Last summer, we ticked off a new bucket list item on Mount Kilimanjaro. Now, you might be thinking “hasn’t Keith led at least ten trips up Kili already?”, and you’d be right. But, this time, we took a different route up Kilimanjaro – one that we’ve never followed before.
The Kilimanjaro Lemosho route is one of seven routes to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and is renowned for being a quiet and incredibly scenic journey up to the summit.
This June, Gareth headed out to Tanzania to take on the Lemosho route, and see what it’s all about. Keep reading to see what he got up to on the trail!
Day 1: Travelling to Tanzania
I met our clients at Gatwick Airport at 4 p.m. sharp. After introducing ourselves to one another, we headed to check-in and passed through security easily. The Bucketlisters had booked the departure lounge, so they went to chill out there before our flights.
We were flying with Rwandair and took off as scheduled to Brussels, where we had a brief stopover before flying another 8 hours to Kigali International Airport in Rwanda. Here it was another 4-hour layover, where we relaxed in the cafe and browsed the shops before our flight on a small aircraft to Kilimanjaro International Airport.
When we arrived, our bags were already waiting, so we were quick to get through the airport. Before we knew it, we had transferred to Weru River Lodge, found our rooms and were ready for our briefing from our local guide.
Once we were all up to date on what was to come, we enjoyed a buffet evening meal and then retired to our rooms to pack our bags and get an early night.
Day 2: Lemosho Gate (2385m) to Big Tree Camp (2750m)
This morning, we were heading to the trailhead! We met for breakfast at 7 a.m., and then met at 8 a.m. at the front desk to board the jeep and drive to Kili. We loaded onto a safari truck and drove for two hours, stopping at a supermarket, to Londrossi Gate where we met our team and signed into the park, before travelling another half hour to Lemosho Gate, where we had a packed lunch with beautiful views of the surrounding landscapes.
Fuelled up and ready to go, we began trekking through the jungle at 12:30. It was a beautiful start to the trail, and we even saw Blue monkeys as we hiked upwards, learning about the flora and fauna on the way.
When we arrive at the camp at 3 p.m., our tents were already up. I quickly briefed the Bucketlisters on how best to live comfortably in a tent – not pushing bags against the walls and so on. We had portable toilets in the tents, so we weren’t roughing it too much!
We shared dinner at 18:30, had the day’s briefing from Bruno, and went up to bed at 8 p.m.
Day 3: Big Tree Camp to Shira 1 (3500m)
Bright and early at 06:30, we had a wake-up call from our waiter, with a nice cup of coffee brought to the tents. After washing and wolfing down some breakfast, we got ready with the intention of leaving at 08:00, but in the end, we got on our way nearer half-past.
It was a warm, clear day, and there were a few steep climbs as we made our way to the southern rim of the Shira Plateau at 3847 metres and broke into the moorland in clear, almost Alpine conditions.
We arrived at camp at 14:30, quickly settling in for some coffees, teas and popcorn in the mess tent. After we had recuperated a little, we ate a hot lunch of chicken and chips was ready at camp. Then it was time to relax and recover all afternoon.
By 6:30 p.m, dinner was served. While we were eating our delicious home-made curries, the skies cleared enough to see Kili for the first time.
Day 4: Shira 1 to Shira 2 (3850m)
This morning we had our wake-up calls at 07:00 and enjoyed a hearty breakfast of omelette, sausages and porridge. We left camp at about 08:30, hiking out for a shorter day of, at most, four hours of walking.
It’s a more gentle walk east along the Shira Plateau towards the glacier-covered peak of Kibo. We hike through streams and moorland meadows in the beautiful scenery as we traverse around and up Kili.
Shira Camp 2 enjoys a great spot amidst the moorland. It was a very well-equipped camp, with a new toilet block and warm wash water provided on arrival.
However, it was very windy, so camp was built in the shelter of the ranger’s hut. Hot lunch was provided at the campsite, and then we spent the afternoon relaxing and recuperating from the day’s trek.
At 5 p.m., we took a short walk higher up the slopes to boost our acclimatisation as the sun started to set. On return from our acclimatisation walk, Bruno and his team sang some songs and we all joined in dancing with them on the side of the mountain.
