The night before the challenge - The African Walking Company briefed us at the lodge and made it quite clear that this was going to be a tough physical and mental challenge but that the 51 crew were ready to take us to summit and would support us every step of the way. 

 This amazing team (pictured left)  helped us at every stage. They quickly became our friends and they helped make the trip memorable with their good humour and support.

Day 1 – we started walking in the rain forest, surrounded by beautiful native trees with monkey and bird calls filtering through the air, and completed the 8 hour walk to camp 1 at 3000m.  Everybody had a wonderful day bonding with each other and getting to know our amazing guides. 

Day 2 – we left the rainforest and progressed into more open planes, beautiful blue skies and after a 6 hour walk we arrived at camp at 3800m. 

Being able to see Kilimanjaro from the camp made the challenge feel very real and exciting, as well as slightly daunting!

Day 3 – this was when the challenge really began.  The 8 hour climb to 4600m was hampered with the beginning altitude sickness for some of the party along with wind, hail and rain.  Of course we all pulled together and the team made it to camp 3 at the foot of Barranco Wall. The wall, pictured below, is not for the faint-hearted! 

Day 4 - our favourite day and we can definitely say that the walk had now become a climb!  It was so exhilarating to clamber over boulders and shimmy across rocky ledges and it was such an achievement to eventually find ourselves at the top of this challenging section. Our younger climbers did amazingly well keeping up. It was exhausting and at times, a bit terrifying.

Day 5 - after another night of camping we set off for a shorter 6 hour walk through a desert-like landscape where very little grew and we felt quite exposed.  Kilimanjaro peak was constantly in the foreground beckoning us forward. 

Summit night - following rest and some amazing food we set off at midnight with as many layers of clothing as possible and our head torches on. "Pole Pole" we snaked our way up to the summit.  We were privileged enough to see a breath-taking sunrise over the clouds and for everyone to safely reach Uhuru Peak at 5895m after a very challenging 8 hour ascent.

Uhuru Peak – the roof of the world!

We drank hot, sweet tea, took photographs and then followed a much quicker decent back to base camp which took approximately 4 hours.  After a brief 2 hour rest we had a further 6 hour walk to our final camp. We all slept extremely well that night! 

Final day – we walked back through the rainforest to the gate of Kilimanjaro National Park where we ate a much needed pack lunch, drank Kilimanjaro beer, bought souvenir T-shirts and of course congratulated each other on our amazing success. 

After a last night back at the coffee plantation lodge we caught our flight home feeling exhausted, proud to have accomplished the challenge, to have made some wonderful friends and of course to have supported the wonderful charity CLEFT.  I loved every minute and cannot wait for the next adventure!

CLEFT would like to give heartfelt thanks to Yellow Zebra Safaris for organising the experience and to the African Walking Trip for supporting our climbers throughout.

If you would like to sign up to one of our amazing adventures such as the National Three Peaks challenge or Machu Picchu, click the button below to see the full list of challenges available for 2020.

Challenge events 2020