Hospitality Management Degree Switzerland alumnus fundraising climb Kilimanjaro

Killing the Kili – an alumni guide to conquering Kilimanjaro

1 Aug 2014 | by Les Roches


Hospitality Management Degree Switzerland alumnus fundraising climb KilimanjaroHello everyone and welcome to my “Kill The Kili” guide. The purpose of this is to give you day-by-day details of what you can expect, plus tips and notes on the “who’s”, “what’s”, “when’s”, “where’s” and “how’s” so that if you are ever planning on conquering Mt. Kilimanjaro, you can get the most of your adventure.


There are several companies that are willing to provide you with the basics for a 6- or 7-day trip on the mountain (for a certain price, that is).

These basics usually include:
•    National Park gate fees ($700 USD approx.)
•    Transport from Moshi to starting point on mountain and return to Moshi
•    Hut/Camping fees and tents
•    Certified, experienced, English-speaking guides for all routes
•    Porter’s salaries
•    Rescue fees (Required by the National Park)
•    All meals on the mountain
•    Two nights’ accommodation in Moshi
•    Tents, foam sleeping pads, cooking equipment and eating utensils

Does not include:
•    Tips for guides and porters (Between $300 and $500 USD)
•    Mountain Equipment (e.g. Sleeping bags)
•    Transfer to and from Kilimanjaro Airport

Personally, I booked with a company named David & Goliath, one which I would not recommend for the following reasons:

1. The porters did not know much English nor did they know much about the mountain (You might find yourself asking questions like “What animals live here?” or “How much have we walked so far?”)
2.  On our last day before summit, we discovered the porters were not able to provide either oxygen tanks or first aid kids. Very dangerous!
3. We did a 6-day trip even though we paid for a 7-day trip. (The guides
rushed us down after the summit)
4. Basically, they acted very unprofessional in several occasions, including David, the owner of the company and organizer of our trip

All in all, my experience was still pretty awesome, I had good company and thanks to our good sense of humor we were able to overcome the fact that there was no first aid kit at 4600 M of altitude, or that we had at times done the porters jobs by carrying the bags uphill because the poor kid was about to faint. But still, even though I paid the “cheaper” price of $1300, I would recommend you to book with Zara Tours. We met other groups that booked with them, the porters spoke great English and their tents appeared to be much more decent.

In any case, I encourage you to do your own research, it’s all on Google! And prices vary from $1500 to $2500 depending on how large your group is and in what season you plan your trip.


If you’re going to be travelling around and don’t want the extra weight, don’t worry too much about the gear. Once in Moshi you can find plenty of shops that rent out sleeping bags, mountain clothes, hiking shoes, water bottles and everything else you might need to survive the long walks during the day and cold temperatures at night.

After being on the mountain for 6 days, here’s a list of what you want to have up there, I believe most of the items to be self-explanatory:

•    Comfortable shoes
•    Snacks (Fruits, dry fruits, chocolates, cashew nuts)
•    Good sun glasses
•    Dri-Fit Gear
•    Flask with whisky (Helps sleep the cold off)
•    A book or two
•    Good gloves (Probably won’t use them till the last day, but you’ll thank me later)
•    Camera & batteries. You can charge your phone at most base camps, but Rangers will charge you TZH 5000 (About $3 USD)
•    More snacks!
•    Music
•    Cards or any games that you can play in a tent and are easy to carry around
•    Swiss army knife (Never know when these might come in handy)
•    Sun lotion
•    Personal aid kit (Even though my company was probably the only one without first aid kit, it’s still a pretty good idea to take your own stuff, you know your body best and what to administer in case of)
•    A determined mindset
•    Good vibes and positive energy!


Probably the best time to go is summer, which is pretty much 3/4 of the year. The busiest months are June, July and August. I went in the last days of May and the days were nice, but it’s still rainy season and you can’t see Moshi as you are above the clouds. On one hand it was nice to have more of  the mountain to ourselves and not too many people (around 100 people climb the Mountain daily in high season), but on the other it would have been pretty cool to have a great bunch of people and share with others. I heard from a friend that hiking in December was very nice too.


When you book with a company, they usually provide a hotel for you for the first and last nights when you’re not on the mountain. I stayed at Q-Wine Hotel which was $50 USD per night and it included a nice breakfast. It was clean, the rooms had everything you need (e.g. mosquito nets), a bar and restaurant, free WIFI and the staff was super nice. It´s also located walking distance from convenience stores, restaurants, and handcraft shops with beautiful art. There is also plenty to do in Moshi besides hiking Kilimanjaro, like going to Lake Chala, relaxing at the Kikuletwa Hot springs, and visiting the Olpopongi Maasai cultural village & museum.


