Destinations To the Summit of Kilimanjaro

by lhgqz

I’ve climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro twice before, taking different routes to the summit during different seasons. I wondered how the Lemosho-Crater Camp route would compare. Now, looking back on the 9-day hike, I remember it as the most visually stunning of all, with an incredible variety of scenery each day as we explored the breadth of the mountain.

Day 1- Forest Camp

It all began in the light of the forest with a pleasant, calming walk through towering trees and low hanging vines.

Day 2- Shira Ridge Camp

By 8:00 pm, all lights were out, except one. The kitchen tent remained lit for a few hours, with the silhouette of Kilimanjaro rising behind it. When I walked inside, it was warm and bustling with life—porters and kitchen staff huddled together sharing stories. They welcomed me and within moments I was laughing with them, completely out of place, yet completely at home.

It was the time spent with the porters, crew, and guides that made my Kilimanjaro climb especially memorable. Even today, it’s the laughter of the staff that brings such warmth to my heart.

Day 3- Moir Camp

The sun set at Moir Camp, lighting the peak of Kilimanjaro in the distance. This is the upper heath zone—dry, rocky, and bare. Once in a while, amid the vast dryness, I’d find a yellow Everlasting flower peeking out from beneath a rock, growing in the moisture that had collected there.

Day 4- Lava Tower

Thousands of years ago, a plug of lava shot out of a vent in Kilimanjaro, hardened and cooled, forming “Lava Tower,” an iconic landmark of the Lemosho Route.

Day 5- Lava Tower

I can’t tell you how much effort it took to get out of my sleeping bag to pee after sunset at 15,090 feet on Kilimanjaro. The toilet (yes, there was a portable toilet) was set up behind my tent and this was the view from my toilet seat. It took a few moments to convince myself that setting up for this shot was worth the effort. I switched on a second flashlight in the tent, set up my tripod, took off my gloves to focus the camera, and stood in the bitter cold with the wind hitting my face to capture this. It was worth it.

Day 5- Arrow Glacier Camp

On a mountain that sees hundreds of climbers per day, how refreshing it was to be the only group in sight. For the next two days we didn’t see any other hikers. At night, it was me, the camera, and the never-ending dome of stars above.

Day 6- Crater Camp

Before I arrived at this spot on foot, I’d seen this view on postcards and from a plane flying over Kilimanjaro. Standing at the edge of the great ash pit felt like I’d been transported into another world: the smell of sulfur, an incoming fog. It was dead quiet until I was reminded by shivers down my spine that the wind was blowing. This place is surreal: barren land with gigantic glaciers standing tall in the distance. Oh, Kilimanjaro!

Day 7- Uhuru Peak, Mweka Gate

We were the only group to summit from the crater. I realized how unique and special this experience was—taking the path less traveled. Three hundred feet from the summit, I found myself running ahead—yes, running at 19,341 feet above sea level—to capture the changing colors of the sunrise.

Day 8- Return Home

Kilimanjaro is famed for its glaciers, but this mountain is incredible at each climate zone. The last day on the mountain we passed through the astoundingly magical rainforest zone. I can’t imagine a better finale to this incredible climb than this walk through the dew-damp vine forest.

-Photos and text by WT adventurer Roshni Lodhia, Climb Kilimanjaro

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