My venture into East Africa, Tanzania was a mind plan for many years and the biggest drawing card? ….Mount Kilimanjaro - The magnetising realm of the highest mountain on the motherland continent of Africa and the highest free standing mountain on earth! The gratifying feeling of being on the top of your world.
Not on the best fitness enthusiast level and having embarked on a raw food lifestyle many around me regarded the Kilimanjaro plan mystifying and found no reason or logic to withstand reaching the risk of a peak.
Until it is actually done, never mind those that frowned, you will personally see lessons learned along the way, not as a mountain expert or travel guide, but pure soul reflection of a climb of note.
My Trip Dates: 9 May 2011- 16 May 2011
Type of travel: Bus from the city centre of Dar-es Salaam to Moshi town. Slept over 9 May for the coming journey ahead.
The group had a wide range and diversity from the youngest of only 12years old ! We paid $1800 per person. There were eight people in total.
Choosing the Route
The planted sub conscious droning on streaming fear of the risk came in handy to factor common sense when it was time for coordination of the final plan of the adventure. Most will climb Kilimanjaro just once, so the path chosen should ensure success to get to the top!
Now statistics can really be unreliable depending on who is consulted. The estimation is that only thirty percent of people reach Uhuru Peak.
There are basically six official routes to get to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro.
Three of these routes, namely Marangu, Machame and Umbwe approach from a southerly direction. Two of the routes Lemosho and Shira from the west and Rongai from the northeasterly side.
Each has s considerations to take note of and differing success rates. I chose the five night Rongai route. It is consistent and gradual except when reaching the final ascent. It is less crowded and has a wider range of scenery.
Each person daring to venture the climb up should choose the best one for themselves or group that accompanies them.
Climbing Kilimanjaro is not a cheap mission and needs to be carefully planned. It is better not to try not cut corners and risk injury as a result.
We hiked for five hours! It was approximately eight kilometres in total. We were picked up in Arusha after an early morning breakfast. We drove to the Marangu Gate.
The trail starts in tall corn fields leading to pine forests. It was a gradual ascent and we enjoyed the surroundings. The Montane forests were spectacular. We had a lunch break halfway up. Our tents were set up by the time we reached 1st caves camp. We were made aware of cold temperatures of the night and served a warm supper!
On day two we hiked about seven hours up to Kekelewa caveat 3600m. We passed the second cave at 3450m and took a lunch break. All was set up by the time we reached the freezing and exposed camp!
On day 3 we ventured towards the Mawenzu tarn camp at 4330m. The trail was short but we got to see some exotic plants in the moorland. The views were just spectacular and we gazed at the sunset splendor.
On Day four we made our way up to the Kibo hut at 4700m. It took about five hours. The area is an alpine desert. It was an early night that evening.
Day Five took about eight hours, An ascent six kilometres up. We were on a mission to reach the summit! We were woken up close to midnight to begin the attempt to reach the summit. Rock and the steep path ahead at the highest altitude ever. We reached the snow covered point until the summit. A lifetime accomplishment!
Descend back down is about 27 km for six hours.We stopped at Horombo Hut at 3720m and finally Marangu Gate (1980m)
The dormant volcano Kilimanjaro comprises of the volcanic cones, Mawenzi, Kibo, this is where the Uhuru summit is .
Kibo is dormant but it is not extinct. The last eruption happened 360000 years back. Volcanic activity occurred two hundred years ago and the ash pit is visible from the Uhuru Peak.
The summit of Mount Kilimanjaro is called Uhuru Peak and stands at 5,895m. Mount Everest, 8,848 meters which are just over 2,950 meters higher than Kilimanjaro.
Depending on which route is taken, it is a walking mountain, so no need to worry if about grappling skills. If you happen to not be an avid hiker, it is best to get some practice trails beforehand.
More preparation will help. Prepare hiking between four and twelve hours each day for approximately six or seven days. You need to be comfortable with endurance bearing in mind the distance as well.
- Do a through gear checklist. Get hiking boots. No one needs to deal with blister s and other feet issues.
- The temperature and weather can fluctuate dramatically from the start to the end of the trip, so it is better to choose wick fabrics and bring along layers.
