Called the ‘Coca Cola’ Route, this is the original hut route, starting at the southeast and passing through thick forest, heather and moorland before crossing the saddle between Mawenzi and Kibo, then up to Gillman’s point before skirting around the south crater rim to Uhuru Peak. Pre-booking and deposits are required on this route (to reserve the huts). From 5+ days, best done in 6 days.
Arrive at the Kilimanjaro International Airport. You will be met at the airport and transferred to the hotel in Moshi
After breakfast and a briefing from your guide, leave Moshi at 9 AM, drive for 45 minutes to the Marangu Gate on the eastern side of Kilimanjaro, register with the national park, and begin hiking at 10:30 AM. In the rainforest, look for towering Eucalyptus trees, bird life, and Colobus monkeys. At these lower elevations, it can be wet and muddy, so gaiters and trekking poles will help. Shorts and t-shirts should be sufficient, but keep your rain gear and warmer clothing handy. Stop halfway for lunch, and reach the Mandara Huts at 2 or 3 PM. Unpack, rest, and have some tea or coffee. A 15-minute side trip to Maundi Crater is a good way to see the surroundings including Northern Tanzania and Kenya. Dinner is served during the early evening at 7 PM. Bathrooms with running water are available.
Wake to a 7:30 AM breakfast, and pack for your next trek. Break camp by 8:30 AM, hike for an hour through rainforest glades, then follow an ascending path through heathland where you can look for giant lobelias and groundsels. Continue up into open moorlands where small shrubs are the main vegetation. Stop halfway for lunch, where you can enjoy amazing views of Mawenzi. Arrive at the Horombo Huts by 3 PM, where you can see Kibo’s summit. Rest, unpack, and prepare for dinner. Bathrooms with running water are available. You may start to feel the effects of altitude here and to aid your acclimatization, you can choose to spend an extra day resting at Horombo or climbing to a basecamp below Kibo’s sub peak Mawenzi.
Aclimatization day at Horombo (3,690 m/12,100 ft). You can spend a full day and a second night at Horombo. On this day, you can either rest at the huts or take a stroll up to the Mawenzi basecamp then return to the Horombo Huts, or hava a walk up to the zebra rock and return to the hut late in the afternoon. This extra day will help your acclimatization, and further your understanding of the mountain’s weather and altitude. After your pause, you will continue up to the Kibo Huts on your fourth day for your midnight start to the summit.
Wake to breakfast as usual, but if you wake early you can get some great photos of the sunrise. The first part of the day’s hike climbs through the dwindling heathland that blends into a moonscape as you enter the sweeping saddle connecting Mawenzi and Kibo. When you stop for lunch, and later when you cross this surprisingly large saddle, you can examine the summit climb up Kibo that you will be starting in just a few hours. Be careful to notice any signs of altitude sickness. There is no running water at the Kibo Huts.
Wake at midnight to a light breakfast, then prepare for your summit ascent. The goal is to climb before dawn so that you can reach Uhuru Peak shortly after sunrise. Leave at 1 AM, switchback up steep scree or possibly snow, and reach Gilman’s Point on the crater rim at 5,861 m/18,640 ft between 5 and 7 AM. Here, views of the fabled crater and its icecaps greet you. Another 2 hours of hiking along the crater rim near the celebrated snows take you to Kilimanjaro’s true summit, Uhuru Peak, by 9 AM. This is Africa’s highest point, and you would have to travel more than 3,000 miles toward the Himalayas to find a higher peak! Be sure to have your picture taken at the summit to show your friends. After your summit stays, descend back to the Kibo Huts, have lunch, rest, collect your things, and recross the saddle to the Horombo Huts. Eat dinner and get some well-deserved sleep! You do the beginning of this climb in the dark with headlamps or flashlights. It will be very cold until you start descending, so you will need all of your warm layers. This is, by far, the most difficult part of the trek. Slowly slowly, or, “pole pole,” and an optimistic attitude will get you there!
Wake, as usual, pack, and descend through the moorland to the Mandara Huts. Have lunch there then continue your triumphant recessional down through lush forest to the park gate, which you should reach around 2 or 3 PM. Remember to tip your guides, cooks, and porters, since you will be leaving them here. A vehicle will take you back to the Hotel in Moshi, where it is definitely time for celebration! Depart for the airport or other destinations in Tanzania or Kenya. A trip to the beaches at Zanzibar is a good way to recuperate. We can arrange many reasonably priced trips and safaris around Moshi and the Kilimanjaro region.