KILIMANJARO WESTERN BREACH 11 DAYS
THE BIG CHALLENGE – KILIMANJARO ’s WESTERN BREACH
If you’re excited by a challenge to your fitness and character, and you want to climb the quieter western side of Kilimanjaro, then our Western Breach route might be the climb for you. This is not an easy climb and you’ll need time to acclimatize, but the rewards are outstanding. A lonely route, a less-travelled path, more challenging scrambles, quieter camps and the boundless blue skies and golden African sunsets of the most majestic of mountains are some of the unique aspects of our Western Breach route. But this route is not for beginners. Acclimatisation is doubly important as ascending the Breach is much easier than descending it – if you have altitude sickness, up is the only way forward. So we have included an acclimatisation day mid-route to give you the best chance of success. And it’s a beautiful route. You’ll climb through aromatic rainforest with its screeching birdlife and colorful flora; you’ll pass through moss-girt montane forest onto high heathland above the treeline, and as you climb higher into alpine meadow and scrub you’ll see glaciers glinting ahead as you scramble over pure mountain streams. The higher ridges and escarpments are arduous and you’ll feel every boulder
and every outcrop in every one of your muscles. You’ll skirt through the recently-opened Western Breach, a rip in the wall of Kilimanjaro’s crater itself and onwards to the summit, Uhuru, the rooftop of Africa. Of course, you can trust our expert, professional guides to help and support you every step of the way and you’ll enjoy hearty meals and drinks to fuel your climb. The Western Breach Route is not an adventure just anyone can handle – if you think you’ve got the right stuff for it, then why not challenge yourself?
The Western Breach route has been reputed to be the toughest and most dangerous route to the summit. This is quiet accurate am afraid! This section to the crater is the shortest and steepest and will require some scrambling. Additionally, there are rock falls.
The good news is that, it can still be navigated safely. Kilimanjaro National Park (KINAPA) advises all climbers to depart Arrow Glacier (base camp) by 05:30 AM in order to clear the danger zone on time. You will need head protection, ice axe, crampons and a decent budget for this route can be quite expensive especially if you plan to camp at the Crater. You will also need to sign a disclaimer at the park gates before you begin the trek.
Here is why I really like about this approach route:
it is the shortest route to the summit
it’s easy access to the Ash Pit and other features of the summit
you are likely to be trekking alone
it has a certain aura suggesting that Kili is indeed alive
it is a solid trek
it is Kilimanjaro’s toughest route
This approach route is ideal for those who prefer a ‘bit-of-a-bite’ to their trek. When you are negotiating the breach wall, there is a certain aura in the air that this mountain is alive. And she is talking to you. And then you reach the danger zone where evidence of this is marked by violent scars on the rocks beneath your feet. The moment you clear this area, you should take a deep breath and the solace of waking up from a bad dream. From there on, it is home free to the crater and eventually to the summit. Not for the faint-hearted am afraid!!
I highly recommend you do not stay at Arrow Glacier Camp as any rock that fall through the gap may end up cascading all the way to the campsite. Camp at Lava Tower instead. It mountaineering terms, you sometimes use both your feet and hands to climb up various steep rocks. While
the Western Breach can be done by anyone in good physical shape and does not require ropes, this type of climbing is much more suited for a mountaineer versus someone who just wants a hill hike The last day is steep, the trail is not wide, and you must take the climbing seriously.
Any mountaineer who has climbed Kilimanjaro will tell you to climb the Western Breach, as it truly affords you the best experience. If you are adventurous, we highly recommend the Western Breach.
ON A SERIOUS NOTE: Although this route is non-technical, the implications of the rapid ascent on this route certainly warrant prior acclimatization. Most trekkers on this route would trek Mt. Meru before tackling this route. Total distance is 45km. The descent is via Mweka Gate.
Day 1: Kilimanjaro Airport to Moshi
We’ll pick you up from Kilimanjaro Airport and transfer you to a comfortable hotel or B&B in Moshi, which is the base town from which you’ll start your big adventure. We’ll spend some of the day checking over your kit to make sure you’ve everything you need and you’ll have the chance to get your bearings. Moshi is a bustling, lively town with colorful markets so if you’ve time take a quick look around and then rest your legs at one of the many quirky coffee bars. Don’t be too
energetic – you’ll need to save your energy for the tough trek ahead!
Day 2: Moshi – Forest Camp (2821m) (via Londorossi Gate (2424m), Lemosho Route)
Walking Time: 3,5 hours Distance: 5.4 km Altitude Gain: 397m
Our trek begins on the wilder, western side of Kilimanjaro so you’ll spend part of Day 2 admiring the patchwork fields of the coffee and banana plantations as you’re driven along the south boundary of majestic Kilimanjaro to the Londorossi Gate. After we’ve completed the park entrance formalities, you’ll be driven 12k further through cyprus plantations into breathtaking natural wilderness, resplendent with pristine rainforest where you’ll spot colobus and blue monkeys. There’s even a chance of seeing antelope, elephant and buffalo, which prefer this quieter side of the mountain. You’ll hike through dreamy, misty moss-clad forest, through a soundscape of birdcalls, monkeys tripping across branches overhead, and your own footfalls. The flora can be breathtaking – the glowing orange of the Fireball lily, the pink and white impatiens, and varieties of hibiscus. You’ll camp at Forest Camp – also known as Big Tree Camp or Mti Mkubwa – among the African yellow-wood, hypericum and hanging flowers of the hagenia. After a tasty dinner you’ll fall asleep to the sound of the night birds.
