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Just a quick update

Well I have now been to the highest point in Africa. Later I’ll provide a day by day account of the trek (hopefully), which was amazing. I went up via the Lemosho route, which is reportedly more remote and less crowded than other routes. But according to my guide Issa, the route is gaining in popularity as the road to get there becomes more accessible. The description of the route also mentioned the possibility of seeing buffalo, elephants, and other large game, so hikers on the first day are accompanied by an armed ranger. This is not true, Issa said he rarely sees large game during the day, although during the night at the first camp site, hikers are discouraged from wandering too far for fear of encountering a larger animal. So I was a little disappointed on that front, since I was expecting to at least see an elephant or water buffalo on the first day. I did see several black and white colobus, some baboons on the drive over, and a blue monkey on the trail.

The hike itself lasted over six days, early on the fifth day was the day of the ascent to the top of Uhuru peak. I’m glad I went via the Lemosho route, as we started out in forest/jungle and as we gained elevation, the size of the vegetation shrank, moving from jungle to heath, to alpine, finally to barren rocks and then snow. It also got colder and windier (obviously) as we gained elevation. The day of the ascent was especially cold, especially once the wind picked up, but it all became worth it as I finally reached the summit, and saw the sun rising over the clouds illuminating the mountain.

It is required that each trekker be accompanied by a guide, and typically several porters who carry your bags, tents, and the cooking equipment. They are limited to carrying 20 kg, and their bags are weighed before they start the trek to make sure that they aren’t carrying too much.

There was a definite range in the number of porters per group, there was one man on the trail who only had a guide and between them they carried everything they needed. On the opposite extreme, there was a group of 2 people that had at least 15 porters, and were provided with their own toilet tent, a dining tent, table, and chairs. I was accompanied by four porters, plus my guide Issa. Two of the porters carried my stuff, one Justin, also served as the cook, and Dickson was an assistant cook who would bring me my meals in a tent. I definitely lived a very pampered lifestyle, even though I did not have a toilet tent (they had outhouses at every site, which consisted of a pit in the ground and two blocks of wood on either side, i.e. a squat toilet), or a personal dining tent. All of the porters were very friendly, and even though it was just me, I felt very comfortable the entire time.

Hiking Kilimanjaro was an amazing experience and I will always remember those few (very cold) moments at the top of the snows of Kilimanjaro.

* there were supposed to be pictures but the internet is not cooperating

Filed under Africa Kilimanjaro