Want to experience Mt. Kilimanjaro but can’t afford the hefty price tag or not sure you could make the summit?
The Marangu Route base camp day hike is a perfect alternative.
We booked our hike through Materuni Tours located in Moshi, Tanzania. We had learned about Materuni through a friend who had taken the tour earlier in the year. She raved about the company and explained it was started by a local young man named Ambrose. He was not only providing his clients with exceptional service but also paving the way to help give back to his local village (Materuni) on Mt. Kilimanjaro. Instantly we were sold on using Materuni Tours and couldn’t have been happier with our decision.
Before arriving at Moshi, Tanzania Ambrose, Materuni’s owner, and founder provided us with an itinerary and list of what to wear & bring. The hike package included pick up from & return to our Moshi hotel, a professional guide, park entrance fees and lunch & drinks. From Moshi to the Marangu Gate (registration area & trek starting point) the car ride was about 30-40 minutes depending on traffic. We simply just had to show up and hike. Materuni Tours really could not have made the day any easier for us.
Somewhere in all this we had missed noting the distance of 8.5 km/5 mi one-way and an altitude gain of 2,700 m/8860 ft for the hike. It was clearly stated in the itinerary Materuni Tours had provided us – we just seemed to have skimmed over those details. For mountain hiking standards, it doesn’t seem drastic, but there were spots on the trail that were a bit challenging. The 2nd half was more difficult with steeper & longer inclines. The total time of the hike including lunch, picture taking, resting & bathroom breaks and gasping at the views was roughly 6-7 hours. Don’t rush it! Take your time and take it all in, because as soon as you’re done, you will wish you were back on the trail.
A big thanks to Rama, our guide, for making our trek experience so memorable. He was experienced, patient and knowledgeable. He answered all our inquiries and knew how to very nicely shut us up so he could listen for the animals. We didn’t have much luck seeing the Colobus monkeys up close, but he was able to point them out from a distance. At the Madera Huts, we saw about four blue monkeys up close as they wandered around the edges of the camp. Matt may have seen the back end of a bush pig, but it scampered away so quickly he was not sure what he saw.
Our hike took place in mid-September. There was a total of 3 of us in our group (us and my cousin, Beth). The trail was busy but not packed. Rama told us on some days the mountain could have well over 400+ people on it. On the way down we did cross paths with two groups of at least 50+ people each, which seemed to be an awful lot. We were quite pleased with our day hike, and the personal service we received through locally run Materuni Tours. The entire day was well worth the money and every ounce of sweat. Now we only wish we had done the summit instead of just the base camp. Maybe next time?!
What to Know Before You Go
- Just because it’s base camp don’t assume it’s going to be easy. We did very little research before arriving into Tanzania and were not fully prepared for the magnitude of the trek.
- Tennis shoes are fine. Flip-flops or sandals are not fine.
- Wear layers to adjust to possible changing temperatures.
- Bring bug spray, sunscreen, sunglasses and hat if so inclined.
- The trail is well worn and maintained.
- Lunch, water, and juice are provided but bring an extra bottle of water. If you have special dietary needs/restrictions, let Ambrose know so the team has time to provide you with what you may need.
- The route is shaded, but it gets pretty warm walking upward for hours.
- The trail can get pretty crowded. We did not have any issue on the way up, but on the way down we encountered lots and lots of people.
- What you take in you must take out! Don’t leave your litter behind!
- There is one “official” bathroom break about half way up & bathrooms at base camp. Squat toilet and no toilet paper so plan accordingly.
- The peaks of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mawenzi & Kibo, are almost always surrounded by clouds during the day. Your chances of seeing the top clearly are low while you are on the mountain, but on your ride back to your hotel the clouds tend to clear, and the view is spectacular.
Prices vary. Check with Ambrose for current pricing and booking updates. The trip we chose can be found here.
4 out of 5 Travelationship High Fives – If you like adventure, outdoors, hiking, nature, history you will enjoy this hike!
* Thank you to Materuni Tours for providing us with a discounted hiking tour. As always, our opinions are ours – honest, not biased and as we experienced.