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Nature Walks

Mount Kilimanjaro Umbwe Route

Mount Kilimanjaro Umbwe Route the most difficult and demanding route on Kilimanjaro, and the most spectacular.

kilimanjaro umbwe route Mount Kilimanjaro Umbwe Route

The Umbwe route is not a technical route, but it is a very direct, very steep, very tough, and in parts very exposed route.

The Umbwe route joins the Machame route near the Barranco Camp on the second night. On the other routes Barranco Camp is reached on the third or fourth night. Goes to show how much steeper Umbwe is…

Parts of the trail on the first day are so steep, they can only be negotiated because the tree roots provide something like steps. The tree roots also serve as handle bars to haul yourself up where needed…

The second day is also steep and uphill all the way. The exposed ridge is not for people uncomfortable at heights… And have a guess why the “Rope Rock” (Jiwe Kamba) is called “Rope Rock”…

This is the most difficult and demanding of all Kilimanjaro climb routes. Don’t even think about it unless you have experience climbing mountains.

Having said that, it is a spectacular route!

Mount Kilimanjaro FAQs Part 1

Mount Kilimanjaro Frequently Asked Questions Part 1

Mt Kilimanjaro Summit Mount Kilimanjaro FAQs Part 1

When is the best time to climb Kilimanjaro?

Although it is possible to climb Kilimanjaro all year round, generally months with good weather is recommended as adverse weather conditions such as excessive rain, winds, snow/ice and extreme cold can be draining on the body and significantly lower your chances of summiting and also increase safety risks.

Typical annual weather 

During the months of January & February and also September & October are considered to be the best months in terms of dry weather and moderate temperatures.

June to August are also good months in terms of dry weather but temperatures will be much cooler. Some rain can be expected in November, December and March.

April and May are the rainiest months and climbing conditions are usually considered poor. If you are considering climbing in the wetter months, the Rongai route is recommended since the northern side of the mountain receives less precipitation.

As you can expect, the months with favourable climbing conditions are also the busiest months in terms of the number of people on the trails.

How many days does it take to climb Kilimanjaro?

The shortest route to the summit taken by most trekkers is the Marangu route which can be done in four nights, five days. Having said this, the Marangu route also has the highest failure rate when it comes to summiting. Why? Because reaching the summit isn’t just about a climber’s physical fitness level, but also whether the climber’s body has had enough time on the mountain to acclimatize to the high altitude.

There is a definite correlation between the number of days spent on the mountain and reaching the top – the longer the climb, the better the chances of summiting.

Our advice is whatever route you select add an acclimatization day and have a safe and enjoyable climb.

Opting on a short route and climbing based on the minimum number of days may seem like a good idea to save costs but in reality you significantly reduce your chances of summiting and if you are travelling all the way to Tanzania for the purpose of climbing Kilimanjaro, the additional cost of an acclimatization day is well worth it and overall will make for a safer and more enjoyable climb.

Which route should I take to climb Kilimanjaro?

There are more or less six established ascent routes – Marangu, Machame, Lemosho, Shira, Rongai and Umbwe. The Lemosho and Shira routes start from the westside of the mountain, while Machame and Umbwe routes approach the mountain from the south. The Marangu route starts from the southeast and lastly, the remote Rongai route commences from the north close to the Kenyan border.

In determining which route to select, consider the route’s difficulty, the number of days (longer is better to allow your body to acclimatize) and your preferences when it comes to traffic on the trail and scenery.

Route Minimum Number of Days to Climb* Difficulty Level Trail Traffic
Marangu 5 Medium High
Machame 6 High High
Lemosho 6 Medium Low
Shira 6 High Low
Rongai 6 Medium Medium
Umbwe 5 Very High Very Low

*We strongly suggest adding an acclimatization day to the minimum number.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How cold is it on Kilimanjaro?

Climbing Kilimanjaro will take you through four ecological zones in only a matter of days depending on your route from rainforest, to moorland, to alpine desert, to finally the arctic zone.

