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Mount Kenya and Kilimanjaro (Kenya – Tanzania)

Region: Mountains of East Africa

Duration:  13 days including 10 of trekking/ climbing

Type: Trekking & climbing – nights in tent

Activities:

  • 4/5 days of climbing Mount Kenya
  • 6 days of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro
  • 1 day of game drive in Amboseli National Park

Physical level: Difficult

Period: Mid December to mid March then July to October

Group size: 4 to 10 participants

A sneak preview:

Every Mountain lover dreams of one day climbing both Mounts Kenya and Kilimanjaro, to finally reach the culminating point of Africa at 5895 meters. These two mountains with different characters yet neighbours borne out of the earth’s activities on the Rift Valley, are the highest in the continent and have a mythical quality with their snow under the equatorial latitudes. The rate of visitation is high, but when we know these mountains well and have the privilege of quality and quantity, it’s possible to take you to routes that are least frequented, yet the most beautiful…

To acclimatize, we start by climbing across Mount Kenya, scaling through the Chogoria route that is rendered particularly aesthetic by altitude lakes. After a game drive at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro to view big African wildlife, we start the climb of the impressive mountain dominating the immense plains. Here, we will use the least frequented route to climb the mountain – Umbwe route, with its collapsing valley, followed by a visit of Shira plateau, before the final climb through the Western Breach; the program includes the most beautiful areas of Kilimanjaro, whilst maintaining as much intimacy as possible.

Trip strengths:

  • Mark of quality: the most attractive and the least visited routes:
    • Itinerary across Mount Kenya using the highly untamed Chogoria route,
    • Exploring Kilimanjaro through the most original, beautiful yet least frequented route: Umbwe route > Shira plateau > Western Breach,
  • Often, our competitors, for price reasons, choose Rongai route on Mount Kilimanjaro because it’s possible to climb in 5 days as opposed to 6 compulsory days on Umbwe route, even though it is the most visited and with less beautiful landscapes,
  • Two very complementary mountains, one has an alpine character with its valleys, mountain-lakes and peaks, and the much more softly-formed second one, with more open horizons, a volcano whose fiery summits prove its still active nature,
  • A 3 nights acclimatisation on Mount Kenya (1 night at 3300m and 2 at more than 4000m), giving maximum chance of success on Mount Kilimanjaro where we have another 3 nights between 3800m and 4700m before the final climb.
  • A day of game drives (and rest between the 2 climbs) in the Kenyan Amboseli National Park, at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro.

NB: On Mount Kenya, we climb to the second Lenana peak at an altitude of  4985m, the two peaks Lenion and Batian at 5199m, requiring great ice and rock climbing techniques. For independent people who have ice and rock climbing techniques, it is possible to organize customized climbing of the peaks.

 

Day to day plan:

Day 1: Nairobi – Chogoria (2 hours’ walk/ night in Chogoria bungalow/ 2400m): We get to the eastern slope of Mount Kenya where we meet our local team. Towards the end of the day, 2 hours of walking allows us to reach the bungalows at the entrance of the Chogoria route.

Day 2: Mount Kenya trek 1: Chogoria (2400m) – Nithi Camp (3300m) (3 hours’ walk/ 900m of positive elevation/ exploration walk in the afternoon/ Night in tent): 3 hours’ walk across the mountain’s primary forest, especially luxuriant on this slope that is the mountain’s most watered part. Exploration of gorges and waterfalls in the afternoon (2 to 3 hours).

Day 3: Mount Kenya trek 2: Nithi Camp (3300m) – Minto’s Camp (4270m) (4 hours’ walk/ 1000m of positive elevation/ exploration walk in the afternoon/ Night in tent): We walk along the cliffs overlooking the valley, exploring superb mountain lakes and enjoying the special afro-alpine moorland with its senecios and lobelias. In the afternoon, we will climb onto the dominant hill overlooking the amazing Lake Michaelson.

Day 4: Mount Kenya trek 3: Minto’s Camp (4270m) – Lenana Point (4985m) – Shipton Hut (4200m) – Liki North (4000m) (8hr walk/ 715m positive elevation and 785m negative elevation/ Night in tent): Climb up to our summit, Lenana point, where we will enjoy a beautiful panoramic view of the quite complex summit areas. Climb in about 3 hours at night, to arrive at the summit at the first morning rays. After joining the highly frequented Shipton’s Hut, we head for Liki North hut

Day 5: Mount Kenya trek 4: Liki North (4000m) – Sirimon gate (2400m) (5 hours’ walk)/ 1600m of negative elevation/ 3hr drive / Night in hotel): Long stage to get to Sirimon “gate” to the North-west of the mountain. Here we will thank our team, before a 3-hour transfer to Nairobi. Settling in at a simple but comfortable hotel.

