Kilimanjaro, hakuna matata!
We reached camp number 4 ntoday.. feels wrong to pull out my macbook in this environment but I’ve got a free afternoon and I’m excited to tell you all about the trip so far..
After landing at Kilimanjaro airport on Thursday I was met by a smiling african man who took me to the Impala Hotel in Moshi. I felt rather knackered but I couldn’t take my eyes off the towns and people we drove past. Met our guide Carrie in the hotel and the two guys from Manchester who arrived earlier. Steve from Nottingham turned up next then Alan; and our team was finally complete. Went out to grab dinner (which was served roughly 3 hours
after ordering) but it gave us a chance to get to know each a bit. O the first officially trekking day we were taken to the Londorossi Park Gate to register then our journey officially started on the Lemosho Route.
It was rather misty and wet all the way through to Mti Mkubwa Camp at 2800m. The scenery was stunning, felt like walking through Jurassic Park!
The following morning we carried on to Shira 1 Camp at 3500m after walking through a giant heather moorland zone. We still haven’t had a clue what surrounded us but soon after we arrived at the camp the clouds cleared and we had a sneak view of the mountains arounds us. This camp was on a huge flat plateau by the river; thanks to our porters carefully fetching our tents, we were on the quiet side of the huge campsite. We had a lovely lunch here and we all moved back to our tents for a kip. Meant to be going out for a walk in the afternoon but everyone felt tired and the weather wasn’t great either. We gathered again for dinner which always starts with a tasty warm soup followed by various dishes. Instead of sweets we get fruits for dessert which is normally my favourite part. We were talking about this the other day with the guys, which food we miss the most from home. I said a variety of fruits and salad – how dull! That night i didn’t sleep well and i was wondering how my team mates were doing. Apparently everyone had difficulty falling asleep, probably due t cheeky afternoon zizz. After packing up the bags and breakfast we carried onto Moir Camp which lays at 4165m. The terrain and the scenery was completely different again, this time we started on a long flatfish/ elevated route that eventually turned into more steep to test our scrambling skills. The sun finally did shine on us and every pit stop we had consisted of layers on or off. We were walking slowly but steadily. Spotted two westerner trekkers with two guides about an hour before Moir Camp, one of the poor guys was in a very bad shape and was throwing up near the path. Hits home when you see people suffering from altitude.. We rolled into Moir Camp from where you can finally see Kilimanjaro, making a fantastic time again and after a quick wash we headed straight for lunch in the team tent. We had a wee break after food and after 4pm we set off for an acclimatisation trek up to the rocks. It was a good exercise a stunning view of further peaks sticking out of the clouds as the sun was going down.. my first time having a tiny headache but as soon as we were back at camp around 7pm the headache was gone.
After dinner we quickly moved back to our tents and I watched some movies, I didn’t want to fall asleep too early. This morning we left Moir zigzagging up to Lava Tower at 4600m where some other expeditions stayed. It was part of our acclimatisation so after having munchies, an ibuprofen, re-hydrating and feeding some vicious birds we descended to the Barranco Hut Camp at 3950m where I’m typing all this! It has been misty the second since we left Lava Tower so not much chance to take photos and I’m feeling the cold in the tent. Have a feeling the night is going to be nippy, maybe my brand spanking new -29C sleeping bag I’ve been roasting in the past 3 nights will finally come handy tonight. It’s Monday, 2 more tough days ahead of us then if everything goes as planned, going for the summit Wednesday midnight. Waking up at 3900m felt good. Not when I looked into my tiny mirror and saw my right eye swollen. Being alone in the tent rules out room mate punching me in the middle of the nigh as well as the allergic reaction to down. Kerry says it’s probably just fluid if I spent the whole night sleeping on that side. After breakfast we got ourselves sorted and looked across the valley to the Barranco wall.
It looked intimidating and scary but in fact it was fantastic scramble up the hill by a series of rock ledges. We all really enjoyed it. It’s been a spectacular day which gives an ever changing vista of the summit. Once at the top a broad, rocky ridge traverses around the mountain with wonderful views of the Heim glacier. A short sharp descent past some amazing rock formations ears down into the Karanga Valler 4000m and the final climb to the campsite. Karanga Camp
The final short stretch of the approach follows a rocky wind- beaten ridge close under the south flank of Kibo and crosses a large desolate bowl before climbing up to the obvious ridge to the Barafgu Hut at 4500m and the Camp at 4600m. We were pretty shattered when we arrived and all moved into our tents for an afternoon kip. We had some dinner, earlier than usual and discussed the summit night plan. Excitement in my tummy, I moved back to the comfort of my sleeping bag getting everything ready for the night. All my layers were tucked into the seeping bag and my rucksack was waiting for me. I was ready for this.
We left camp just after midnight on a good path marked by stones.. The climb goes onto the rocky slopes and into a wide gorge to the right of the Rebmann glacier. But of course, all of this was hiding in the dark night so all you could see was the person’s shoes and rucksack lit up by your head torch. We were moving very slowly…
In a funny way I was really happy for my team mates. None of them has been higher than Ben Nevis so it was their very first bog mountain. As I was thinking about this with a smile on my face, my body suddenly felt heavy and my feet were moving slower than before. I was well rested before the summit push so I knew it could be only one thing. I had been spared of the symptoms of the altitude during the entire trek, it had to effect me at some point. Without
sounding over dramatic, the thing is, if you experience is the first time, all you want is to sit down, close your eyes and rest. That’s unfortunately the last thing you should do. And the next 5 hours, I don’t remember much of. I kept on my feet and moved higher and higher, passing sick trekkers from other groups, I felt the urge to be reunited with my team mates and Carrie. And then something magical happened.
Light. I stopped to take a deep(er) breath, slowly turned around and the sun greeted me with beautiful orange and red colours on the horizon. The horizon stretched out as long as your eyes could follow it. It’s hard to put into words I felt that cry moment. Relived for sure. Even though it was weak but I felt the sun’s warmth arms on my back and ahead I could see where the path ended. When I got to the top I saw Paul and how happy my team mates were to make it to Stella Point at 5795m.nAfter congratulating and reuniting here, Carrie and I encouraged the team to
carry on to the very top, Uhuru Peak at 5895m. I MADE IT, TOP OF AFRICA BABY!
A flying descend back to high camp then a very long downhill rocky path into our last camp. Everyone felt
tired when we arrived here at 3pm but we were still buzzing from the summit experience. 15hours and still on our feet! We ate dinner as if we had been starved and filled our belly again with yummy soup and a large main. Stayed up to play cards but very soon everyone moved back to their tents.
The following day we were back at the 4×4’s, a strange sight after 8 days on the mountain.
I have heard various opinions about trekking on Kilimanjaro. Yes, it is a long walk, yes it is not technical and yes sometimes the paths are busy with other teams and porters. But the truth is, I spent 8 days and every single day I felt like I was in a different world or at a stunning movie set. You learn more about yourself, team work and human strength than anywhere else. You laugh, you walk, you struggle through the pain together but you are rewarded with nature’s beauty surrounding you from the first to the very last day of your expedition.
© copyright 2021 by Alexandra Nemeth