Time to climb the planet’s tallest free-standing mountain
Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro is Africa’s tallest peak and the world’s highest free-standing mountain. More importantly, in a few clicks you could line it up as your next adventure destination. Kilimanjaro is what’s known as a trekking peak. No technical knowledge, ropes or crampons are required. You bring the fitness levels, laughter, positive mindset and motivation, we sort the logistics and assemble your high-calibre Kili crew. Together we’ll tackle the well established Marangu Route to the roof of Africa, creating one of the most memorable weeks of your life to date.
Jambo! Jambo! Welcome to Tanzania
Kilimanjaro is a global magnet for athletes and adventurers and several routes wind their way up the mountainside. On your first day at the foot of the triple-volcanic-peak that is Kilimanjaro (don’t worry – only one of the three peaks is still active and even that one is dormant…), check out the exhibition at the Marangu Gate to get hyped for your impending summit attempt. The local people are Bantu-speaking indigenous Africans called the Chaga. Take time out to visit the caves they used to use during clan wars, or explore the Chaga Life Museum for insight into the local community’s history and traditional lifestyle. Head back to your comfortable hotel in the evening for a full briefing and kit check with your FFX guide.
Kili here we come…
As part of the FFX Kili team, you’ll snake your way to the summit following the well-established Marangu Route. The trek itself totals five days. Three days for the ascent, two days for the descent. We’ve designed this ‘slow and steady’ itinerary with sensible acclimatization days to give everyone the very best chance at summit success. With a serious challenge ahead, now isn’t the time to suffer sleepless nights at packed campsites. This is another reason we love the Marangu Route: it’s the only one with comfortable bunkhouse accommodation all the way to the summit. Life always seems so much better after a great night’s sleep and an energy-packed breakfast.
Let the ascent begin
Kit checked, bags packed, snacks purchased: it’s time to get this Kili show on the road. We’ll meet our smiling guides and porters in the morning and set off for our first day’s trekking. It’s an 8km hike from our resort hotel to the Mandara Hut (at an altitude of 2725m above sea level) which can take from three to five hours to complete depending on group speed. Though you might think Africa is arid, you’ll find yourself surrounded by dense rainforest and then giant heather as the day progresses – the first of many surprises on this epic climb! Arrive fit and you’ll have more time and energy to enjoy the stunning views en route, and for more team chat and games once you hit the hut in the evening. If you get in early with energy to spare, take a side trip out to explore Maundi Crater.
A harder hike to Horombo
Day two on the mountain sees things getting tougher. This is where your training starts to pay off as you’ll be ready for the slightly steeper ground, at altitudes over 3000m. It’s 12km from the Mandara Huts to the Horombo Huts. This takes between five and seven hours. We’ll rise above the lush rainforest canopy and continue our slow and steady trek through alpine meadows dotted with heather. The twin snow-tipped peaks of Kibo and Mawenzi dominate our view (both extinct volcanic cones). We’ll pick our way through ravines, diverse vegetation and ever-changing landscapes to reach the Horombo Huts (at an altitude of 3780m above sea level), our home for the evening.
Zebra Rocks and the calm before the storm…
Today is designed for relaxing, acclimatizing and sightseeing. We’ll take a stroll to visit the stripey geological phenomenon known locally as Zebra Rocks. Prepare to update your social media accounts with images of this incredible natural wonder! From this elevation, the panoramic views towards Kibo are priceless. We’ll return to the Horombo Hut for lunch and the rest of the day. Launch a local mini-expedition, chill out, read, catch up with your journal and drink lots of water. Things are about to get intense.
A rugged and rocky lunar landscape
Feeling rested, rejuvenated and acclimatized, it’s a 10km trek on to Kibo Hut (at an altitude of 4740m above sea level). The going under foot is getting rockier and more rugged as the day progresses. The air is starting to feel ‘thinner’ too, and breathing and trekking will start to take more out of you and feel tougher. We’ll adjust our pace to walk ‘slowly slowly’, the absolute mantra of our experienced guides. Success on Kili isn’t about speed, it’s about proper pacing. Our journey now takes us through a sparse moorland environment rich with giant groundsel and hardy lobelia. We’ll skirt Mawenzi Peak to arrive at the stark lunar landscape of the saddle and Kibo Hut in the afternoon, ready for a few hours’ sleep.
Summit success and celebrations
Temperatures at this altitude are decidedly cool, so your guides will wake you with some welcoming hot tea at 11pm. Are you ready for the final push to the summit of mighty Kilimanjaro? It’s a 6km hike to Kilimanjaro’s highest point, Uhuru Peak, which should take from six to eight hours. The return trek from the summit all the way back down to Horombo will take around the same time, too. This is why you need to train: being good at ‘strolling to work’ just won’t cut it when faced with a 12-14 hour trek at altitude on the roof of Africa!
Headtorch at the ready, you’ll pick a starlit path up a large scree slope to reach Gilman’s Point (at an altitude of 5685m above sea level), aiming to catch a dramatic sunrise over the ice fields of the crater. Continue for two hours along the rim of the crater to Uhuru Peak (5896m) to stand upon the highest point in Africa – and on the summit of the tallest freestanding mountain in the world. From here there are amazing views of the crater, ice fields and plains below. After exhilarated team shots, some obligatory selfies and a chance to catch your breath, it’s back down to the Horombo Hut and to continue your two-day descent to the valley floor, now so very far below.
Focus on your fitness
Kilimanjaro is one of the planet’s most popular trekking peaks. Who wouldn’t want to tick ‘climbing the world’s highest free-standing mountain’ off their bucket list? Our words of advice are: don’t be fooled by how simple we’re making this look. It’s not a race and you’ll be encouraged to walk slowly slowly (‘pole pole’ in Swahili) by your guides. But the better your base fitness, the more you’ll enjoy the experience. Daily distances on Kili aren’t great but you’ll be operating at altitude so everything will seem harder. Before your trip, fit some training into your busy life like walking, running and stair climbing. Increase your trekking stamina, hike with a full daysack, up your core and cardio training, and even go on a few overnight or multi-day treks. You need to be happy walking uphill for six to eight hours per day because at altitude in Africa – the amount of effort needed is only going to amplify.
Will I get altitude sickness?
As you push on towards the summit of Kilimanjaro, you’ll climb higher than 2800m. This is the point at which altitude sickness can start to kick in. Not everyone is affected, but our expert guides will monitor everyone in our FFX crew regularly to check for any warning signs and will descend with anyone showing symptoms. For some enlightening mountaineering history and airplane reading, a fascinating book about altitude and oxygen on big mountains is ‘Everest – The First Ascent’ by Harriet Tuckey.
A note on in-country operations
Your safety on this challenging trip is our number one priority. We guarantee one guide per two adventurers, plus one porter per person and additional porters for food and group supplies. We have the utmost respect for our in-country staff, who are all ‘Leave No Trace’ trained. We also partner with the Kilimanjaro Porter Assistance Project, which monitors each of our expeditions to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our friendly, invaluable porters on the mountain.
Climb Kilimanjaro with an FFX crew
To reach the summit of Africa’s highest mountain in style, join an FFX team adventure today. Enjoy action-packed days, down time and team-time as part of this small-group experience for people in their 30s and 40s. As with all FFX adventures, this Tanzanian itinerary is crafted with high quality ingredients. Expect comfortable accommodation when in towns and cities, mountain huts instead of campsites, handpicked restaurants and well trained in-country staff. Get in touch to book your Kilimanjaro summit trip with FFX Adventures. A full kit-list and other vital information will be provided upon booking.