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Barranco Wall Mt Kilimanjaro – A Steep Climb But Totally Doable

Mark Whitman

The Barranco Wall is a famous rock formation on Mount Kilimanjaro. 'Climbing' this wall forms part of your early morning exercise on day 4 for climbers on the MachameShiraUmbwe and Lemosho Route.

For those with a fear of heights, don't worry. The Barranco Wall looks a lot more ominous than it actually is! Despite it's name. Barranco Wall is more of a rocky ridge than a sheer wall.

You don't technical climbing skills to get to the top, just good boot placement and a bit of scrambling.

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Barranco Wall Elevation and Overview

Barranco wall kilimanjaro

The Kissing Rock on Barranco Wall. This is the most precarious part of the wall yet still very manageable. The porters make navigating this section look easy, even hauling all the extra gear!

Most trekkers on Kilimanjaro, excluding those on the Marangu RouteNorthern Circuit and Rongai Route, need to contend with the Barranco Wall.

The climb is often called the Barranco Breakfast Wall as it is the first thing that you need to do on day four of your trek. You may also feel like you need a second-breakfast by the time you get to the top!

The Barranco Wall elevation is 257 meters – it seems higher but it is not!

barranco wall mt kilimanjaro

The trick is to go slowly and make sure of each footing you take. Be deliberate and use all four limbs to scramble up the wall.

It is best not to use your trekking poles for this part of your hike as they can often get in your way as you manoeuvre your way up the Barranco Wall.

The climb up the Barranco wall takes between 1-2 hours – depending on your fitness level.

tea kilimanjaro

The group service with a good operator is unbelievable! Here's Joseph going the extra mile with a tea and cookie break at the top of Barranco Wall.

At the top of the Barranco Wall, the trail continues to Karanga Camp which sits in the Karanga Valley. Here you will finally get a chance to rest and enjoy some lunch. Some people sleep at Karanga Camp and only carry on to the next camp, Barafu, on day five. If you stop for the night at Karanga you are on a seven-day route.

If you are on a six-day route, you will still have a three-hour climb ahead of you to base camp Barafu. It is therefore important not to expend all your energy on scaling the Barranco Wall and remain cognizant that you still have a lot more trekking ahead of you.

Trekkers on the six-day route typically get to Barafu around mid-afternoon. You will be served something to eat and then it is important to get some shut-eye as you will be woken at ~12pm to start your ascent for the summit.

“After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.”
Nelson Mandela

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Barranco Wall Pictures

Here are some photos of Barranco wall from our past trips, hopefully they give you a good idea of what to expect!

barranco wall

The way up Barranco is a well worn trail. No need to stress about falling off the edge!

Barranco Wall

Best to put away your trekking poles while climbing Barranco Wall, it's better to have your hands free to scramble on the rocks.

Scrambling up Barranco Wall. Have a look at the Kilimanjaro porters in the background with 20kg packs on their head, no hands and a 40% slope!

barranco wall

Here is a picture from the lower stretch of the Barranco Wall. It looks steeper than what it actually is!

Barranco wall

Don't let this scramble intimidate you. Most people who have hiked Kilimanjaro will tell you that Barranco Wall is one of the most fun sections of the trek.

barranco wall

It's best to get started early on climbing Barranco Wall. Otherwise a que builds up.

Barranco Wall Quick Facts

  • Only climbers on the Machame, Shira, Lemosho and Umbwe Routes climb the Barranco Wall
  • 'Barranco' simply means 'gorge' in Spanish. It's named for the steep valley where the camp is located. 
  • It is typically climbed on day four of your hike
  • The Barranco wall elevation is 257 meters
  • You do not need technical climbing skills to scale the Barranco Wall
  • In climbing terms, the Barranco Wall is considered a ‘scramble’
  • It is best not to use your trekking poles on the Barranco Wall

“It’s like climbing a staircase. I’m on the top of the staircase, I look behind me and I see the steps. That’s where I was.”
Jeanne Moreau

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Mark Whitman

Hi, I'm Mark! Welcome to Climb Kilimanjaro Guide - the Web's No.1 Trekking Guide to Mount Kilimanjaro. This site is your one stop shop for everything Kilimanjaro. To date over 5 million people have visited Climb Kilimanjaro Guide, many of which have gone on to summit Kili! I hope you find all the answers you are looking for, but if you have any questions don't hesitate to drop a comment below!

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  1. I have a very fit and agile 12 year old daughter. She has done many hikes some exceeding 10 hours in one day.
    Would the Barranco wall pose any problems.

    1. Hi Michael, the Barranco wall shouldn’t pose a problem for your daughter. It is just a scramble. Make sure to go slowly and be sure of your footing throughout but I suspect if she has hiked a lot before then she wouldn’t have done similar types of scramble ascents. Best of luck!

    2. Hi. I am Joey
      And I am going to Africa for my first time and a safrai up north. My friend and I are climbing kilo. I did however climb Kiliawa volcano in Hawaii right before it erupted. But MY friend want to climb this Baranco wall and I’m a bit afarid to climb it, beacuse I have a disability and my balance is not the greatest nor sure footing thats not secure. Do you think that I could have a problem climbing this wall, My friend is telling me that I can But I’m telling her I can’t. what do you think, maybe you can ease my mind. will the porters help you to climb it if you need some more help because of a disabiltiy. We are planning on going this october

      1. Hi Joey, yes, I think you can scale the Barranco wall. There is no climbing, just a few sections where you need to scramble with your hands. And the porters are very supportive and helpful, so unless your disability is very severe, I think you can do it. Good luck!

      2. You can climb it no worries it's hard like that, Porters/ guides will help your backpack and sometimes they may push you whenever it's necessary, but many people are taking this way recently days

  2. Hi, where can I find a list of groups or people whom summit Kilimanjaro since October 1st 2016 (5/10/2016)?
    Please, it is urgent
    South Africa

  3. Hi there, I would like to hike Kilimanjaro in September this year with my friend, who has lost his left arm in a car accident. Can he still do the climb especially the Barranco wall? And which route would be the easiest for him? He is otherwise in fantastic shape.
    Thank you so much!

    1. Hi Sonya, It is totally possible to climb Kilimanjaro with just one arm. The Barranco Wall on the southern routes will pose a bit of a challenge but with support from the guides he should be able to get up and over it. Otherwise you could look at the Rongai route as an alternative. Either way I’m sure with the right support and preparation, your friend could make it!

  4. Just wondering, i climb the mountain in 1974 or 5 and put my name in the book at the summit. Has anyone collated the list? Is this container still exist. A memorable moment in my life watching to sun xome up over kenya and the curve of the earth that is cleary visable at this altitude. I would recommend this hike to all, only two of us made it a german lady and I.

    1. Hi Peter, great story! Unfortunately I don’t think there is a book at the summit anymore. Instead, all summits are recorded when one exits the gate at Mweka.

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