As told by Sean Sharp! 

Sorry for the delay. Day 3 is here!

Day 3 on the Machame Trail is a doozy. That’s right. A doozy.

Starting from Shira camp at about 12,300 feet, the trail continues up to a specific point known as Lava Tower at 15,000 feet, then dovetails down into the winding Barranco Valley before ending at Barranco Camp, elevation 13,000 feet. Although the net elevation gain is minimal, the trek up and back down allows for optimum acclimatization. And just as important, the trail offers incredible views of the Kibo Peak from Lava Tower.

Kibo Summit Mt Kilimanjaro

The view of Kibo Summit from Shira Camp, morning Day 3.

Terrain for the ascent portion of day 3 was steep in gradient, but level. The footing was loose, primarily gravel, scree, and mud. As with day 2, slipping and stumbling was not uncommon. By early into the day, the moorlands gave way to semi-alpine desert, with foliage by now nonexistent. Large lava boulders are the primary attraction here and litter the mountainside in every direction.

Shira Camp Mt. Kilimanjaro Trail

On the trail from Shira Camp to Barranco Camp.

We stopped for lunch after 5 hours or so in sight of a massive 1,000 foot structure known as Lava Tower, which marks the halfway point of the day. In years past, hikers would be able to ascend a tricky switchback to the top of Lava Tower for a really incredible view of the snow-capped Kibo (pictured on the left). Due to recent park guidelines, however, access to Lava Tower is now prohibited. In a way, this was fortunate for our team, as the ascent and descent can add upwards of an additional two hours to what is already a grueling day.

We hit Barranco Camp, elevation 13,000 feet, just after 6:30pm, marking 10 full hours on the trail. I was able to snap a few pictures in the fog before dusk rolled through the valley and covered the camp in dark. We were all well spent after day 3 on Kilimanjaro. Although our net elevation gain was minimal, we covered an immense amount of ground and gave our bodies the ability to adapt to the altitude shifts. They’d thank us for that soon.

Kilimanjaro Barranco Camp Hiking

Home at last, Barranco Camp, 6:30pm, elevation 13,000 ft.

Once camp was made for the night, all I could think about was more elevation gain and summiting. I just couldn’t wait for the amazing views at the top. Stay tuned, the views at the top on on their way next.