Don’t Leave Africa Without It: Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro

As some of you know, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro was one of the last things I did before our family relocated back to the United States after three years in Johannesburg. But that doesn’t mean it came as an afterthought. Planning a Kili climb takes time, about a year for most people. So if you would like to add Kili to your Africa bucket list, you almost need to start planning the trip the moment you start your expat assignment. Who knows how long you’ll get to stay?

(If you haven’t thought about putting Mount Kilimanjaro on your Africa bucket list, perhaps you’d like to read Kilimanjaro Diaries. I’m told it has inspired some readers to give it a try – while also inspiring them to make sure to order the toilet tent.)

Climbing Kili is magical. It’s also hard and funny and cold and hot, and for many people life-changing. If you already live in Africa, especially at high altitude in Johannesburg, you’d do yourself a disservice if you didn’t give the highest free-standing mountain in the world at least serious consideration.

No, you don’t have to have mountain-climbing experience. You also don’t have to have above-average fitness. All you need is a spirit of adventure, and perhaps more importantly, a sense of humor. It’s not exactly a cheap vacation, as you need a guided tour to get on the mountain, but it’s also not nearly as expensive as many of your typical African safari destinations. I always viewed it this way: An entire week without having to cook or even plan any meals, somebody carrying all your stuff, and not having to listen to any nagging except perhaps my own – sounds like heaven, right? The view from the summit after 7 exhilarating days is just an added bonus.

People who return from Kili after reading my book often contact me afterwards, and I’ve written about the camaraderie this inspires among fellow Kili alumni here.

But in addition to their stories, people also often share their pictures with me. This typically sends me down a rabbit hole of long reminiscences and bouts of nostalgia. One recent such reader sent me such beautiful pictures that I felt compelled to share them here for all to see. May they inspire you to find a mountain to climb!

The below pictures are all courtesy of Tami Trover Crosson, who successfully climbed Kilimanjaro in February of this year, taking the Lemosho Route. Enjoy!

Trail to Shira Camp on Mount Kilimanjaro
On the way to Shira Camp
Millennium Camp on Mount Kilimanjaro
A View of Kibo from Millennium Camp (one of the descent camps slightly higher than Mweka, I believe, but I could be wrong)
trail to Barafu on Mount Kilimanjaro
Clouds roll in as the last hikers on the trail to Barafu are coming up
Snow on Mount Kilimanjaro with view of Mawenzi Peak
Inside the crater from Uhuru peak with Mawenz (Kili’s other peak)i in the background
Karanga Camp coming up from Barranco
That’s Karanga Camp on top of the ridge on the other side. I remember how I saw it and felt relief that it was so close, and then realized with horror we had to traverse another deep valley to get there.
Lava Tower on Mount Kilimanjaro
View from Lava Tower and the Western Approach
View of the summit on Mount Kilimanjaro
What a beautiful view: Looking North at the summit from Karanga Camp
Hiking trail near Barafu Camp on Mount Kilimanjaro
On the last hill on the way to Barafu camp looking back towards Mt. Meru, which you can faintly see in the background
View of Mount Menu from the ice fields of Mount Kilimanjaro
What a beautiful view of Mount Meru looming in the shadow behind a glacier on Uhuru Peak
Kilimanjaro has such wonderful variety of landscapes. I love the deep green hues in this view of the trail to Moir Hut.
Mawenzi Peak on Mount Kilimanjaro
Mawenzi, Kili’s other peak – the one that rarely ever gets climbed – with a porter in the foreground
Stacked rocks along the rail to Barafu camp on Mount Kilimanjaro
Stacked rocks with Kibo in the background on the way to Barafu camp
View of Kibo from Karanga Camp on Mount Kilimanjaro
Another great view of Kibo from Karanga Camp in the crisp evening air
Barranco Camp on Mount Kilimanjaro
My absolute favorite picture: Silhouette of Barranco Camp in the evening. Interesting fact: Barafu camp has no water source. The porters have to carry water all the way from Karanga camp to Barafu for that night’s dinner, and then again a second time for the next day. 

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