So you're determined to conquer mighty Mount Kilimanjaro, but you don't have a couple of weeks to do it. Not to worry, as a typical ascent to the summit can be completed in a week or less. You won't have to rush, either, as this scenic route passes through different ecosystems with incredible views at every step of the way.

Highlights

  • Embark on a 7-day hike up Mount Kilimanjaro
  • Spot exotic wildlife as you hike through different ecosystems
  • Enjoy panoramic views from the Kibo summit of Kilimanjaro

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Tanzania, Transfer to Kilimanjaro, Hike to Machame Camp Machame Camp
Day 2 Machame Camp to Shira 2 Camp Shira Camp
Day 3 Shira 2 Camp to Barranco Camp Barranco Camp
Day 4 Barranco Camp to Karanga Camp Karanga Camp
Day 5 Karanga Camp to Barafu Camp Barafu Camp
Day 6 Barafu Camp to the Summit, Descent to Mweka Mweka Camp
Day 7 Mweka Camp to Arusha Arusha

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Tanzania, Transfer to Kilimanjaro, Hike to Machame Camp

On the way to Kilimanjaro

Welcome to Tanzania! Located in the Great Lakes region of East Africa, this country is known for its vast wilderness areas. You'll arrive in the northern city of Arusha, and even from here, you can catch glimpses of Kilimanjaro, the mountain you'll conquer during this unforgettable trip of a lifetime. Kilimanjaro is a dormant volcano that stands 19,341 feet (5,895 m), making it the largest freestanding mountain in the world. Since it was first summited in 1889, it has become a bucket-list destination for both pro and amateur hikers worldwide. 

Upon arrival, you'll transfer to the town of Moshi. From there, it's a short drive to Kilimanjaro National Park. There are seven routes up the mountain, but you'll be embarking from the Machame Gate, which sits at 5,720 feet (1,740 m). This is the most popular of all the routes and is typically completed in around six days. It offers some of the best views and interesting ecology.

Before embarking, you should know that despite Kilimanjaro is a relatively easy hike (the trails aren't steep), there is the risk of altitude sickness. To reach the summit from the starting point means an elevation gain of over 13,000 feet (4,000 m) in just a few days. It's therefore imperative you don't push yourself too hard. Your guide will be there every step to ensure you acclimate properly to the altitude. 

The first day of trekking, however, is pleasant. Enjoy the beautiful rainforest scenery as you hike up winding trails. As you do, your guide will reveal insight into the exotic flora and fauna you pass. Common animals include aardvarks, mongooses, and black-and-white colobus monkeys. Note that the trail can be muddy and slippery at these lower elevations. The hike ends once you reach Machame Camp, which sits at 9,950 feet (3,050 m). Here you'll make camp and enjoy lovely views of Kibo, the tallest of Kilimanjaro's three peaks.

Hiking duration: 5-6 hours
Hiking distance: 7 miles (11 km)
Ascent: 4,002 feet (1,220 m)
High point: 9,950 feet (3,050 m)

Day 2: Machame Camp to Shira 2 Camp

Shira 2 Camp

After a good night's sleep and a hearty breakfast, you'll break camp and continue the ascent. Today's trek includes several uphill sections. You'll be treated to many viewpoints from which to view the plains and forests below and the commanding Kibo and Mawenzi peaks above. 

The hike will take you out of the forest into another ecological region. Temperatures will drop, and you'll feel the cold more acutely. There are stunning panoramic views as you hike up to the rim of Shira Plateau, which stretches 8 miles (13 km) to the west of Kibo, and sits at an altitude of around 12,500 feet (3,810 m). Your destination is the Shira 2 Camp, where you'll overnight.

Hiking duration: 6-8 hours
Hiking distance: 3 miles (5 km)
Ascent: 2,493 feet (760 m)
High point: 12,500 feet (3,810 m)

Day 3: Shira Camp to Barranco Camp

The Lava Tower Camp

After breakfast, depart Shira 2 and head up along the trail into Kilimanjaro's Alpine Desert. This eco-zone gets its name because it's generally rocky and devoid of plant life. Hike east on the plateau before reaching the junction for the Shira and Lemosho routes. Then continue through the barren landscape before stopping for lunch. Shortly after, you'll reach the highest point of the day (15,944 ft/4,860 m) before descending quickly to Barranco Camp (13,066 ft/3,983 m).

