Key information: Mweka Route
- A long but beautiful and fascinating descent of Africa’s highest mountain.
- Pass through varied ecosystems, from rock and ice to cloud forest: gaze at cliffs and crags, and out across giant heather to the billowing tops of the clouds over the lowlands.
- This is a very tough walk: be prepared.
- Walkopedia rating83
- Natural interest19
- Human interest3
- Negative points3
- Total rating83
- Note: Negs: altitude, brutal descent
- Length: 4,000+m descent
- Maximum Altitude: 5,756m
- Level of Difficulty: Difficult
The Mweka is possibly the most direct route of all to/from the Kili summit, which is largely why it is almost entirely used for descent – the climb would be relentlessly tough, and poor for acclimatization.
It is a beautiful and fascinating descent of Africa’s highest mountain, but long (4,000m+) and steep, so you need to be well prepared.
You will pass through varied ecosystems, from rock and ice below the summit craters, cliffs and glaciers; to grim, craggy alpine desert amid the remains of lava flows; to sparsely beautiful scrubby moorland, then to gorgeous, damp giant heather festooned in trailing lichens with views out to the billowing tops of the clouds over the lowlands; to dense cloud then rainforest full of competing trees, including podocarpus, fig, hagenia and tall and spindly giant heather at the higher end, with giant ferns, thick undergrowth and flowers in clearings, including the beautiful elephant head and trunk-shaped and impatiens kilimanjari. You should spot animals of interest - eagles and buzzards will soar above but bigger game is scarce, unlike on neighbouring Mt Meru. Smaller antelope and leopards are there but you will be lucky to get a glimpse, while you may see colobus and blue monkeys and sunbirds, hornbills and turacos. You might also see the adorable Kilimanjaro shrew and chameleons at higher altitudes.
In descent order:
Stella Point to Barafu Hut to Millennium Camp: from grimly spectacular rock and scree through lovely moorland to the wonderful giant heather zone. Approximately 1,800m (6,000ft) of pretty relentless descent.
To Mweka camp and on the Mweka gate: stunningly pretty time in the giant heather zone, likely enhanced by sharp early light, and a stretch along the ridge of an old lava sill. Then, after the Mweka camp, into the beautiful, fascinating cloud then rain forests. Approximately 2,300m (7,800ft) of descent, mostly steep and relentless on damp steps and rocks, until it gets gentler lower down.
See William Mackesy’s account below for a detailed feel of what this walk is like.
This is a very tough walk, both through altitude at its upper end, and the punishing 4,000m+ descent, a lot of it down slippery steps and rocks: physical fitness and mental preparation will be vital – you will need to work hard to maintain concentration.
www.tourdust.com organise an expedition including the Mweka Route: we travelled with them, and were delighted. They were very nice and flexible to deal with, their walk was meticulously prepared and our support team were outstanding in every way. We are proud to be their partners.
See our Kilimanjaro Massif page for more on walking here, including attacking the summit, and photos and further general information on Kili, including the altitude and how to deal with it!
WILLIAM MACKESY'S ACCOUNT
of this walk
March 2020, from Stella Point (I’m not sure where the upper terminus is!) down to the gate. Roughly 4,000m in 28 hours.
The first switchbacks are rock and ice and require care. Then the path becomes easier, ash grit which you can teeter down – or skate down at a semi-run. I've always loved scree-running, but, in keeping with everything else here, it goes on too long, and becomes shattering.
We drop rapidly through cloud, down steep rocky slopes into a grim, murky world of the barest and least charming of rock. This isn't.....READ MORE
Other accounts: share your experiences
Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.
Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.
Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.
Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.
Responsible travel matters, a lot. How you travel will make a real difference - for better or worse. PLEASE consider this when making plans. Read more