Dinner was ready at 18:30, and we all ate together before having our brief with Bruno about what to expect for the following day.
Day 5: Shira 2 to Barranco Camp (3960m)
Today’s trek was set to be a long one. We had our wake-up call at 06:30 and headed to breakfast to fuel up for a big hike ahead.
We kept a slow pace today as we climbed the lava tower to 4600 metres. When we reached the tower, we spent about 45 minutes there for lunch and to aid our acclimatisation.
Then it was a long descent in the afternoon to Barranco Camp, which we didn’t reach until around 5:30 p.m. When we finally made it to camp, we simply had a quick wash and dinner before heading straight to bed.
Day 6: Barranco to Karanga (4000m)
This morning we have a slightly slower start and begin walking at 9 a.m. The day begins with a slight descent, followed by a steep climb up the Barranco wall. Although the wall might not seem high, this is a challenging part of the trek, with sections feeling similar to a grade one scramble.
We reach the top of the wall at 4000m and take a half-hour stop here to acclimatise. Then it’s a long descent to Karanga stream and one final, steep climb up to Karanga Camp. The Bucketlisters found this last portion of the hike particularly challenging and are glad to arrive at the steep campsite at around 2 p.m.
After resting all afternoon, we share dinner at 6:30 p.m. and then relax for the evening.
Day 7: Karanga to Barafu (4600m)
At 9 a.m again, we start walking up the gentle, long climb to Barafu camp. This was our last camp before our summit attempt later that night. We arrived here in time for a tasty hot lunch.
The team rested and slept after lunch until dinner at 18:00. At this point, we had our brief on what to wear, bring and expect for summit night and headed back to bed until 23:00.
For ‘breakfast’ this time, we just had some light food ready for a summit attempt starting at midnight.
Day 8: Summit day and descent to Millennium Camp
Myself, three clients, Bruno, Honesty and one other summit porter started up at midnight. One of the Bucketlisters had been feeling unwell for a few days, so we split at Kosovo Camp (4900m) so that Honesty and Jeremiah could take it easy with her while the rest of the group continued with Bruno.
The slopes up to Stella Point were very warm this evening. However, very strong winds began once we reached the crater rim and the clouds were very close meaning low visibility.
We pushed on through the night and finally reached the summit at 06:45. It was a moment of joy and huge achievement for the Bucketlisters. A quick break in the clouds gave an opportunity for photos – but our cameras didn’t last long in the cold, windy weather!
After taking it all in from the summit, we descended back down to Barack Camp for 10 a.m. Here we enjoyed some quick snacks before a few hours to sleep.
Upon waking up, we had a light lunch before descending down to Millennium Camp on the Mweka route, arriving at about 4 p.m. to have dinner and head to bed for a well-earned night’s sleep.
Day 9: Descent to Mweka gate and return to the hotel
Although we were heading down the mountain today, it was still an early morning wake-up call at 06:00. We had a nice breakfast and had a bit of a daybreak celebration with Bruno and his crew, singing songs and dancing before heading off for Mweka Gate.
We arrived at the gate at about 11:30 and took a short transfer from here to a complex for lunch and a stop at a souvenir shop. Here we enjoyed one final meal cooked by Passat, which was a delicious local Chagga dish.
At this point, we said our goodbyes to the team and transferred back to Panama Hotel. After checking in and relaxing for a while, Bruno and Idi joined us for a buffet celebration dinner.
Day 10: Rest day in Moshi
Today was a rest day, allowing us all to prepare for the flight home for most of the group – although one Bucketlister took a transfer to the airport because she was off for her Zanzibar extension!
We met Bruno at 1 p.m. and took a taxi to town. He took us to a proper local restaurant in Moshi old town, where we were met by his wife and son, along with Passat and Jeremiah. We had kiti moto (hot pork) and fried bananas for lunch – which was said to be the best in all of Moshi!
Then we took a stop at the Union Cafe for coffee before taking a taxi back to the hotel to finish packing and prepare for the flight home.
The Lemosho route really is a special trek up Mount Kilimanjaro. If you’d like to find out more about this trip, give us a call on 01769 309 007. Our next date for the Kilimanjaro Lemosho route is in July 2021, and we can’t wait to head back out to Tanzania to take on this lesser-known, but well-loved route!