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For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni
For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni 

Things to do in Tanzania

Mount Kilimanjaro: lava towers and hanging glaciers on the Machame Route

The glaciers sparkle in the dawn light as we arrive at Uhuru peak for sunrise above the clouds, with views of Africa below…

By John Chitanda
Kilimanjaro Mountain Guide

Climb Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s tallest mountain, on the scenic-yet-challenging Machame route. I think this is the most beautiful trek up the mountain as it offers views of the western breach and glaciers at Uhuru from very early on. However, the eight-day trek is also one of the most strenuous options, so you need to be fit and able to deal with incredibly steep slopes and wild terrain. Machame is very rewarding though, with stunning geological features like gorges, lava towers and hanging glaciers.

In addition to a guide, you’ll be accompanied by a team of porters who’ll carry your gear from camp to camp. For comfort, I’d recommend ordering a private portable toilet too, rather than using the public ones along the way. Trekkers love the friendly porters, who all come from the Kilimanjaro region, and often say that meeting them is a highlight of the whole adventure. Just the daily routines on the trek are special, from waking early in your tent with hot tea to sharing meals around the camp at the end of a long day.

You’ll pass through Kilimanjaro’s five diverse zones, which begin with savannah bushland and montane rainforest filled with exotic birds and colobus monkeys. Then there’s the moorland which is covered with lobelia and senecio plants, followed by alpine desert and then freezing arctic landscape at Uhuru Peak. The Great Barranco Valley is particularly impressive; we’ll camp here surrounded by steep rock faces and the hanging glaciers of Kibo. Apart from summiting, my favourite day is reaching the 100 metre-tall Lava Tower, which used to be part of the mountain until it crumbled away.

Summit day from Barafu Camp starts with a midnight wake-up call in the below-freezing darkness. It’s a challenging return journey of 12-17 hours on winding switchbacks. Along the way, the glaciers sparkle in the dawn light and we arrive at Uhuru peak for sunrise above the clouds, with views of Africa below. Summiting is an amazing sense of achievement and I love helping guests fulfil their dreams of scaling Mount Kilimanjaro.


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Alfred & John Chitanda

John Chitanda is an experienced mountain guide who has been leading treks on Mount Kilimanjaro since 2002. He is proud to have summited the mountain over 500 times and feels lucky to work in such a beautiful environment. John enjoys meeting trekkers from all over the world and helping them achieve their dream of summiting Africa's highest peak.
John Chitanda, Mount Kilimanjaro hiking guide

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Your journey will start with one of our UK team – someone like Gemma, who's travelled extensively in Tanzania. They’ll shape your ideas into the trip of a lifetime. But they won't do it on their own. They'll draw on the expertise of our contacts on the ground, connecting you to the people who'll make your holiday one you'll always remember - the rangers who'll ensure you'll spot the best wildlife, the village chiefs who'll give you a genuine insight into local life and the camp managers who can recommend the very best spot to enjoy your sundowner.

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