Family Mt Kilimanjaro Climbing & Wildlife Safari
14 Days, 13 Nights
Kilimanjaro International Airport
You'll find unparalleled freedom at the crest of Africa's tallest peak, both figuratively and literally. Figuratively because, Kilimanjaro, the tallest freestanding mountain in the world, rises nearly 20,000 feet above the plains of Moshi. Needless to say, the accomplishment of the ascent and the most expansive view in the world has a way of inspiring a boundless sense of freedom and possibility. Literal because, in commemoration of Tanzania's 1961 independence from Great Britain, the Swahili people named the summit Uhuru, which translates to “freedom.”
The Northwest Passage's Kilimanjaro trip is anything but the normal summit bid. Instead of “putting the blinders on” and simply gunning for the mountaintop, we ascend the most exotic and least crowded, and truly savor the entire ascent and descent, not just the summit. We follow the little used Lemosho-Glades Route via the Western Breach. This route allows us to leisurely explore the beautiful Shira Plateau, gaze awestruck at the ice walls erupting towards Uhuru from Crater Camp and spy on buffalo and elephants in the forested, lower altitude approach. The Northwest Passage knows that if commit to climbing one of the Seven Summits, you might as well enjoy every minute of it.
The Lemosho Glades route via the Western Breach is among the most seldom-used combination of routes on Kilimanjaro, partly due to the remote starting location and rough roads leading to the trailhead, but also because the Western Breach is the least used summit ascent route. Since the trailhead is at a relatively high elevation, we start slow and easy on this route. Buffalo and elephant sightings are possible on the first day's trek through the forest. Sometimes the trail is overgrown here from lack of use. The trail leads up to the western edge of the Shira Plateau. The hike across the plateau is said to be one of the most stunningly beautiful hikes in all of Africa. The trail merges on day five with the Machame Route at Lava Tower (a volcanic plug that has endured the ravages of wind and erosion to stand a few hundred feet above a trailside pass). The next day the trail continues steeply up to Arrow Glacier at the foot of the Western Breach Wall. From this camp, the trail lies at a slope of about 45 degrees, with sections of scrambling and occasionally some snow and ice. If conditions make for difficult footing, we’ll provide hand ropes and cut steps with ice axes. The trail reaches the crater rim at Crater Point at about 19,000 feet (5,800 m), then continues on to Crater Camp. This part of the experience sets this trek apart from any other. The camp is set in soft “beach” sand, and trekkers have up close views of the vertical ice walls of the Furtwangler Glacier from their tents! The next morning is only 1.5 to 2 hours to the summit! All the trekking is done by daylight except for a few hours during the early climb up the Western Breach. Overall this trek is designed to get you closer to nature, and provide a totally unique Kilimanjaro experience. The steepness of the Breach Wall and the night at Crater Camp makes this trek quite difficult, but more than adequate for acclimatization. There are no huts on this route; the accommodations are mountain tents and dining is in our mess tents. Latrine tents with convenient and sanitary portable flush toilets are set up at all camps.
Daily Climb Itinerary *
Day 1 Our adventure begins with a meeting at our prearranged lodging. The evening will be spent in orientation and answering any questions that you may have. Proper planning and rest are essential to the comfort and success of the climb.
Day 2 Today will be spent reviewing your equipment, arranging last minute items and growing accustomed to the climate. An afternoon hike will allow you to stretch your legs and grow accustomed to the appropriate pace. We will discuss in further detail the route, communication and safety protocols for your days on the mountain.
DAY 3 LEMOSHO TRAILHEAD (7,800 ft./ 2,375 mt.) ~ FOREST CAMP (9,500 ft./ 2,895 mt.)
At 7:30 AM we depart from Arusha for Londorossi gate, where we complete entry formalities. Then we drive to the Lemosho trailhead (another hour to reach the trailhead). Upon arrival at the trailhead, we eat lunch and trek 3-4 hours through undisturbed forest that winds to the first camp. We overnight at Forest Camp (Mtee Mkubwa Camp)
DAY 4 FOREST CAMP ~ SHIRA 1 CAMP (12,200 ft./ 3,720 mt.)
Once out of the forest, we take a steep track into a savannah of tall grasses, heather, and volcanic rock draped with lichen beards. Then we ascend through the lush rolling hills below the Shira plateau, and reach camp at the edge of the plateau. In all, we trek 5-6 hours today, and then enjoy the amazing view of Kibo from across the plateau.
DAY 5 SHIRA 1 CAMP ~ SHIRA 2 CAMP (12,600 ft./ 3,950 mt.)
This is a full day exploration on the Shira plateau. We trek east toward Kibo’s glaciered peak, with the option to visit the ancient collapsed Shira cone, the oldest of Kilimanjaro’s three volcanoes. We arrive at Shira 2 Camp (Fischers’s Camp), at 12,600 ft. Shira is one of the highest plateaus on earth, averaging 12,500 feet. Trekking time without the optional excursion is about 3 hours.
