Oh my gosh this is it. It’s here. Our first day of our climb up Mt Kilimanjaro! We’ve been planning and training for this trip for over a year, so it’s really hard to believe that we’re actually heading to the mountain to begin climbing it today.
We’re meeting our guide Innocent at 830am, so we have breakfast and use the last bit of internet we’ll have for 8 days. A couple from Pittsburgh sits next to us near the end of our meal, and tell us they just finished their climb and had successfully summited! They give us a lot of encouragement and some tips to ease our minds, which is great because we’re pretty nervous! Later, as we’re loading up our gear, they seek us out to tell us one last tip, make sure to get a private toilet…it’s SO worth it! But more on that later.
After we get on the road, our guide asks us if we want to stop for some last minute snacks. I make sure to pick up my summit Snickers! The 3 hour drive to the Londorossi Gate is a bit bumpy, but we finally arrive and sign in.
We’re doing the 8 day Lemosho Route. We chose it because it’s supposed to have an excellent success rate due to its long acclimatization. It’s also much less traveled than the Machame Route, so we get to have all the same scenery but a quarter of the people. You can see in the picture below the route we take up, and the Mweka Route we’ll take back down.
Porters are only allowed to carry 20kg or about 35lbs, and this is strictly enforced. They weigh all the bags before we are allowed to enter the park, so we eat our box lunch while we wait.
Finally, we’re off!
The trail starts off steep enough, but really isn’t so bad, especially as we’re going pole pole (slowly slowly).
It winds through the trees, sometimes out into the sun but mostly in the shade, climbing up before dropping down, only to go back up again. Sometimes it feels like we aren’t gaining any elevation because of all the downhill!
Of course I immediately begin to snap photos. The flowers here are lovely. Sadly, I don’t remember the name of most of them, but they’re pretty none the less!
Soon the porters start to catch up and race ahead of us. I’m so impressed that they are able to carry so much and go much faster, while I’m struggling going slowly with less than 20lbs on my back. They really earn every penny they make from these treks. I take many photos of them over the days.
This is our assistant guide, Attley. He is usually ahead of us, while Innocent is in the back.
I’m in front of Amy for the majority of the trip as I’m slower so I set the pace, but a few times she ends up going ahead at her own speed.
We make good time to Mkubwa Camp (2.5 hours) where we settle to experience our first evening.
This is our little set up for the entire climb. We have a dining tent where all our meals are served, plus popcorn and tea when we first arrive. This might truly be a little slice of heaven.
There’s also our sleeping tent, a few tents for our guides and porters, and our private toilet. This ended up being such a good investment for several reasons (and neither of us are fussy campers). First, it was a sit down toilet. After hiking all day, the last thing you want to do is have to squat over a hole in the ground. Too tired for that! Second, it was so much closer to us than the public toilets! In the middle of the night, when you’re stumbling over rocks by light of a headlamp, the last thing you want to do is walk 200 yards to get to the toilet. It cost us an extra $100 for the entire trip which we split, and both Amy and I exclaimed (several times) that it was worth much more.
Dinners usually consist of a cup of soup to start (it’s the same base every night and a different vegetable added), protein (tonight is fish), tons of carbs for energy (tonight we have pasta, but some nights we have potatoes, rice or bread) and a veggie sauce.
It all tastes so much better than I would expect on a camping/hiking trip!
After dinner, we’re exhausted and pretty much head to bed at 7pm. I take an Ibuprofen PM and pass out. We have an early start the next morning so we need our rest!