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Kilimanjaro – Récit de mon ascension

Kilimanjaro – Récit de mon ascension

Peaking at 5895 meters altitude, Kilimanjaro is the highest peak in Africa. Located in the North-East of Tanzania, it is a mountain made up of three volcanoes: the Shira in the west, culminating at 3,962 meters above sea level, the Mawenzi in the east, rising to 5,149 meters altitude, and Kibo, the most recent geologically, located between the other two and whose Uhuru peak culminates at 5,891.8 meters, the highest point in Africa. Very famous, it attracts thousands of trekkers each year. Its ascent is accessible to anyone who regularly practices sport and offers magnificent and very diverse landscapes.


The first days of ascent seem easy, because the elevations and walking times are quite modest. The ascent is very gradual to allow you to acclimatize little by little. On the other hand, the day of the summit is a real sporting challenge with long hours of walking at altitudes that you may never have visited. “Polé-polé” (gently) will surely tell you your guide, it is indeed the key to success !


The ascent of Kilimanjaro does not present great technical difficulties. It is therefore a trek accessible to anyone in good physical condition. However, its summit culminating at almost 6000 meters, its ascent can present difficulties related to acclimatization to the altitude.

  • Physical condition
    With a summit located at 5,895 m above sea level and several days of trekking at over 3,500 m, this climb is intended for people in good physical shape. You must be able to walk for more than 7 hours over several days in a row, with elevation gains most often between 700 m and 1,200 m.
  • Technical level
    The ascent of Kilimanjaro belongs to the trek and not to mountaineering (no need for ice axe, rope and crampons). It is therefore not necessary to have technical knowledge to reach the summit. However, it is recommended to have a regular practice of hiking and previous experience at high altitudes.


it exists 7 main routes to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro. More or less known, they are distinguished from each other by their physical difficulty, the landscapes encountered, their attendance or the comfort of their accommodation.

Marangu Route
Also called the Coca-Cola Way, it is reputed to be the easiest and cheapest way to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro. It is the only route of the ascent of Kilimanjaro which allows you to sleep each night in a refuge (Mandara, Horombo, Kibo Huts). On the other hand, it is the most congested route and the one that offers the least chance of success. Its very steep increase in altitude every day puts you at risk of succumbing to altitude sickness. 

Machame Route
Also called Whiskey Way, it is considered to be one of the most beautiful routes for climbing Kilimanjaro, , in particular because of the extreme diversity of its landscapes, ranging from forests, giant ragworts, seracs, volcanic canyons and glaciers.

Lemosho Route
Historic route of Kilimanjaro, it is known as the wildest, longest and most scenic way to reach the summit. The downside is that it is more expensive, its route starts west of the park, off the beaten track, before joining the Machame route at the base of the Barranco Wall. Like Machame, this route offers a superb diversity of landscapes.

Rongai Route
Beginning a few kilometers from the border with Kenya, the Rongai route is the only route on the north face of the volcano. Although quite easy technically, it is the road less travelled. The descent is done by the south face, which allows you to see different landscapes on the way up and on the way down.

Shira Route
Located to the west of the mountain, the route of the Shira route is the same as that of Lemosho but its start is higher up, at 3,600 meters above sea level. This allows for a shorter ascent and a gradual climb to the top. It is therefore a wild and accessible route.

Umbwe Route
The Umbwe route is the most physically challenging. It is a route reserved for seasoned athletes because of the steep drop in the first part of the ascent. The road then rejoins the Machame Way.

Londorossi Route
Also called “Circuit Nord”, this route is both very long and spectacular. Beginning in the west, its route then joins the north face of Kilimanjaro before descending via the southern part. It is therefore a route with multiple landscapes that offers a trekking experience off the beaten track.


During the ascent, a complete logistics is set up by your team of porters to allow you to climb in the best conditions.

The trekking team
The ascent of Kilimanjaro requires a real management team, made up according to the size of the group of one to 3 guides, 3 to 9 porters and a cook. You evolve in total autonomy with them from the starting point to the summit.

A team of porters is present at your side to transport bivouac equipment, food, as well as your non-useful personal effects during the day of trekking. The porters take care of folding the camp, transporting it and reinstalling it on the next site. It is still necessary to provide a day backpack to put water bottles and warm clothes.

The camps
Accommodation is in tents on well-defined camp sites on the mountain. There are water reserves on each camp, which the porters boil in order to clean it up and to supply your gourds. During the trek, you have collective dry toilets. 

The food
Food is an essential part of success on Kilimanjaro. It is necessary to eat well to have the necessary energy for the ascent. Meals are prepared by a cook who makes varied meals based on fresh products and designed to keep you going during your long days of walking.


It is possible to climb Kilimanjaro all year round. But, according to the seasons, the weather varies making the climbing experience very different from month to month. Note however that at high altitude, the weather can change quickly.

The best times to climb Kilimanjaro are January-March and September-October. The climate is dry, the daytime temperatures are pleasant and the sky is clear offering good visibility throughout the ascent.

The rainy season takes place from April to mid-June. We strongly advise against leaving during this period due to the rain. However, the ascent remains possible by the routes of the North face only (Rongaï & Londorossi), which are drier because they are less exposed to bad weather.

