Out for a walk beside the Ottawa River in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada!
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Heading to Nova Scotia around August 1st.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Kilimanjaro Day 3 - Shira Cave Camp to Barranco Camp 13,050' altitude

We were up at 6:30am again. A fairly big day ahead of us as we were going to hike up to Lava Tower at 4,630 meters (15,190 feet) in time for lunch, and then back down the other side to Barranco Camp at 3,976 meters (13,050 feet) over a total distance of 9.7 kms (6.0 miles). 

They made us a packed lunch, and we got going at about 8:10am.

It was a beautiful clear start to the day, but chilly. It still didn't go below freezing because our water bottles still had liquid in them. But it must have been close to 0C (32F) when we got up. But the weather on the mountain changes constantly. It can go from perfectly clear to totally overcast and foggy in a matter of 20 minutes or less.

And there are five distinct climate zones on the mountain. 

The base of Kilimanjaro is the cultivation zone. There are many farmlands having fertile volcanic soil. This area gets ample annual rainfall.

The rain forest zone is next, where you trek through jungle greenery. As expected, it rains almost every day in this area. Annual rainfall in the area averages 60 inches.

Then is the moorland zone. As you exit the rain forest, the change is dramatic and almost instant. Temperatures now begin to cool.

Next is the alpine high desert zone. It is windy and drier, and only hardy small plants survive.

At the top is the arctic zone. There is precipitation, but it generally falls as snow.

A clear view of the mountain at 6:45am.

And a clear view of Mt. Meru in the distance.

Still a great day at 8:45am.

But by 9:00am, the clouds are moving in.

Mountain vegetation, young Giant lobelia.

The porters will take a detour to Barranco Camp.

We are hiking a longer route to Barranco Camp. One that takes us up to Lava Tower at 4,630 meters (15,190 feet). This is where we will sit and have lunch for an hour. We take this route specifically to help acclimatize your body to the higher altitudes. Then we go to the lower Barranco Camp to sleep for the night.

Odd rocks.

At 11:20am, the clouds had moved in.

Lava Tower.


This little fellow followed us for a while.

And just like that, it cleared up again!

Made it to Lava Tower 4,600 meters (15.190 feet) at 12:50pm.

There is still 18 kms (11.2 miles) to the summit!!!
17 hours!

There is a camp at Lava Tower as well, but we would not be staying at this camp. Our route takes us back down to Barrabco Camp for the night.

We sat and had lunch at Lava Tower.

My view from where I was sitting having lunch.

Coming down the other side of Lava Tower.

It was cooler, and the wind had picked up.


Looking back at Lava Tower.

Giant groundsel.

This breed of plant is only found in small localized pockets, and only on Kilimanjaro! It's scientific name is dendrosenecio kilimanjari.

Another giant groundsel.

Waterfall in the distance.

Zoomed in.

Made it to Barranco Camp at 3:40pm.

At our meeting that evening, our guides Kobby and Shalali gave us some bad news. 

The weather forecast for the summit was very poor for February 7, 8, and 9. Our original schedule called for us to attempt the summit in the early morning of February 7th, and they were recommending that we do it a day ahead of schedule for the best possibility of success.

That would mean skipping Karanga Camp, and going directly to Barafu Camp the next day. One less day of acclimatization, and tomorrow's hike would be 8 to 10 hours and 9 kms (5.4 miles).

They know best, and we trust our guides. So we agreed to the new plan. We knew we would have a  tough couple of days ahead of us.


And in Canada...


  1. First thing I do every morning is log on and check your status. What a nail-biter! Will they
    beat the weather? Will they run out of hot chocolate? Will Kevin fall down the outhouse? Tune in tomorrow!

    1. Mine too !!! One of my very favorite blogs.

    2. Lol, so glad that you are all enjoying our blog posts and our pictures!

      I can say for certain that Kevin never did fall down the hole in the outhouse but he did leave anything of value in the tent whenever he made a trip to the toilets! :-P

  2. Replies
    1. It certainly has been quite the experience and not one that the majority of people will have encounter, we are so glad to be doing it now with so few people around.

  3. Love the interesting plants...hope you make it!

    1. We were enjoying some of the interesting plants too and at times wondering how some of these plants can grow in such harsh conditions.

  4. Thank you so much for taking us along with you. I think it's safe to say I will never be on Kilimanjaro, so by reading your accounts and seeing your photos, it expands my world. I guess I was expecting more of a mountain climbing type experience going up a big mountain. I never expected it would be walking on trails. I'm not trying to minimize in any way what you did. All the other photos I've seen were people tied up with ropes, etc. Can you go into more how you felt in the altitude? I would think that was sort of difficult even with the great physical shape the two of you are in.

    1. Stay tuned... more details coming in the next posts...

  5. Good to see photos of Ruth...was wondering what her thoughts were or what her prospective of the hike were. I'm a woman so I was curious. Nice trail.

    1. Funny that you say it is good to see photos of me because there are way more pictures of me of the trail then there are Kevin.

      Up to this point I was thoroughly enjoying our trek and the beautiful scenery and not really having an serious issues with the hike at all. We do have to say though that there were definitely more men on the trail then women and from what we could see I was definitely the oldest woman up there on the trail, at least that time.

  6. We r so enjoying sharing your amazing adventure. The term nail biter is very appropriate. The pictures are terrific. Living life large you two !

    1. We are so happy that you are enjoying our pictures and posts of this great adventure of ours!

      You won't have to wait too much longer for the then next post is should be up sometime today.

  7. Awesome pics. You are both very brave. Enjoy your climb!

    1. Thank you, we are glad that you are enjoying the pictures and the posts.

      I wouldn't say that we are brave, we would more likely say that we are crazy! :-P

  8. Such beautifully unique scenery (and a little birdie way up there). Glad to see you two are still smiling! Yay! Can't wait to hear how it all works out. Hoping, hoping, hoping you make it to the top!!!

    1. The scenery is pretty cool and it changes so much with each of the different climate zones on the mountain.

      We are smiling a lot here but not so much later!

  9. Sitting on the edge of our recliners, so excited reading this!!

    1. So glad that you are enjoying our posts! We should have the next instalment up soon for your reading pleasure.

  10. What an awesome adventure!! Interesting viewing the diverse scenery along the way!! Those Giant Groundsel’s remind me a bit of the Joshua trees here in AZ. Thank you for sharing your adventures true with us!!

    1. The Giant Groundsel's reminded us of Joshua trees too, I even mentioned that to Kevin when we started seeing them. Totally different family though!

  11. That giant Groundsel was the most interesting plant that I have seen on this trek. How in the world could it grow THAT BIG AND TALL.! And I wonder how old it is?! Really having fun and feeling excited each time I read your blogs and I truly appreciate your replying to my comments/question....where do you find the time to do it? I’m learning and living a “privileged” life through your posts. Thank you! Stay safe d warm.

    1. When we saw them, they reminded us of Joshua trees a little. These plants only grow in certain areas on Kilimanjaro, so they are really pretty rare in a way. They are slow growing.

      We always try to reply to everyone's comment. If you/they can take the time to comment we feel that it is the least we can do to reply to the comments. It is all part of staying in contact with our readers and just trying to stay real. :-)


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