and now to get on with it. first, i'm sure you want to know WTF i was thinking, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro by myself.
i already had a trip planned to Kenya with an organization i volunteer for, and someone on the build had asked other team members if anyone was interested in doing the climb afterwards. i said i might be, and then i researched it a bit more seriously and got pretty excited about it. unfortunately, that guy had to drop out of the trip for personal reasons, but i already had my mind made up, so i booked it solo. i'm SURE, in retrospect, that doing it alone gave me a totally different experience...and i think it was also way more challenging this way- at least mentally.
on sunday, july 17th, i was picked up from the guesthouse in Nairobi and taken downtown, where i was put (rather unwillingly) on a shuttle bus to Tanzania. i was the only person on the bus that spoke english, save for the questionable character across from me that smelled of a dirty bar mat, oozing the stench of years of drinking cheap booze. i pretended to sleep (or be deaf) for the majority of the drive...which ended up taking about 7 hours. crossing the border actually deserves it's own blog, but i won't do that to you. ; ) let's just say that it was really straight out of a movie, with me feeling like a refugee trying not to anger the guys armed with automatic weapons everywhere. i had to get off the bus, go through a process to exit kenya, then WALK across the border and then clear customs on the other side. the bus, once it was cleared, picked me up in tanzania, and we continued into Arusha.
once we got there, i was taken to a guesthouse and got a room for the night. the people from the tour company came by and we had a meeting. i met my guide, who at the time, seemed friendly enough. we spoke for about an hour on what i should expect (which really was nothing i hadn't read or heard already) then i ate dinner, repacked all my bags, and went to bed.
(excerpt from my journal) - i am nervous, a little scared, worried about the cold and the elevation...but excited and pretty determined.
as we drove the hour or so to the park, we stopped in a little village to get some last minute things. here's the cook stocking up on meat for our dinners. i'm taking the pic from the truck. all the butcher shops look like this there.
|me, Eme, the cook, and Wenason, my "guide"|
we drove up to the gate, and had to unload all of our things and distribute the weight among the porters. you must have with you: a guide, a cook, and however many porters required so that they can carry your camping and cooking equipment. i will come back to the porters in another blog. so we get registered with the park (so they know how many people are on the mountain at all times) and then, just like that, we are ready to go. at this point, i'm just excited.
i had chosen the Machame Route...steep, a little more challenging, we'd sleep in tents, and it would take 6-7 days. i did lots of research for this trip, but by far, the most helpful resource was a book called KILIMANJARO by Henry Stedman. there's a website to go along with the book HERE. it really gave me all the info i needed, and i'd recommend it to anyone that is even thinking about climbing. i loved the maps, and how everything was timed out, so that an 8 hour hiking day was not a "surprise".
so, there i was, on my way up. the first level i hiked through was the rainforest. i saw lots of birds, mice, even some monkeys...but no rain. it was SO beautiful. a little tough in some places, and i certainly learned very quickly why you're not supposed to wear cotton, and why making your day pack as light as possible is a very good idea.
i walked about 7 miles the first day, up to 9,911 feet! there were lots of steep inclines & rocks, and the last hour or so was really tough. when i got to camp, the porters were there and had set up our tents- one for me, one for the guide, and the porters slept in the kitchen/cooking tent.
when you arrive at camp, they have hot tea or cocoa for you, and some popcorn. it gets tougher to eat as you get higher in altitude, but the first day wasn't too bad. dinner was a couple hours later, a simple meal with lots of carbs, and then i was in my tent and out like a light, really grateful for my amazing sleeping bag.
next blog coming soon- day two, and my hike to Shira Caves!