What are the temperatures on Kilimanjaro ? They are determined by altitude and time of day.

At the bottom of the mountain, the average temperature is around 21 to 27 degrees Celsius and at the summit, Uhuru Peak, nighttime temperatures can vary between -7 to -29 degrees Celsius. Like all great mountains, Kilimanjaro creates its own weather which can be extremely variable and difficult to predict. Hikers should be prepared for hot, sunny conditions, rain, wind, cold, and even snow.


I chose Trekking Hero but I do not recommend this agency. If the equipment, the camp and the food were of very good quality, the guides on the other hand do the bare minimum. I tell you below about my adventure with them.

There are a hundred agencies offering a Kilimanjaro trek. So I gleaned names all around. I can recommend these 2 agencies without problem: Monkey Adventures and Top Climbers. The trekkers who chose them came back enthusiastic. 

Prices for climbing Kilimanjaro vary depending on the route taken and therefore the number of days of trek. I recommend an ascent between 7-8 days. Admittedly, it will cost you more but you will seriously increase your chances of reaching the summit. Indeed, the great difficulty lies in acclimatization. You should know that there is a failure rate of 55-60% on the 5-day Marungu route. Even great athletes are having it. 6 days is a minimum, 7 ideal and 8 if you need more time. 

Prices vary between 1600 and 2700 dollars. Yes, the difference is huge. Those who book online are approaching 2700 while those who do so on site are approaching 1800-2000. Then comes the negotiation which allows on average to scratch 200 dollars. Much of this money goes to the national park, which charges $70 a day per person and $50 a night. This price includes park entrances, supervision by the trek team (guides, porters, cooks, etc.), accommodation, full board, safety equipment, transfers and 2 nights of hotel (that of the day before and the day of return).

To this you will need to add international flights, visa, equipment, tips and insurance..


To climb the roof of Africa, you must have complete trekking equipment suitable for high altitudes. I had not planned to do Kilimanjaro during my trip. he was just standing in my way and I thought “why not”. The agency asked me when I arrived: what equipment do you have? Answer: me". So they provided me with everything. The material was of good quality, the clothes rather old fashioned but they were warm. I'm not going up there to do a fashion show so it's perfect. The agency provided me with:


  • 3 synthetic long-sleeved T-shirts (ultra-fast drying)
  • Warm fleece 
  • Waterproof coat (Gore-Tex® type)
  • Rain jacket
  • Rain trousers
  • Stretchy and comfortable trekking pants
  • 1 legging
  • 3 pairs of warm socks (double skin, ideal to avoid blisters)
  • Chapka
  • Scarf
  • Hood

To this I added: 

  • Cap 
  • 4 tee-shirts
  • 2 leggings
  • 3 pairs of light socks


  • A large bag to carry everything
  • A good sleeping bag
  • Hiking sticks 
  • Waterproof protection for backpack
  • Gaiters
  • Trekking shoes
  • Headlamp 
  • Sunglasses 
  • 1 Gourd
  • 1 Thermos (very practical)

To this I added:

  • Backpack (30L)
  • Trainers 
  • Quick dry towel 
  • Washcloth


  • Diamox (for altitude sickness). Everyone takes it. Strongly recommended.
  • Elastoplast
  • Compeed (to relieve blisters)
  • Sunscreen (factor 50) 
  • Vaseline (ideal because it greases the face and lips well)
  • Toilet paper
  • Lingettes
  • Ibuprofen
  • Possibly provide Imodium / Smecta 


  • Spare batteries for the headlamp 
  • Portable or solar battery 
  • Camera (additional SD cards)
To this I added:
Snacks (cashew nuts, chocolate, protein bars, sweets)
  • For my part, I had also brought tissues, toilet paper, toothbrush, toothpaste and deodorant.


  • Passeport 
  • Visa 
  • Receipt of the stay 
  • Vaccination record 
  • Insurance documents

Your backpack will weigh an average of 5 kgs each day.

The tent, the mattress, the food and all the utensils necessary for its preparation are provided by the agency throughout the ascent. They are carried and installed by the team of porters.


If Kilimanjaro remains a trek (and not mountaineering), the high altitude exposes you to Acute Mountain Sickness, a parameter to which you must pay particular attention.

Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)
Linked to the reduced quantity of oxygen at high altitude, MAM can cause headaches, nausea, dizziness and worsen in oedema (pulmonary or cerebral). Symptoms and their intensity vary from person to person (regardless of physical condition), so a gentle progression is highly recommended.

The decrease in oxygen is proportional to the altitude. So your oxygen ventilation rate at sea level is “100”. It will only be:

Dépréciation du pourcentage d'O2 disponible en fonction de l'altitude © 2019 PASSION TRAIL

For your safety, the guides and attendants have radiotelephones and bottled oxygen throughout the ascent. An oximetry test is carried out every evening to ensure your good state of health. The data is noted on a sheet that you sign at the end. This is given to agents working at the park office. 


The Lemosho route is a historic way of Kilimanjaro which allows an ascent out of the beaten track.Traveling from West to East within the National Park, the Lemosho Route crosses the Shira volcanic plateau before joining the Machame route and Lava Tower (4,630 m). It then takes one of the most beautiful routes to reach the summit, with superb views of the Mawenzi (5,149 m) and the eternal snows of Kibo. It allows gradual acclimatization, away from the busiest routes.