At base of the mountain, the average temperature will range from 20 to 27 Celsius depending on the month of the year. The temperature will quickly decrease as you gain elevation and pass through the different ecological zones. At Uhuru Peak, the night time temperatures can drop down to – 25 Celcius or even lower depending on wind chill. The weather on Kilimanjaro can be extremely variable and change very quickly. It is advisable to be prepared for extreme weather including rain, gusty winds and cold nights.

What should I pack for my Kilimanjaro climb?

EQUIPMENT:

  • Four season sleeping bag suitable for conditions reaching – 10 to -15 Celcius, sleeping mattress and small travel pillow
  • Daypack (25-30 litres) and waterproof cover
  • Large duffel bag to be carried by your porter
  • Small & medium ziplock bags and plastic garbage bags. Ziplock bags are handy for a multitude of uses and large plastic bags for dirty clothes, gear, etc.
  • Headlamp (bring spare batteries and spare bulb)
  • Insulated water bottle or Camel Back/Platypus (the latter is recommend as it is easier to access and you will drink more frequently)
  • Telescopic trekking poles
  • Sunglasses
  • Camera and/or video camera and extra memory cards and battery (note battery life is much shorter under freezing conditions)
  • Earplugs (busy camps can be noisy)
  • Pocket Knife
  • Stuff sacks for sleeping bag and clothing
  • Travel book, novels, deck of cards or other games for afternoon entertainment

CLOTHING:

  • Waterproof trekking boots, well broken in & gators
  • Extra shoes, like gym shoes or flip flops to where in camp
  • Thick thermal outer socks and inner lining socks
  • Waterproof/windproof breathable trousers (side zipper recommended)
  • Hiking pants (convertible to shorts)
  • Base layer or thermal long underwear
  • Underwear, bras
  • Waterproof outer gloves and inner liner gloves
  • Waterproof/windproof insulated jacket
  • Thick sweater or fleece top
  • Base layer or thermal long sleeve shirt
  • Long sleeved, light weight, moisture wicking shirt
  • T-shirt
  • Poncho
  • Scarf for cold and bandana for dust
  • Wide brimmed hat for the sun
  • Toque and balaclava
  • Extra shoeslaces for your hiking boots

TOILETRIES:

  • Toilet paper
  • Kleenex or facial tissue
  • Sun block
  • Lip balm with sun protection
  • Skin lotion (the cold and wind will dry your skin more than usual)
  • Wet wipes
  • Small soap
  • Travel towel – light-weight and takes very little space
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss
  • Deodorant
  • Insect repellent
  • Nail clippers/scissors
  • Razor & shaving cream/gel
  • Contact lens solution & extra set of lenses
  • Feminine hygiene product

FIRST AID:

  • High altitude medication
  • Anti malarial medication
  • Band aids & moleskin for blisters
  • Bandages, gauze pads
  • Painkiller (Tylenol, Ibuprofen)
  • Antiseptic cream (Polysporin)
  • Stomach ache/indigestion medicine (Pepto Bismol)
  • Anti-diarrhea medicine (Imodium)
  • Re-hydration salts
  • Prescription antibiotic effective against a broad range of bacteria including travelers diarrhea (Ciprofloxacin)
  • Any other prescription medications
  • Sterile syringes & needles
  • Eye rinse/moisturizing drops

MONEY & DOCUMENTS:

  • Passport
  • Plane tickets
  • Travel Insurance Policy & Emergency Contact Number
  • Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate (if applicable)
  • List of Emergency Contact Number from home
  • U.S. dollars in large and small denominations ($20, $50 & $100 bills should be issued after 2003)
  • Credit cards and ATM bank cards
  • Medical history

Avoid over packing and bring only what you need. Porters are limited to carrying 15 kilograms of your personal belongings. If your duffel is overweight, you will need to hire and pay for an additional porter. If you forget anything, most gear and equipment may be rented, although the quality may be less than what you might expect.

All extra luggage items you will not use on your climb, such as clothing, gear and equipment for safari or Zanzibar can be safely stored at the hotel.

It is not uncommon for checked luggage on international airlines to be lost or delayed and accordingly, we recommend that you wear or carrying on items which are absolutely essential to your Kilimanjaro climb, including one complete hiking outfit including your hiking boots. In your carry on baggage, make sure you should bring your toiletries, medications, camera and all important documents.

