Day 1: Machame Gate to Machame camp.
Vehicles take climbers from Marangu to Machame Gate. This is a drive of around 2 hours. The gate is at 1800 metres at the entrance to the forest. From here, a 5 to 6 hour walk, gradually ascending through the lush forest to a ridge between two streams and then onwards to the camp which is just clear of the forest at 3000 metres.
Day 2: Machame to Shira camp.
The trail ascends a steep ridge from Machame camp through moorland to about 3600 metres, heading straight towards the peak. Then, after about 4 hours, the path turns left, flattening out into a gorge and ascending more gradually to Shira camp at 3840 metres on the Shira plateau to the west of Kibo. Total time is about 5-6 hours.
Day 3: Shira to Barranco camp.
The path continues directly up the ridge towards Kibo. After about 4 hours, the path reaches Lava Tower, at the foot of the Great Western Breach. It crosses the foot of the Breach and descends into a gorge (barranco) and the night is spent at Barranco camp (3950 metres). Total time is about 5-6 hours. This is an interesting day, since climbers ascend to 4500 metres at lunchtime, but then descend to a camp which is only slightly higher than they were in the morning.
Day 4: Barranco to Barafu camp.
The path climbs out of the Barranco Valley via the Barranco wall. This is a steep 1 to 2 hour climb, ascending about 300 metres. The path then follows the gently undulating Kibo South Circuit. Wonderful views are to be had of Kibo's southern glaciers if the weather is clear. After about 3 hours the Karanga valley is reached. There is a short but steep descent into the valley, which has a small stream running through it, and then a short climb up the eastern valley wall. At the top of the wall, at 4000 metres, is the Karanga Valley camp. Lunch is usually had here, and then the path climbs for about 3 hours to Barafu camp at 4600 metres. Total time is about 7 to 8 hours.
Day 5: Barafu camp to the top.
Climbers are woken at about 11pm. After dressing in all their warm clothing, they have a hot drink and then set off at midnight. The first part of the ascent is on a rocky ridge. This then turns into scree. The surface is loose and can be hard going. On its steepest sections, the path zig zags up the scree. It takes an average of 7 hours to reach Stella Point on the crater rim. On a fine morning, the views of the sun rising from behind Mawenzi are spectacular. Stella Point is at 5,750 metres. From here, the path goes around the crater rim for a further hour to the summit at Uhuru Peak, 5896 metres. The descent back to Barafu Camp can take a further 3 or 4 hours. After a rest and a meal, the descent continues to Mweka Camp at 3100 metres, a further trek of around 4 hours. If climbers are very tired, or if it is late, camp can be made at Millennium Camp at 3800 metres – this simply increases the length of the following walking day by around an hour.
Day 6: Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate
The path descends for around 3 hours through the forest to Mweka gate. Vehicles will be waiting to transport climbers and crew back to Marangu Hotel.
Optional day 7.
An increasing number of climbers are now choosing to make an extra night’s camp at Karanga Valley. This breaks an otherwise very long day, immediately prior to the summit attempt, into 2 short and relaxed days.