Strong points:
– Uncrowded route, the wildest way to reach the summit
– Progressive acclimatization with gentle slopes at the beginning
– Crossing Kilimanjaro National Park from West to East
– Exceptional views of the Mawenzi (5,149 m) and the famous Kibo 

Duration : 7 days
Technical level : Suitable for all
Cond. physical : Sportive hiker
Max group size : 8 people
Season : all year


Moshi – Lemosho Gate (2100 m) – Camp Mti Mkubwa (2900 m)

Elevation +: 420 m   Distance : 7 kms    Duration: 5h

10h15: the van picks me up at my guest house, Kiwavi home. Obviously, everyone is already there, I am the last one. A little hello to everyone and there we go for a 3-hour drive to reach Lemosho Gate; starting point of the ascent. On the way, we stop at the pharmacy where I buy Diamox. This medication helps with acclimatization and is highly recommended by all local agencies. Moreover, there is not a trekker on this mountain who does not take it. Although I don't like drugs, I choose to take it. At the cost of adventure and personal investment, I want to optimize my chances of success. I was given Ibuprofen when needed. I rush to the supermarket just next door to buy the few odds and ends that I miss (wipes, snacks, batteries, etc.). Mister J, one of the guides, makes a point of accompanying me and helping me. He is adorable. 15 minutes later, it's done. Ready, we hit the road again. Arrival at the park entrance, distribution of lunch boxes. While we eat, guides fill in the formalities with the park rangers. I sympathize with my group which consists of 4 dutch, (Sven, Niels, Robert and Sjoerd) et 3 Americans (Paul, Jacob, Aje). 5 fellows are in their thirties, Jacob and I are in their forties and Aje, the oldest, is 60 years old. Everything is ready, it's the start.  1st picture of the group in front of the 1st sign annoucing a long series. 

14h00: we start the climb, all excited. As far as I'm concerned, it's the 1st time I'm going to camp for a week, the 1st time I'm going to climb so high, the 1st time I'm going to face freezing cold over several days. Strangely, I'm not worried. I feel protected, I feel the gods with me. I already know that everything is going to be fine. My Dutch talk about rain. I tell them we won't have any. I don't tell them about my beliefs. I only maintain that we will have good weather throughout our adventure. I know, that's all. It makes them laugh, they must already take me for an illuminated 😂. The path crosses a humid forest, under the cries of the famous Colobus monkeys of Kilimanjaro. Suddenly, we see them, posted right in front of us. I never tire of seeing these primates with such an original look. Monkeys with a U-shaped coat of long white fur, which descends from their shoulders, around their back and surrounds their black face. They also have whiskers, a bushy tail. They are just gorgeous. I have already seen them very closely in Kenya, I have even filmed them. I will tell you about it in a future article. We continue in this way quietly for 4 hours at a very slow pace, that of Aje. I quickly make up my mind, telling myself that at least I have time to take pictures. The atmosphere is somewhat humid but no more, it seems that it hasn't rained for a while. The pain in my kidney makes me see all the colors but I say nothing. I hide my health problem because I fear that I will be forbidden to continue and that, don't think about it ! Appears our 1st camp, Mkubwa camp. Signature of the register, distribution of the tents already installed. I lie down to relieve myself of my ailments. My body temperature drops sharply. I'm super cold. I remain optimistic despite everything because Simba, the owner of my accommodation in Moshi, replaced my back before leaving. I know my body, I know there is a connection between my back and this kidney problem. Tomorrow should be better, I must above all rest. The staff brings everyone a basin of hot water to wash. I'm frozen, I'm skipping it. Long live wipes ! During dinner, discussions fuse around the table. I learn that all of them booked their trip 6 months in advance, that they came with all the equipment, bought especially for the occasion, and that they trained for several months. They are flabbergasted when they learn that I booked only 2 days ago, that I came with nothing, so the agency provided me with absolutely everything, including mountain boots and sunglasses, and that I didn't never trained. I simply came, Kilimanjaro being near my geographical position. In the space of a day, I am already classified in the Nutty category 🤣. They are already all worried to see me shivering like this when we are only at 2900 m. I refrain from mentioning the reason. Nothing and no one will prevent me from climbing up there anyway, for one simple and good reason: I have decreed that I will climb to the top, period. Dinner ends. The guides measure our oxygen saturation with an oximeter. The average is 90 percent. Everything's good. At 60 percent, you cannot continue. They explain to us the next day's stage, ie 17.4 km of walking at an altitude of more than 3000 m. ok ! Good night team. See you tomorrow. An epic 1st night because my kidney deflates and therefore evacuates. I want to urinate every hour. So I get up 5 times. The toilets are at the other end of the camp. it is freezing cold. It's out of the question to dress myself to conquer the toilets at this frequency; I opt for the small free space in front of my tent. All is fair in war time 😂. Interspersed rest but rest all the same. 

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Day 2

Camp Mti Mkubwa (2900 m) – Shira 2 (3875 m)

Elevation +: 1200 m    Distance : 17 kms   Duration : 8h

6h00: alarm clock

6h30: breakfast. Everyone recounts their complicated night. Niels tells us that if it continues like this, he will just take out his willy to pee at night in the small free space in front of his tent. Everyone is laughing. I tell them that's exactly what I did all night. Early morning fit of giggles to start the day. Ambient promiscuity inevitably brings this type of sharing in the group 😂. 😂.

