My Great Escape: Climbing Kilimanjaro


1st Jan 2015 Travel

My Great Escape: Climbing Kilimanjaro

Our reader Dhru Shah climbs one of the world’s highest mountains as a birthday treat.

To celebrate my 50th birthday, I wanted to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. At 5,895m tall, it’s Africa’s highest mountain.

After flying to Nairobi, Kenya, we started the long-awaited climb on December 21 last year. There were eight of us in our group, including my wife and our 13-year-old daughter Maya. 


Our first day climbing started at the Marangu Gate, which is the official start and end point of the climb. From here, we followed a 1,000m track through forest to the Scandinavian-style Mandara Huts.

We spotted several species of monkey in the trees—the black-and-white colobus and the indigenous blue monkey—which made it feel like a mini-safari as well as a climb. 

The next day dawned, and the group took the seven-hour route up to the Horombo ridge. At 3,720m high, we stayed here an extra day to acclimatise and rest up.


On Christmas Eve, we set off through vegetation featuring giant senecios plants and lobelias, which changed to highland desert on the infamous Kilimanjaro “saddle”—a moon-like landscape. After seven hours of climbing, altitude sickness started slowing us down, and we finally reached Kibo—4,720m above sea level.

On the stroke of midnight on Christmas Day, Maya and four others set off from the hut in Kibo to climb to Uhuru, the peak of Kilimanjaro.

Unfortunately, altitude sickness took its toll and in the end only one of them managed to reach the top (Maya is already planning a return visit). Even from the Kibo hut, we saw magnificent views and a superb sunrise, which was undoubtedly the best part of the trip.