descriptions of each day, however, if you want to read more detailed posts on my trip, click here. Pay attention to how dramatically the landscape and vegetation change. It truly is spectacular.

Day 1: Climb to Machame Camp

The hike to Machame Camp meanders up about 7.5 miles (12 km) from a starting altitude of 4,890 feet (1490 m) to 9,780 feet (2980 m) and almost the entire hike is through thick rainforest common at the lower altitudes of Kilimanjaro. It is the only part of the hike that is shaded yet the temperature can be quite hot.

Machame Route Kilimanjaro Tanzania

Day 2: Climb to Shira Camp

The second day climb transitions from 9,780 feet (2,980 m) to Shira Camp at 12,600 feet (3,840 m) passing through rainforest glades, the vast open moorlands and up to the Shira Plateau where the treeline ends and the vegetation becomes sparse. In total, the climb is roughly 4 miles (7 km) taking anywhere between four to six hours depending upon speed.

Shira Camp, Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

Kilimanjaro Tanzania

Day 3: Climb to Barranco Camp

This is one of the longest hikes of the climb except for the summit day. Beginning at Shira Camp (12,600 feet/3,840 m), you head east up past the end of the vegetation for five hours up to Lava Tower at 15,190 feet (4,629 m) for lunch and a break. Next you descend back down to Barranco Camp at 12,960 feet (3,950 m) where you spend the night at a lower elevation. The main purpose of the hike was acclimatization (it is highly recommended to go up and sleep lower to get your body used to higher altitudes).

Shira Camp, Machame Route, Kilimanjaro

Morning at Shira Camp

Shira Camp, Machame Route, Kilimanjaro

Goodbye vegetation

Shira Camp, Machame Route, KilimanjaroHike to Lava Tower, Machame Route, Kilimanjar

Kilimanjaro hike to Barranco Camp Machame Route

View of Kilimanjaro Summit with a Lobelia decennia in front

Kilimanjaro hike to Barranco Camp Machame RouteKilimanjaro hike to Barranco Camp Machame Route

Kilimanjaro hike to Barranco Camp Machame Route

Day 4 Climb to Karanga Camp

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). The vegetation is even more sparse with not much plant life and lots of dust and rock.

Hike to Karanga Camp Machame Route Kilimanjaro

Climbing up the Barranco Wall

Hike to Karanga Camp Machame Route Kilimanjaro

Looking down at our campsite

Hike to Karanga Camp Machame Route Kilimanjaro

Hike to Karanga Camp Machame Route Kilimanjaro

Hike to Karanga Camp Machame Route Kilimanjaro

Day 5: To Kosovo Camp

Leaving the moorland and entering the alpine desert where there is a scarcity of water and the conditions are not favorable to plant life. It also can be very cold with high radiation. No animals are around either.

Karanga Camp Machame Route Kilimanjaro

Karanga Camp Machame Route Kilimanjaro

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Barafu Hut Machame Route Kilimanjaro

Karanga Camp Machame Route Kilimanjaro

Karanga Camp Machame Route Kilimanjaro

Karanga Camp Machame Route Kilimanjaro

Barafu Camp Machame Route Kilimanjaro

Kosovo Camp Machame Route Kilimnajaro

Kosovo Camp Machame Route Kilimnajaro

Kosovo Camp with view of Uhuru Peak behind.

The final push to the summit:

Arctic conditions. Freezing cold at night and burning sun during the day with low levels of oxygen. There is no surface water, only lichens and the glaciers that are rapidly shrinking in size.

Uhuru Peak, Kilimanjaro

Uhuru Peak, Kilimanjaro

Uhuru Peak, Mount Kilimanjaro, SolarSisterSummit

Proof

This post was inspired by the Weekly Photo Challenge: Transition.

21 comments

  1. Awesome post, TEM. I don’t think there will be many about this for the theme. 😉Beautiful images and commentary like your other posts on this amazing experience.

  2. Pingback: WPC: Transition (Shower) | Chris Breebaart Photography / What's (in) the picture?

  3. johnberk

    Astonishing. It is great to see the whole journey. All the vistas and other stuff that was happening there. I hope I would stand on the top of Kilimanjaro once. And I have finally learned that the summit lies in Tanzania. I hope I won’t forget this.

    • Thanks! I had posted a lot about the climb day by day but never all in one post. It was fun for me to see the transition of the landscape as you move on up. It is such an amazing place.

  4. I didn’t want to read your final Kili posts until I had finished mine- so nice to read this! Beautiful photos, I do miss the beauty of the mountain! Going through all those climate zones each day was great. I loved all the different plants and how each day felt like a new mountain we were hiking!

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