What do I need to carry in my day pack?

You only require items that you may need during the day until you reach your next camp and the items may vary from day to day depending on trail conditions, weather and your mountain guide’s recommendations. Typically such items may include rain gear at the lower altitude, warm clothing & gloves at higher altitude, snacks, hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, lip balm, camera gear, drinking water, lunch and all important documents including your passport and cash.

All other unnecessary items should be packed and locked into your duffel bag and be ready for the porters before setting off for the day. The porters will carry the duffel bag from campsite to campsite.

What kind of food can I expect on the mountain and what about drinking water?

All meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and drinks will be provided while on the mountain. An example of what you can expect on the mountain:

Breakfast Lunch Snack Dinner
Tea, coffee, hot chocolate
Porridge
Toast or crepe with margarine, peanut butter, jam, honey
Eggs and sausage
Beans
Fruit
Water or juice
Sandwich
Boiled Egg
Roasted chicken
Cheese
Candy bar
Snack
Fruit
Tea, coffee, hot chocolate
Roasted peanuts
Popcorn
Tea, coffee, hot chocolate
Soup
Salad
Stewed vegetables with Beef, Chicken or Fish
Rice Pilaf
Potatoes
Fruit Salad

Plenty of drinking water will be boiled and cooled each day and provided to you before setting off on your day’s hike to keep you well hydrated. When you reach your next camp in the afternoon further drinking water will be available to you. There is no need to chemically treat the water but you may wish to do so.

You may wish to bring your own favourite snacks, Gatorade powder, candy bars, etc. with you.

If you have any special dietary requirements or restrictions, please let us know at the time of booking.

What is altitude sickness and will it affect me?

Kilimanjaro is a serious mountain and the dangers associated with climbing Kilimanjaro should not be taken lightly. Although not widely discussed, it is estimated that every year nearly 1,000 climbers are evacuated from the mountain and approximately 10 deaths are reported and in the vast majority of the cases, it is due to altitude sickness.

For anyone climbing Kilimanjaro, it is essential for you to know the symptoms of altitude sickness or Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) to avoid an emergency or life threatening situation.

Acute Mountain Sickness is caused by the failure of the body to adapt quickly enough to the reduced oxygen as the climber reaches higher altitudes. Although the percentage of oxygen (about 21%) remains the same from sea level to the top of Uhuru Peak, the barometric pressure decreases with altitude and accordingly, the amount of oxygen taken in by your lungs and absorbed by your body with every breath also decreases.

At an elevation of 3,600 metres the barometric pressure is about 630 mb (480 mmHg) while the barometric pressure at sea level is approximately 1000mb (760 mmHg) resulting in roughly 40% fewer oxygen molecules per breath.

Lower air pressure at high altitude can also cause fluid to leak from the capillaries in the lungs and the brain which can lead to fluid build up and result in a life-threatening condition known High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) and High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE).

There are four factors related to AMS: (1) high altitude; (2) fast rate of ascent; (3) exertion of the body; and (4) dehydration. The main cause of AMS is climbing too high too quickly. Your body has the ability to adapt to decreased oxygen at higher elevations if given enough time.

At over 3,000 metres 75% of climbers will experience at least some symptoms of mild AMS which include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Increased heart rate
  • Headache
  • Nausea & Dizziness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Restless sleep

Climbers suffering mild AMS may keep ascending at a moderate rate and symptoms will generally subside as the climber acclimatizes.

If you start suffering mild AMS while hiking, please communicate this to your mountain guide so that he is aware and can keep an eye on your symptoms.

Symptoms of moderate AMS include:

  • Severe headache not relieved by regular headache medication
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Ataxia or decreased coordination

Normal activity becomes difficult for a person suffering moderate AMS and the person must turn around and descend to a lower elevation. Descending even only few hundred metres will result in improvement of symptoms. Continuing to higher altitude while suffering moderate AMS can lead to severe AMS and death.

Symptoms of severe AMS include:

  • Shortness of breath at rest
  • Inability to walk
  • Loss of mental acuity (HACE)
  • Fluid build-up in the lungs (HAPE)

Severe AMS requires emergency descent of 600 metres and anyone suffering from HACE or HAPE requires evacuation to a hospital for treatment.

