To The Top Of Africa

by Ron Richardson
(Wynyard, Canada)

Guides and porters seemed happy and well taken care of and they gave us help and encouragement all the way to the top. All 12 of us made it to the summit together and it is worth noting that 4 of us were over 50 and I am 67.

Operator Performance

I booked my climb to the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro through ATR using the 8 day Shira Route with a total of 12 climbers.

It is a very professional and organized company and provided a very safe and wonderful experience on the mountain.

The main reasons for choosing ATR were:

1) the length of the climb (7 nights on the mountain) which gave more time for acclimatization to the altitude and time to enjoy the scenery and the experience, and

2) they are one of the only companies which climb along the Shira Route (using the Africa Walking Company).

The company is very well run and organized and, although more expensive than many of the other outfitters, we got essentially everything we were promised (food not always as spectacular and as plentiful as described).

The website is extremely well laid out and informative and, although a few things have changed (different tents), it really gives a good idea of what to expect, and detailed explanations of almost every part of the trip.

The company claims they have a much higher rate of success in reaching the summit and that is probably true.

I have only one noteworthy complaint. On the last day, on our way down to the base of the mountain, the guides seemed to be in a great rush to get to the bottom. My knees were bothering me because of the continual downhill stress and I was left far behind because I was moving slower on the slippery trail. As a result, I missed out on rest stops and guide information given to most of the rest of the group ahead of me. There were a couple of guides following behind but they were just there to make sure everyone eventually got down safely.

Overall a great experience with a great group of people.

I would rate the trip as a 9 not a 10, only because of the cost. I think it is a little overpriced, probably because ATR is a British company that subcontracts to a local climbing company.

Route

The Shira route is a much more scenic route and is used in a way that avoids much of the pedestrian congestion for the first few days of the climb.

Not much wildlife on the mountain. We saw several birds and a few monkeys in the jungle at the base of the mountain.

Accommodation

In Arusha we stayed in the Ilboru Lodge, a wonderful middle class hotel in the suburbs with beautiful grounds and a great restaurant.

On the mountain we camped. We had good tents for sleeping with a dining tent, cook tent and even a toilet tent, so we didn't have to use the filthy pit toilets at the campsites.

Tips and Advice

Decide what kind of a climb you want to do and how much you can afford to spend then use reviews to find a company that will provide that for you.

Do not skimp too much. If you are spending all that money to get to Africa make sure you hire a company that has the best chance of getting you to the summit.

Kilimanjaro gear - what to pack »

Ron went on a safari and climbed Mt Meru prior to his Kili climb. More »

Ron's Kili Trek Details:

Rating: 9/10

Kilimanjaro operator used: Africa Travel Resources, ATR (make an enquiry)

Route climbed: Shira route

Date of climb: 16 July for 9 days

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