It´s rather easy to move around in Tanzania, especially if you´re moving around in a bus, though sometimes they break down and you´ll be stuck for a bit so always give yourself enough time. A 14-hour bus from Iringa to Moshi cost me TZH 33,000 and from Moshi to Dar es Salaam (9 Hours) costs around TZH 25,000. You can also fly straight to Kilimanjaro Airport for about $200 USD from Dar es Salaam.

DAY BY DAY at Machame Rout – Extracted from

Day 1
•Machame Gate to Machame Camp
•Elevation (ft): 5,400ft to 9,400ft
•Distance: 11 km
•Hiking Time: 5-7 hours
•Habitat: Rain Forest

The drive from Moshi to the Mount Kilimanjaro National Park Gate takes about 50 minutes. The journey passes through the village of Machame which is located on the lower slopes of the mountain.
We now leave the park gate and walk through the rain forest on a winding trail up a ridge. Lower down, the trail can be muddy and slippery. Gaiters and trekking poles are a good idea here. We continue a short distance until we reach the Machame Camp.

Day 2
•Machame Camp to Shira Camp
•Elevation (ft): 9,400ft to 12,500ft
•Distance: 5 km
•Hiking Time: 4-6 hours
•Habitat: Moorland

After breakfast, we leave the glades of the rain forest and continue on an ascending path, crossing the little valley walking along a steep rocky ridge, covered with heather, until the ridge ends. The route now turns west onto a river gorge. Time to rest, have dinner and stay overnight at the Shira campsite.

Day 3
•Shira Camp to Lava Tower to Barranco Camp
•Elevation (ft): 12,500ft to 13,000ft
•Distance: 10 km
•Hiking Time: 6-8 hours
•Habitat: Semi Desert

From the Shira Plateau, we continue to the east up a ridge, passing the junction towards the peak of Kibo. As we continue, our direction changes south east towards the Lava Tower, called the “Shark’s Tooth.” Shortly after the tower, we come to the second junction which brings us up to the Arrow Glacier at an altitude of 16,000ft. We now continue down to the Barranco Hut at an altitude of 13,000ft. Here we rest, enjoy dinner, and camp overnight. Although you end the day at the same elevation as when you started, this day is very important for acclimatization and will help your body prepare for summit day.

Day 4
•Barranco Camp to Karanga Camp
•Elevation (ft): 13,000ft to 13,100ft
•Distance: 5 km
•Hiking Time: 4-5 hours
•Habitat: Alpine Desert

After breakfast, we leave Barranco and continue on a steep ridge passing the Barranco Wall, to the Karanga Valley campsite. This is a short day meant for acclimatization.

Day 5
•Karanga Camp to Barafu Camp
•Elevation (ft): 13,100ft to 15,300ft
•Distance: 4 km
•Hiking Time: 4-5 hours
•Habitat: Alpine Desert

After breakfast, we leave Karanga and hit the junction which connects with the Mweka Trail. We continue up to the Barafu Hut. At this point, you have completed the South Circuit, which offers views of the summit from many different angles. Here we make camp, rest, enjoy dinner, and prepare for the summit day. The two peaks of Mawenzi and Kibo are to be seen from this position.

Day 6
•Barafu Camp to Summit to Mweka Hut
•Elevation (ft): 15,300ft to 19,345ft (and down to 10,000ft)
•Distance: 5 km ascent / 12 km descent
•Hiking Time: 7-8 hours ascent / 4-6 hours descent
•Habitat: Arctic

Very early in the morning (midnight to 2am), we continue our way to the summit between the Rebmann and Ratzel glaciers. You head in a northwesterly direction and ascend through heavy scree towards Stella Point on the crater rim. This is the most mentally and physically challenging portion of the trek.

At Stella Point (18,600 ft), you will stop for a short rest and will be rewarded with the most magnificent sunrise you are ever likely to see (weather permitting). From Stella Point, you may encounter snow all the way on your 1-hour ascent to the summit. At Uhuru Peak, you have reached the highest point on Mount Kilimanjaro and the continent of Africa. Faster hikers will see the sunrise from the summit.

From the summit, we now make our descent continuing straight down to the Mweka Hut camp site, stopping at Barafu for lunch. You will want gaiters and trekking poles for the loose gravel going down. Mweka Camp is situated in the upper forest and mist or rain can be expected in the late afternoon. Later in the evening, we enjoy our last dinner on the mountain and a well-earned sleep.

Day 7
•Mweka Camp to Moshi
•Elevation (ft): 10,000ft to 5,400ft
•Distance: 10 km
•Hiking Time: 3-4 hours
•Habitat: Rain Forest

After breakfast, we continue the descent down to the Mweka Park Gate to receive our summit certificates. At lower elevations, it can be wet and muddy. Gaiters and trekking poles will help. Shorts and t-shirts will probably be enough to wear (keep rain gear and warmer clothing handy).

From the gate, you continue another hour to Mweka Village. A vehicle will meet you at Mweka village to drive you back to hotel in Moshi”.

Les Roches


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