Kilimanjaro Photography Trek
(7 days trekking)
Max elevation: 5895m
Kilimanjaro Photography Trek via the Machame Route
Trek up one of the most famous mountains in the world and stand on the roof of Africa.
An ascent of Mt Kilimanjaro is as rewarding as it is breathtaking and an experience of a lifetime.
Ascending through lush rainforest, moorland and volcanic landscapes, we trek through ever changing and diverse environments. An ascent of the Barranco Wall adds some spice to our adventure and our final summit bid in darkness brings us to the summit for sunrise. This itinerary offers Adventure Travel photography at its finest and is an experience that will stay with you for life.
Day 1: Join in Moshi
Arrive into Kilimanjaro International airport, Tanzania. We will arrange a private group transfer to the town of Moshi. You’ll be able to spend the afternoon relaxing and resting at our lodge. We’ll give a pre-trek briefing once everyone has arrived and allow time to check and prepare our equipment. We’ll enjoy an evening meal at the lodge.
Day 2: Machame Gate - Machame Camp (3010m)
We’ll be transported to the start of the route at the Machame Gate. Here we’ll meet our trekking crew of local porters and guides. After completing the National Park registration formalities we start our trek. The first section of the route climbs steadily passing through magnificent, dense montane rainforest which can be wet and muddy underfoot depending on the weather. We stop halfway for lunch, usually a very civilized affair with a spread of food served at tables and chairs that have been carried ahead by our porters. After lunch we continue climbing until the gradient becomes gentler as the forest slowly merges into giant heather close to our campsite at around 3000m. If the weather is clear we may get our first glimpse of the glaciated dome of Kibo.
Day 3: Machame Camp -Shira Camp (3840m)
Leaving the rainforest behind our route continues along a rocky ridge through moorland and heath landscape. There are excellent views of Kibo and the jagged rim of Shira Plateau from here. The trail continues until we start traversing the mountainside to reach our next campsite on the Shria Plateau. This campsite offers fantastic photographic opportunities of the huge volcanic cone of Kibo and spectacular rock formation of the Shira plateau. There are fantastic views across to Mount Meru rising high above the town of Arusha in the distance often seen rising above a blanket of clouds below.
Day 4: Shira Camp - Barranco Camp (3960m)
The landscape changes again today as we leave the moorland plateau behind and ascend gently to trek along lava ridges. We are treated to panoramic views all around. We reach today’s highpoint of 4600m at the Lava Tower where we stop for lunch then descend to the bottom of the delightful Barranco Valley at 3900 m. This is sheltered by the towering cliffs of Kibo’s South face and with extensive views of the plains far below. We are surrounded by the most wonderful and distinctive plants of the Senico or Giant Groundsel and strange looking Lobelias and may be treated to sightings of the dazzling green Malachite Sunbird. The campsite at Barranco is wonderful and the sunsets from here are fantastic.
Day 5: Barranco Camp – Karanga camp (4000m)
Today is a shorter day which starts by descending into the Great Barranco, a huge ravine. We then climb steeply up the Great Barranco Wall dividing us from the Southeastern slopes of Kibo. The climb over rock is exhilarating but not technical and one of the highlights of the trip for many people. Passing underneath the Heim and Kersten glaciers we have superb vistas of the Southern Icefields. The terrain changes yet again to scree with pockets of lush vegetation. From here the trail climbs steeply climb up from Karanga Valley to our night’s camp at Karanga camp at 3963m. There is plenty of time to rest or for those feeling strong we will go for a mid-afternoon acclimatization trek up to around 4200m before descending back to camp for the night.
Day 6: Karanga Camp – Barafu Camp (4640m)
After a good night’s rest and breakfast, we set off on our walk to Barafu camp at 4640m. The climb will take us across desolate scree slopes with no vegetation around us at all. Today is a tougher steep walk made more difficult by the altitude. On arriving at camp we eat and spend the afternoon resting as we prepare for a long night and day ahead. There is the option of taking another short acclimatisation walk to the plateau at the bottom of the South-East valley. We have an early dinner and then try to get some sleep as we will be getting up at between 11pm and 12pm to start the climb to the summit.
