Kilimanjaro Climb Diary

Diary from camps along the route to highest mountain of Africa.

Sept 18 2010 — After a ~6 hour bumpy drive from Nairobi, crossed Kenyan-Tanzanian border and arrived to Arusha, the other of the two Kilimanjaro tourist towns on the foot of the great mountain (other one being Moshi). Am a bit surprised this Mac still can be used. Road was very bumpy, our bags jumping on the back of shuttle buss, but gadgets still seem to work. While road was bad, views were interesting. Never seen African savanna before. Tomorrow begins my 5 day climb to Kilimanjaro, tallest mountain of whole continent. @ Arusha, Tanzania

Sept 19 2010 — Came at morning from Arusha and started climbing Machame route which am told is second hardest of few ways to top. Haven’t been climbing for ages, but was surprised how well I managed, perhaps tomorrow morning moods are not that bright, muscles will be paining a bit. Hope brought enough clothes with me, as temp here in 3000 meters is already close to 0 now at night. Most of todays climb was in the rainforest, but first camp is just where forest ends. Track was well maintained, should be doable also in rain season. @ Machame gate to Machame hut

Sept 20 2010 — Nights up here are really freezing, which probably is not surprise for anyone but me! (not enough clothes). Second day climbing wise was tougher than first but still manageable. Duration was only 5h today, and we started early so is plenty time once camp was reached. Muscles feel like nothing special has happened. Second camp is much more open than previous, there is more space to fit tents, but winds are stronger. Had a problem getting sleeping previous night, hope this is better. @ Machame hut to Shira hut

Sept 21 2010 — Its 2.30pm and am sitting in my tent after days climb. First time for whole trip that I’ve actually done something! Length wise, both time and distance, climb was similar to day before, but route was mix of up and down hills and crossing magnificent volcanic valleys. Descending was real pain for knees, 0.5-1 meter jumps all the time, grip of cliffs can easily slip. Anyway, it went fine without incident, but my back pack felt heavier today than ever before. Nature is simply beautiful and worth all the trouble, though better fit would make trip more enjoyable. Looking at fantastic volcano moulded valleys, cliff walls and towers makes sometimes feel dizzy and risk of losing balance. @ Shira hut to Barranco hut

Sept 22 2010 — Today was most exhausting day so far, 8hrs of rising and descending hills surrounding the mountain top. We finally reached Barafu hut from where we start climb to top, at midnight! Muscles are protesting, but guess one more day is fine. Kilimanjaro, even from this camp at 4600 meters looks majestic and remote, impossible to reach just in time planned, so lets see how it goes. Views from this camp are stunning best so far! Tomorrow after reaching peak, we have last camp, oh I miss it already! πŸ™‚ @ Barranco hut to Barafu hut

Sept 23 2010 — Kilimanjaro is conquered! Reached Uhuru peak of 5985 meters when sun was rising (~6am), after exhausting climb in a dim moon light. Wind and temp at the top were merciless! Climb would have been tough for anyone, but scenery was breathtaking: gigantic ice glaciers, valleys and Kilimanjaro volcanic rock formations, curved horizon with cloud mattress reaching somewhere very far! Other mountains peaking through from cloud floor, and this all painted in orange, red and yellow colors of rising sun! During climb some people could not handle the exhaustion, both physical and mental, and had to turn down. Some were progressing only leaning to helping shoulder of their spouses or friends, progressing slowly and eyes closed. Never done such climb before, worst was feel of sleepiness and dizzy head, from lack of oxygen so that balance senses get numb and can mistaken. Visual errors, bit like being drunk. All I could do was to take smaller steps, and breath high pace like when running. It seemed to work, so remaining was physical load and cold temperature. After reaching the top and awing the scenes, we descended halfway to Mweka hut for last camp. Trees are already growing on these heights. It will be nice to have shower and shave tomorrow after 5-days πŸ™‚ @ Barafu hut to Mweka hut

Sept 24 2010 — Back from Kilimanjaro, and am staying one night in Mochi. Tomorrow bus to Dar es Salaam starts its way at 7am, but been now used to very early wake ups in mountain. Due to cold it simply was not possible sleep very late. Returning from mountain didn’t have any surprises, legs are still like on fire from peak climb night. To look back a bit and what would I do different before storming into mountain: 1. Travel agent. I used Kenyan one. Moshi or Arusha have many local tour operators to choose from. These two towns run mainly around climbing tourism and there are plenty of hotel accommodation available. Choosing Kenyan company just brought unnecessary middlemen to take their share. 2. Gear wise I was equipped some kind of hybrid, a bit there but not enough. My boots, jacket and clothes were ok during day time. But at higher, and night time was just too cold. Light sleeping bag was easy to carry, but don’t keep warm bellow 0 Celsius. Didn’t have proper backpack with hooks, side pockets etc. Followed jealously tourists who had come specifically for Kilimanjaro holiday, with all possible extra toys such as distance meters and binoculars with them. 3. Tips. Porters (person carrying items for tourists at Kilimanjaro national park, like sherpa’s Nepal) are paid very low by local travel companies, and tips have special meaning for them. I had surprise last day when my tips were protested, and had to go for ATM for some more.

A final comment. Yesterday in Mweka hut one porter died due to heart attack probably resulting from carrying heavy loads on high altitudes, for days or weeks on a row. Man was 6 years younger than me, only 28. Its the darker side of Kilimanjaro tourism, work of a slave like local porters call it themselves. Kilimanjaro is natural park, without roads for vehicles or even donkeys. All is carried by people. And so they carry things like sun stools and beer to all the camps for tourists, and get paid few dollars a day for this crazy job. And like the poor guy yesterday, some die when body just cannot take it anymore. Saw when the man was rushed away in pars, but at that time didn’t knew yet what had happened… @ Moshi, Tanzania