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Published: February 12th 2018
Our journey to Africa departing 22.30 on Saturday 27 January 2018
Tom dropped 2 excited people off at the Brisbane International Airport and came into the terminal to wave us goodbye. I wished he was coming with us, but it was great to have Adam with me.
We found a bar to have a ‘departure drink’. The plane was on time and we were on our way. I was a little excited and we were both hoping we had done enough training and preparation for the Kilimanjaro climb. Adam was certainly fit but as I was not running any more I was unsure of the amount of training I had done. We had both had 6 sessions over 2 weeks in the altitude training chamber in Milton, Brisbane. We were taken to a maximum of 5400m ie the O2 level was reduced to the equivalent of that height while Adam & I were either on the treadmill or the exercise bike. We were ready!!!
Both of us slept a little but also watched several movies. We ate plenty (!!!!!) and celebration drinks. I hadn’t
Lemosho Gate 2250m - our 7 intrepid trekkers
Maggie (Poland) Greg (Canada) Kerry (in front - Melbourne) Adam & Pam, Jane & Michael (Denmark)
had any alcohol in 2 weeks so I took it easy.
Arriving on time we had 1 hr 30 mins wait in Abu Dhabi which we needed to get to our next flight.
More sleeping and movie watching and more eating over the next 9 hours after which we had 2 hrs 35 mins in Dar Es Salaam however the flight was very late leaving. At the Dar Airport, Adam ate the biggest donut and sausage role. I could hardly eat another thing.
Arriving at Kilimanjaro International Airport at about 18.30, nearly 2 hours late. We quickly saw my name written on a board held by our driver. It took over 45 minutes to arrive in Moshi at the Kilimanjaro Wonders Hotel. It was a pretty good hotel with a lovely pool and 4 floors and a rooftop terrace. The restaurant and bar, which were separate, were well appointed. Adam and I shared a room on the 2nd
floor which was a large room with 2 double beds.
As soon as we arrived, I spotted Kerry
Gardenier. It was soooo good to see her. We had so much to catch up on since meeting in Borneo. She was even a grandmother now. We chatted for a while over a Kilimanjaro Larger.
More excitement was building. After a bit more chatting and a light meal (although Adam had a big hamburger), I was ready for a good sleep. Monday 29 January 2018 - Day 1: Arrive in Tanzania:
The next morning, as the hotel was only a 15 minute walk from the city centre (which had about 1 million people), Adam & I decided to walk into town. Kerry had already walked into town and we met her coming back.
A local latched onto us during our walk into town. He showed us all around, through the local produce and hard goods market (the more traditional market with a lot of dirt floors) and the tourist market, both of which were really interesting.
We then stopped at the Kilimanjaro Native Union Cafe for coffee, buying our ‘guide’ some coffee also.
We were expecting an
ulterior motive from him, which finally came. He was an artist as well as a Kilimanjaro guide – so he said. Anyway, we agreed to go and have a look at the co-operative which included carvings and beaded goods in addition to paintings. Adam & I both selected very different paintings but they both included our great challenge, Mt Kili. We paid almost half of his initial offer!!
We walked back to the hotel to catch up with the travellers who were trekking with us – 2 Danish (Jane & Michael), Polish Maggie whose partner was Greg from Calgary, and us 3 Aussies. I could tell that they were going to be fantastic company and support. I was the oldest – which was becoming the norm!!!
At 5.30pm there was a briefing arranged by the Top Climbers Expedition company which was taking us up the mountain. This gave them an opportunity to tell us more about our upcoming trek and to do an equipment check to make sure we had all the necessary mountain gear and clothing for the cold. The missing gear was arranged to
be rented and picked up the next day. We all had to lay our clothing and equipment out on our beds for the guides to check. I needed snow pants and sleeping bag and Adam needed another pair of thermals and snow pants.
We were READY! Lemosho Route
The Lemosho Route is widely considered to be the best route on Mount Kilimanjaro. Not too long ago, there were only two main routes used to climb Kilimanjaro – the Marangu (Coca Cola) route and the Machame (Whiskey) route. But as Tanzania’s tourism industry flourished, the Kilimanjaro park authority created more trails to African’s highest peak. Lemosho, a relatively new route, is preferred by reputable operators due to its beauty, remoteness and success rate. In short, it maximizes the chances that a climber will reach the summit and enjoy the experience overall. The Lemosho route can be done in as little as six days (five nights) on the mountain.
