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Friday, January 7, 2000
"We actually watched some lions stalk a couple of zebras as they were going to the water. But they didn't catch them, so lucky zebras...."
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Editor's Note: Alpine Ascents International said Jan. 3 the two climbers reportedly killed on Mount Kilimanjaro were not part of the Alpine Ascents expedition but were independent climbers ascending with local guides. It has been reported that Werner Hoain, 55, of Germany died December 30 and Jennifer Lambelet, 54, of the US died the following day.

Millennium on Kilimanjaro
Follow along on as Alpine Ascents International founder and guide Todd Burleson leads a group of climbers on a summit attempt of 19,339-foot Kilimanjaro, the highest peak on the continent of Africa. Burleson and the Alpine Ascents group will be on the flanks of Kilimanjaro as the millennium turns on January 1.


Photo: Jim Martin
Parties drive from Nairobi, Kenya to Arusha, Tanzania, and begin trekking up the mountain via Machame Route for the technically easy, but aerobically challenging ascent of Kilimanjaro. The parties will then make their descent via the more-direct Mweka Route. The round-trip climb usually takes six days up and one day down. After that, the parties travel via Land Rover to Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Ngorongoro, and Lake Tarangire game parks to view wildlife. From there it's back to Arusha and on to Nairobi for the trip home.

Stay tuned to for all the climbing action and for game reports during the safari portion of the expeditions.

— Peter Potterfield, Staff

The climb begins and ends via flights to Nairobi, Kenya. It is also possible to fly directly to Kilimanjaro International Airport.

Day 1: Depart USA for Nairobi, Kenya.

Day 2: In transit via Europe.

Day 3: Arrive Nairobi in early am. Airport pick up and shuttle to 4-star hotel in Nairobi.

Day 4: Private shuttle pick up at Nairobi hotel. Shuttle to Arusha, Tanzania. Final gear check.

Day 5: After registering with the park service, we will meet our porters. Porters are an integral part of our African journey. They become friends and provide insight into African culture and society. Their warm and energetic nature is a wonderful aspect of the expedition. We travel by jeep to the Machame trail head. The drive winds through cultivated coffee fields and small forests of ferns and flowers. Our climb begins on the edge of a rainforest (elevation 6,000ft). Below the watchful eyes of the monkeys, we trek four-five hours to the Machame Hut (9,000ft) and set camp for the night.

Days 6-7: Leave the Machame Hut, cross a small valley and begin our ascent. The environment changes from heath forest to moor lands. These moor lands are littered with wild cactus plants called Senecios. Halfway up the trail we meet a river gorge and continue to the Shira Plateau (12,460ft). We will spend two nights at the Shira Hut, allowing plenty of time to properly acclimatize and explore the surrounding areas.

Day 8: Hike to Barranco Hut (13,500ft). From this vantage point, we will behold outstanding panoramic views. To our right stands the awesome Breach Wall, the largest ice and rock face in Africa. Breach Wall is famous for its climbing route, known as the icicle, first climbed in endless horizon of the African plains. Daytime temperatures are quite warm (80°), while nighttime temperatures often drop below freezing.

Day 9: We continue up the mountain, heading almost due east and rising just about 1,500ft. Our goal is to reach the Barafu Hut at 15,700ft, which takes approximately five hours. As we wind through beautiful and rarely traveled regions, we enter a high desert plateau, littered with volcanic boulders. Looking south we view the desert plains as the pinnacles of Mawenzi peak tower before us. At Barafu Hut we make preparations for the summit attempt. While our porters prepare the food, we spend our time packing and preparing for the next day's 2:00am departure.

Day 10: Summit day! Awake at midnight and prepare gear for the ascent. We begin the climb wearing head lamps until the predawn light is reflected off the African plains. Following a distinct ridge we approach the crater's rim, then traverse northwest along the rim to the main summit, Uhuru Peak (19,339ft). From here we can view the Bismarck Towers, rock pinnacles along the crater's rim and the hanging Rebmann Glaciers.

As the sun rises over Africa, we are privy to a panorama of incredible views. To the north stands Mt. Kenya (17,000ft) with its unique twin summits. This is the second highest mountain on the continent. The southern exposure reveals the sprawling plains of Tanzania and East Africa and Mawenzi Peak.

After enjoying the view from the top, we begin our descent down the Marangu Route on the southeast side of the mountain, setting camp at Horombo Hut. The sunrises are exquisite as we awake below the towering mountain.

Day 11: We descend through the lush green landscape of the Marangu Route and the festivities begin. The trail gate is marked with stores and huts where we spend time with our porters, celebrating the success of the climb. Continuing our descent we enter thick jungle lands. After reaching Marangu Gate we drive to Arusha.

Day 12: Begin the safari to the Ngorongoro Crater, one of the worlds most incredible natural wonders. Here we will encounter herds of zebra, antelope, buffalo, elephant, rhino, cheetah and hippo. As we drive through the crater we pass members of the Masai tribe, nomadic herders of the region. (The Masai travel in pairs or solo, carrying long spears for protection.) We will have the opportunity to visit the Masai village in which we observe tribal dance and local lifestyles.

Day 13: We continue to explore the nature and wildlife of the crater. In the early afternoon we travel to Tarangire National Park via Lake Manyara. We safari through Lake Manyara and observe the land of antelopes, baboons and gazelles as they are stalked by lions, cheetahs and hyenas. Lake Manyara is world renown for its ornithology and vast game reserves. From Lake Manyara we travel to the Tarangire River. This beautiful valley overlooks African grassland, sprinkled with acacia and baobab trees. This area is known for its variety of large mammals.

Day 14: We continue a full day of safari in Tarangire, then return to our hotel for last minute shopping and a farewell dinner in Arusha.

Day 15: Morning in Arusha and depart via private shuttle to Nairobi airport. Depart Nairobi for Europe and the USA.

Day 16: Arrive USA.

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