What can I do to acclimatize properly while climbing Kilimanjaro?

  • Climb pole pole (slowly, slowly in Swahili), follow your mountain guide’s lead, stop often drink and to enjoy the views. Don’t be in a hurry to get to the next camp. Include an acclimatization day into your itinerary.
  • Take deep breaths and do not overexert yourself.
  • Climb high, sleep low. Climb to a higher altitude during the day, then sleep at a lower altitude at night. By adding an acclimatization day, additional hikes can be incorporated into your itinerary to help your body adjust.
  • Stay well hydrated. You should be sipping water continuously while you are climbing at least 3 litres while on the trail. Camelbacks or Platypus encourage drinking and is highly recommended. Make sure you eat enough food to keep up your strength even if your appetite starts to diminish.

If you begin to show symptoms of AMS, let your mountain guide know so he can monitor your symptoms. If you do not feel well, do not say you feel fine. You may be risking your life.

If your mountain guide determines that you are unwell and it is in your best interest to abandon the climb and he tells you to descend, it is an order. Respect the decision of your mountain guide and follow his instructions.

What can I do to train for climbing Kilimanjaro?

First, before you start any training, get a medical check up and ensure that you are in good physical health and also inquire whether high altitude trekking is acceptable for your age, fitness level and health condition. Determine if any pre-existing medical conditions or any medications you are taking can cause problems on the climb.

We ask that you inform us of any current or prior medical conditions that we should be aware of at the time of booking.

As for training, although Kilimanjaro can be climbed by most people with an average fitness level, the climb is a much more enjoyable experience if you have properly trained and are physically fit.

The best and only exercise that you really need to do to prepare for climbing Kilimanjaro is hiking. It’s best to start training three or four months prior to your climb. If you have never hiked before, start gradually hiking a short distance at a slow pace and gradually increase the distance, elevation gain and start carrying a day pack. Be sure to wear the hiking boots you will use for your climb. Try to get to a point where you are able to comfortably hike four to six hours with an elevation gain of 500 – 600 metres while carrying an 8 kilogram day pack on two consecutive days (over a weekend) and you will be ready.

How early do I have to book my climb and what do I need to do?

If you plan on travelling during the high season (June – October, December – March), we suggest you book your climb as far in advance as possible, 6 to 8 months, especially if you are climbing the Marangu route as there are a limited number of spaces available in the huts at each camp. We can book on short notice, however, your climb will be subject to availability and we will require full payment immediately upon confirmation.

How do I pay for my Kilimanjaro climb?

We request that your deposit to secure a climb and the balance of Kilimanjaro climb payment be made in US dollars by wire transfer into Nature Bound Africa Tanzanian U.S. dollar bank account. Unfortunately we do not accept credit card payment at this time.

All deposits and payments received into the company’s bank account will be held on your behalf and we only disburse funds to the appropriate suppliers as necessary until such time we have completed delivering our services to you.

 

Uganda Gorilla Permits Increase

Uganda Gorilla Permits Increase

Uganda Gorilla permits Increase by Uganda Wildlife Authority

372afd3f e121 4935 a46a 77125c9bddfa Uganda Gorilla Permits Increase

The Uganda Wildlife Authority has announced an increase in the price of gorilla permits that will now cost a flat fee of 600USD in both low and high seasons for all visitors effective immediately.

This price increase will also affect tourists who had already made bookings for the low seasons of April, May and November.

Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) raised the price of Gorilla permits to be able to suitably compete with Rwanda whose gorilla permits had seen an increase from 750USD to 1500USD.

With that in mind, all 2018 Set Departures organized by Nature Bound Africa will require  750USD supplement to make up for the increase in price for gorilla permits.

For more information please reach us at info@natureboundafrica.com  OR call us on +255 784 737 413

Lake Chala a crater in the shadow of Kilimanjaro

Lake Chala a crater in the shadow of Kilimanjaro

Lake Chala Lake Chala a crater in the shadow of Kilimanjaro

Lake Chala a crater in the shadow of Kilimanjaro is a unique caldera lake, and is thought to be the deepest inland body of water in Africa. This lake is fed by underground springs from Mount Kilimanjaro.