However, it is ideally tackled over eight days (seven nights) for a better altitude acclimatization schedule. The trek began at Londorossi Gate, located
in the western base of mountain, within its lush, fertile rainforest. The route heads across the Shira Plateau, before circling along the southern circuit halfway around the mountain, exposing the climber to great views from all angles. The approach to the summit is made from the east, and the descent follows the Mweka trail.
Africa's largest volcano has three cones, Kibo - the main summit, Mawenzi, and Shira.
The tallest free-standing mountain in the world is located in northeastern Tanzania close to the border of Kenya. The mountain's highest elevation of 5,895 meters (19,340 ft) is Uhuru Peak on Kibo. The volcano erupted from the Sanya plains between 750,000 and 1 million years ago. The origin of the mountain's name is hidden in the mist of history, there are many attempts to explain the name from various dialects of Tanzanian and Maasai people, but none can be confirmed as the original source. Tuesday 30 Janaury - Day 2: Lemosho Glades (2385m) to Big Tree Camp (2780m)
Today was our official trekking day. Excitement, apprehension, minimal anxiety etc etc were all mixed in my head. This adventure was
many years in the ‘making’. We were picked up in a minivan which just fitted our gear and the porters. We learned that the 7 of us had 22 Tanzanians to support us. This included 3 guides who it turned out to be very experienced.
We arrived at the company’s office after being picked up from our hotel at 8.00am, where we paid the remainder of our trekking fee. All up it cost around $2,200 which is very good for what we were provided for the 9 days, including accommodation in Moshi at either end of the trek. The group decided to also hire a mobile toilet – the best $70 USD we shared, EVER!!! One porter was responsible for carrying and maintaining the seat with cartridge (like a caravan) and to erect the tent which it was place in.
Thirty of us were transported to the Lomosho gate, the start of our trek and to the west of the Kili peak. After 3 hours of driving to reach the gate we arrived, and we were given a packed lunch which we ate, while the Tanzanian National Parks checked that all the porters were
not carrying more than 20kgs. This is a very tight regulation now. It hadn’t always been that way, with porters carrying up to 40kgs. The weigh in took some time. At last we were away after driving a little further to the actual gate. Lots of chatter, lots of excitement. We were DEFINITELY READY!!
After the registration process we started our climb steadily through the forests of the Lemosho glades to reach Big Tree camp where we spent our first camping night.
Distance covered: 7km / 4.3mi
Approx. time taken: 4 hours
On arrival to each camp, we had to sign in the Tanzanian National Park’s registration book.
When we arrived at the Big Tree/Mkubna camp site, our tents were up as was our blue meals tent and white toilet tent. All the porters shared 3 other tents. Kerry, Adam & I each had our own individual tent (which were named) and the 2 couples had a tent each. Our individual porters met us and immediately took our day packs and walking poles and put them in the tent. We found out that this is
what they did each afternoon when we arrived. It was certainly like a family. They were so happy to see us and eventually there were hugs each time we arrived ‘home’.
We also learned that each lunch and dinner was hot and very tasty and varied. The Tanzanians loved pepper which suited my fine. There was 1 cook and 2 assistants and a waiter. We got a bowl of water to wash our faces etc before dinner. This was bought to our tents.
With trekking boots off, we met in the meals tent to share all our thoughts and feelings on the day’s events. We did this each meal. Sometimes we arrived just before lunch, or ready for a late lunch.
After dinner that night, Adam bought out his pack of cards and we played “Bullshit” which we taught our Danish friends how to play. They learned very quickly!!!! Greg and Maggie didn’t join us as Greg was fighting a stomach bug which fortunately only lasted 24 hours.
That night I was really cold as I chose to hire a zero degree sleeping bag rather than a -35
degree bag. I doubted that the one I got was zero degrees. Non-the less, by the morning I had many layers of clothes on. From night 2, I wore 2 sets of thermals, Tom’s puffy jacket which he found warm in Norway at -15 degrees, and my fleece on my legs along with socks. I was toasty from there on.
Most mornings, from da3 on, we woke to ice covering our tents and we hear crunching noises as people walked over the ground. This meant the temperature over night was sub-zero. The days warmed up everytime. So lucky! Wednesday 31 January - Day 3: Big Tree Camp (2780m) to Shira 1 Camp (3500m)
Today we trekked across a plateau of grassy moorland and heather scattered with volcanic rock formations. Half of us slept OK. At breakfast we learned that Danish Michael was not a good sleeper at the best of times.
