Had a couple of days remaining after visiting Serengeti, so decided to visit Kilimanjaro. This is the highest free-standing mountain in the world, and is a dormant volcano. It has three peaks - Mawenzi, Shira and Kibo. While the former two are extinct, Kibo is dormant and could erupt again. It is at a 6 hours drive from Serengeti, and reachable by road on a 4 wheel drive. It is best to hire a driver instead of self driving since directions are sparse and you could end up getting lost. The panorama, once you reach there are however, worth all the effort and time!
School Hut - Gilman's Point
Before proceeding to the School Hut, stay an extra day at Mawenzi Tarn (build this into your climbing plan). This provides a key extra day for acclimatization. It may cost an extra $100 for the day but worth the investment if it takes your chances of making the summit from 50% to 90%. The climb on day 5 takes you straight toward the summit massif of Kilimanjaro across the long saddle that separates Mawenzi from Kibo summit. The saddle is a long traverse at about 14,000 feet elevation that gives the climber an additional day to acclimatization as they cross the saddle to Camp 4. There are 2 main camps used on the east side of the summit. The “Tourist route” uses Kibo Hut camp at about 15,300 feet located on the main route up to the crater rim. The lesser-used camp is where the Outward Bound School Hut is located at 15,700 feet. The route to the School Hut is a bit longer climb the next morning but provides a route with only a few climber for the majority of the climb to the summit. Make your way to the Hut and conserve our energy for the summit bid which start in the middle of the night. Eat, drink and rest.
Mawenzi Tarn - Horombo Evacuation Route
Day 3 marks a big ascent to an elevation that can make or break the climb. Climbing to over 4000m is a good test elevation for how you will do with the altitude. Climb directly toward Mawenzi Peak to the tarn located below is towering cliffs at 14,180 feet. At this elevation, if someone is going to develop acute mountain sickness, this is often when the symptoms may begin. Many climbers opt to take acetozolamide to reduce their risk of getting AMS and other high altitude related complications. Consult with your physician before you leave and bring the medication with you as it is useful in the treatment of AMS. As with any altitude related illness, descent is mandatory if symptoms worsen, especially if headache or shortness of breath become progressively severe.
As you rounded the rim to the southern face, you will see the massive Rebmann glacier that rests on the SE side of the summit dome. Make your way west around the crater rim and up the gradual slope in very thin air to Uhuru Peak at 19,340 feet (5875m) – the summit of Kilimanjaro and of the entire continent of Africa. If you are fortunate, the clouds will melt away and you will see spectacular views of the crater and the panorama toward the south. The south-facing glaciers were stunning walls of ice visible in the final several hundred feet to the summit.