Day 5: Barranco Camp to Karanga Camp (13,156′); 3.5 mi.
Once again we awoke to a clear sky and mild temperatures despite the nearly 13,000’ elevation of Barranco Camp. Today was a relatively short day, although there were some significant challenges. Directly after breakfast we descended about 200’ to the bottom of the Barranco Wall, a 984’ rock wall with a steeply ascending rocky trail. Nicknamed the “Breakfast Wall” due to the fact that it is the first thing encountered on the trail between Barranco and Karanga Camps, it is a slightly technical climb that requires both hands and strong legs to span some of the more treacherous sections. Fortunately our four guides watched over us like hawks and lent assistance with a hand hold or foot placement when needed.
Once we successfully scaled the wall, we enjoyed a well deserved break with phenomenal views of the clouds below us from our perch at 13,900’. Downslope from us lies the Karanga Valley which funnels water from Kilimanjaro to the farms far below. Since our next camp is at 13,156’ we were all under the impression that the remaining miles would be a gentle downhill walk. But alas we were wrong, instead we “enjoyed” the opportunity to go steeply downhill, then steeply uphill… twice!
Needless to say, we were happy to walk into the Karanga Camp for what we all agreed was a well earned rest. Both today and tomorrow are short days to allow us to begin our push to the summit tomorrow at midnight.
With so many different trekking companies offering treks, there are hundreds of people on the mountain. Making all of this possible are the amazing porters who carry absolutely everything needed to operate these temporary camps. Every day they travel up and down the same trails we are traversing. It is quite humbling, but greatly appreciated, to see these incredibly hard working men and women carry the large, heavy, unwieldy loads on their backs, and often balanced on their heads. They truly are the heroes of Kilimanjaro, for without them none of this amazing experience would be possible.