Adventure holidays can be a great alternative to a traditional holiday. They are often thought of as quite a solitary pursuit, but it is far from it. If you want to you can even take your friends on a group adventure holiday so that you can all share experiences first-hand. What better way to embark on a challenging adventure than to be surrounded by your friends or family who can support and encourage you on your trek. There are group adventures holidays available all over the world that cater for a wide range in difficulty levels. Fans of a truly challenging and rewarding experience, offering a great sense of personal achievement should consider a Kilimanjaro climb.
The Kilimanjaro Machame route
The Kilimanjaro Machame route is at the pinnacle of mountain treks, with walks that are longer and steeper than other treks, but the efforts are not unrewarded. You will get to see breath-taking views of Kibo Peak along with the eternal ice fields and the Kili’s talus covered dome.
After an in-depth briefing to prepare you for your journey, treks up the Kilimanjaro often start at the Machame village. As you approach the imposing view of the Kilimanjaro dominates the skyline and if the skies are clear you might get a view of the snow-covered peaks and the challenge before you. When you enter the Machame Gate, the entrance to the Mount Kilimanjaro national Park you are already at 1800m! At the end of the track, you will have to register for your climb and then meet your guides and porters…
This is where the trek begins, as you set off on the trail on the lower, warmer part of the mountain you pass through the shambas where the native Chagga people grow bananas and coffee. There are patches of rainforest that are rich in wildlife including many tropical birds and monkeys. After between 6 and 10 hours of trekking depending on your group’s fitness level, you will emerge from the tropical forest onto moorland and your first camp at around 3000m.
From the 3000m overnight camp, treks progress on by continuing steeply upwards along a ridge adorned by giant heather plants before turning west into a gorge. Once your group emerges from the other side of the gorge the gradient lessens as you reach the bleak moorland of the Shira Plateau. From the plateau you start to get amazing views of the Kibo summit. From here groups normally camp at Shira cave overnight at 3840m.
Heading east towards the Kibo summit
The next day will see your group heading east towards the Kibo summit towards the Lava Tower before descending to a camp in a sheltered area below the imposing cliffs of the Breach wall. After an overnight stay in the shelter groups head east along the Southern Circuit that includes a 200m scramble to the top of the Baranco Wall, before traversing rocky fields of talus and several ridges to the Karanga Valley at 4100m. Here your group are beneath the icy starts of the Kersten, Heim and Decker Glaciers. Once you emerge from the valley your group will climb further up a steep ridge to Barafu Hut that stands alone in the bleak tundra at 4600m. Here you and your group must rest and gather strength for the trips highlight.
As the day begins while it is still dark your group must prepare their daypacks, making sure only to take the bare essentials to help reserve strength for the climb ahead. Heading out by torchlight in the bitter cold your group will be anxious about the day’s events but also full of excitement. The hardest part of the day’s trek is up the Mweka route that leads up a long steep scree slope which passes between the Rebmann and Ratzel Glaciers that is covered in snow making progress difficult. After an arduous 5 or 6 hours of walking, your group will reach the rim of the Kibo crater. After another hour or so of walking along the crater past Hans Meyer’s Point you reach Uhuru Peak at 5895m! Here you and your group can celebrate your achievement while savouring the unforgettable views. If the view is clear from the summit you can see the sun rising over the Mawenzi’s ice fields and peaks to the east along with views of Mount Meru to the west.
After such an achievement everything else will seem pale in comparison as you head back down to Barafu Hut where you can rest with your group for the last day on the mountain. You and your group will sleep well after a day of intense trekking, happy in the knowledge that you have just had one of the most amazing adventures of a lifetime and that it was with your friends.
Photo credits: Filip Lachowski, Pintaa, Stig Nygaard. Thanks!