We took a tour with Chief Tours for 6 days and 5 nights (all camping). Refer to the bottom of this post for detailed information.
At 8:30am we met with the team in front of the tour company. 9am we got into a van with the team and headed to the Machame gate. On the way the chef also bought some additional food. There were about 35 people starting the trip on the same day (excluding guides and porters), so the registration process took a while. Most of the porters got on the road first. We finished our lunch at the gate and officially started our hiking with Emanuali and Armani around 12:40pm.
It was a sunny day and there were lots of tall trees on the way, like walking in a huge tropical forest. Around 5pm, we arrived at Machame Camp. Most people had arrived and our tent had been set up by our porters. We took some break and had our dinner around 7pm. It got pretty dark by the time we finished our dinner but we still took a quick walk around the campsite to see the glowing mountain summit reflecting the moon light. It was pretty far away but still amazing.
We got our morning call around 7am, finished our breakfast and left from the campsite around 8:30am. The porters from our team also sang the Kili song for us before they departed.
As we climbed higher, the natural scenes changed from tropical yesterday into subtropical and temperate zone today. The height of trees decreased so did the temperature, while the scenes from a few view points were very beautiful. We arrived at Shira Cave Camp around 1pm. After having lunch and took a short nap, we also walked around with our guides to see a helicopter landing spot and the cave. In the past hikers could stay in the cave overnight but it has been prohibited for safety reason.
We had dinner around 6pm and also took a peek at the clear sky with stars before we went to sleep.
It was the day for adaptation to high altitude which was quite challenging for us. We got the morning call around 7:15am, had breakfast and left from the campsite around 8:30am.
It was sunny in the morning but the temperature went down very quickly along the way. Around 1pm, we arrived at Lava Tower Camp, where people taking a different route were camping here for the day. It was foggy and very cold. We could not really have our packaged lunch here so just kept heading to our campsite for the day.
The first 10-minute hike from Lava Tower Camp was steep downhill on huge rocks. Although it was cold, this hike was an interesting experience.
We arrived Baranco Camp by 4pm. It was still foggy but got a bit warmer. After the altitude adoption without lunch, we were tired so just took nap. In the evening, we had dinner and quickly went back to sleep to get ready for the next day.
It was a day with lots of variety of natural scenes. There were steep uphills and downhills that required both arms and legs to get through as well as wide-reaching fields where we heard the sounds of flying sands.
Around 1pm, we arrived at Karanga Camp, where people who participated in 7-day Machame route camped for the day. We took a break and had our lunch here. In the afternoon, we rarely saw other hikers. Around 4pm, we arrived at Barafu Camp. It was about the same height with Lava Tower Camp but we did not feel sick or anything unusual. We also got to sign in ourselves at the campsite registration.
Per schedule, we would be leaving around midnight for the summit. However, as we arrived at the campsite a bit late, we discussed with our tour guides and decided to leave around 1am to catch up on some sleep.
We woke up around 12:20am, grabbed a few crackers and put on the biggest jackets and headlamps. Following Emanuali, we stepping on countless huge rocks and kept climbing up in complete darkness. Our vision only existed where the head lights were. Occasionally we could see faint lights far up the route from other hikers.
By the time we arrived at Stella point, it had been snowing and all other hikers who went to the summit for sunrise had been on their way back to Barafu Camp. Due to our physical and the weather condition, we could not make it to the summit and the altitude did not allow us to stay long. Thus we headed back to Barafu Camp in the windy snow.
We took a break and had some hot soup in our tent at the campsite while it was raining and snowing outside. Then we got back on our way and kept going down to High Camp for the night.
The last day was relatively relaxing in terms of the altitude since it was all downhills while challenging due to the distance of 13.5km. We left the campsite around 8:30am, passed by Mweka Camp around 9:45am, and completed our 6-day trip by 1pm at Mweka Gate. Luckily we got to the registration office right before the heavy rain came.
Overall the trip was challenging but a great life-time experience. Throughout the trip, no matter how many times we saw the porters, we were really impressed by their pace with the huge bags either on their heads or shoulders. However, it was also very thought-provoking when Armani told us that “my dad told me the head should be used to think, not to carry stuff.”
We will never forget the snow-covered summit that sparkled under the moon light, which attracted countless hikers from all over the world.
Office Location: Google Maps
Route: Machame (also other routes available, based on hikers’ preference)
Days: 6 days and 5 nights (all camping)
Costs: Total $2,676.9 for two persons, including $770 of the tour, $1,628.4 of the park fees and $ 278.5 of the tips. We paid the park fees directly to the park office at Machame gate with a credit card, as instructed by the tour company. Refer to list below for all the items covered.
Meals: All included (3 meals per day, from lunch on day 1 to lunch on day 6). We got eggs almost everything morning and fresh fruits everyday. Our chef made really good food which no doubt was a big plus for our trip
Equipment (provided by tour company): The tour price also included the tent, roll mats and sleeping bags for two. Most of the items listed below were available at the tour company.
Showers / Bathrooms: There were no shower rooms but the porters prepared hot water and soap every morning and evening. Toilets were available at each campsite and there were also a few during the route. When the tour guide said “I am going to look for some flowers,” that indicated he was going number 1.
During our visit, the office was located on the main street, right across the Kilimanjaro Backpackers Hostel. The entrance of the office was in a small alley but there was a sign outside and visible from the street. Based on the current Google maps, it appears that the location had changed and moved into the same block with the Kilimanjaro Backpackers Hostel.
The company offered various types of tours (including different routes and number of days), and we selected the 6-day trip of Machame route. Initially we planned to look for more people to join our group but since we could not find any others in Moshi, we just had a private tour. However we were able to get rid of the dining tent (which was usually included as part of the package) to cut down some costs, and the Company was quite flexible about this.
On the day before the trip, one office lady assisted us selecting equipment and jackets in a room inside the office. We took the items that we would keep in our small backpacks and left all the rest in the office for them to pack for us for the trip.
In total, we had 2 tour guides, 1 chef and 6 porters. The office contact was Adidas Ngowi. We discussed all the trip details with him, including price negotiation. Our tour guides were Emanuali and Armani. Emanuali was also the leader of the whole team. Both of them were very nice and took really good care of us throughout the trip.
- Thanks to our guides and porters, our trip went well overall. The only issue we encountered was tips. Per discussion with Adidas before the trip, our total charges included tips. On Day 5, however, we realized that those tips were way too low comparing to regular tips per our discussion with Emanuali. It put us in a very awkward situation in the morning on Day 6 while all other hikers were paying their tour guides and porters, and it got worse when we got back to the tour office and were told by Adidas’s wife that he was not around until a few days later. We totally understood this issue had nothing to do with our guides and porters and they deserved what they should get. Thus we paid them the tips separately based on the tip range from Emanuali.
- Per our tour guides, It is required to be a porter for at least 2 years before getting to choose between becoming a tour guide or chef for separate training. Porters carry up to 20 kg while guides and chefs only carry their own bags. Porters carry not only their own bags but also tents, mats, sleeping bags, clothing (such as large jackets), gas tank for cooking and all the ingredients for the meals throughout the trip.