The TL;DR version: Went to Tanzania, climbed Kilimanjaro, had a ball, would do it again. PB and I had been planning a trek to Kili for a while, but with a few personal and business issues swirling about we only committed 3 weeks out from departure. I wasn’t 100% confident that my fitness would be all there for the trip, although I’d worked hard to come back from a big abdominal surgery in May, but PB is the fittest he has been in his life so I resolved to give it 110% of effort regardless. The resulting hurried immunisation schedule was awful. I’d recommend taking your time and not getting 10 needles in 3 weeks including quite a few combo vaccines in the one shot and a few live virus vaccines. Yellow Fever vaccination for example is a one time lifetime certified cover, if you haven’t had it and even consider going to Africa in the future, just get that one ticked off. We booked through Adventure Consultants but it was outsourced so our trekking company was Nature Discovery - I’d highly recommend them for anyone wishing to tackle Kilimanjaro. They are a professional, highly experienced and well trained outfit. https://www.naturediscovery.com Our group numbered 5 trekkers, PB and myself, an early 40s solo male with trekking/altitude experience (who PB had a total bromance with!) and an early 30s newly married couple from the US. We had 3 guides and 31 porters between us. It’s quite the logistical operation! We took all of our own gear, however the others had various locally hired items supplied by the guide company and the equipment was excellent quality - so if you wanted to hire things like trekking poles and sleeping bags/mats to save luggage space, it is certainly possible. Prior to departure our head guide, Sam, met with us all and discussed options that varied from the original booking. The biggest one being a day ascent instead of a night ascent. Apparently most people try to summit during the night so they are standing on the top of Africa by sunrise. But the failure rate is high. It is freezing, there is nothing to look at except your torch light on the feet of the person in front of you, and stops for bush pees or “sippy sippy” must be kept super short for risk of hypothermia. A lot of people simply give up through despair. We all agreed that we would trust our guide and go with a day summit that meant starting to climb from Kibo base camp at 4am, so only 2hrs of dark. And after 2 hours we stopped to drink/eat and watch the beautiful sunrise from part way up the switchbacks. It’s no less impressive a sight part way up, than at the top, rising to accentuate Mawenzi Peak. Our route was officially “Shira Route” an 8 day hike giving a decent amount of time for altitude acclimatisation. A reasonable consideration for sea level dwellers, untested over 4500m ASL, however we started at the Lemosho Gate, and trekked to Shira 1, through the Shira Plateau, Shira Camp 2, Moir Camp, Third Cave Camp and Kibo Base Camp. Ascent was to Gilmans Point on the Crater Rim, then to Stella Point and on to the summit at Uhuru Peak. (Stella Point was where we would return to to head down to Barafu Base Camp and descend via Mweka Route. It was the spot we needed to get to before evacuation if we wanted to come back down with our group, otherwise we would be evacuated the way we came). Our journey to Base Camp was 5 days, we started out at about 3500m ASL on the first day and the problems started to hit for our newly wed male soon after. A fit guy who ran the NY Marathon, he struggled with acute mountain sickness even at relatively low elevations and also with his endurance, from day two he had to engage a porter to carry his pack. It rammed home for me that climbing Kili is not all beer and skittles. Early morning calls in the dark, first light strike outs and walking for between 3 and 7 hours depending on the day and terrain and time we made. There were no “technical” aspects to this trek, no need for rock anchors or abseiling equipment or being roped on, but that didn’t mean it was a walk in the park. There was a lot of loose scree and quite a bit of bouldering involved most days. And all uphills were tackled “pole pole” (slowly slowly) to help with acclimatisation and save something in the tank for the ascent day. We fluctuated altitude up and down to get the hike high, sleep low benefit. The advantages of the route we took was being able to spend time at altitude while trekking around the mountain, not being too busy until we merged with other routes near the base camp and getting amazing views into Kenya. It also gave our guides the ability to test us on various terrain, at various hiking speeds etc to test and see our physical abilities.