7h15: On the way. The first part of the trek is quite steep. We continue to climb in the forest for 1h30. The vegetation is reduced little by little and changes radically, leaving the tall trees behind us to cross arborescent heaths as well as a variety of grasses and wild flowers. We then pass over Shira Ridge, before the trail continues slightly downhill across the vast expanse of the plateau to Shira Camp 1, where we stop for lunch and rest. As far as I am concerned, the morning passes at breakneck speed. I admire the breathtaking scenery. Already at this altitude, the view is extraordinary. It offers multiple color points of view. I take full eyes and I make it a point to savor every minute. I multiply the shots. I have pleasure. My kidney is much better than the day before although it left me with constant pain like a hematoma. It's bearable so it's fine. I find myself a small corner where I lie down. Little nap required.

14h00: we continue through the plateau of Shira where we can admire the western breach because the sky is clear. We walk for 3h30 to reach Camp Shira 2, in order to spend the night there. The boys control their watches, calculate the approximate time left to walk and the kilometers. Personally, I don't care, I live in the moment. I observe everything around me. The changes of scenery are spectacular. Definitely, this road never ceases to amaze me. That said, I didn't look at any photos before leaving. The agency explained the route to me but I didn't remember anything. My motto is: no expectations, no disappointments. So, I have fun without seeing the time pass. My team seems to suffer more and be in a hurry to arrive. I am resigned. I consider that we will arrive when we arrive, period. Arrival at camp, distribution of tents, stretching for my part, rest, washing. From here, we enjoy the view of the Kibo volcano, we are spoiled. During dinner, the men let me know that I am a hiker, 1st news. They were surprised to see me having fun all the way while they were visibly in pain. Robbert says at the table: “I'm at the end of my life when she shouts at me” oh look you've seen the tree, it's crazy the shape it has”. General hilarity at the table. I admit that I enjoyed myself. I'm tired of course, but I'm not exhausted. It's colder at this altitude but my kidney is better, I suffer less. It's a relief that makes me even happier. I feel like growing wings. My mind increases. Meals are plentiful and really good. The service is smooth. We are having a good time. Ritual of the guides before going to bed (briefing and oximeter). Good night company. I always have a tent all to myself, I have space. The nights are freezing, my feet are always cold. I accumulate layers in my sleeping bag because I feel the cold through it. I still sleep, it's a good thing.

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Shira 2 (3875 m) – Lava Tower (4 630 m) – Barranco Hut (3 960 m)

Elevation + : 780 m     Elevation – : 670 m    Distance : 11 kms    Duration : 5-6 h

This few hours of walking and the total ascent is only 110m in total, but climbing much higher and descending helps with acclimatization.

6h30: alarm clock

7h00: Breakfast. Good and hearty, we devour all we can. Everyone talks about their night and apparently everyone feels the cold in their sleeping bag. Somehow, that reassures me. 

8h00: departure. We leave the camp to the east and climb to the main peak Kibo, with the western glaciers clearly visible through the rugged high altitude desert of volcanic rocks. 5 hours of walking lead us to the mythical “Lava Tower” perched at 4600 m. The landscapes are desert, rocky, surreal. Eyes wide, I cross this arid setting from another time. We arrive, have lunch. This day of acclimatization allows us to observe the reactions of our body at this altitude. A few headaches for everyone, which is normal but nothing more. Aje is sick.

14h00: We descend into the Barranco Valley. The surrounding mist transforms the scene into a fairy tale. A magician, fairies, or trolls would appear that I would not be surprised. My mind wanders in front of these mysterious landscapes, changing with each pass. The aridity, the rock, the blackness of the lava, the wisps of smoke revealing bruised trees, charred by a not so old fire. The rocks are still warm from this tragedy which devastated part of the vegetation in November 2022, leaving a desolate but fascinating landscape. Then arises this valley with exotic trees of astonishing shape. But what are they doing here at such an altitude? One could imagine that they got lost while walking around the area one day. Like a child, I marvel at this impromptu phenomenon, forgetting my painful feet in these shoes which are not mine. Fascinated, I contemplate them for a long time, letting the group go ahead. This area before the campsite is known as the “Garden of the Senecios”, which is home to many huge senecio plants as well as shorter lobelia plants. For once, I really did not expect this type of vegetation. Mister J stays with me, I really like his kindness and he's the only one who cares about me. The other guides are conspicuous by their absence or their indifference, as you choose. Too busy with the health of Aje, who takes all the attention for himself at the expense of the rest of the group. We drag our carcass behind him which does not advance. Strangely, the guides do not want to split the group. Besides, Aje doesn't propose to let us go ahead. I'm quite taken aback by his selfishness. He acts like it's normal for everything to revolve around him. He just forgets that if he hasn't carried anything all the way, we've had our backpack on our shoulders since the first day. Hanging around like that behind him, he makes us wear our gear longer. Brief ! I observe the cinema while not endorsing it. I already have a small idea of what might happen on the day of the ascension. I say nothing but for me, things are clear: “nothing and no one will prevent me from going to the top”. More determined, you die. Back in my tent, I notice the blisters on my feet and the pain in my ankles. I hate high shoes. I feel more comfortable in low shoes, I'm from the new school regarding this subject. Brief ! I'll grit my teeth the next day, that's all. At table, small general inventory, each lists its sores. Aje is absent. The guides are all busy around him in his tent. The Dutch specify that it took 1h30 more to arrive at the camp than what was planned. I see them jaded but resigned. Me, I hover. I think time flies really fast. I am glad. It's clear in my head that I'm going to climb up there. The altitude increases every day, the cold too, but as my daughter told me before my departure: “welcome the pain”. This sentence makes me laugh but it is true somewhere. Good night Sweetheart. I fall asleep thinking of you. 

