a killer kili climb

climbing mt kilimanjaro tanzaniaThe tallest free-standing mountain in the world is one of the 28 finalists for the New 7 Wonders of Nature and we find out in November if Mt Kilimanjaro is voted into the top 7. This incredible mountain may be an inactive strato-volcano, but trekking to the top is one of the world’s greatest active adventures, as Karen Graham can attest…

“At 5895 metres (19,340 feet) above sea level, Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania is the highest mountain in Africa. My trek to the top was the most challenging and rewarding experience I’ve ever had, especially due to the spectacular landscapes I encountered en route.

Departing Marangu Gate (1860 metres/6102 feet), I ventured into a thick rainforest, a strange world illuminated by soft light filtering through a dense canopy. Here trees resembled old men, with moss hanging from their branches like beards. Water trickled over rocks and along the path, making everything damp underfoot.

Trekking day two, I emerged from the rainforest to a vista of barren moorland and my first awe-inspiring view of Kilimanjaro’s snow-capped peak rising majestically in the distance. Later a mist descended, cradling me with its damp chilly fingers, and I thought I’d never get to Horombo Hut (3720 metres/12,205 feet). Visibility was poor, but eventually I saw it – a vision though the swirling mist. The hut was a shining beacon, a haven full of friendly faces and the warmth of a roaring fire.

Day three, I hiked over barren terrain with little vegetation, except an occasional cactus-like plant. A scattering of lobelias and giant groundsels bearing yellow flowers dotted the horizon. Mawenzi, a strange craggy peak, looked like an old ruined castle, burnt and still smoking, with mist rising above it, while the alpine desert reminded me of the stark lunar landscape of the moon.

Day four and the final ascent was tough. Every five or six steps I stopped in the early morning darkness to regain breath, but finally I arrived at Gilman’s Point (5685 metres/18,652 feet) on the crater rim. I felt as if I was on top of the world, above the clouds and looking at the snow-covered roof of Africa – it’s a sight, experience and achievement I will never forget!”

Tour Tanzania with Intrepid on trips like these great small group adventures:
Kilimanjaro Marangu Route – 7 days
Serengeti & Kilimanjaro – 14 days

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* photo by Kelly Benson – Intrepid Photography Competition

About the author

Sue Elliot - Like many of us, Sue contracted a serious travel bug at an early age. She's visited over 90 countries in search of a cure, but her wanderlust just seems to get worse. Thankfully at Intrepid Travel she's amongst people who understand the affliction and since 1998 Sue has enjoyed being our blog and newsletter editor. Here you'll find helpful travel advice and inspiring tales from Sue and other Intrepid travellers.

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Hi Karen,

Would you be willing to share your story with the people and president of Tanzania?

As you may know, this year Tanzania celebrates 50 years of independence and we want to wish them a special “happy birthday.” Adventure seekers like you and I have visited Tanzania and had an amazing, even life-changing experience (like mine). We’re inviting people to share their Tanzania stories, photos and videos at http://www.happybirthdaytanzania.com and vote for their favorites. Your story could appear in the Tanzania media as well as in a book that will be given to the president of Tanzania.

This weekend we’re offering a $50 Columbia gift card to the story that has the most votes by Tuesday night!


Daniel Dorr
Author, Kissing Kilimanjaro: Leaving it All on Top of Africa

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