Kilimanjaro Expedition Travel Journal Entry 6

Karanga Camp to Kossovo Camp
12,998 to 16,000 feet
Alpine Desert

Today was a very long and tough hike. We passed Barafu Camp on our way to Kossove Camp. Barafu, translating to ice in Swahili should give you some idea as to the temperature at this elevation. Each night the students continue to answer questions via e-mail and we are trying to answer as many as possible but have been overwhelmed with the numbers. We are all so very excited to be able to share this adventure with each of you.

Jayme Sneider, Middle School Teacher, Colorado

I am blogging in the morning because last night I was feeling the effects of lack of sleep and possibly some altitude, as well. My oxygen levels were fine for being at about 14,000 feet. I have been about 97-98%, but last night I was at 88%. However, I have not had more than 2-3 hours of solid sleep. Last night was my best night of sleep after we had such a busy day of climbing up and down rock walls. Our biggest climb, was scrambling up the 300 m (just over 900 feet) Barranco Wall. This was the highlight of the day yesterday for me. The entire climb was scrambling up and over a lava flow that dates back almost 400,000 years to the last major eruption of Kibo.

I was able to clearly identify the igneous rocks and it looked like there were various flows that we were scrambling on. I saw some faulting in the lava flow, as well, which is another sign that Kilimanjaro is in an active plate tectonic region. All of the climbers had to put the poles away to use both hands and feet to scramble up this lava flow. I was amazed each time we were passed by porters carrying heavy loads and balancing gear on their heads as they easily ascended this wall.

As we climbed higher, we had great views of the unique Barranco Valley below. The clouds would roll in up the valley and then about five minutes later it would be clear again. With the clearing came amazing views of unique vegetation and amazing waterfalls. The upper valley was a U-shaped valley (formed by a glacier) and was alpine desert. What we see in the lower valley is a V-shaped valley that had many streams from glacier run off. This water is the main water source for the town of Moshi, which we can see clearly from camp (when there is a break in the clouds below us).

I personally loved gripping onto the igneous rocks and climbing up and up and up. Others in the group, this was their first experience. It was a team effort and the guides were there to help the whole way. Once we reached the top of the way, we had to cross another valley before we could see our campsite. However, we were fooled, because we had a very steep descend, cross a stream, and then steep climb before we could reach camp – no bridges here. This stream that formed that steep valley is the last water source for the rest of our ascent to the summit. It was amazing to see all of the porters making numerous trips up and down the steep hill side with 5 gallon buckets on their heads (about 40 pounds of water).

We also hiked up past a great exposure of various ash layers from previous eruptions. Once we made it into Karango camp, we have amazing views of Kibo (our goal – the summit). We can see the fine ash at the summit spreading out into alluvial fans along the steep slopes. When we found our tents, there were hot drinks and popcorn waiting for us. It is such a nice way to be welcomed into camp. Our porters and guides work so hard.

Today we are about to have our hot breakfast, which always includes oatmeal. Today will be our shortest day of hiking so far this trip, but we will be hiking in one direction – UP. The mood in camp this morning is one of excitement and some nervousness. Others have also been having problems with lack of sleep and even broken zippers on sleeping bags. Everyone needs to fill up there water for the day and off we will go…..

It is now Monday evening and we are in Kosovo Camp (16,400 feet). After cross a valley that looked similar to the surface of Mars, we have now joined up with the main hiking trails on the volcano. We are now on the south east of the mountain and climbed through many biomes. It has been a beautiful journey to just meet up with the main trail to the summit. We have met people from Israel, USA, Saudi Arabia, and the UK all showing great spirit and support for one another. We have a tough task in front of us tomorrow in climbing to Stella Point, the rim of the volcano. It will take close to 8 hours walking through volcanic scree and ash. As for now, I am heading to the tent to rest up and enjoy the view of Mwenzi, the second oldest of the three volcano just in front of us.

Michael O’Toole – Science Coordinator, St. Vrain Valley Schools, Colorado

Notes from 16,000 feet

Wow, what a journey! Our team has spent close to a day in each biome on the mountain with the exception of the summit. We have been taking ground temperature, soil moisture, air temperature and hydrology measurements along the way. Not only has each day on the mountain looked unique and different, the data collected tells the story of why it looks as it does. Elevation plays a major role on this mountain. That along with the seasonal rains that provide the much needed water for life in each biome.

The question I have for everyone following us from around the world is what is it like where you live? What factors determine the vegetation that can be found around your region, city or village. What type of science data would you collect to tell your story like the one being told by students and teachers on this mountain in Africa?

Virtual Field Trip
October 8 | 1:00 PM ET

Students can also get involved by participating in a virtual field trip once the Expedition has returned from Tanzania. Don’t forget to submit your classes questions by tweeting @DiscoveryEd with the hashtag #DiscoverKili – your class may get their questions answered live on air!


Learning Objectives

Discover lesson starters and content collections about the biomes of Mount Kilimanjaro online at


Related posts


  1. Lite Blue said:

    LiteBlue is the U.S. Government website this is intended for authorized use only by Postal Service employees, lite blue.

Comments are closed.