by Derek Cullen

19th Jan - 1st Feb (2024)

You and me are going to spend one week walking together to the summit of Kilimanjaro – the roof of Africa. It will be an epic ‘something to aim for’ and a great reason to get out walking as much as possible for the rest of this year. But trust me, you don’t want to come all this way to East Africa and not experience the animals, landscapes and wildness of the African bush. This is why we will also travel deep into the wild and spend the second half of the adventure on game drives and camping in Serengeti National Park. The second part of our adventure is optional, but it offers incredible value that will give you a real taste of this remarkable part of the world. Now: let’s take a closer look at each section and more about what you can expect.

Climbing Kilimanjaro with Derek Cullen

Kilimanjaro is the tallest mountain in Africa (5,896m), and the highest free-standing mountain in the world. We will spend 7 days trekking on the Machame route to the summit of Kilimanjaro. We also spend an extra day trekking to allow for better acclimatization and significantly reduce the chances of altitude sickness. The route itself features changing landscapes and sometimes the opportunity to spot African wildlife in the lower areas. In fact, we begin trekking through lush forests and scrublands before heading up into the stunning alpine tundra where the summit of Kilimanjaro comes into view. Summit day is on day six up to Gilmans Point on the crater rim and then up to Uhuru Peak and the roof of Africa.

The majority of a Kilimanjaro climb takes place during the day and it is only the summit attempt that starts before midnight in order to reach the summit at sunrise. On our climb, we will aim to summit Kilimanjaro on full moon. Summiting on a cloudless night is an unforgettable experience as the glaciers can sometimes glitter in the moonlight as we inch closer to the summit. Although full moon is rather bright for sleeping and stars are not as visible, a summit attempt during a full moon can sometimes make the climb easier. For instance, you might not even need to switch on your head lamp as the bright moonlight helps provide spectacular views of Kibo from most of the overnight camps. With this in mind, a trek up Mount Kilimanjaro that coincides a full moon can enhance the experience and open us up to a truly remarkable spectacle!

Will you be able for this hike?

You do not need any mountaineering experience to climb Kilimanjaro, but some hiking experience and a good level of fitness will definitely help. We also camp in the evenings so this type of adventure will suit those with a positive can-do attitude and a readiness to get dirty on the mountain. That said, let’s take a look at the camping safari section of our adventure.

A Wild Adventure into the Serengeti​

After climbing Kilimanjaro, we will travel deep into the African bush via 4×4 vehicles with a professional safari guide. We will take multiple game drives and then camp at various ‘primitive’ campsites where the wildlife is free to roam. Serengeti National Park is best known for the wild rolling landscapes and huge herds of wildebeest, gazelles and zebras which form the only mass animal migrations in the world. It is also home to lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, hyena and much more. In short, Serengeti NP is the best place to go on a wildlife safari and a chance to experience some of the wildest landscapes in Africa.

This is a magical part of the trip which involves campfires and falling asleep to the sound of the wild. We also drive into Ngorongoro Crater for one of the most unique safaris on the planet and then pay a visit to Old Duvai Gorge which is nicknamed the “Cradle of Mankind” because it is believed to be the site of found remains of the first human beings to walk on earth.

While many of you will sign up for the Kili climb, I expect you will find each section of this adventure to be just as memorable as the other. Please note we use trusted guides, vehicles and equipment and the following is included in the price of the trip.

Transport, Guides & Where You Will Sleep

We will be camping for most of this adventure and don’t worry, previous camping experience is not necessary. You will not be alone on this trip and even when it comes to camping, each person is partnered up with a ‘tent buddy’ for both the climb and safari. However, we do stay at local guesthouses for at least three nights of the trip in order to break up the camping and get everyone access to a proper shower/bed. 4×4 safari vehicles will be used for the safaris and we will use smaller local transport for some sections. We will also be accompanied by experienced mountain guides and safari guides for the trip duration and your safety will always the main priority. These professional guides are there to lead every aspect of our trip which also means I myself can spend the entire time with you and the rest of the group.

