Kilimanjaro Expedition – Day 4

Kilimanjaro – Day 4/6: Baranco Camp (3,900 m) – Barafu Camp (4,673 m)

Route Map

(click on objectives for extended version)

Technical Box

Difficulty: difficult
Duration / distance: 8 hours / 10 km
Marking: Machame Route, unmarked
Water sources: immediately after Baranco, non-permanent see map
Minimum Altitude: 3,900 masl, at Baranco Camp
Maximim Altitiude: 4,673 masl, at Barafu Camp
Difference in level: +1,000 m / -300 m
Notes: alpine desert area, access with payment and guide

1. Baranco Camp

6:30 a.m.
Good morning from Baranco Camp, from 3,900 m altitude! As usual, breakfast was at 7 o’clock. We were photographing Mount Kilimanjaro and now we see even more clearly part of the glaciers on the southern slope. We also marked Baranco Wall, the challenge of this day, in the early hours of the morning.

Baranco Camp

Baranco Wall

2. Dendrosenecia si Lobelia. Moorland.

7:30 a.m.
We start the route, a little earlier than the previous days. On Baranco Wall you can see some moving colored dots, they are the tourists and porters who left before us. We cross the active Baranco valley, in the vicinity of which many specimens of the fascinating Dendrosenecio kilimanjari and Lobelia kilimanjari grow, because we are still in the Moorland, at its upper limit, the accepted habitat of these endemisms.

Baranco Wall

Dendrosenecia and Lobelia

3. Baranco Wall

Baranco Wall is all the more impressive the closer you get to its base. It is only rock and seems difficult to approach. If you look at the admirable porters who carry up to 15-20 kg on their backs or on their heads, on a precipitous road, you will surely find courage. From now on, we are entering, in fact returning, to the alpine desert area.
At the bottom limit between light and shadow is Baranco Camp, where we spent the night in a tent. How quickly we gained altitude! For this ascent it is useful to tie the trekking poles to the backpack to have your hands free. Wear some thin gloves, because you will most likely use your palms when climbing. No, it’s not a climbing lesson, but an easy climb, which requires the use of three points of permanent contact if you don’t feel confident enough to climb on 2 feet or if you’re bad at heights, as I am.

7:45 a.m.
We meet the first special point, a narrow place that you can cross in the position twisted on one side. We start climbing.

Baranco Wall

Porters on Baranco Wall

Baranco Wall

Me on Baranco Wall

Baranco Wall

Baranco Wall

Baranco Wall

Baranco Wall

4. Kiss the rock!

7:50 a.m.
Kiss the rock! This is the name of the next special place on this wall. Looking at the pictures you will understand why. How the porters climb here is fascinating! This is how I walk on flat ground!

We rarely see tufts of grass, otherwise there is only rock everywhere. We climb steeply, to our right is the precipice. However, the path is safe enough.
8:30 a.m.
My guide, Azizi, was looking back to keep an eye on me to see if I was safe and if I could handle this rock. We have one last hop, the steepest. This is where it really comes in handy to help yourself while climbing and choose the grips that seem safest to you.

Kiss the rock

Kiss the rock

Porter to Kiss the rock

Road mates

Baranco Wall

Baranco Wall

Azizi at Baranco Wall

Tourists at Baranco Wall

5. The plateau above Baranco Wall. Pause.

8:40 a.m.
I have arrived! Where are we now? On the smooth plateau above the Great Baranco! Altitude 4,230 m. It took us an hour and a quarter to climb the Great Baranco Wall for the 300 meters difference in level climbed. You can go even slower if you feel the need, that’s right: pole pole!
Let’s admire the plateau we are on! Let’s admire Kilimanjaro that was hidden from us by the climbing wall! Let’s admire the sea of ​​clouds that covers the valley towards the inhabited areas. And Mount Meru in the distance. We are even closer to the glaciers! I’m feeling very well! And one more tip! Drink a lot of water, hydrate yourself. As the altitude increases, the effort to move forward is greater!

Far away, in the distance, you can see the edge on which the Uhuru peak is approached. Now it is obvious why we have to go along the 4,000 m plus or minus belt of the mountain. The image of the steepness, the rock and the glaciers gives us the answer.

