Budget-Friendly Marangu Route Climb
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Africa’s highest mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro, lies just three degrees south of the equator and is permanently snow-capped. It offers one of the best opportunities in the world to climb a peak at high altitude without the need for technical climbing ability.
Affectionately known as the “Coca-Cola route”, Marangu Route is by far the most popular route to the summit of Kilimanjaro. This could partly be as a result of the fact that the Marangu is the least expensive route, but more so, perhaps the fact that it is possible to do the Marangu route in 5 days, thereby getting to the summit one day earlier than on the Machame route. This is not always the best way due to a shorter acclimatisation period.
The Marangu route does however offer you the option of spending an extra acclimatisation day on the mountain. This extends the route to a 6-day march, greatly increasing your chances of success. Hut accommodation on the Marangu route forms one of the main differences, compared to the other routes. It offers you the relative luxury of being able to sleep in huts along the entire route. Mineral water, soft drinks, chocolates and beers are also sold at all the camps on this route. All your equipment and supplies are portered and a cook prepares all your meals.
The trek takes you through well-defined attitudinal vegetation zones, from semi-arid scrub to dense cloud forest.
It is open to any normally fit and healthy person prepared for physical exertion and exercise. Walking approximately 60 kilometers, you start from Marangu Gate (1,860m) and gradually ascend, with night stops, to reach Gillman’s Point (5,680m) and finally Uhuru Peak (5,896m), the actual summit.
DAY 01: ARRIVAL
Arrival into JRO, meet and great byAuthentic Kilimanjaro representative transfer to the Lodge/Hotel Dinner and Overnight at Ilboru Safari Lodge HB.
Marangu route Gate (1980m) – Mandara hut (2700m)
Hiking time: 5 hours
Distance: About 12 km’s
Habitat: Montane forest
Drive from hotel to the Kilimanjaro National Park gate, takes about 90 minutes. The journey passes through Moshi and Nairobi, which is located far from Arusha town. Once you reach the park gate, all hikers are requested to sign in at the Park office and make their final preparations for the climb. Porters will be seen arranging and loading their packs, containing the food, water, cooking gas as well as most of your equipment. Make sure that you have all your daypack items (containing at least drinking water, your lunch pack and extra clothing) with you as the porters ascend a lot quicker than the hikers. Our guides will be available to assist with any additional information or needs you might have. You now leave the Park gate and ascend on a cleared ridge trail through the rain forest.
The forest, suffused with mist and dripping with beards of moss, is also where most of Kilimanjaro animals are found. (An alternative and more scenic parallel forest trail, branches off to the left a few minutes after the gate. This trail follows the edge of a stream through the undergrowth and offers you the option to rejoin the main trail either, after 1½ hours hiking, or 1 hour before Mandara hut.) Your first night stop, Mandara hut, is a group of wooden A-framed huts in a forest clearing. Each hut features 6 -8 sleeping bunks with solar generated lighting. The total capacity of the camp is 60 climbers. Water is piped into the camp from springs above and there are flush toilets behind the main hut.
Hiking time: 6 hours
Distance: About 15 km’s
From Mandara hut the trail passes through a short stretch of forest, then skirts the base of the Maundi Crater and then emerges into the transition from rain forest to moorland.
It is well worth a short detour to scramble up the rim of the Maundi Crater for your first really impressive view of the Kibo Crater. On a clear day, Kibo will glimmer in the distance, showing off her majestic glaciers in the morning sun. Once you are in the open moorland you will get the chance to see some of Kilimanjaro’s most spectacular plants – the endemic giant lobelia which grows up to 3 m in height and the giant groundsel (Senecia Kilimanjari), which can reach heights of 5m! After about 6 hours from here you reach the Horombo hut, where you will have hot washing water, rest; an evening meal and overnight.
Hiking time: 6 hours
Distance: About 15 km’s
Stay for full day at Horombo for acclimatization.
Horombo hut (3720m) – Kibo hut (4700m)
Hiking time: 6 hours Distance: About 15 km’s Habitat: Alpine desert
After breakfast you now continue your ascent into the Alpine desert habitat. From Horombo there are two trails to the “Saddle” (which refers to the area located between the peaks of Mawenzi and Kibo). There is an upper route (right hand fork) and lower route (left hand fork) to choose from. The upper route (right hand fork) will be very familiar, as you will have climbed most of it the previous day towards Mawenzi hut.
It is very stony and eroded. The recommended lower route (left hand fork) is much easier and nearly an hour and it also passes the last watering point at 4130m. You will have to fill your water bottles with all the water you will need until your return to Horombo hut in two night’s time (unless you are willing to buy Mineral water at Kibo hut). Once again remember to slow down and drink enough water!! Situated in the barren Alpine desert is Horombo hut, a stone build block house which has bunk beds for 60 climbers, but no streams with water nearby.
It is however possible to buy mineral water and soft drinks at the camp office. There are platform toilets behind the hut. The summit is now a further 1195m up and you will make your final ascent the same night. Prepare your equipment, ski-stick and thermal clothing for your summit bid. This should include the replacement of your headlamp and camera batteries and make sure you have a spare set available as well. To prevent freezing it will be wise to carry your water in a thermal flask. Go to bed at round about 19h00 and try to get as much rest and sleep as possible.
Hiking time: 8 hours to Uhuru – 6 hours to descend to Horombo Distance:6 km’s ascent – 21 km’s descent
You will rise around 23h30, and after some tea and biscuits you shuffle off into the night, and this is where the going really gets tough. The first section of the trail consists of a rocky path to the Hans Meyer Cave (5150m), also a good resting spot. The path then zigzags up to Gillman’s point (5 681m), which is located on the crater rim. This section is very steep with a lot of stone scree, requiring a great physical and mental effort. Probably the most demanding section of the entire route Do the Kilimanjaro shuffle and move slowly.
From Gillman’s Point you will normally encounter snow all the way up to Uhuru peak (5895m), the highest point in Africa. Total exhilaration and satisfaction – you made it. Weather conditions on the summit will determine how long you will be able to spend, taking photographs, before the 3 hour descent back to Kibo hut. After a short rest you gather all your gear you left behind for the ascent and head down to Horombo hut (3 hours) for your overnight.
The return to Horombo hut will seem surprisingly fast compared to the ascent. The total time spent walking on this day is around 14 hours, so be prepared for a very tough day. Later in the evening you enjoy your last dinner (with soft drinks and beer for sale at the camp office) on the mountain and a well-earned sleep, filled with memories and stirring emotions.
Hiking time 6 hours
After breakfast you continue your descent (6 hours), passing the Mandara hut, down to the Marangu gate. At Marangu gate you sign your name and details in a register. This is also where successful climbers receive their summit certificates. Those climbers who reached Gillman’s Point (5685m) are issued with green certificates and those who reached Uhuru Peak (5895m), receive gold certificates. A vehicle will meet you at Marangu village to drive you back to the Hotel in Arusha Dinner and Overnight at Impala Hotel or similar
NB: Don’t forget to tip your guides and porters. It is time for celebration!
“End of Authentic Kilimanjaro Services”