Day 7: Summit Day - Barafu Camp – Uhuru Peak (5895) & descent to Millennium Camp (3790)
We will start our ascent by torchlight at around 11pm – 12pm in order to reach Stella Point (5739) on the crater rim by sunrise. We climb at a very slow and steady pace up a zig-Zagging path on loose volcanic scree for around 5 hours gaining incredible height over a short distance. Spectacular ice cliffs within the crater surround us and the views to jagged Mawenzi peak and beyond are breathtaking. We will rest here for a short time to enjoy the sunrise over Mawenzi. Those who are still feeling strong can make the final hour’s ascent along the crater rim to Uhuru Peak (5895m) passing close to the spectacular glaciers and ice cliffs that still occupy most of the summit area. After some time on the summit we descend back to Barafu Camp loosing height very quickly. We’ll enjoy some breakfast and rest here before continuing our descent to reach our final campsite Millenium Camp (3800m) during the late afternoon. Today will be a long and tough day of walking for around 11-15 hours but the feeling of satisfaction of reaching the highest point in Africa and capturing some of the most wonderful images from the top of and one of the Seven Summits is well worth the effort required.
Day 8: Millennium Camp - Mweka Gate (1630m) & transfer to Moshi
A gentle but sustained descent on well constructed paths brings us back into the lush rainforest alive with birdsong. We continue down to the National Park gate at Mweka (1650m) where we sign out of the National Park. A short walk through coffee and banana farms brings us to Mweka village where our vehicle awaits. We return to our hotel in Moshi for a well earned shower and change of clothes before a celebratory meal that evening.
Day 9: Moshi – Trip ends
Our tour ends today after breakfast and we check out of our hotel. The day is left free to wind down after the trek before your flight home. Depending on flight times you could go and explore Moshi town or go shopping for some souvenirs before heading to the airport. We will arrange group transportation to the airport timed to coincide with the majority of flight times within the group. If your flight time is earlier or later than this or you don’t want to be transported to the airport at this time then you will need to pay for your own transport separately. We can help you arrange this.
This trip involves Adventure Travel in a remote mountain region. We make every effort to keep to the above itinerary but we cannot always guarantee it. Weather, trail conditions and the health of participants can all contribute to changes to the prescribed itinerary. Your leader will always try to ensure that we keep to the itinerary detailed but a flexible attitude is needed and appreciated if changes need to be made.
What’s not included:
Other than our first and last night in Moshi this is a camping trek. In Moshi we use clean and comfortable 3 star hotels and lodges. Many hotels we use have a swimming pool (but not all). They also have restaurants and usually Wi-Fi. On the trek we are accommodated in tents in a fully serviced camp. We use high quality 3/4 season 2 man mountain tents with insulated sleeping mats provided. We also provide a large walk-in mess tent where we take most of our meals. Meals are served on sturdy camp tables with backed chairs. Hotel and tent accommodation is provided on a twin share basis. If you book as a couple you will be sharing the same hotel room tent. If you book as an individual you will be paired with someone of the same gender. A single room or tent is possible at an additional cost.
On the trek we are well looked after by our camp and cook crew who set up and dismantle our camp each day. The crew trek ahead of us and our camp and tents are ready and set up by the time we arrive at the campsite each day. At the end of each day our trekking team is welcomed in to camp with traditional mountain porter songs and dancing from our camp team. This is a special treat and great fun. It also makes for some fantastic photographs and portraits. Our camps is also provided with our own portable chemical flush toilets and toilet tent. Filtrated water is provided each day for us to fill up our water bottles and bladders.
