Reaching Uhuru Peak, the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, was my dream for years. In 1999 I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro for the first time. That time I made it to Gillman's Point at 5685 m on the crater rim. It's enough for a certificate stating that you've climbed the mountain, but it's not Uhuru Peak, it's not THE TOP.
It was a really exhausting climb back then via the Marangu trail, nicknamed the Coca Cola trail. Exhausting, because I didn't take enough time to get used to the altitude and didn't use drugs against altitude sickness. The Marangu trail is the trail that is most used. It has wooden huts to sleep in and the trail is really scenic.
I desperately wanted to make it to Uhuru Peak this time. That is why I booked this trip that did an excellent preparation for the climb. The trek through the Crater Highlands and the climbs of both the Ol Doinyo Lengai and Mount Meru prepared us for this final climb and ultimate goal of this trip. Well, the ultimate goal for me at least.
The Kilimanjaro is a sleeping volcano. In fact it consists of three volcanos: Shira, Mawenzi and Kibo. Kibo is the highest of these three volcanos. The highest point of Kibo, and thus the highest point on Mount Kilimanjaro, is called Uhuru Peak (5895 m).
There are many trails up to the peak. The Marangu and Machame trails are the best known. Marangu is the most popular and Machame is considered the most scenic route. Both these routes are very crowded. I don't care, but many people prefer to take a less busy trail, even if such a trail isn't as beautiful as other trails. We took the Lemosho trail to the top, starting at 2380 m, via Forrest Camp (2785 m), Shira 1 (3470 m), Shira 2 (3840 m) and Arrow Glacier Camp (4800 m). From Arrow Glacier Camp we climbed the Western Breach to reach the crater. The Western Breach is the most difficult non-technical climb up to the crater.
I made it to Uhuru peak and I'm really proud of that. Reaching the highest point of the continent I love so much, was an extraordinary and emotional experience and a dream come true. I also felt very happy because all members of the group made it to the top. After a not too long stay at the peak (you develop a bad headache or worse if staying there too long), we started our descent via the Mweka trail. The Mweka trail is used almost exclusively for descents. We camped at the relatively new Millenium Camp before our final descent through beautiful forests to the Mweka park entrance.