Day 6: Mount Kenya – Amboseli National Park (4 hrs transfer by car/ 3-hour safari/ Night in tent at the park’s camp) We get to Amboseli National Park, famous for the big African fauna that play about at the foot of Kilimanjaro. First “game drive” for a while in the afternoon, on an open-roofed safari car.

Day 7: Amboseli National Park – passage to Tanzania – Moshi Town (4 to 5 hours of safari/ 4 hours drive upto Moshi/ night in lodge: Morning spent on game drive. With a little luck, the Kilimanjaro unveils off its clouds to show its impressive silhouette and summit glaciers. All the African fauna is present, but elephants are distinctly the “stars”. With a little luck, you will be able to see lions and cheetahs. Then we get to the border where aboard Tanzanian vehicles, we arrive at a good lodge in Moshi, at the foot of Kilimanjaro on the southern side.

Day 8: Kilimanjaro trek 1: Umbwe Gate (1660m) – Umbwe Cave (2850m) (5 to 6 hours’ walk/ positive elevation of 1190m/ night in tent) After the 2 days of rest, we are ready for the 6 days on Mount Kilimanjaro. With 5 possible climbing routes, we choose to take the Umbwe route, the most scenic and least visited even though it is a little more rigorous compared to the others. Traversing the mountain’s primary forest that is highly developed on its southern slopes of Kilimanjaro, to reach the more dry section of arborescent heather for camping.

Day 9: Kilimanjaro trek 2: Umbwe Gate (2850m) – South Barranco (3950m) (5 to 6 hours’ walk/ positive elevation of 1100m/ Night in tent). The special thing about the Umbwe route is that it is one of the rare Kilimanjaro valleys. Infact, Mount Kilimanjaro is a “young” volcano that erosion has not had the time to scar like Mount Kenya. Umbwe is actually a collapsing valley created by the slowing down of the volcanic activity. Thus we are able to enjoy here and nowhere else on the Kilimanjaro, especially aesthetic ridge pathways, even though the walk is more rigorous; fortunately we have abundant red blood cells attained on Mount Kenya to “carry” us. Arrival at Barranco, we keep off the “classic” Machame route camp, and isolate ourselves on an plateau dominating the vastness.

Day 10: Kilimanjaro trek 3: South Barranco (3950m) – Lava Tower (4600m) – Shira 2 (3840m) (7 hours’ walk/ 650m positive elevation then 760m negative elevation / Night in tent): Against the flow of tourist “hordes” using the Machame route, we take the direction of the Shira plateau. Even though we have already been well acclimatized thanks to our course on Mount Kenya, we will not take the path of the last camp before the final climb. Why: the Kilimanjaro Park authorities’ regulation stipulates a minimum of 6 days in the case of Umbwe route. Let’s therefore enjoy this “extra” day to explore the superb Shira plateau.

Day 11: Kilimanjaro trek 4: Shira Plateau (3800m) – Lava Tower (4600m) or Arrow Glacier Camp (4700m) (7 to 8 hrs’ walk/ 800m to 900m of positive elevation/ Night in tent): Day dedicated to exploring Shira plateau, majorly the “cathedral” and the Shira needles – remnants of an annex summit on Kilimanjaro. The altitude moorland is especially beautiful here. In the afternoon, we take the main summit’s path, Kibo, and reach the camp that our team has put up at Arrow Glacier.

Day 12: Kilimanjaro trek 5: Arrow Glacier (4700m) – Uhuru Peak (5895m) – Mweka Camp (3100m) (on average 9 to 12 hrs’ walk/ 1200m positive elevation and 2800m negative elevation / Night in tent): At night, we take the Western Breach route, relatively lowly frequented, to reach the floor of Kibo crater with its Furtwangler glacier at the first morning rays. A last effort allows us to reach the summit, Uhuru Peak (“freedom” in Swahili language), at an altitude of 5895 meters. After having taken the time to appreciate the moment and the panoramas, we descend through the Mweka route. Here we find more people, the climbers who took the Shira, Machame and Umbwe climbing routes, are forced to descend by this route.

Day 13: Kilimanjaro trek 6: Mweka Camp (3100m) – Mweka Gate (1600m) (3hrs’ walk/ 1500m negative elevation/ day use room before evening return flight): 3 hours’ walk to reach Kilimanjaro National Park’s exit. We thank our team consisting of the guide, assistant guides, cooks and porters. Aboard our vehicles we drive to KIA lodge close to the airport, for a well deserved shower before the return flight (3 to 4 people per room since it is just a matter of taking a shower and packing up).

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