What does it mean to be a trailblazer?
This word often describes someone who sets out to create a new, better way of accomplishing a difficult task or challenge.
And in the adventure world, sometimes it literally means blazing a new trail – or in this case a new Kilimanjaro route.
Eddie Frank, the founding guide of Tusker Trail, did exactly this when he came up with the newest, and quite possibly the ultimate Kilimanjaro route to reach Uhuru Peak.
It’s called the Tusker Spiral Route.
In today’s post, you’ll learn all how Tusker’s great circumnavigation came to be, including the 13-day itinerary and what kind of hiker the Tusker Spiral Route is best suited for.
Origins of The Kilimanjaro Spiral Route
Making its debut in 2018, the Tusker Spiral Route combines the best parts of four established Kilimanjaro routes in one so that hikers can achieve a near total circumnavigation of Mount Kilimanjaro.
If that sounds like a dream, it’s probably because it came from one…
Like many explorers who fantasize about their next great adventure, Eddie Frank saw the new Tusker Spiral Route in his dreams.
On a quest to find the best way up the mountain, Eddie realized very few other companies took advantage of the seldom-used north entry point on the Kenyan border.
So, unlike other Tusker Kilimanjaro routes up to the summit, the Spiral Route starts from the north side and winds around the mountain toward the top in – you guessed it – a spiral shape.
That’s why Eddie named this new trail the Tusker Spiral Route.
It’s one of the longest hikes Tusker Train offers, with a 13-day itinerary and 10 designated climbing days, as you’ll see next.
The Spiral Route 13-Day Kilimanjaro Itinerary
Here’s a rundown of what you can expect if you opt for the Tusker Spiral Route adventure:
Day 1-2: Arrival and Moshi stay. Travel from Kilimanjaro airport to our locally-run hotel in Moshi and enjoy two nights in town exploring Moshi and its bustling marketplace.
Day 3: Check in to Kilimanjaro National Park. Leave Moshi after breakfast and embark on a drive to your starting point on the northern side of Kilimanjaro at the Nalemuru gate. Meet the crew, check into the park, and hike to Simba Camp.
Day 4: Your body starts to acclimate to the altitude at this important elevation milestone. So, after breakfast, you’ll do a short hike, take in views of Kibo Peak and the Eastern icefield on the rim of the crater, and explore two caves.
Day 5: Beautiful views on the way to the third cave. The northwest slopes deliver stunning panoramas on an easy hiking day with little elevation gain.
Day 6: The Shira Caldera. You’ll travel up the hardly-used western slope as you slowly ascend with the view of Kibo Peak ahead. Then take in the wonder of the Shira Caldera below. Shira used to be one of Kilimanjaro’s peaks until it erupted for the final time 500,000 years ago and collapsed in on itself. Now the Shira Caldera is a vast plateau.
Day 7: Between two mountains and a lava canyon. Out of the heath and into the Alpine desert, you’ll hike your way up toward the Lent Mountains with Mount Meru over your right shoulder. Then you’ll end your day by a giant lava canyon at the Moir campsite at the foot of the Kibo Peak.
Day 8: One of the most exciting days of your hike, you’ll start climbing toward Lava Tower, descend a steep canyon, pass the giant fairytale Senecio plants, and arrive at the Barranco camp at the foot of the Barranco wall.
Day 9: The Barranco Wall Challenge. You’ll get to hike the Barranco Wall, a 500-foot lava flow turned rock climb. Though not a technical climb, it’s definitely an incredible challenge where you’ll need to use your hands and boots for leverage. n Once you make it to the top, your hike gets a lot easier and the views of the crags and crevasses of Kibo’s jagged peaks through the Karanga Valley will be worth it.
Day 10: It’s all uphill from here. The rocky slopes at Barafu – which means “ice” in Swahili – are extremely windy and cold at this altitude. But the unsurpassed views of the eroded Mawenzi Peak and the magical colors of the African sun will help you get through it.