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Barranco Hut (3 960 m) – Karanga Camp (4035 m)

Elevation + : 450 m     Elevation – : 375 m    Distance : 5 kms    Duration : 4-5 h

Alarm clock: 7h00

7h30: Breakfast. We still devour as much. Aje seems to be feeling better. The discussion revolves around poo this time. Everyone recognizes being constipated since the beginning of the ascent: it goes in one side but nothing goes out of the other. General hilarity to start the day. At this level, it's really promiscuity. 

8h15: departure. Today consists of a difficult climb, we have to cross the famous “Wall of Barranco”, about 150 m high. We have to climb the rocks with our hands to overcome this great stone wall; this is one of the highlights of the trek. I admit that I have fun. I had never done that. It's quite impressive considering the height. I think it's great ! We then walk on a vertiginous path barely 2 meters wide. At the top we can admire the majestic views. Moment photos then I take the opportunity to meditate a little. The rest of the day consists of a series of climbs and descents to the camp

13h00: we are eating lunch. We are delighted with this short day of walking. We have the whole afternoon to rest and acclimatise. Luxury ! I have a long stretching session, I do a little laundry that I hang out in my tent. The intermittent rays of the sun regularly heat the interior of my tent. Perfect ! I listen to music, I meditate. I appreciate these few hours just for me. A little nap on the way. I am refreshed. We are witnessing a prodigious sunset. In a royal silence, everyone contemplates in their corner this spectacle of a thousand colors. Dinner follows. Apparently the poo problem has now turned into diarrhea. We're not bored. Evening ritual with the guides then sleep. I think of my children and my granddaughters. They keep me warm to sleep because it is getting colder and colder. But I organize myself and I manage to be warm enough to spend the night. 

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Karanga Camp (4 035 m) – Barafu Camp (4 640 m)

Elevation + : 600 m   Distance : 5 kms    Duration : 5 h

Alarm clock: 6h30

7h00: breakfast. Hilarity at the table thinking about the rotation of the tents. Indeed, we never have the same. As a result, Jacob finds that everyone must have had my tent at one time or another. The team knows that peeing in front of my tent is my ritual. It's too cold at night to poke my nose outside and go toilet hunting. I can tell you that we have fun at the table. Meals are something. 

8h15: departure. We go up gently around the glacier until we reach the Barafu camp (4,640 m). 4 hours of walking and you're done. I take this opportunity to talk to Simon, one of the guides. I tell him that it would be nice if we could walk at our own pace for the final ascent. I explain to him that if one of us is in difficulty, it would be good if he did not slow down the whole group. I don't mention a name, but I imagine he knows who I'm referring to. He replies that the group must remain united. 2nd attempt: I tell him that if I'm the one who isn't moving forward, I wouldn't want to take on the responsibility of slowing down and handicapping the whole group. He does not answer. Did he understand? We are eating lunch. The Dutch agree with me that it would be good for us to move forward at our own pace. Thereupon, 2 guides, Juma and Simon appear in the tent to brief us. It's the last straight line. They provide us with the details for the final ascent. To my great surprise, they announce that the group must remain united until the end. To my greatest surprise, the Dutch acquiesce. Ok, I'm not going to bother. I'm not here for that. But I can already tell you that my decision is made and I let you guess which one. Rest this afternoon, preparing our equipment for the ascent to the top. I'm not here for that. But I can already tell you that my decision is made and I let you guess which one. Rest this afternoon, preparing our equipment for the ascent to the top. 

17h00: dinner. We still eat so much. Many had told us that the altitude made you lose your appetite. For us, this is absolutely not the case 😂. 

18h00in bed for a short night. General fatigue helps to fall asleep despite the hour. I plan what I'm going to wear, I check everything before falling into a sleep that will only last 3 hours. 

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Barafu Hut (4 640 m) – Uhuru Peak (5 895 m) – Mweka Hut (3090 m)

The distance between Barafu Camp and Uhuru Peak is 5 kms or about 7-8 hours of walking at night. From Pic Uhuru to Mweka camp, the distance is 12 kms or about 5-6 hours of descent. 

Elevation +: 1 255 m   Elevation – : 2800 m  Distance : 17 kms   Duration: 15h

The info above is the starting plan but it will take another turn. 