The lake has a great diversity of life. From lush lake shore forest to stunning volcanic savannah; from river beds marvelously carved through ancient rock, to thick bush or open ‘mbuga’. Walking at Lake Chala is a magical experience that will put you back in touch with nature.

The lake is fed by groundwater flows, which come from Mount Kilimanjaro, fed and drained underground with a rate of about 10 million m³ / year. Depending on the time of year, it ranges in colour from deep blue to turquoise and green, it is surrounded by a 100 metres high crater rim.

Chala has a huge variety of amazing trees, grasses and plants; some are unique to the area. According to the time of year there are hundreds of species of butterflies and birds, including spectacular birds of prey. The African Fish Eagle, with its haunting techniques, Verreaux’s Eagle, Augur Buzzards and many other species of birds can be seen around the crater walls. Wild mammals do vary including Blue Monkeys, Colobus Monkeys, baboons, dik-dik, kudu and elephant. Chala is an untouched part of a truly ancient land and a must visit place.

Activities at this lake: walking safaris, canoeing, swimming and fishing.

In the early 1900’s crocodiles were introduced to the lake. However, over the years local fishermen have killed them and it is highly likely that none exist there today.

Local fishermen can be seen in their dugouts drifting silently along, they come to fish there almost daily.

Lake Chala Boat Lake Chala a crater in the shadow of Kilimanjaro

Myths and legends surround the lake and the local people believe a whole Maasai village disappeared into the lake. It is said that the spirits of those people still haunt the lake today…

Lake Chala and the surrounding area is spectacularly interesting, not just because of Kilimanjaro that can be seen on clear days towering in the background but also because it thrives with life. Walking around you can spot plenty of birds (about 200 species) and small mammals such as blue monkeys, colobus monkeys, baboons, dik-dik and kudu. Being so close to Tsavo National Park you might be able to see large herds of elephants that migrate back and forth between Kenya and Tanzania.

Probably a must-do when at Lake Chala is to go on a walk down the steep crater walls to the water. The walk is very scenic with great views of the lake and vegetation. Swimming is possible but it is advised to stay close to the shore. 
Another interesting walk is the river bed tour. There is a seasonal river nearby where the water has eroded the walls into beautiful shapes.

1 1 1 Lake Chala a crater in the shadow of Kilimanjaro

This is also a good place to spot baboons and other wildlife.

Accommodation is possible at Lake Chala Safari Camp. There are luxury tents and well-equipped campsites with hot water ablutions. Visit Lake Chala on a day trip or stay overnight to experience the tranquility of the lake and wake up by birdsong. A visit to Lake Chala makes an excellent day trip.

Arusha Day Trips

Arusha Day Trips

Arriving into Tanzania from anywhere that requires many lines of latitude to be crossed, or several plane changes, an intelligent strategy is to allow a day or two’s leisure in Arusha prior to your climb. The reasons for this are:

  • Around 1 in 7 people have their luggage delayed. Most delayed luggage arrives 24 hours after it’s supposed to
  • Prolonged airline travel tends to dehydrate and tire people. Having a day at leisure allows rehydration / revitalisation
  • A day getting used to Arusha’s elevation (around 1,450m) and the dry air, helps with adaptation to Kilimanjaro
  • Those who do not have time to go on safari after their climb often appreciate the opportunity to see a little of the local (non-alpine) environment and culture

Other than safaris, there are several day-trip options available to be enjoyed from Arusha. We briefly summarise the seven most popular options for Arusha day trips below.

Arusha Town Tour

This is a popular day trip, requiring only some three hours and little or no transport. Those interested to see the main features of Arusha will begin somewhere around the Clock Tower, on foot, with one of our guides and will usually begin walking northwards in an anti-clockwise direction, taking in such sites at the Natural History Museum, various monuments celebrating independence, the local market, and some craft shops. A town tour typically takes some 2-3 hours and covers around 4km.

Tours are completed on foot with one of our guides. The cost is USD 20 per group, regardless of how many people are in the group. However, it is customary for each person to tip the guide, with the amount being purely at the climber’s discretion, but generally being around USD 10 per climber for small groups, and some USD 5 per climber for large groups.

Hot Springs

This is probably the best place to swim. Emanating from within the earth, the geo-thermally warmed water is constantly renewed and is therefore very fresh, clear and clean. It’s a very pleasant place to spend a couple of hours with family, or to relax before or after a climb.

The distance from Arusha to the hot springs is 69km and the journey normally takes around 1 hour 20, so one should allow at least 5 hours for this excursion.

Costs for visiting the hot springs include lunch and transport:

  • USD 189 per person when solo
  • USD 114 per person when 2 subscribe
  • USD 89 per person when 3 subscribe
  • USD 88 per person when 4 subscribe
  • USD 87 per person when 5 subscribe
  • USD 86 per person when 6 subscribe
  • USD 79 per person when 7 subscribe
  • USD 75 per person when 8 subscribe

Meru Waterfall

This is a beautiful little waterfall, with its principal advantage being its proximity to Arusha. The journey from Arusha is just 7km and takes only 15 minutes. Having parked, there is a short walk that involves some steep ground and some clambering, but is quite manageable, even for young children.

Once we reach the waterfall, it is usual to enjoy the environment with a picnic, included in the price. Costs include transport:

  • USD 114 per person when solo
  • USD 74 per person when 2 subscribe
  • USD 60 per person when 3 subscribe
  • USD 59 per person when 4 subscribe
  • USD 58 per person when 5 subscribe
  • USD 57 per person when 6 subscribe
  • USD 54 per person when 7 subscribe
  • USD 52 per person when 8 subscribe

Cave Falls

This option is suitable for those who want to spend more time walking as, following a 30 minute / 13km vehicle transfer to the area, access to the waterfall requires a 2km walk along a river bed. The walk to the falls takes a little under an hour and some 40 minutes to get back to the vehicle, if completing a circuit. Bear in mind that to get back to the car requires a height gain of 60 metres, so while not strenuous, one should be prepared for this.

  • USD 104 per person when solo
  • USD 69 per person when 2 subscribe
  • USD 58 per person when 3 subscribe
  • USD 57 per person when 4 subscribe
  • USD 56 per person when 5 subscribe
  • USD 55 per person when 6 subscribe
  • USD 52 per person when 7 subscribe
  • USD 50 per person when 8 subscribe

Lake Duluti

Two options are possible on this excursion: either one may walk around the lake or canoe across it. Depending on which hotel we start from, the drive is around 15-20 minutes to reach the lake. The walk around the lake covers some 3.5km, however, we normally have a picnic along the way and may stop regularly if we encounter birds, monkeys or monitor lizards.

Costs for the lakeside walk include the government conservation fee walk and are as follows.

  • USD 121 per person when solo
  • USD 91 per person when 2 subscribe
  • USD 81 per person when 3 subscribe
  • USD 80 per person when 4 subscribe
  • USD 79 per person when 5 subscribe
  • USD 78 per person when 6 subscribe
  • USD 76 per person when 7 subscribe
  • USD 74 per person when 8 subscribe

Please note that use of canoes is extra with hire fees being payable direct to the local government office.

Maasai Crater

This is a dramatic topographical feature with steep falls that fall away into a lush green crater. The attraction of this walk is threefold: the exercise, the awesome views, and the opportunity to meet authentic Maasai villagers. If walking around the crater rim, we cover around 4.2km, however, climbers will often want to descend to the crater floor, which may add another 3km or thereabouts. Bear in mind that if descending to the crater floor, the return to the rim requires an ascent of 257 metres, which will normally take somewhere between 30-50 minutes and is quite strenuous, dusty and exposed to direct sunlight with virtually no shade.

The following costs include transport, lunch, local entrance fees and a small gift to Moita village.

  • USD 134 per person when solo
  • USD 89 per person when 2 subscribe
  • USD 74 per person when 3 subscribe
  • USD 73 per person when 4 subscribe
  • USD 72 per person when 5 subscribe
  • USD 71 per person when 6 subscribe
  • USD 67 per person when 7 subscribe
  • USD 65 per person when 8 subscribe
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