DAY 6 SHIRA 2 CAMP (or Moir Camp) ~ LAVA TOWER CAMP (15,000 ft./ 4,570 mt.)
Today's trek proceeds steadily up and down the expansive ridgelines of the high desert to Lava Tower. The trek is about 4 hours. Lava Tower, a 300 foot volcanic plug, marks an exposed pass at 15,000 feet, where the camp is set. Scramble to the top of Lava Tower for fabulous panoramic views, and a different perspective of your camp.
DAY 7 LAVA TOWER CAMP ~ ARROW GLACIER CAMP (16,100 ft./ 4,905 mt.)
A 1.5 - 2 hour-trek up a steep, boulder-strewn path brings us to Arrow Glacier Camp, at the foot of the great Western Breach. The steep path to the crater rises from this camp. The massive headwall of the breach glows a warm red in the afternoon sun, while you rest in preparation for the most challenging day of the trek.
DAY 8 ARROW GLACIER CAMP ~ CRATER CAMP (18,750 ft./ 5,715 mt.)
An early wake-up call begins the day, and after a hot breakfast, we begin to ascend the Western Breach which will take approximately 5-7 hours. Upon reaching the crater rim, we’ll be treated to a stunning view of the Northern Icefields, the Furtwangler Glacier, and Uhuru Peak itself. Another 30 minutes will take us to our camp, set in soft sands near the retreating vertical ice walls of the Furtwangler glacier. Rest and enjoy snacks and hot drinks in the mess tent, then opt to explore the strange lunar landscape of the inner crater. Be sure to include a visit to Reusch Crater, the ash pit and the remarkable glaciers. Exceedingly few Kilimanjaro trekkers get the privilege to experience the summit zone in this way.
DAY 9 CRATER CAMP ~ UHURU PEAK (19,340 ft./ 5,895 mt.) ~ MWEKA CAMP (10,200 ft./ 3,110 mt.)
We wake early to watch the sunrise from the summit after our final climb, which will take about 1.5 hours from Crater Camp. After a short time at the summit, we descend along the gently sloping crater rim to Stella Point (on the crater rim, at 19,000 feet (5,790 mt.). Then we descend the Mweka Route down a steep scree slope to Barafu Camp (15,100 ft. / 4,600 mt.) for lunch. In the afternoon we continue the descent into the Heather Zone to Mweka Camp for the night. The trekking time from Uhuru Peak to Mweka Camp will be from 6-8 hours. Total trekking time is 8-10 hours.
DAY 10 MWEKA CAMP ~ MWEKA GATE (5,370 ft. /1,635 m)
We descend straight to the Gate (2-3 hours), where we have lunch and receive climbing certificates. Transfer back to your hotel for dinner and overnight.
Day 11 DEPART ARUSHA FOR SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK
In the morning we will depart the city of Arusha for the wild plains of the Serengeti. Our chartered flight will take approximately two hours, and we will arrive at Seronera Airstrip, in the heart of the Serengeti, by the late morning. The afternoon and evening will be spent exploring the vast plains of the National Park; which is known for its impressive population of lions and seasonal migrations. We will return to our accommodations, rest and prepare for an early morning game drive.
Day 12 MORNING GAME DRIVE & NGORONGORO CRATER
We will rise early in the morning to catch a game drive at dawn, when the wildlife is the most active. Once the afternoon heat has set in, and all the wildlife activity has become subdued, we will depart the Serengeti (this time by car) and head South to the Ngorongoro Crater. This collapsed volcano has become a natural enclosure for a wide variety of wildlife; containing a large population of lions, herds of wildebeest and zebra, and the endangered black rhino.
Day 13 EXPLORATION OF THE NGORONGORO CRATER
We'll spend the day exploring the Ngorongoro Crater area - experiencing the Maasai culture, viewing native wildlife and taking in the environment of one of the largest volcanic calderas in the world. You'll have the opportunity to take an optional hot air balloon tour of the crater in the morning (separate cost), with more land based exploration in the afternoon. The evening time will be one of reflection and celebration as we have our last group dinner, looking back on everything we've experienced on this magical adventure.
Day 14 Airport Drop off by afternoon
*Itinerary subject to change.
“The trip was incredible! It was awesome to start hiking through the forest, then climb the rocky trails, the ice fields, the glaciers and then look down from the summit. And the guides were so much fun!”
-Anna S age 14
“The mountain just erupts straight up from the Moshi plains -- really one of the most incredible sights I’ve seen, well, the view from the summit was a bit more spectacular actually! What an incredible trip. I didn’t want a tour group. I didn’t want to be shown things. I wanted to go out and do them and have my own adventure, and this trip gave me my adventure and so much more. If you want to be a traveler instead of a tourist, if you want to surprise yourself at what you’re capable of, if you want truly unforgettable moments, GO ON THIS TRIP!”