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Kilimanjaro, Tanzania - Rongai Route up Mount Kilimanjaro

Is it just me, or is it getting hard to breathe up here?

all seasons in one day
View Tanzania 2005 on GregW's travel map.

Attempted to climb Mount Kilimanjaro using the Rongai route. I was doing a six day climb (5 up, 2 down with the summit day being both an up and down day). Unfortunately, on the start of the fourth day it was obvious that I was not well – it looked like I was developing pulmonary edema. I had a gurgling sound when I was breathing, was coughing constantly, was dizzy, had lost my appetite and was very, very tired. The head guide of my group decided it was best that I be taken off the mountain.

Due to my bad condition, they wanted to take me down my stretcher. However, because the mountain rescue team only works on the Marangu route, I would have to walk from Mawenzi Tarn camp to the saddle. Even with the help of two guides, it took me almost 6 hours to make it from Mawenzi Tarn to the Marangu route. The mountain rescue team, who loaded me on a stretcher and took me all the way to the gate, soon met us. There an ambulance met up with us, and I was taken to Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Clinic in Moshi. Got checked out, a shot and a prescription for Dex and released.

I was completely back to normal strength within two days, with no lingering effects.

The specifics of the climb and evacuation can be found in more detail in my blog entitled "I'll be coming down the mountain when I come".

The rest of the group I was with all made it to Gillman’s point, and 8 of the 10 made it to Uhuru Peak.

Overall, my guides were excellent, both in assessing the situation and helping me down the mountain. The mountain rescue team was excellent in getting me off the mountain, even if the stretcher was not very comfortable. The $20 paid in park fees for the mountain rescue crew was well worth it to me!

The climb was booked through Africa Travel Resource (www.africatravelresource.com), locally using The African Walking Company as the local guides. The climb was more expensive than others I saw, but I do feel that the quality of guides was above that of some of the other groups I saw climbing the mountain.

The food was decent and filling, though the higher we got the less variety that we got in our diet.

The hotel accommodations at the Kibo Hotel in Marangu before and after I have no complaints about. I have often read that the Kibo Hotel is a “faded glory,” but the beds were comfortable, the showers had hot water, the rooms were clean and the beer in the bar was cold.

The Rongai route itself was not a difficult hike. There was only one section, close to the lava chute cave, where we had to use our hands to scramble up some rocks. Otherwise, the climb was mainly a slow, slow walk. The path is not as well developed as the Marangu route, but I think it adds to the appeal to have a more rugged (though entirely walkable) path. Rongai does not provide cabins at all, thus tents are the only way to go. Washroom facilities are ugly – many of the group ended up using a shovel instead of going into the squat toilets at the campsites.

The worst part of the trip was the 3 hour car ride from Marangu to the trail head of the Rongai route. The road is rough and dusty. Our car dropped a shock on the way to the trail head.

I wrote about what inspired me to climb Kilimanjaro in in this blog entry. If you would like a more detailed description of the Rongai route can be found in this blog entry.

Posted by GregW 01:00 Archived in Tanzania Tagged backpacking

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Hey Greg! I love your Tanzania Blog. I am already planning my trip for next year so some of your comments were very helpful. I have even started to train a bit more for it. I always work out but now I am dedicating about a half hour to balance exercises, getting my legs stronger. I have even quit smoking! It was a long time coming though...
Anyway, I have checked out African Travel Resource and I see they have packages for 6 day hike - 5 day safari - 3 day beach starting from $2500. Does that sound high to you? I was thinking about going with your original advice to just book the hike ($1000-$1250??) and then buy the safari overthere. How can I find a good safari travel agency for a 4-5 day tour? Is it easy to find? How about the beach? Anything you can tell me, it will be one more thing I add to my plans so anything will help me out. Thanks!

by areinstein

Hi Greg

Love your blog! If it's OK, I'd like to link it from my site - I hope this doesn't offend, but I haven't come across a Kili blog before where the writer ends up with AMS! As such, it will be useful and informative for my readers.

Hope that's OK - let us know if it's not!


Henry Stedman
(author, 'Kilimanjaro - the Guide to Climbing Africa's Highest Mountain'; http://www.climbmountkilimanjaro.com/)


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