Kilimanjaro

The plateau above Baranco Wall

The plateau above Baranco Wall

glacier

The plateau above Baranco Wall

6. Descent into the Karanga Valley

9:00 a.m.
After a well-deserved break, we say goodbye to this incredibly smooth plateau after such a steep climb and begin the descent towards the Karanga Valley, to the southwest. We lose altitude and re-enter the upper area of ​​the marsh area (Moorland) to enjoy again the endemic flora of this climatic floor on Kilimajaro. A cottage can be seen in the center. There is Karanga Camp. We still have a bit to go down and then a little bit of climbing after crossing the Karanga Valley at an altitude of 3,950 m.

10:30 a.m.
We arrived in the Karanga Valley. The last sector of the descent was more pronounced. It is worth another look at the cone of the volcano. Uhuru Peak – 5,895 meters above sea level – is slightly behind the visible area.

About the force of nature. Here, below the 4,000 level, we meet the shrubs again. Not for long.

path

To Karanga

Kilimanjaro

cliffs

Alpine desert

Kilimanjaro

Azizi

me on Kilimanjaro

Dendrosenecia kilimanjari

Moorland

Moorland

7. Diner at Karanga Camp

11:00 a.m.
Karanga Camp – altitude 3,995 meters above sea level. For me, the lunch break, for many the end of this day’s hike. Most choose to camp at Karanga Camp. Here the difference is made between the 6-day and the 7-day tour on the Machame route.

Karanga Camp

Karanga Camp

sky

8. The climb to Barafu Camp. Alpine desert.

12:00 p.m.
We have to go to Barafu Camp, the destination of this day. 4 km in 4 hours is written on the marking board. Only 1 km per hour? We will see. There are only 9 km to Uhuru peak! It seems so close!
From now on we only have to climb. Through a grohotis located higher we see a path that crosses it on a level curve. It is a short cut that you can take if you want to avoid going through Karanga Camp. It resembles the Great Grohotis from the Piatra Craiului Mountains in Romania. To the left of the slope with stones is a natural rock arch. Truly alpine dessert. Even tufts of tufock grass are becoming rare. It’s a sign that it’s getting tougher. Azizi told me that at the next camp we will no longer have water except for the supplies carried by the porters for the necessary daily consumption.
The secondary ridge on which you climb towards the rim of the crater and then towards the top can be seen more and more. From afar the climb seems easy.
2:00 p.m.
The closer we get, the slope looks more pronounced and we see the first tents from the Barafu camp. A cap of fog settled on the volcano.
2:30 p.m.
The last climb is steeper. Then we meet the Mweka route, the one that most of the routes go down. I thought I had arrived because I had already seen tents. The Barafu camp is quite large and we still have to climb up to the sign that marks the center of the camp and where the rangers’ house is.

Klimanjaro

Karanga Camp

Arcade

scree

Glacial caldera

Barafu Camp

To Barafu

Kilimanjaro in the fog

The edge that climbs to the top

cliffs

The edge that climbs to the top

path

9. Barafu Camp

2:50 p.m.
Barafu Camp – altitude 4,673 m. Wow! New personal record! A sign informs about the symptoms of severe altitude sickness and the need to DESCENT as soon as possible as an option to stay safe!
The most common symptoms of altitude sickness are persistent headaches, vomiting, exhaustion, lack of appetite, dehydration. I feel good! Or so I think!

Next, the program is a special one. Late evening is an “early breakfast”. This is after a few recommended hours of rest, because at midnight the ascent to the Uhuru peak – 5,895 m above sea level – the roof of Africa begins. Unfortunately I couldn’t rest very well because it wasn’t my bedtime and in addition a group of Englishmen were noisily enjoying a football match probably listened to or watched on the net, because it must be said here in the base camp I had telephone and internet signal! At 4,673 m altitude!

In fact, I wasn’t feeling very well, but I didn’t realize it, I was getting drunk with cold water driven by the desire to conquer the Uhuru peak, located only 5 km away! For later! Only good!

Barafu Camp

Warning panel

Barafu Camp

Barafu Camp

Barafu Camp

tent

Conclusion and recommendation

Break this stage into two, as offered by many organizers! Even if it can be done without problems in one day, it is useful to extend the stay at 4,000 meters altitude more time for acclimatization. And hydrate a lot! All the best!

 

 

Steps: