Mt. Kilimanjaro

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September 12th 2011
Published: September 14th 2011
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Working on Mt. Kilimanjaro

I'm back in Kampala after a "work trip" to Tanzania and Mt. Kilimanjaro. If you understand Norwegian you can read the updates from Hvitserk here .

I was flying over from Entebbe, Uganda, 4th of September to meet up with a Norwegian group travelling to Mt. Kilimanjaro and Masai Mara (Kenya). My role was to be an assistant guide and learn about Hvitserk and how they are working.

I arrived at Kilimanjaro Airport and took a shuttle to Moshi. Here I just walked a bit around before I went to a restaurant we ate in a lot last time I was here. Check out the blog entries from this one: On the road again!. They serve cheap and good Indian, Chinese, Japanese and Pakistani food. After a meal I had a pleasant reunion with the dala-dalas in Tanzania. Taking the minibus to the hotel I got close (literary) to the local people again : ) And the contrast from the dala-dala to the hotel was huge. Protea Aishi Hotel, Machame, is a pleasant place to stay, but far from the local living standards.

The group from Norway arrived a few minutes past nine, and they where a bit tired after a long day of travelling from Oslo and Kristiansand. The evening was just spent packing for the trek the day after and getting some sandwiches in the restaurant. I tried to put the names I had on my list on to the right faces, and explain to the group what I was doing in Uganda.

Trekking the mountain

After the breakfast we drove for three hours to Nalemuru gate on the Rongai Route. This route starts on the north-eastern side of the mountain, just on the border to Kenya. We had lunch at the gate and met with all the local guides, seven in total. From the gate it was a 3,5 hours walk to the first camp, Simba Camp, at 2625 m. It was a walk through farmland and woodland, and we could spot a few black and white colobus monkeys on the way up. In the evening Thor, the main guide from Norway, and I prepared for a little birthday party for Ann Helen who had here birthday this first trekking day.

Thor and I started to talk about the routines we should follow the next days, so everyone would have a good chance of reaching the summit. It's the first time in altitude for the group so it's important to get the good routines from the first day! Mark, our main local guide, has a really good tempo on the walking so that part is safe for all of us.

Next day we got waked up by the waiter who served tea in the tent! And this was going to last for the rest of the trip! Everyday we wake up at 6.30, have breakfast at 7,30, and start walking at 8,30. Everyone is going to sleep early in the night so waking up at 6,30 is not problem on this trek. People are up and running even before. Maybe it's the excitement of being close to the dream of reaching the summit for some people?

The trek up to Kikelelwa Camp at 3630 was hard to the body for many in the group. 1000 meter up is a lot, and you can start feeling the altitude and lack of oxygen. We are going up and down the group making sure they are drinking enough and breathing properly. Next day we woke up to a beautiful sunrise and people had enjoyed a good night of sleep and were ready for a new hard day with another 700 metres up to Mawenzi Tarn Camp.

Mawenzi Tarn Camp has a stunning placement on the foot of Mawenzi (5149 m). But it's at 4310 metres above sea level and for some people this is starting to be really hard to the head. Headache and nausea is getting more common in the group now and we had to be strict with the routines.

The next day we walked up to Kibo Hut. We had a great view of Mt. Kilimanjaro the most of the day and the excitement in the group was growing. After 5 hours of walking we reached Kibo Huts. The group in total has done a great effort so far, and people with some problems along the way has been better. Everyone was ready for the summit attempt in the night.

We started off at 11.30 in the night. I got a few hours sleep and felt pretty good for the long day on the mountain. Walking up the scree was a long process and people where struggling with the altitude and cold. Catching the breath, throwing up, eating some painkillers, headache, nausea, cold hands, cold feet. It's hard work for pretty much everyone in the group, but they were doing a great job and 15 out of 16 made it to Gilman's Point! From there it was long walk for those who didn't turn back down, up to Uhuru Peak. But after been working hard with themselves or "forced" to continue, 11 people made it to the highest point in Africa. It was mixed how much they enjoyed being up there at the time, but everyone was really happy about the experience after getting back down.

After some resting, packing and lunch at Kibo Huts we continued down to Horombo Camp Site at 3720 m. People were not really happy about the idea of more trekking after the summit, but when we got there they had forgotten it already. Getting down in altitude is always nice after been up high. And people will sleep better as well.

From Horombo we walked down in our own speed to the gate, with a lunch brake halfway. And of course we had to celebrate with a Kilimanjaro Beer at the gate. The Marangu Gate is the main one for Kilimanjaro National Park and here you can find the main office for Mafuru, the Park Warden. We interviewed him for our project last time I was here...

It's a tradition to gather the whole crew at the gate, giving tips and say thanks to the local crew for their hard work. They are also singing the Kilimanjaro song, and they will get some gear that people leave for them. This time they also witnessed a proposal! One in the group had planned to propose for his girlfriend at the summit, but he didn't make it all the way up. So instead he did it in front of the whole group of tourists, porters, guides and cooks, for their big enjoyment. Happy ending on the trip : ) (She said yes...)

Back on the hotel we enjoyed a nice buffet and champagne to celebrate the engagement. But with 6 days of hard work the party didn't continue through the night. I think the last ones went to bed around midnight...

The day after we woke up to rain and the first half was spent relaxing at the hotel. After lunch I took two of the girls in to Moshi to show them around. We had a few hours around and visited the local market, met a street seller I remember from last time (really annoying person...), and they did some small souvenir shopping. Back and forth to the hotel we took the dala-dala which is an experience itself.

All in all I had a great week in Tanzania. Good to be back around Kilimanjaro and good to experience the work with Hvitserk. Looking forward to more work for them in the future (hopefully....).


Additional photos below
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14th September 2011

Dette så virkerlig ut til å være en herlig tur Magnus! Skulle gjerne gjort denne turen sammen med deg en gang! Nyt resten av oppholdet i Uganda og turen du skal på. Vi gleder oss til å få deg hjem igjen.
20th September 2011

Jeg skulle også gjerne gjort denne turen sammen med deg en gang. Og jeg gleder meg også til du kommer hjem da selvfølgelig.

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