Faster hikers can detour via the Lava Tower Camp (15,091 ft/4,600 m). This site is famous for its giant monolith comprised of dried volcanic rock that rises 290 feet (90 m). 

Hiking time: 6-8 hours
Hiking distance: 6 miles (10 km)
Ascent: 623 feet (190 m)
Descent: 2,877 (877 m)
High point: 15,944 feet (4,860 m)

Day 4: Barranco Camp to Karanga Camp

Hike to Karanga Camp

Today's route begins with crossing the floor of the great Barranco Valley and then ascending to the Barranco Wall. This sheer rock formation rises from the side of Kilimanjaro 843 feet (257 m), and you must scramble over it. Though it requires no technical rock-climbing skills, it does take more than a bit of agility and strength. 
 
The hike continues on the South Circuit route, leading to the Karanga Valley. Your destination is Karanga Camp (13,250 ft/4,050 m), where you'll break for dinner and overnight. 

Hiking time: 4-5 hours
Hiking distance: 3 miles (5 km)
Ascent: 164 feet (50 m)
High point: 13,250 feet (4,050 m)

Day 5: Karanga Camp to Barafu Camp

Enjoy the views from camp

After breakfast, begin the hike up to Barafu Camp (15,419 feet (4,700 m). On the way, you'll enjoy incredible views of several glaciers. Once at camp, you'll be treated to breathtaking views of Kibo and Mawenzi peaks. This camp is situated on an exposed ridge, so you should familiarize yourself with the terrain before dark. Try to get as much rest as possible, as you'll need to wake around midnight to begin the final ascent to the summit. 

Hiking time: 4-5 hours
Hiking distance: 2 miles (4 km)
Ascent: 2,232 feet (650 m)
High point: 15,419 feet (4,700 m)

Day 6: Barafu Camp to the Summit, Descent to Mweka

Glaciers at the summit

Prepare yourself for a hyper-early start between midnight and 2 am. This final push to the summit is the most mentally and physically challenging portion of the trek. You'll ascend through heavy scree up to Stella Point, on the crater rim. This is one of the three summits of Kilimanjaro and sits at 18,885 feet (5,756 m) between the Rebmann and Ratzel glaciers. Once here, you'll take a break to enjoy the most magnificent sunrise views of the trip.
 
Then it's another hour hike from Stella Point up through constant snow to Uhuru Peak. It will be a hard slog, but once you arrive, you can content yourself with the knowledge you're standing at the highest summit of Kilimanjaro (19,340 ft/5,895 m). It's actually the highest viewpoint in all of Africa—hopefully, you didn't forget your camera. 

After enjoying the incredible panoramic views, you'll begin the steep descent down to Mweka Camp. This is the fastest route down the mountain, and we recommend using gaiters and trekking poles to contend with the loose gravel and ashy terrain. You'll stop at Barafu Camp for lunch and a brief rest on the way down. A much longer and well-deserved rest awaits you at Mweka Camp (10,039 ft/3,060 m), where you'll spend your last evening camped out on the mountain.

Hiking time: 7-8 hours up, 4-6 hours down
Hiking distance: 3 miles (5 km) up, 7 miles (12 km) down
Ascent: 3,920 feet (1,195 m)
Descent: 9,199 (2,804 m)
High point: 19,340 feet (5,895 m)
Low point: 10,137 feet (3,090 m)

Day 7: Kilimanjaro National Park to Arusha, Depart

Goodbye Africa

In the morning, you'll embark on a 4-hour hike down from Mweka Camp to the Mweka Gate, at the exit point of Kilimanjaro National Park. This concludes your great Kilimanjaro adventure! There will be a bit of fanfare to commemorate the experience, as once you arrive, you'll receive a certificate of completion. Then you'll transfer back to Arusha, where you'll catch your flight home. Safe travels!

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Map

Map of Hiking Kilimanjaro - 7 Days
Map of Hiking Kilimanjaro - 7 Days