Day 11: Kilimanjaro summit day. On your way to Uhuru Peak, soak in the views of Mawenzi and the Kibo Saddle as you power through the toughest part of your climb. Wind your way up to the crater rim and push to the Kilimanjaro summit with your crew for the dramatic, awe-inspiring sight at the top – Uhuru Peak. Experience the typical words hikers use to sum up this moment: euphoria, joy, and wonder.
Day 12: Leave the park and arrive back in Moshi. Finish with a four to five-hour hike to Mweka camp and then a four-hour hike through the rainforest before you leave Kilimanjaro National Park. Then you’ll drive back to the hotel in Moshi for a hot shower and celebration.
Day 13: Departure or Tusker Wildlife Safari. Say goodbye to Tanzania or continue your adventure by adding a Tusker Trail Wildlife safari after you’ve conquered Kilimanjaro’s newest route.
You’ll experience the most spectacular wildlife reserves on the planet when you go on safari with Tusker’s knowledgeable experts for one, three, or five days after your Kilimanjaro climb.
As you can see from the itinerary, the Spiral Route is unlike any Kilimanjaro routes offered by other hiking companies.
What Makes the Eighth Kilimanjaro Route so Special
Here are four more reasons why the Spiral Route may just be the ultimate Kilimanjaro trail:
#1. It’s one of Kilimanjaro’s routes less traveled.
The seldom-used entry point on the Kenyan border sees few tourists. The route hovers on the northern and western flanks at around 13,000 feet where few people camp.
This means you’ll have the isolated landscape of the northern and western slopes all to your small hiking group.
#2. Trekkers get to explore more of the mountain’s secrets.
Since the Spiral Route is both new and less-traveled, you’ll have more luck seeing and photographing beautiful fauna and shy animals. The leisurely pace along varied terrain also allows for full enjoyment of the panoramic views of Kenya and Tanzania.
You’ll hike across village fields, through the rainforest, heath, mooreland and plains, and traverse the stark yet beautiful environment of the desert before reaching the Kilimanjaro summit.
#3. It’s a good choice during rainy season.
By approaching from the north, chances are better for drier weather if your schedule only accommodates for a climb at this time.
#4. There is a Higher chance of reaching Kilimanjaro summit.
Since the Spiral Route takes longer than other Kilimanjaro routes and contains several well-planned campsites, hikers have a better chance acclimatizing to the high altitude and successfully reaching Uhuru Peak.
Who The Spiral Route is Best For
You may want to consider The Spiral Route if you’re:
Only going to climb Mount Kilimanjaro once: As Eddie says, “On this new Tusker Spiral Route you see all four sides of the mountain in all of its beautiful character – with the varying geology, landscapes and weather. This is a full immersion in the Kilimanjaro experience and if you’re only going there once, you’ve got to do this route.”
Not used to high altitude climbs: The Spiral Route is a 13-day trip with 10 camping days — this slow meander up the mountain is one of the longest of Kilimanjaro’s routes.
Instead of being summit-centric, the Spiral Route is counter-clockwise to allow for an in-depth nature experience — as well as ample time to adjust to the altitude for that final Kilimanjaro summit push on Day 11.
Be One of the First to Conquer Kilimanjaro’s Eighth Route
This once-in-a-lifetime, virtually full circumnavigation of the mountain is a dream come true for Eddie Frank, but the Spiral Route can also be your dream Kilimanjaro adventure too.
True adventure travel is about taking the untrodden trail and discovering something new.
Though thousands of people have summited via one of the seven established Kilimanjaro routes, Tusker has forged an eighth, where few have gone. The Spiral Route satisfies our sense of exploration here at Tusker Trail (where we’ve summited the mountain more times than we can count!) and continues to push our limits. Eddie’s dream has come true — now he wants to share it with you. Book your trek to climb the Tusker Spiral Route now!