Day 3: Forest Camp (2821m) – Shira Camp 1 (3350m)
Walking Time: 5-6 hours Distance: 9 km Altitude Gain: 529m
It’s an early start today as, after a filling breakfast, you’ll leave the density and closeness of montaine forest. The trees thin out as your vista opens up to big skies and high heath on your way up towards the Shira Plateau. The moorland you’ll hike through is an almost prehistoric landscape of giant heathers interspersed with groundsel and lobelia. You’ll pick your way over bubbling mountain streams, steep ridges and rocky outcrops and we’ll rest for lunch on the western edge of the Shira Plateau, where you’ll see the Kibo Massif sweeping up to the summit. It may seem so far away now but you’ll get there! After lunch we’ll continue the trek under the glorious African skies with plenty of op‐ portunity for photography. We’ll rest overnight at Shira 1 Camp where you’ll get the chance to relax, gazing as the sun sinks into the clouds below you while you enjoy a scrumptious dinner before a well-earned rest.
Day 4: Shira Camp 1 (3350m) – Moir Camp (4,200m)
Walking Time: 5-7 hours Distance: 14km Altitude Gain: 850m
Today you’ll wake to azure blue skies – hopefully! –
as you’ll seem to be floating above cloud level. After a hearty breakfast you’ll continue your adventure northwards, as the scenery becomes more rocky and barren. You’re heading to the little-used and lonely Moir Camp, definitely and literally off the beaten track, so it will seem that you have the mountain to yourself. You’ll stop to rest and have lunch which will give you the opportunity to listen to the soundscape this side of the mountain – a still hush, or, more likely, the wind whipping round the rocks. After further climbing you’ll enjoy a well-earned rest and hearty dinner at Moir Camp.
Day 5: Moir Camp (4,200m) – Sheffield Camp (4,338m)
Walking Time: 4-5 hours Distance: 5km Altitude Gain: 138m
After a restful sleep and sustaining breakfast you’ll head off through an obvious volcanic landscape, so rocky and barren that you’ll feel like you’re on the moon. You’ll see the black, glassy obsidian rocks and pebbles, hurled out during eruptions. All the evidence of its violent past is there for you to climb over, around and through. We’ll camp tonight at Sheffield Camp, where you’ll enjoy a warming, filling dinner and the thought of a lie in tomorrow!
Day 6: Acclimatisation day at Sheffield Camp
Although you’ve climbed high, there’s more climbing to do and it’s important that you become acclimatized to the rarer atmosphere – especially as you’ll be sleeping high in Crater Camp tomorrow night. So you’ve the opportunity to spend the day at Sheffield Camp where you can chill out in your cozy sleeping bag, take in the enormous views, the big skies and the rolling clouds below you; make friends with the friendly chats that skip around the tents or spot a white-necked raven or the soaring elegance of a bearded vulture high above you. But to really get the measure of this amazing place, take a guided walk to one of Kilimanjaro’s most famous features, the 300-foot Lava Tower, a breath-taking lava plug – a geological “cork” over a volcanic vent – formed when Kilimanjaro was an active volcano. Didn’t we tell you Kilimanjaro is a volcano? Don’t worry, it’s dormant. And of course, it’s important you rest your legs and your lungs for the efforts to come. Spend the day with a well-earned break, eating, snacking, taking photos, making videos and reading. It’s also a great opportunity to take stock of what you’ve achieved so far, and gather your strength for the climb ahead – it’s a tough one.
Day 7: Sheffield Camp (4338m) – Arrow Glacier Camp (4800m)
Walking Time: 3 hours Distance: 2km Altitude Loss: 462m
We hope you feel rested and rejuvenated after your acclimatisation day at the camp, but that doesn’t mean you’ll get an easy day today! An early start and a filling breakfast then you’ll say goodbye to your home for the day. Today’s hike is tough but it makes up for that with its beauty and the opportunity to dig deep into your own character. After negotiating frozen streams you’ll be climbing up the ridgeline which has amazing views – but watch your feet as you’ll be on loose scree. You’ll be directly below the Western Breach itself, with cliffs and steep drops all around you. It’s an exhilarating landscape and you’ll start to feel that the summit is really within reach. Arrow Glacier Camp has indescribable views and is known for luminescent, astounding sunsets. Kick back, relax, and enjoy the sunset and a filling dinner because it’s early to bed as the temperature drops.
