The main purpose of the trip was to climb Kilimanjaro and this is the story of how we managed it!
The whole trip was organised for us by Private Expeditions and these guys are brilliant and would recommend them to anyone wanting to climb Kili or go on Safari.
Day 1: 09/03/2013 Machame Gate to Machame Camp. 1800m to 3000m 11km. About 6 hours walking.
Starting off with a relatively easy gradual walk with good tracks and nothing too arduous!
Mostly through Montane Forest which is like a rain forest but not that many birds or animals (we did see some Columbus Monkeys on the way down).
Rained a bit in the afternoon and this is where the umbrellas supplied by guides came in very useful – a bit surreal walking up through rainforest with bright orange and white umrellas over our heads!
Day 2: 10/03/2013 Machame Camp to Shira Camp. 3000m to 3850m 9km. About 5 hours walking.
Day 3: 11/03/2013 Shira Camp to Barranco Camp via Lava Tower. 3850m up to 4600m and back down to 3950m. 9km. About 6 hours walking.
Day 4: 12/03/2013 Barranco Camp to Karanga Camp. 3950m to 3950m. 7km. About 4 hours walking including scrambling up the Great Barranco Wall!
Day 5: 13/03/2013 Karanga Camp to Barafu Camp – this is Base Camp prior to summit. 3950m to 4600m. 6km. About 3 hours walking.
We arrived at Barafu Camp in time for lunch served as usual by Hans and then spent the afternoon relaxing before supper at about 6.
We then got our selves geared up for the summit due to start at midnight. This meant getting all the right layers on and packing sufficient extra layers, gloves etc. in rucksacks to be ready for anything.
Slept for a short while (or at least dozed) before being up at 11:30 p.m. ready for the final push.
Day 6: 14/03/2013 Barafu Camp to the Summit and back down to Mweka Camp. 4600m to 5895m and back down to 3100m. 7km ascent. 6 hours to Stella Point then a further 45 minutes to the summit. 23km descent. 6-7 hours descent to Mweka Camp.
This is the BIG day!
Started out at midnight with head torches (lots of spare batteries as well!) on and all we could see was a steady stream of lights snaking up the mountain in front of us.
The first section up was pretty hard going up rocky terrain and, more or less, straight up but, as always, our guides made us go “pole, pole” and made sure we paced ourselves properly.
Once over the rocky bit the path started to zig-zag and gradually climb and climb and climb…
As we went up it gradually got colder and colder and both Jim and I had to put on an extra layer and change gloves to arctic mitts over fleece inner gloves to keep our hands warm. Jim was suffering from cold feet (literally not metaphorically!).
We stopped occasionally for some sweets that Jim had brought but basically kept on moving the whole time just plodding up and up and up…
The big challenge was keeping warm without overheating because at the very slow pace we had to maintain to make sure we got up we were not generating that much heat and with a pretty strong wind blowing it was very cold.
Jim eventually overtook me and went on up with August whilst Praygod stayed with me and kept me going slowly but surely and it did seem interminable but you just had to keep going and watch the lights above and below as others gradually made their way up as well.
Eventually you could start to see some daylight appearing and realised that you were getting there and eventually – over the top to Stella Point!!! See photo – what a moment…
We then stopped and rested for a few minute – tried to drink from frozen bottles and had a snack before setting off for the final 45 minute much more gradual walk to the summit itself. What a feeling when we got there and what a spectacular view – some photos here and a short video clip to be added soon.
Then it was back down as fast as our legs would carry us and Jim was off well in front of me but I found the going down tough on my feet and legs. We stopped at Barafu for lunch on the way down and then set off again down to Mweka Camp and, again, I was suffering with my feet but you just had to keep going and it started to rain again as we approached Mweka and I was so glad to get to the camp that could hardly eat any food and simply fell into the tent and sleeping bag and slept from 7:00 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. the following day!
Day 7: 15/03/2013 Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate and back to hotel! 3100m to 1800m. 8km. About 4 hours walking.
We started fairly promptly from Mweka after breakfast and sorting out photo shoots with all the team and thanking them all most profusely. We also sorted out all the tips for the guys because many of them were off home as soon as they got down. These guys really do deserve medals – they do this once or twice a month and without them us “mere mortals” simply could not make it.
Names in some sort of order: August (Guide), Porters: Revo, Reginald, Seraphin, Nicholas, Paul, Hans (waiter), Simon, Praygod (Lead Guide) and August (Chef).