By Dan Demole of Neverbecomplete.com
Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Operation Kilimanjaro – Part 1
Up bright and early, I hit the pavement (or dirt in this case) to try to find a tour operator for my trip up Kilimanjaro. Usually I plan stuff like this a bit better than showing up in town and wandering around, but circumstances for the trip changed fairly recently. One of my best friends was planning on flying out from the States to meet me for the climb (and a safari). Unfortunately, things didn’t work out for him back home and he was unable to make the trip. I was sort of leaving the planning up to him since he had the luxury of constant internet. Thankfully though I did enough research myself before leaving for Africa that I knew what I was looking for and about what I should be paying.
There are a couple routes up Kilimanjaro. The most popular (though I daresay that has changed) is the Marangu Route. It usually takes 5 days and is known affectionately as the “Coca-cola Route” because of the system of huts that trekkers stay in. Each night, instead of camping on the mountainside, you stay in covered huts powered by solar energy. The Machame Route â€“ which is probably the most popular at the moment â€“ takes 7 days with a gradual ascent before the final two days of steep climbing to the summit. The third option is the Shira Route, which is what my friend and me discussed doing originally. It is 8 or 9 days and traverses through some staggeringly beautiful terrain (the Shira Plateau) before climbing towards the summit. This route is often times empty of trekkers and much more solitary. Because I was now going at it alone (the theme of my entire trip) I decided on the Machame Route. It would be the best cost vs. value one of the bunch, plus it would give me a greater chance of reaching the summit than the Marangu because of the extra days to acclimate.