- Get good quality thermal underwear and a warm hat, gloves, sunscreen and sunglasses, rain protection, a day pack, camel backs and water bottles
This is not a race, not a sprint. Chill out, relax and check out amazing views along the way while your body adjusts. The guides are helpful in pacing out the climb appropriately
Once the days hiking is over get ready to set up camp. Take a short climb up and back down for the body to adjust and acclimatise. Acute mountain sickness can affect the strongest and healthiest. All are susceptible and gender age or fitness does not correlate.
Be aware of the realities
It is an awkward truth that acute mountain sickness causes about ten people to die each year when they attempt to get to the top of Kilimanjaro. Many have to be carried down before getting to the top. The major issue causing evacuations as a result of altitude sickness.
Now success is also about drinking plenty water amounts and eating on a regular basis as well even if there may be a case of appetite loss. Get a guide or a company that provides good meals as well. There is a medication for acute mountain sickness if you feel an onset of symptoms coming up as well as prevention.
Once a certain point has been reached there is no way of curing any acute altitude sickness and at this time it would be best to stop the climb and head back down. It is important to pay attention to the body and never underestimate any signs of dangers.
Amazing sights along the way
The journey up offers travel passing through a rainforest, where there are pep monkeys and other crawlies too and worldly unique vegetation.
Once the top is reached there is not a lot of vegetation, but snow and rock, and the view from above get you viewing the clouds below! It is an amazing planet earth venture of note. Each camp along the way is breathtaking peaceful and beautiful beyond words.
It is the best time to click into a soul connection. Breathe m think and clear the mind. Contemplate your soul purpose, you connect the environment and think about how and why your calling here appeared.
But before delving into headspace do get to know the guides as well as fellow hikers that will accompany you on the journey ahead. There is a lot to learn from each other. Encouragement, patience and support are really needed.
The Mountain is Mind Over Matter
It is not completely true that there is no real challenge, It is a mountain for sure. The highest free standing in the world and the top of Africa!
By mind, over matter, we all reach an awareness level. We program our minds to create success or failure levels. Even if you decide that you are reaching the summit, it takes full energy, focus and total discipline.
I thought that summiting Lion’s Head and Table Mountain in Cape Town meant my mind level has been conquered. You have to work your mind up to not stand in the way of your mission to the Uhuru Peak summit.
The body is capable of the most incredible things. Once self-doubt is dealt with, the mental weariness slips away, new heights of capabilities gets discovered.
In actual fact, the final ten hours are extremely brutal in ways that are not imagined. On the last two nights, you only get to sleep for a limited time before taking off at midnight to keep going up.
You cannot spend much time at the altitude reached so there is a need to go up and down to maximise the hours of sunlight you can capture. You get tired. It is freezing cold! The altitude causes some brain waves to jerk you up a little. Oxygen is so thin and getting enough to breathe is a mission. And the physical exertion is overbearing.
The last miles to the top are steep and the sand gravel is not your best friend this time. Every time you step forward you slide half of a step backwards. It feels like a cruel joke on you. You got to keep holding up and will make it to the top.
And then you get to see the world from the most spectacular and you open your eyes and see that it was all worth it!
You will be at a conquering energy kneeling down in tears of exuberance, and there is a mobile reception on the top by the way. so get ready to Messenger, Tweet a and Skype away!
Once you are on the top, you get fifteen minutes there as the altitude to too tough for the body. You will need to journey down approximately sixty percent back before you can camp again. This can be another mission especially if you struggled to get to the summit.
Nevertheless, it is a well-earned victory. Nobody can really be sure they can make it to the top. Once you exit the gate of Kilimanjaro National park, the realisation hits you. You made it all the way and got the to top of the tallest free standing mountain in the whole world. You travel 50 miles and climb up19300 feet. And you are down to earth!
The human body and strength of your spirit can make you accomplish and handle amazing miracles you never imagined. Pushing yourself to the limits by reaching the peak of this mountain is the ultimate.
Exuberance and pride are intensely overwhelming. It stays engraved in mind archives for any day you may feel down or demotivated. The unparalleled memory of upliftment despite any triumphs you are faced with. Anyone who can afford it and is game should definitely not miss this one!