22h00: awakening. I put on a T-shirt, 3 long-sleeved sweatshirts, 2 fleeces, 2 leggings, my ski pants, 2 pairs of double-thickness socks, my shoes, my chapka. I put in my backpack 3 liters of water, snacks, toilet paper, wipes, hood, 2 pairs of gloves (one thin and one thick). I embark my poles. I am ready. In the tent, tea, cookies and popcorn (what a funny idea) sit on the table. I stuff myself, wash it all down with 2 cups of tea. I chat, smile, I feel good, I am determined. 

23h00: we begin our march towards the roof of Africa. We walk slowly, like everyone else I would say. The trail is doable but steep with many laces. 1st stop, gentlemen want to pee. We resume walking, at half pace this time, we are now very slow. 2nd stop, pee again. We start again still walking half pace. I looked back regularly at the situation behind and I see that the groups, which left after us, are now blocked just behind us. I'm laughing inside because we managed to create a traffic jam on Kilimanjaro. You will admit that this is not trite. 3rd stop: our guides decide to let pass those blocked behind us. Well then ! By observing the queue, I tell myself that we will arrive up when the cows come home. A 1st group passes, it rings a bell in my head. Neither one nor two, I rush behind and resume my walk. Juma calls me taken aback. Answer: “I'm cold, I'm going up”. He bellows, I ignore him. The group in front of me is fenced off by one of their guides, who talks to me but I don't listen to him. I have a vague idea of ​​the message he wants to convey to me. But it's a waste of time because I can tell you that I went into mule mode “don't think, walk, climb”. This is my mind at that time. Nothing and no one will stop me from getting there. So unless you kill me, I honestly don't see how you would stop me; that tells you my determination. After a fairly short time, a guy popped up beside me declaring himself my guide. I look at him, I don't know him. He explains to me that the other guides send him to accompany me. And yes, that's the rule. They may feel green behind. Good for them, they just had to listen to me. I look at him and I must say that what he exudes does not inspire me. I do not trust him. Nevermind, I only rely on me anyway. He tries to get to know each other. Now is the time! I hallucinate. 3 times, he asks me where I come from and 3 times I answer France. His English is disastrous, I don't understand him and he obviously doesn't hear my answers. Repeating at all costs that I am French in the middle of the night at 5000 m altitude does not excite me a lot. So I cut short the discussion and I lock myself in my bubble. I think of my children, my grandchildren, the friends who participated in my pot. I take you with me to the top. With each step, you are with me, I am not alone. It's almost a full moon, myriads of stars illuminate the path interspersed with multiple rocks. With a constant step, at my own pace, I swallow the distance without worrying about the kilometers remaining to be covered, what time it is, or what altitude we are at. I hear my breathing more and more audible. I know my body, my heart, my personal resources. No worries, it rolls. I take short breaks of 5 seconds when necessary but I continue like this without stopping. My backpack hurts me. I often contort myself to relieve myself so much pain is felt in my back and shoulders. I, who normally adore him, suddenly find myself cursing him. I then think back to my daughter and this famous phrase: “welcome pain”. I laugh inside and I accept. I see my guide in front of me struggling and for once, it's him who worries me. I ask him several times if he is okay. I definitely don't believe in him. Sometimes I even doubt the direction we are taking. We take a first break. Time is running out as my body temperature plummets. He pulls out of his bag a thermos containing ginger tea. Here's a surprise! You have no idea how much comfort this tea gives me. I have little hearts in my eyes looking at it. I gobble it up at high speed, quickly observing what is happening around me. I see this woman pass in front of me, her guide carrying her bag. That moment made me feel bad. I pull myself together immediately. Always this sentence that resounds in my head “nothing and no one will prevent me from reaching the top”. I tell myself that the universe is testing my resistance. My determination is intact. I'm getting up again. The 3 minutes are up. We must go. I'm starting to get cold. "Let's go." My guide is surprised. lets go!!! I try to put my backpack back on my back but disguise as a bibendum is an ordeal in itself. It gets caught in my capuche, gets stuck at the elbows. Super guide watches me struggling with dangling arms. So I have to ask him to please help me. Hello cardboard guide! Brief ! Let's go. I retreat into my bubble. I meditate. I pray. Time flies. I'm not really there. Then we reach Stella point, the 1st summit. My guide asks me the time. Apart from some tea, Moron obviously has nothing on him. I see 5:30 on my phone. I had carefully put it away in a sock so that it wouldn't freeze. 2nd break: another tea. My guide tells me that there is 1 hour left may be only 45 minutes, it depends on our pace. OK, let's go ! Rebelote ! He sees me struggling to put my backpack back on but doesn't move. I lose patience and make him understand that it would be a minimum to help me. He raises his voice. Better and better ! I cut short the discussion by planting it there. I have a summit to climb. I line up behind a group that has just passed. Their guide must have seen what was happening, and greets me kindly, encourages me. Jesus ! It feels good. Finally someone who motivates me, it changes. Like penguins on the ice floe, we advance at the same pace in a single file. I turn around regularly, the landscape behind us is just breathtaking. The day dawns slowly, revealing a reddish, orangeish pool that spreads over the minutes over a sea of ​​clouds. The view is unspeakable. We continue. Then arises the grail, the peak Uhuru, the ultimate point of this nameless epic. With tears in my eyes, a smile on my lips, the pride of accomplishment, ecstasy in all these states, I stick to this panel which materializes my achievement. Super guide rushes to capture the moment. No doubt he wants to have contributed to something? Head in the clouds, concretely and abstractly, I pose to record the moment forever. I just realized a dream (which wasn't even a dream a month before). I grow, I evolve, I realize myself, I discover myself, I explore my limits. To be completely honest, I did not arrive exhausted. Very tired, no doubt. At the edge of my limits, not even. You could have made me walk another 1h, 2h or even more, who knows, than I would have done it. It was simply impossible to stop me for one simple and good reason: I decreed that I would go to the top. I am made like this. At this precise moment, I think back to my Marie who said to me one day: “You built yourself on strengths. Like the tree in the middle of the African savannah, which suffers violent gusts, some branches break, it moves a little up there, but the trunk does not move. It is deeply rooted in the ground.” This image stayed with me and it was at this moment that I began to see myself differently, to believe in myself, in my abilities, in my strengths. I cannot thank you enough for all you have done for me Marie. I grew up thanks to you. You brought me another vision of myself. You guided me, helped me to understand myself, to accept me, to blossom. I have infinite gratitude for you. I do not forget. I love you and will be eternally grateful for all the listening, understanding, indulgence and help you have given me throughout these years. 16 years soon that our paths have crossed. How far I have come, I take advantage of these few lines to tell you. Because as you know, I'm much better at expressing my feelings in writing than orally. Thank you to my children who support me in my choices, in my crazy ideas and who are proud of what their mother can accomplish. I hope they will be inspired by it. Thank you to my friends for being by my side in good and bad times, for supporting me at all times, for believing in me, in my dreams. Thank you to the participants for having contributed to this adventure that fell out of nowhere, which requires a few resources. Posted in front of this sign, I think of you all. Everything is going fast in my head. you know it. Looking at this photo later, my daughter will point out to me that this woman posing in front of this sign looks like the 3-year-old child in this photo from my childhood for the 1st time. The loop is complete, we found ourselves; It's not nothing. Happy as ever, I crisscross the summit up and down and across. It's freezing cold but I don't want to leave. I want to enjoy, we take more photos. Then suddenly, the sun appears exploding with a thousand fires the clouds just below. I have no words to describe this scene, everything is surreal up there. It almost feels like being on another planet. I savor my luck. My guide is worried, he lets me know that we have to go down. You should know that at this altitude, staying too long can damage the body irreversibly. Still, I don't feel like I stayed that long. He's mostly just can't wait to get home I think. We descend slowly. A little before Stella point, I meet my group which finally arrives. Obviously I arrived one hour before them. Good luck guys! I take this opportunity to retrieve my sticks left to Mister J at the start of the night. A blessing for Jacob who did not have any and who was able to use them. Besides, he refuses to give them back to me, explaining to me that they support him and that without them, he won't be able to finish. Yes well without them, I can't go down, I'm stuck there. Since my operations, I have lost stability in my feet. So I fall all the time on the slopes. The guides negotiate with me so that I get only one. I am hallucinating once again. It's not an option as far as I'm concerned, but how could they know that since they've never talked to me the previous days. This agency is frankly a joke. I take them back, period. We resume the descent. Super guide starts to boost and does not calculate me. Me, I need a real break: wee, eat, drink, well everything!!! I force him to stop. During our break, Monsieur dozes sitting on his rock. At this precise moment, I make it my duty to remind him that he works there, that he is supposed to be my guide, therefore accompanying me at every step, that I am paying for this service, in short that I am a client. This time, the motto is “nothing and no one will ruin my day”. and strong in this superb mood, I attack 3 hours of descent, witnessing all kinds of incredible, explosive landscapes that my phone has a hard time capturing. What he transcribed is so below reality. I simply go down at my own pace, taking all my time, multiplying the breaks, the shots, chatting with a French girl who died of laughter watching me go about my life while ignoring Super Guide.  