Meals are included throughout the trip with the exception of lunch and dinner in Moshi on the first night. On the trek the breakfast will be prepared and served by our local camp crew and usually include porridge, toast, sausages, eggs, bread, jam, honey, butter, tea, coffee and hot chocolate. Lunches usually include; sandwiches, eggs, soup, fruit, tea, coffee, hot chocolate. On arrival at camp each evening we are served tea, coffee, hot chocolate and popcorn. Dinners are served at around 7:00pm and include; soup, spaghetti, rice, meat, vegetables, salad, fruit, tea, coffee, hot chocolate. Meals are always fun, relaxing and entertaining affairs and the camp and cook crew do an amazing job considering all resources are carried up the mountain with us.
NOTE: Lunches and the first evenings dinner in Moshi is not included in the price.
We try and cater for vegetarian diets where possible and can assist with medically recommended diets (allergies and intolerances). Please discuss your dietary requirements with us well in advance so we can determine whether we can cater to such requirements. There may be times when those with very specific requirements may need to provide their own food. We are unable to guarantee a peanut-free or allergen-free trip so strongly encourage that travellers with life-threatening or severe allergies take all necessary medical precautions to prepare for the possibility of exposure. Passengers must travel with all necessary medications for food allergies and be capable of self-administering these medications.
Some vaccinations are required for travel to Tanzania. In particular Yellow Fever and Malaria. You may be required to have a current Yellow Fever certificate with you and may be asked to present this on arrival in Tanzania. We advise that you consult your doctor or a Travel Medical specialist in order to get the most current advice regarding vaccination requirements. It is your responsibility to ensure that you are adequately vaccinated. Good websites to check are: fitfortravel.nhs.uk, travelhealthpro.org.uk and nomadtravel.co.uk
We will be trekking in remote mountain areas where standards and quality of hygiene are difficult to maintain and are often different to those we are used to. We advise taking some simple precautions in order to reduce the chances of becoming ill or picking up stomach upsets etc. We encourage participants to keep their hands clean whilst on the trek with the use of hand sanitising gels. We also advise against eating any street food in Moshi before the trek. All hotels have Western style flushing toilets. We provide portable chemical flushing toilets and toilet tents for our group use and some campsites also have squat or long drop composting toilets. Toilet paper is provided in the toilet tent but you may wish to bring a spare supply. We carry a comprehensive first aid kit along with several portable oxygen cylinders.
The Kilimanjaro Photography Trek is a very high altitude multi-day trek which is possible to achieve with a moderate to good level of fitness. Previous trekking experience is not necessary but endurance and stamina will help along with a positive mental attitude. Participants should be comfortable with walking around 4- 8 hours per day with a very long summit day of up to 15 hours. In order to maximise your enjoyment and potential success on this trek you should be in sound physical condition.
The trails are well trodden but undulate, continually rising to a maximum altitude of around 5895m. The trails can become wet, muddy and slippery in the rainforest especially during wet weather but are usually dry and dusty once out of the forest. We trek very slowly gaining height gradually. You will often hear the local’s saying ‘Pole Pole’ (Slowly slowly). Summit day is very strenuous due to the high altitude and a long day of physical exertion. If in doubt of your ability we highly recommend checking with your doctor before undertaking this trek.
The main challenge in this trek lies in the altitude. Our itinerary has been designed to allow for excellent acclimatisation and follows the golden rule of acclimatisation of – ‘Climb high, sleep low’. Symptoms of being at altitude can include tiredness, shortness of breath, loss of appetite, headaches and nausea. Altitude affects people differently and being extremely fit is no guarantee of being less likely to feel the effects. All of our Leaders are highly experienced in trekking at altitude and are all fully qualified first aiders. The leader will assess your progress as you climb and their decision is final if you need to descend or leave the trip for safety reasons.
When walking at altitude the most important thing to remember is to walk slowly. Sometimes it’s the fitter and more athletic people who run into altitude problems as they often try and ascend too quickly. As photographers we have given ourselves a slight advantage as we will be frequently stopping to take photographs along the way which will help to slow down our overall progress.
If in doubt of your ability we highly recommend checking with your doctor before undertaking this trek.