Booking Flights & Trip Departure

The trip begins on 19th January 2024 which means you will need to book a return flight to Kilimanjaro airport (JRO) which ensures you arrive on this day. You will be picked up at the airport by one of the drivers and taken to our guesthouse to meet the rest of the group. It is important to arrive at the guesthouse before our pre-departure meeting on this day (1500hrs) so please be sure to book a flight itinerary which will arrive on-time. You must book this flight yourself and the cost is not included in the trip price. After the pre-departure meeting, we will do an equipment check before setting in for the night and next morning, we will head to the Machame gate to begin trekking Kilimanjaro.

Travel Insurance, Visa & Health

You are required to purchase fully comprehensive travel insurance for this trip and this must be presented to our guide on arrival. The policy needs to be valid from the date that the initial order is placed so as to provide cover for a cancellation prior to departure and during travel, this insurance needs to provide comprehensive medical, evacuation and repatriation cover.

– It is possible to apply/pay for a single-entry Tanzania visa on arrival. The fee is $50-$100 depending on nationality and you may be asked to provide proof of a return journey. FYI For those who need one, you cannot apply for a multiple entry visa on arrival.

– At the time of writing this email, International passengers entering mainland Tanzania are not required to present a COVID 19 vaccination certificate or negative COVID 19 test on arrival. See up-to-date info here.

– Yellow Fever certificate is only compulsory if you travel to Tanzania via a Yellow Fever infected country. Here is a list of these countries:

What's Included in the Expedition Cost

NOT Included in the Trip Price

Our Full Itinerary

19th January - February 1st

Upon arrival at Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO), a private transfer will take you to your guesthouse in Moshi. After settling in, we will get together for a pre-climb briefing, equipment checks as we prepare for departure the next morning.

After breakfast at the lodge transfer straight to the machame gate for regsitration. The climb starts from Machame Gate (1,800m/ 6,000ft) and after passing through banana and coffee farms at Machame village, the path follows a ridge through dense montane forest. This is the richest forested area on the mountain, and also the zone from where 96 % of the water on Kilimanjaro originates. On sunny days, and especially in the dry season, this section is lush and beautiful; it can also be a muddy experience, particularly if it has rained recently! We have lunch at ‘Halfway clearing a small opening in the trees and continue climbing steadily. The gradient becomes gentler as the forest slowly merges into giant heather close to the next camp near the ruins of Machame Hut (3,000 m/ 9,900ft.). We may get our first look at the glaciated dome of Kibo if the evening clouds permit. Approx 6-8 hours walking. Distance 11km.

A shorter day that begins by climbing up a steep ridge to reach a small semi-circular cliff known as Picnic Rock. There are sometimes great views of Kibo and the jagged rim of Shira Plateau from here, and it is a good rest point too! The trail continues less steeply to reach the Shira Plateau. We then camp near Shira Hut (3,840 m/ 12,600ft) which has some of the most stunning views on Kilimanjaro. Close to the huge volcanic cone of Kibo, the spectacular rock formations of Shira Plateau, and looking across to Mt. Meru floating on the clouds. Approx 4-6 hours walking, Distance 5km.

A morning of gentle ascent and panoramic views, leaving the moorland plateau behind to walk on lava ridges beneath the glaciers of the Western Breach. After lunch at Lava Tower (4,550 m/15,200ft.), we descend to the bottom of the Great Barranco valley (3,900 m/ 13000ft.) which is sheltered by towering cliffs and blessed with extensive views of the plains far below. Approx 5-7 hours walking, Distance 10km.

A steep climb up the Barranco Wall leads us to an undulating trail on the south-eastern flank of Kibo, with superb vistas of the Southern Ice fields. We camp at Karanga (4,000 m/ 13,100ft.), the last water point, in a steep valley. The afternoon can be spent resting or exploring the valley to help acclimatization. Approx 4 hours walking, Distance 5km.

After hiking out of Karanga Valley, the terrain changes to scree and we climb steeply to reach the campsite at Barafu (4600 m/ 15,300ft.). The remainder of this day is spent resting in preparation for our final ascent before a very early night. Approx 3-4 hours walking, Distance 4km.