9h30: I'm back at camp. My thighs hurt, I'm worn out. My guide hastens to apologize while informing me that he will be fired if I report what happened. For now, I don't care, I'm high, it's my day. Next! I do a 15-20 min stretching session. Then I will rest. 30 minutes later, I hear my group arrive. Wow! They did not drag at the top and even less on the return. What a blessing that I didn't stay with them !

12h30: lunch. Each relates their adventure. My group is frustrated that I went it alone. Basically, they reproach me without saying so for having had the courage that they did not have. If they are used to suffer, I am not and I do not intend to start today. Above all, I notice that I went up in 7 hours, they in 8 hours, that's it ! I'm pragmatic, that's all. Brief ! The atmosphere is correct but nothing more, which goes over my head. I'm not here to make friends but to fulfill myself. At $2,000 the joke, you might consider me right. 

13h15 : we resume the descent to the next named High Camp (3950 m). The goal is to reach it first and to take stock of the general state of health of the group. Jacob and Aje are exhausted, others are in the same state, they can't go any further. I let them decide what they want to do, I just follow along as I think I've upset them enough already. Final decision: we stop there for the night, we will finish tomorrow. Personally, everything is fine with me. I soar in the stratosphere. I'm just happy so I don't care. Dinner takes place in a more relaxed atmosphere. Head full of stars, I'm going to bed. I'm still up there and I'm going to stay there for a long time. So, I don't know how many kilometers we walked, so I have no idea how far we have to go. Nevermind ! Good night everybody. 