This is a ‘Land Only’ package meaning you are responsible for arranging your own international fights and your trip will begin in Moshi. We have included group transport from Kilimanjaro International airport to the town of Moshi at the start and end of the trip. This will be arranged to coincide with the majority of the groups arrival times. If your arrival time at Kilimanjaro airport is outside of this time then you will need to pay for your own transport to and from out hotel in Moshi. We can assist in arranging this.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Do not book your flights until the trip has been confirmed by Dreamtreks Photography.
Most nationalities, including UK citizens, require a visa for entry into Tanzania. Your passport should have at least 6 months validity left on it from the date of entry. For British and many other nationals you can obtain a visa on arrival in Tanzania. Visitors can obtain a tourist visa on arrival at Kilimanjaro International Airport, Tanzania. The cost is currently $40USD. It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the correct visa so we advise checking with the embassy in your country especially if travelling via Kenya.
It is a condition of booking that you have adequate travel Insurance which covers mountain rescue, helicopter evacuation and medical expenses. We advise that you take out adequate insurance as soon as your booking has been confirmed. We will require a copy of your insurance prior to departure.
IMPORTANT NOTE: You must ensure your travel insurance covers you for trekking up to 5895m and provides helicopter rescue cover. (Some travel insurance policies will exclude this option). In the event of Helicopter rescue being necessary we will assist in arranging this if available but you will need to have provided us with a copy of your insurance policy. We also advise that you have adequate insurance cover for your camera equipment as most travel insurance policies impose single item limits. We can advise of a few suitable travel insurance policies to consider.
As Kilimanjaro is located close to the equator there are 2 main wet seasons – April/May and November/December so we avoid trekking then. The temperature on Kilimanjaro is mainly determined by the altitude and time of day. In Moshi and at the base of the mountain temperatures average around 21 – 28 degrees Celsius. At the summit the temperature can drop as low as -25 degrees Celsius. Nights can get cold especially under clear skies and can average around –10 degrees Celsius. These conditions offer us some fantastic opportunities for stunning night photography of star trails and the Milky Way. As we climb higher temperatures will drop. As we are trekking in a mountainous environment it is never possible to predict the weather conditions as they can change suddenly. You should be suitably prepared and equipped to deal with any weather conditions beyond those indicated above.
Trekking activities do come with a risk of personal injury or death. Participants in these activities should be aware of and accept these risks and be responsible for their own actions and involvement.
This trip involves Adventure Travel in a remote mountain region. We make every effort to keep to the above itinerary but we cannot always guarantee it. Weather and trail conditions and the health of participants, alterations to flight schedules infrastructure and operational factors can all contribute to changes to the prescribed itinerary. Your leader will always try to ensure that we keep to the itinerary detailed but a flexible attitude is needed and appreciated if changes need to be made.
In order to ensure that you are fully prepared for your trip we suggest bringing the following essential items with you. Ideally your equipment and trekking clothing (especially walking boots) should be well worn in and familiar to you before you travel.
There will be some free time in Moshi at the start of the trip should you wish to buy or hire any items you might have forgotten. Items such as sleeping bags, gloves, down jackets, thermals, trekking poles etc. are all available to buy or hire. We can advise you on where to buy or hire any equipment if necessary.
We will be accompanied on the trek by a team of porters who will carry our kit bags each day. These bags will contain our spare clothing, sleeping bags and any other equipment we don’t need during the day. The porters usually walk ahead of our group so we won’t be able to access these bags until we reach our camp each afternoon. This trip is based on 1 porter per participant.
You will need to carry your own day pack containing your camera equipment, extra layers, waterproofs and water.
Your toiletries, travel clothing, spare clean clothing and anything else that you don’t need on the trek can be securely left in a separate bag at our hotel in Moshi. You will therefore need to bring a bag to leave these items in.
International flight baggage weight allowances will vary depending on airline but there is a 15kg weight limit on the trek itself. Your main kit bag taken on the trek must not weigh more than this.
Your main kit bag for the trek should be a soft duffel style bag without wheels. Suitcases or other hard or wheeled cases are not suitable for this trek and are very difficult for the porters to carry.
