Kilimanjaro Climb

Kilimanjaro Climb - Day 6

Wake at Mweka camp after a restless night, but thankfully the altitude hangovers are gone. We work out tips for the team. They rely heavily on tips from tourists for their income as they are not paid well, especially the porters. I can vouch for this by the inadequacy of their clothing and footwear. Our summit guides had no gloves, despite temperatures reaching -20° at the summit. Only a few porters had walking boots- the rest had ordinary day shoes or trainers.

We make the final descent to the park gate for registration and presentation of our completion certificates and a final song from the porters, before being transported back to the hotel.

Back at the hotel there is enough time for a fairly cold shower and a look around a local market to pick up some souvenirs before making our way home. Great experience, and very eye-opening.  If you have any old walking gear- boots, hats, gloves, waterproof clothing, please don’t throw them out. I am happy to send these things out for the porters to use and share, no matter how old and worn!

Kilimanjaro Climb - Day 5

8am- Heading for Barafu camp today, which is base camp before we begin the final ascent. Lovely clear morning, dry and sunny. Everyone beginning to acclimatise now, so we’re all in good spirits and feeling well. Six hours walking to base camp at 4600m/15100ft. Great views. Favourite day so far. Arrived 1230 for lunch- hot potato stew.  Afternoon siesta and evening meal then another rest before getting up at 11pm to prepare for final ascent.

Wake at 11pm for a cup of tea and leave at midnight. Full moon, so headlamps not needed. Very hard, very cold climb. Guides singing the whole way to keep up morale. Reached summit at 6:20am in time for sunrise.

Extremely windy, several groups don’t make an attempt to the final summit. Two who do are a ten-year-old boy and a woman in her seventies with an oxygen tank! Several individuals clearly unwell with altitude sickness and needing assistance to descend.

Thumping headaches and the extreme cold meant we could only spend a few minutes taking pictures before beginning a rapid descent back to base camp for an hour’s sleep, before descending further to Mweka camp at 3100m/10,100ft. It felt like the world’s worst hangover- headache, nausea, fatigue.  Nothing a couple of paracetamol and a couple of hours sleep couldn’t sort out.

Kilimanjaro Climb - Day 4

Only three hours walking today, because we need to complete a steep ascent along Barafu wall. Slightly scary scramble up an escarpment, very narrow with sharp drop to one side. Climbed from 4000m to 4674m today. Long traverse to Karanga camp. Everyone feeling unwell, but hot lunch of chips and coleslaw which was the best all week! After a short siesta, we take a 1 ½ hour walk to a higher altitude to acclimatise, then back down to camp for the night. Hot supper of chicken and rice.

Kilimanjaro Climb - Day 3

Wake up at 6am. Breakfast at 7am. Today we face a long, hard climb, but visually stunning. Open moorland progressing into high altitude desert. Lunch at Lava Tower (4,600m/15,100ft). Descended to Baranco camp at 4000m/13,100ft). Today we begin to notice the effects of altitude sickness. Nausea, fatigue, diarrhoea.  It rained solidly all afternoon as well, so we’re soaked through. Pretty miserable afternoon. First mobile phone signal though, so happy to get messages from home.

Kilimanjaro Climb - Day 2

Wake at 6am  after a very cold, wet night. After a quick breakfast of omelette, sausage, toast and fruit, we leave at 8am for a four-hour, steep climb to Shira camp at 3,300m/10,800ft. Walked through moorland, very pretty terrain. Shared our lunch with a striped forest mouse! Packed lunches consisted of juice, fried chicken, a boiled egg, jam sandwich and a small cake. It transpired that lunch was the same every day, and as the bread and cake began to dry out, they would deep fry the sandwiches.

Beef and rice for dinner. Great stars! There’s a cave at this camp where 70 porters used to sleep overnight. They now sleep in tents, but 3 or 4 to a tent and at least two slept in the mess tent.

Kilimanjaro Climb - Day 1

Breakfast at 7am. Final kit check and we’re off to meet our team for the week. Slightly embarrassed to find such a large and capable support team- 2 guides (Ramadhan and Kisanga), cook (Dennis), waiter (Chas) and nine porters to carry the kit. Recent regulations impose limitations of a maximum of 20kg weight to carry per porter, hence the large team. They carry our bags and their own kit as well as all the camping and cooking gear and food.

We start walking from Machame Gate along a gentle incline through rain forest for about six hours to our first overnight stop at Machame Camp. Saw blue monkeys high up in the trees above the path. The camp itself looks a little like a refugee camp, with tents pitched on sloping muddy terrain. Of course, being a rain forest, it’s very wet weather. We have a ‘mess tent’ for my brothers and me, where we eat a meal of fried fish and potatoes. There’s no alcohol allowed on the mountain because of the risks of complications with adjusting to the altitude during the week. Apparently Italian and Russian clients are notorious for not complying!

Kilimanjaro Climb - Day 0

3am start to catch plane from Edinburgh to Amsterdam and then onto Kilimanjaro. First glimpse of Kilimanjaro from the plane! Arrive safely at hotel after a hair-raising journey through town, past a jack-knifed lorry on the way (African drivers notorious for making up their own rules of the road).