We will start our ascent by torchlight at about 12 midnight so that we can be up on the Crater rim by sunrise. The steep climb over loose volcanic scree has some well-graded zigzags and a slow but steady pace will take us to Stella Point (5,735 m/ 18900ft.), in about five or six hours. We will rest there for a short time to enjoy the sunrise over Mawenzi. Those who are still feeling strong can make the 1 hour round trip from here along the crater rim to Uhuru Peak (5,895m/19,340ft.), passing close to the spectacular glaciers and ice cliffs that still occupy most of the summit area. The descent to Barafu is surprisingly fast, and after some refreshment, we continue to descend to reach our final campsite (3,100 m/ 10,100ft.) at the edge of Mweka Forest. Approx 11-15 hours walking, Distance 13km.

A sustained descent through lush forest with heavy undergrowth takes us to the National Park gate at Mweka (1,650 m/ 5500ft.) Approx 4-6 hours walking, Distance 10km. After signing out at the gate, we drive back to our guesthouse in Moshi.

After your safari briefing, we leave the guesthouse in Moshi Town and drive on Tarmac Road 130km to Lake Manyara National Park. The lake occupies a large portion of the park, and the forest starts just when you cross the park gate along the base of the Great Rift Valley. Lake Manyara is home to the famous tree climbing lions as well as buffalo, giraffe,
hippo, baboons, flamingo, ostrich, geese and so many more. After a picnic lunch, we take off for an afternoon game drive and then drive to lodge for our dinner and overnight stay at a local lodge. We will sleep in ‘real beds’ on this evening in order to help prepare everyone for another few days of camping in the National Parks.

After breakfast head towards the Serengeti National Park by way of the beautiful high lying farmland of Karatu and the Ngorongoro Conservation area. Leaving the highlands behind, you descend into the heart of wild Africa; into the Serengeti National Park with its endless plains rolling in the distance as far as the eye can see. Head to the central park area, known as the Seronera area, one of the richest wildlife habitats in the park, The Seronera River provides a valuable water source to this area of the park and attracts wildlife well represented of most of the Serengeti’s species. Arrive in time to enjoy lunch and then head out for an afternoon game drive. We settle in for the night and enjoy dinner at PIMBI CAMPISITE.

After breakfast enjoy an early morning game drive along the Sogore River circuit, which loops into the plains south of the Seronera River. This is a good location for spotting lion, gazelle, topi, ostrich and cheetah. We also stop at the Visitor Center, close to the Serengeti Seronera Lodge and there are some interesting wildlife displays here. After more game drives in search of ‘the Big 5’, we then return to PIMBI CAMSPITE for another night of camping.

After breakfast, depart to Ngorongoro Conservation Area. We stopover at Olduvai Gorge along the way which boasts history dating back to the dawn of time. It was here that the anthropologists, Dr. Louis and Mary Leakey discovered the skulls of “Nutcracker Man” and “Handy Man” both very significant links in the chain of human evolution.  We enjoy dinner and overnight stay at SIMBA CAMPSITE on the crater rim.

After an early breakfast, we will descend over 600 meters into the crater to view wildlife. Supported by a year round water supply, the Ngorongoro conservation Area supports a vast variety of animals, which include herds of wildebeest, zebra, buffalo, eland, warthog, hippo and giant African elephants. Another big draw card to this picturesque national park is its dense population of predators, which include lions, hyenas, jackals, cheetahs and the ever-elusive leopard, which sometimes requires a trained eye to spot. We will visit Lake Magadi, a large but shallow alkaline lake in the southwestern corner, which is one of the main features of the crater. We then drive back to Moshi for a last-night celebratory dinner.

Transfer to JRO Airport and Fly back Home

You will notice there are two different prices. While it is possible to book the Kili climb only, I strongly recommend you consider the Kilimanjaro/Safari Combo because it offers amazing value and trust me, you don’t want to come all this way to East Africa and not experience the animals, landscapes and wildness of the African bush. I look forward to you walking with me on Kilimanjaro and joining this epic challenge in the heart of East Africa!

Less than 15 Spots Left!

Less than 10 Spots Left!

Full Trip Price
€450 to secure spot
Kili Climb Only
€450 to secure spot

Are You Ready to Book?

There are still some places available. A non-refundable €450 deposit is required to secure each spot and the remaining balance must be fully paid 90+ days before the day of departure. If you have read all of the information provided, please fill out the form below and you will receive a payment link on which you can secure your spot for the adventure. You may also use this form to ask a question about the trip. I look forward to you joining me on Kilimanjaro 🙂