Day 8: Arrow Glacier Camp (4800m) – Crater Camp (5750m)
Walking Time: 6 – 7 hours Distance: 2km Altitude Gain: 950m
Today’s the day you face the Western Breach – the most difficult of the three summit routes. You’ll start before dawn, strengthened by breakfast, and the climb is easy at first. As the sun rises over the Breach, temperatures will rise and you’ll feel good with the sun
warming your muscles. You’ll meet some challenging rocky areas where you’ll have to scramble using your hands, and you’ll be well within the snowline. There are no paths through the Western Breach as the landscape changes all the time, but your guides will select the safest routes. The views are incredible. The Great Barranco Valley spreads out before you with stunning views of the Lava Tower and you’ll be able to look back across the Shira Plateau – remember that? You’ll be invigorated by a feeling of progress which will give you wings. You’ll ascend through a breach (hence the name!) in the crater rim with magnificent views of the isolated Furtwangler Glacier, the last remnant of an ice cap that once covered the summit, and the Northern Icefield. The crater floor is soft volcanic sand, softer on your feet but tougher on your calves than the rocky outcrops before. If you’re feeling strong, our guides might lead you to the Reusch Ash Pit, a 400-foot wide hole in the centre of the crater. You’ll know you’re near a dormant volcano by the sulphurous fumes which you can smell as you approach. Otherwise, it’s bed early at Crater Camp – the highest camp in Africa – as you’ve a big day ahead of you tomorrow; the push for the summit itself! Day 9: Crater Camp (5750m) – Uhuru Peak (5895m) – Mweka Camp (3090m)
Walking Time: 2 hours up, 7 hours down Distance: 16km Altitude Gain: 145m Altitude Loss: 2805m
It’s a big day today – the highlight of your adventure! It’s a shorter climb than other summit routes which means you won’t have to rise at midnight to start your climb, so you’ll be well-rested. It’s the steepest route, well-marked but tough. You’ll be making some of your ascent to Uhuru Peak in darkness and silence, so after a light breakfast it’ll be single file with head torches, taking it slowly and deliberately as you push up the crater rim towards Uhuru Peak. It’s a totally different atmosphere from anything you’ve felt before and as the early dawn lightens the sky to the east imperceptibly, you’ll understand the enormity of what you’re achieving. With the pink and gold of the African sunrise lighting your way, the sky becoming bolder and bluer and you’ll take in the vastness of the views around you. At last you reach the summit of Uhuru Peak itself and you’ll rest there for a short time for photo opportunities and the awesomeness of climbing up on the rooftop of Africa itself. Say goodbye to Uhuru to continue down the trail towards Barafu and the Mweka Camp, traversing almost all the landscape zones in one day – from snowy alpine ridges through moorland and into forest. You’ll still be high and excited from your successful climb and this will get your through today’s tiring downhill trek. But a hot dinner awaits you at the Mweka Camp as you celebrate what you’ve just achieved.
Day 10: Mweka Camp (3090m) – Mweka Gate (1640m) – Moshi
Walking Time: 4 – 6 hours Distance: 10km Altitude Loss: 1450m
Your final hiking day will take you down through sultry rainforest on a 4 to 6 hour hike, so we’ll make sure you have a good breakfast to fuel the journey. After the windswept silence of the high plains and dusty crater, you’ll enjoy the rustling of the trees and the birdsong and the colour of the blossoms are a contrast to the monochrome landscape of the icefields you’ve just left. It’s a great transition from the other-worldliness of the summit and it might feel strange being back in civilisation – as far as rainforest is civilisation! It’s time to hold your climbing certificates proudly – and of course, there’s a T-shirt opportunity, too. We’ll drive you back to Moshi where you can unwind and treat your body to a beer and a swim before your first night in a comfortable bed in over a week.
Day 11: Moshi / Kilimanjaro Airport or continue on safari
If your flight time allows it, spend some time post-climb wandering round lively Moshi: a redolent mixture of Asian and African influences with plenty of places for a tasty lunch. If you’ve chosen to continue on a safari– well, that’s a different adventure and we’ll take care of that for you! Otherwise, it’s time to say goodbye to your life changing week as we drive you to
Kilimanjaro Airport in good time for your flight home.
These prices include:
- 2 nights hotel accommodation in Moshi (before & after climb)
- Group transport to and from Moshi to the trail head
- Kilimanjaro National Park permits, camping/hut fees, rescue fees and Value Added Tax (VAT)
- Expert guide, assistant guides, cook and porters
- Bottled oxygen, for emergency rescue only
- Private toilet
- Four season, 3 person mountain tents, double occupancy
- Sleeping pad, foam, 1.5 inches thick
- Mess tents, tables, chairs, lanterns
- Fresh, nutritious meals on the mountain
- Breakfast at hotel
Not included in price:
- Lunch or dinner at hotel
- Beverages at hotel
- Personal gear and equipment