Lemosho Route – Day 5 (Karanga Hut) – time to face the Wall 2


I wake up fearing the worst – I’m expected to have a headache, loss of appetite, nausea – but I’m feeling fine. My plan – to wake up at two-hourly intervals throughout the night, and to sit up, and take a few deep breaths, and drink some water, before returning to sleep – seems to have worked. In fact I think I might even be a little brighter and more collected this morning than my acetazolamide-imbibing companions.

Day 5 (Karanga), Lemosho Route, Mt Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

Morning of Day 5. Photo credit: Benjamin White

We’re lucky to have a relatively clear morning. From our campsite we have a view of the snowy upper slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro. It looks lofty and distant, and not at all connected to out movements.

Barranco Wall, Day 5 (Karanga), Lemosho Route, Mt Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

Porters climbing Great Barranco Wall. Photo credit: Benjamin White

Today we must face the Wall, also known as Great Barranco Wall, a steep climb that involves scrambling over boulders, shimmying up precipitous and severely eroded track, and even a few sections of rock-climbing. It’s slow going as there are many bottlenecks, and it’s generally accepted that hikers should give way to porters on this part of the track, which means you might be left clinging to a boulder for ten minutes or more while a long conga-line of porters clambers past.

Barranco Wall, Day 5 (Karanga), Lemosho Route, Mt Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

Waiting for a conga-line of porters to pass. Photo credit: Benjamin White

By chance we are climbing on the day of the Tanzanian national election (25th October 2015), and there is much excitement in the air with the prospect of the incumbent government being ousted in favour of a new coalition of people’s parties.

Barranco Wall, Day 5 (Karanga), Lemosho Route, Mt Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

Photo credit: Benjamin White

As we climb the Wall we are treated to the sound of hundreds of voices singing in harmony. It’s the porters, those still in Barranco camp – now a hundred vertical metres of more below us. Their loud, rousing, heart-warming song is carried on the wind, picked up by the porters on the trail, and spread up and down the mountainside.

‘What are they singing?’ I ask Herman, our lead guide (the porters are singing in Kiswahili).

‘They are singing for change. It is time for change. That is what they are saying.’

Top of Barranco Wall, Day 5 (Karanga), Lemosho Route, Mt Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

Top of Barranco Wall. Photo credit: Benjamin White

At the top of Barranco Wall (4,100 metres elevation) is a large rocky platform known as Top of Barranco Wall. Most tours will stop here for a late morning snack before pushing on.

Day 5 (Karanga), Lemosho Route, Mt Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

Photo credit: Benjamin White

From Top of Barranco Wall it is an easy descent into Karanga Valley, a discordantly fertile gully fed by the ice melt of the Heim, Decken, and Kersten Glaciers.

Karanga Camp (4,000m)

Climb to Karanga Camp, Lemosho Route, Mt Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

The climb to Karanga Camp. Photo credit: Benjamin White

There is a short steep climb to Karanga Camp which sits at roughly 4,000 metres elevation. Those on expedited hikes will skip this stop and continue on to Barafu, which means the camp site at Karanga is small and peaceful.

Practical information and how to reach Karanga Hut:

Mount Kilimanjaro is located in northern Tanzania. Most hikers will access the mountain via Kilimanjaro International Airport, which has sporadic direct flights from Amsterdam, IstanbulDoha, Nairobi, and Addis Ababa.

If you wish to climb Mount Kilimanjaro then you must engage the services of a licensed guide, which for most people will mean joining a tour. Cost and quality varies significantly between companies. My advise is to steer clear of the cheapest operators, go with a tour company that has plenty of trustworthy reviews online, and sits in the middle of the pack price-wise. More info on tours and transport arrangements here.

Read more of the Mt Kilimanjaro series:

Day 1 (Mti Mkubwa), Day 2 (Shira I), Day 3 (Shira II) – tackling the Shira Plateau

Day 4 (Barranco Hut) – the Lava Tower and scenes from the Lost World

Day 6 (Barafu Hut) – last chance to acclimatise

Day 7 (Uhuru Peak), Day 8 – to the top of Africa and back

More on Tanzania:

Ngorongoro Crater – volcano stuffed full of animals

Zanzibar – mystical paradise or cold, hard, tourist trap?

More on East Africa:


Lake Nakuru – the greatest bird spectacle on Earth

Old Town, Lamu – Swahili port city that time forgot


Hiking amongst the Tea Fields of Gisakura

Kigali – clean, green capital with harrowing genocide tours


Kampala – worth a visit?

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