The other point we learned about Michael was that he has run 233 marathons, including an ultra marathon (100kms) and his partner Jane had run over 30 marathons. He even had a tattoo on his calf which
noted his 100th
Danish marathon. Incredible.
Our destination for today was the Shira 1 Camp from where there are often views of Kibo Peak floating on the clouds. We gained a reasonable amount of altitude this day and parts of the route were fairly steep.
I was wearing cycling gloves as I had found with long treks, the base of my thumbs would become red using the walking poles. This proved successful.
Each morning we were provided with sterilised water which we filled our camel bladders with. We had all bought lolly snacks at a shop which we stopped off at on the way to the start. I had bought chiccos and snakes from Australia. However, with porridge each morning and eggs and/or pancakes and fruit for breakfast, I wasn’t lacking calories.
Distance covered: 8.5km / 5.3mi
Approx. time taken: 7 hrs
Before we left there was a massive sing-song by another group of porters and trekkers. We joined in. Kerry, got stuck into the dancing. It was fantastic to watch. I was the unofficial photographer. Our group had a sing-song after
lunch, when we arrived at Shira 1 Camp. It was so much fun. One chant was “more fire, more water, one team, one dream”. The singing (mostly in Swahili) was always lead by one person with that person handing the lead over to another person during the event. This was real team building.
This day tested us out more than the previous day and altitude was now 3,500m. Scenery was beautiful. On one occasion, the clouds were rolling in fast and it was a little damp, so raincoats were pulled out of our day pack. The moisture was more from the clouds than rain.
We continued to see lots of wild flowers and we crossed several streams. From time to time we had to scramble over rocks but only in sections. It was a longer day but we were all feeling good and getting into the rhythm of trekking.
I must mention that each morning we were woken by the waiter with a hot cup of coffee and a little later, a bowl of warm water. We then packed up our back packs and sleeping bag before going to breakfast. By
the time we had finished breakfast our porter had emptied our tent of mattress, sleeping bag and backpacks and was starting to pack the tent up.
We always started trekking before the porters, but they always over took us, and our new camp was entirely established by the time we got to the next camp. Our guides constantly told us “pole (pronounced polee) pole” which means “slowly slowly” in Swahili. Sometimes the pace frustrated me, but I learned that this was the guides way of ensuring we were getting ready for the main assent – the Kili Peak. This was conditioning our legs rather than feeding them with lactic acid. Each night I made sure I did extra long stretches. Both Adam & I had bought our ‘back-balls’ to pound any knotty muscles. This proved very wise. Thursday 1 February - Day 4: Shira 1 Camp (3500m) to Shira 2 Camp (3900m)
Today we had a chance to view the Northern Ice fields from the western side of the mountain with some unusual views of Kibo. Our steady climb across the moorland of the Shira Plateau also helped with acclimatization and
we enjoy great panoramic views. Our destination today was the Shira 2 Camp.
On the way we saw a large bolder, so we HAD to all climb it. It was a bit hairy climbing and we all just fitted at the top. The scenery was beautiful, harsh and only shrubby vegetation seen as the altitude increased. We also saw these ancient plants which looked like tall cacti but weren’t. Each ‘leaf’ coming from the stem included cotton-like material which is the plants way of staying warm. The ‘trunks’ are hollow.
Immediately on arrival and after we had signed in, in the afternoon we took an acclimatization walk then headed back to camp for dinner and overnight. We had to scramble over rocks as we increased our altitude.
One of the reasons we wanted to travel at this time of the year, other than it not being as wet or cold as in December and January, was the full moon which was on the 30-31 January. The next full moon was to be in mid-March. The moon gave us some beautiful scenes.
At Shirma 2 Camp the moon was
beautiful, yet again. Although we often saw big fog/clouds move into the valleys where we were walking, the clouds disappeared as quickly as they appeared. During the whole walk, we were so lucky with the clear skies. This night at Shira 2 Camp was no exception. The moon lit up the landscape which looked like a moonscape and there was Kili in the background. Just beautiful.
Every time we viewed Mt Kili, it looked a little different but never unimposing. I used to say to myself every time I saw it “you are there to be conquered Kili and here we come”.
Altitude-wise we Aussies were all feeling really good even though Kerry was battling a cold and she needed every bit of oxygen we could breath in. Thank goodness we were going ‘pole-pole’.
Distance covered: 8km / 5mi
Approx. time taken: 5 hours
Tot: 0.244s; Tpl: 0.07s; cc: 11; qc: 24; dbt: 0.0181s; 1; m:saturn w:www (18.104.22.168); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.3mb