As photographers we appreciate that equipment weight limits are always a consideration both on flights and what we are physically able to carry. As it can sometimes be difficult to stick to these weight limits we do employ a few tricks of the trade. Wearing trekking boots and bulky down jackets on the flight saves space and weight as well as carrying your camera around your neck and perhaps sticking a lens or two into your jacket pockets.
With this type of expedition there is always a trade off in regards to what camera equipment to bring. The more equipment you bring then the heavier it is to carry and the harder and more tiring the trekking becomes.
Camera: Cameras are very much a personal choice and is dependent on individual preference, budget, and experience. Regardless of what camera you bring it is important that you are familiar with its controls, layout and menu system. Although carrying a second camera body is usually too bulky and heavy we do suggest bringing a back up compact camera in case of equipment malfunction.
Lenses: As with cameras, these come down to personal choice and there is always a trade-off to be made. As we will be predominantly shooting landscape, travel and portrait images many photographers choose one or two zoom lenses. Something around 24-70mm is ideal for an everyday walk around lens. A longer lens e.g. 70-200mm is also nice to have but does come with size and weight issues.
Backpack & camera bag: You will need to carry a backpack large enough to accommodate both your camera equipment and day to day trekking gear. Your backpack should be comfortable allowing you to carry your equipment over rugged terrain. Backpacks with good, padded shoulder, waist and chest straps will help distribute the weight. Packs should also offer protection from wind, rain and dust. You will also need to consider what bag you’ll put your camera into whilst carrying it in your day pack. A close fitting camera bag is usually best but you may wish to experiment.
Tripod: Although not essential, bringing a tripod does open up the possibilities of night and long exposure photography. An ideal tripod needs to be light enough to carry comfortably but sufficiently robust to be used in windy conditions. In our opinion it is worth carrying the extra weight as the photographic opportunities are so good.
Filters: As with cameras and lenses, filters are a personal preference. A UV and polarising filter can be useful but bringing too many filters again comes with weight and size issues.
Accessories: Ensure that you have adequate memory cards. There are many photographic opportunities at every turn in the path. Due to the nature of this trek it is difficult to back up your memory cards en route. Bringing more lower capacity cards rather than 1 or 2 high capacity cards is one option to consider as in the event of a card failure or loss you won’t lose as many images. You may wish to bring: A supplementary hard drive and laptop in order to save and review your images back in Moshi after the trek but these are unlikely to be much use whilst trekking; a remote shutter release if you plan to bring a tripod; spare batteries and/or battery charger and cable. Batteries can lose charge very quickly in cold temperatures especially during the night; lens cloth and small micro fibre towel as the trails can get very dusty; spare lens cap; camera manual; solar charger if you want to charge up any electricals or camera batteries on route.
It is never possible to bring equipment for every eventuality on these treks. It is important to remember that if you bring too much kit, the effort required to carry it can spoil your trekking experience and chances of completing the trek.
On booking you will receive a full kit list in your welcome pack. We are happy to advise and suggest appropriate kit. You will need to bring the following essential items however:
- Trekking day pack and kit bag
- Four season sleeping bag
- Sturdy walking boots
- Down jacket
- Head Torch
- Trekking poles
- Trekking clothing
- Personal medication and first aid kit
The Booking Process:
Firstly contact us by email or phone to confirm that you wish to join us on your chosen trip. We will then forward a Booking Form and will require a 10% deposit to reserve your place. Once minimum numbers have been reached and the trip has been confirmed to run we will ask you for a further 40% to fully secure your place.
DO NOT BOOK ANY INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS, INSURANCE OR VISAS UNTIL WE HAVE CONFIRMED THAT THIS TRIP WILL RUN.
We will then forward you a Welcome Pack with a detailed itinerary, kit list and other important information. At this point you will be able to book your International flights, visa and travel insurance. The balance of payment will be required no later than 90 days prior to departure. Please refer to our Terms and Conditions of booking.