Africa IX: Kilimanjaro Machame Route Day 4

I’m very excited to share with you all the details of my Africa (Kenya/Tanzania) trip, and hopefully it helps you plan your own trip, encourages you to visit these places, or at the very least teaches you about another culture in another part of the world. I loved my Africa experience. To catch you up on my trip, check out all my Africa posts:

Africa I: Planning Logistics + Budgets + Immunizations + Clothing/Gear + Getting There
Africa II: Kenya Stop1, Baby Elephants
Africa III: Kenya Giraffes, Karen Blixen and Artcaffe
Africa IV: Arriving in Moshi + The Good Hope School
Africa V: Kilimanjaro Details
Africa VI: Kilimanjaro Machame Route Day 1
Africa VII: Kilimanjaro Machame Route Day 2
Africa VIII: Kilimanjaro Machame Route Day 3
Africa IX: Kilimanjaro Machame Route Day 4
Africa X: Kilimanjaro Machame Route Day 5
Africa XI: Kilimanjaro Machame Route Day 6 and 7


I left off in my last post at the end of day 3 of our Kilimanjaro climb, with Erica and I camping out with Zara Tours at the Barranco Camp (12,960 ft). Now it’s time to face day 4, and tackle the Barranco Wall to then end the day at the Karanga Valley Camp (13,100 ft). This is another acclimatization day, by going extreme up hill and then going back down to a campsite that’s only slightly higher than our campsite the previous night. This day will take about 4 hours.

**Anyone climbing the mountain in 6 days would pass through Karanaga Camp and head right to Barafu Camp (at 15,300ft) which is another 4 hours further. Is doing an 8 hour day doable? Of course, but following this 8 hour day is you waking up at 11pm the same day to climb all through the night to summit the mountain. It’s this portion of the hike that after an 8 hour day, greatly lowers your success rate.


It’s another clear morning, which is good considering the clouds and fog of the night before. We woke up in the Barranco Camp, and can you feel the cold of the photo above? I took this looking out our sleeping tent. Do you see the frost? You can also see through the clouds to Moshi below.


Above is the reverse shot, looking behind our sleeping tent. The building there is  a newer version of the outhouses we’ve seen along the trail. It’s pretty fancy considering all those building materials had to be carried up the mountain on the porters backs.


Finally we can see a view at the Barranco Camp.


I hinted yesterday at the crazy day that is to come. It’s at this point in the morning that I see the tiny ants on that sheer cliff wall. That’s the trail. Crap. Oh, crap. I had no idea we would have to climb anything so steep. I am terrified of heights. I’ve tried to combat it for years, and I’m much better with it than I was as a child… but this… this is scaling a cliffside without a harness! Gah! I immediately start crying in fear. It’s after I took the above photo that I put my camera away, and decided living through this portion of the climb was more important than snapping photos. Erica did have her camera out, so when she posts about Kilimanjaro, you’ll get to see her photos.

The only thing I fear more than heights are snakes. So to get through this I kept thinking “I’d rather be on this than on a path covered in snakes… this is better than snakes…” over and over again in my head.


The above photo is taken at the top of the Barranco Wall. I should say that while I was trembling in fear and “kissing the rock” as they call it, the porters with all their gear were jumping around us to scramble the rocks. They seemed weightless and fearless.


I was so relieved once the Barranco Wall was done. There’s a nice flat area at the top where you can rest. I’m relieved that I survived and glad to have the scariest part of the done by 9:30am. The rest of the day was easy in comparison.

Above is the group of Americans from Florida. They are all related uncles, fathers, sons and nephews of each other and it was a present for one of the boys who graduated college- instead of a party, lets have a guys trip where we climb Kili! I think it’s brilliant. This group was super fun to hike with. They had a speaker that they hooked their ipods up to, so they were dj’ing the hike. They did a big song/cheer each time they reached camp and they were just very motivating.

I should note that one of the men in the group offered me a Werther’s Original suck-on candy, as he read that they help on the climb with little surges of energy. He was right, and I wish I had brought suck-on candies. When he saw that I liked it he gave me a handful to use for the summit day. This was really sweet of him, and little did he knows it’s significance to me. Growing up my grandma and grandpa always had this candy around the house, so I can’t help but associate it with them. When he gave me the candies, it was the day before my grandmothers 96th birthday. We started for the summit (day 5) on her birthday and it’s these candies and thoughts of her that helped me make it to the top. I am very grateful to be hiking with this group. I also ran into the man who gave me these candies at the summit and gave him a big hug.


Back to our celebration of finishing the Barranco Wall. I took some jumping photos of Erica above the clouds… and some standing ones (above).


Above is another European man that I spent several days hiking along side. He and his girlfriend were very sweet. It’s hard to tell but where he’s standing is a cliff that drops down and the ridge beyond him is very far away… and where we are headed.


Thomas and I kept on hiking (above) with the Florida group of guys. Since we are starting and ending our day at around the same altitude, for all the altitude we gained climbing the Barranco Wall, we now have to descend slowly over the next few hours.


Ok, sometimes it’s not such a slow descend. It’s best to try to take it slow as this is not the time to sprain an ankle.


Onward we go. You can see how the path snakes up to that ridge.


This part of the hike was really enjoyable. There were clear skies and it wasn’t a super steep climb.


The fog above started to block our view of the top of the mountain. In fact, it’s better not to think about the top of the mountain. It’s still SO far away, and yet we begin our summit trek in about 30 hours from when this photo was taken. How are we ever going to make it?


It’s time to stay focused on getting to the Karanga Campsite. From where we are standing in the photo above, it’s a big climb down one side of the mountain to a valley where we immediately start climbing up the vertical path in the photo, and our campsite is at the top of this path.


You can see above that the path is dirt and dusty, which makes it slippery. I actually preferred climbing up more than I did descending down into the valley.


We are about 10 minutes to the top, in the photo above. The views of the valley were incredible. This path was steep but nothing like the Barranco Wall, so easy-peasy in comparison.


Thomas took this photo of me above. As one of the climbers from Connecticut pointed out “You carried 3 whales up the Barranco Wall, impressive!!” Haha. You can see in the photo the path that we took to go down into the valley. This lower valley has a river running through it (nothing huge), and it’s the last water source along the way. This means that porters were making many trips up and down the hillside to get this water for this camp and for the camp ahead. We saw porters who had come from base camp to here to get water and then walk it all the way back to basecamp. Wow. It makes our trek seem so little compared with what they do every day.


Yay, Karanga Camp! We signed in at the ranger hut (like we do at each campsite) and then it was time to take off our boots and rest. It’s the 6 day summiter’s that can’t rest here, they continue on for another 4 more hours to base camp. Thank god that’s not us.


Since it took us 4 hours, I would guess we arrived here around 1:30p? Some people do mini hikes from here to help get acclimated. Bruce suggested we rest, as the start of the summit was the next day and we would get very little sleep in the next 48 hours. Erica read and I listened to music. I think we played cards and wrote in our journals. It was relaxing, but the summit day is looming in my mind through it all.


The sky stayed pretty clear into the night and the sunset cast a beautiful light over the camp.


Above is our home for the night.


I like the photo above of the porter on the rock above the sea of clouds. I wonder what he’s thinking.

Now it’s time for bed. Tomorrow morning we hike for 4 hours to Barafu Camp (Base Camp) where we begin our summit climb at 11pm. I just need to make it through the next 48 hours… That’s up next! Check back for the Day 5 post tomorrow.

8 thoughts on “Africa IX: Kilimanjaro Machame Route Day 4

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