Click on a photo to start the slideshow


High Camp (3950m) – Mweka Hut -Mweka Gate (1 640 m) – Moshi 

Program of the day: the distance between the Mweka camp and the Mweka gate is 10 kms to be done in 4-5 hours through the forest. Knowing that we start from higher, I imagine that we have 3-4 additional kms therefore 1 to 2 hours of walking more.  
At this gate, we will collect the certificates and the vehicle which will take us to lunch. Return to the hotel to Moshi for the night and for a final farewell dinner with the guides.

6h00: alarm clock 

6h30: : breakfast. Until the end, we stuff ourselves like geese. It's the last straight line. 6 good hours of descent await us. It rained during the night, the ground will be slippery.

7h15: we leave. Aje will set back with a guide. Huge when you think about it! We split the group on the last day. I laugh in my corner. We attack the descent. The kilometers go by, everything is going well. Overall, we are all going at the same pace. I concentrate as much as possible with my sticks. The boys put their music on a speaker. I find the idea nice but Jacob is exasperated because he would like to contemplate nature in peace, which we can easily understand. Personally, everything suits me as long as we advance. We reach the last quarter, a long descent of rocks and mud spread out in front of us. The mess begins for me. I say nothing, step back and attack what will become a real hell for me. It's super slippery I unload a maximum of my weight on my upper body using my sticks but over the descent, I get seriously tired. The weight of my backpack is felt more and more along the way. I fall a 1st time, I get up. I take 2 steps, I fall again in stride. And there, buttocks bathing in the mud, I am seized with an endless despondency watching this endless descent in front of me on which I have a terrible time standing up. Without warning, I burst into tears at my disability. I plunge back 2 years back, blocked 2 months in a bed. I see again this classical dance that I can no longer practice. I think back to those months of rehabilitation, to the pain, to the running that I had to stop, to the day I attacked this mountain to recover strength in my feet. This moment projects me into this suffering endured in silence, patiently thinking of better days, of what I can no longer do. I see everything accelerated with this rage that inhabited me, which pushed me to get up, to go always further. Suddenly, everything reappears in accelerated speed and it's at the end of my rope that I get up, the tears don't stop flowing, I resume my walk. A group of Germans rush towards me and offer me all the help they can. Standing, facing this damn descent, snot on my nose, tears streaming down, I challenge myself to finish on my own. Thereupon, Juma arrives and plays the savior in front of the others. This precise moment triggers anger in me and increases my strength tenfold. I look at him coldly and say to him: “because you are my guide now? Since when ? I haven't seen you shining all along the week and suddenly you're going to help me. So listen up, me, my damn backpack and my shitty feet are going to finish alone what we have started alone. Continue to be absent, stay away from me, you pollute my landscape and above all don't talk to me. He has the nerve to tell me that he doesn't understand. There I explode. I point out to him that his 5-star service for Aje was done to the detriment of the group, me included. Thereupon, I resume my journey. I had to put 1 hour more at a snail's pace, music on the ears. It was enraged, at the end of my life, crying all I could, that I descended these famous rocks. I had a hard time but I ended up alone like a grown-up, crossing paths with the Germans happy to see me appear. Under their encouragement, I crossed the finish line. I think I just put everything up there along the road. I emptied everything I had inside to finally calm down. Step by step, I walked again, step by step, I took the pain, step by step, I recovered, step by step, I increased my capacities. Exit the past. Today I climbed Kilimanjaro to the top. I came down with my own will. It's no coincidence that the universe put this agency with rotten guides in my path. The fact of having abandoned me led me to count only on myself, to surpass myself, to withstand. Obviously, I ended up cracking; which allowed me to free myself from these years of ordeal. I am proud and even more consolidated than before ! Let me tell you that I feel capable of anything. 

My small group arrived before me took the time to drink a beer. By learning about my adventures, they rejoice to learn that I have finally cracked. To believe that they had all done it before me and that they were desperately waiting for my turn. How weird people are ! No big deal, I got rid of a weight in passing. I closed my operations chapter. The future is mine...

Small visit to the office to register my arrival in order to obtain my certificate. Stop for a last lunch with the group. We drop off my group at their hotel. From the start, I had told the agency that I would skip this night paid for by them. I prefer to return to my guest house. Simba and the girls are waiting for me. I cross the threshold of the property, they all greet me with big hugs. I love them. I really feel at home here. In the evening, Simba makes a campfire in the garden. Round of glasses chatting, laughing, listening to music. I go to bed completely drunk, my head still full of stars. This is where the adventure ends and what an adventure! Good night everybody. Lots of love. 

Click on a photo to start the slideshow


Lemosho Kilimandjaro

From left to right we have Jacob, Robbert, Niels, Sjoerd, Sven, Paul, moi and in front seated Aje


Another colorful experience that I can pin to my “Adventures and Challenges” board. The landscapes are diverse and striking. It is also a great human adventure. I still haven't reached my limits, I still hold in reserve. Let's see what the next challenge will be... 

Enthusiasm, resistance and perseverance are the key words to reach the top. Be healthy and determined !

A huge thank you to everyone who supported me in this challenge. I will not forget. I love you💗

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