Mt. Kilmanjaro

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Schedule/Flight Info:

Flight From To Departs Arrives
Egyptair 759 Cairo Nairobi Su 10/8 11:15pm Mo 10/9 6:00am
Air Zimbabwe 347 Nairobi Harare Th 10/19 2:45pm Th 10/19 4:30pm
Air Zimbabwe 220 Harare Victoria Falls Fr 10/20 7:00am Fr 10/20 8:30am

Our Plans:

The hike up Mt. Kilimanjaro is undoubtedly the most strenuous and taxing event planned on the MOAV. From accounts gathered we expect everything from altitude sickness and sore muscles to breathtaking views and unforgettable memories. Our hike to the top will take us through most levels of geographic terrain from savannahs and grasslands to forests then ending in snow and ice. Although a hike and not a 'technical' climb, the route will take us to the 19,340ft peak where visitors on clear days can actually see the curvature of the earth!

October 9: We will be picked up by the Davanu shuttle bus to Arusha from the airport and transported to Moshi where we will overnight at the Springlands Guesthouse.

October 10: We drive to Machame trail head and start hiking to 1900m where we will spend the night at our first campsite.

October 11: We now follow the steep ridge which veers West and after 3-4 hours gradually ascend to the Shira plateau and our campsite at 3800m.

October 12: From Shira we walk East on the plateau following the trail leading to the lava tower. Shortly before the tower we branch off onto the path to the Umbwe Ridge and Barranco Hut which is situated at 3900m. Our campsite is a further 30 minutes walk beyond the hut beside a glacial stream. From here there are wonderful views of the Southern ice cliffs and the breach wall.

October 13: Today we scramble to the top of the Great Barranco and traverse over scree and ridges beneath ice falls of the Heim Kersten and Decken glaciers. After a steep pull out of the Karanga Valley we ascend the ridge leading to the Barafu huts at 4600m

October 14: After an early start (approximately midnight) we ascend directly to the rim of Kibo between the Rebmann and Retzel glaciers. From here it is about a 45 minute walk to Uhuru Peak 5895m - the roof of Africa - with views of Mt. Meru to the West and the jagged peak of Mawenzi to the East. We then descend to Kibo hut for a short (but well earned!) rest before continuing down to Horombo hut at 3720m where we spend the night. Temperatures at the Kibo huts are usually around 14F degrees at night when we start the last hike so lots of warm layers and woolly hats/gloves will be worn on this hike! We will be on the mountain just a few days after the full moon so hope to have bright skies to guide us. In case this does not happen we also have headlamps and flashlights to walk by.

October 15: We descend to Marangu gate passing Mandara hut on the way. A short diversion above the park gate allows a last look at the forests. Finally a short drive down to the town of Moshi where our guesthouse awaits.

October 16: Depart from Moshi in the late morning on return shuttle bus back to Nairobi. Stay at a 4-star hotel to rest up and be pampered!!

October 17 - 19: Explore Nairobi and surrounding areas.

Links:

bulletgo2africa.com Kenya page
bulletKilimanjaro Hike Home Page

Our Photos (click here to see more):

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At the Machame gate.  After signing in, we started our hike.

An amazing shot that Dawn took with her fancy camera accessories.  This is taken in the dead of night with a full moon.  The lens was held open for about 30 seconds to collect light.  The funny light at the bottom is someone walking around with a flashlight.  Trying not to get too close to the edge of the earth.

Dawn at the top!!!  The sign reads: 

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Congratulations!  

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You are now at 

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Uhuru Peak, Tanzania, 5895M. AMSL

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Africa's highest point

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World's highest free-standing mountain

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One of the world's largest volcanoes

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Welcome

Our Diary:

October 9: We were met at the airport by a shuttle and rode to Moshi on a bus for approximately 6 hours. It was rough because we had flown all night from Cairo and had little sleep. Right out of the airport we saw a giraffe, then along the route we saw lots of zebra, ostrich, donkeys, and some vultures eating dead prey. The people along the route from Kenya to Tanzania were very often dressed in bright tribal colors and native dress. Along the route we also glimpsed our first view of Mt. Kili! We were very scared driving to the guesthouse as there was little road to speak of and on the outskirts of town. We drove up to large fortified walls with a guard! Once inside though we were surprised with a great pool and garden area. Met our co-climbers...Suzanne and Eva from Sweden and Monika from Norway. Had a briefing about the climb beginning the next morning then headed to bed.

October 10: We drove to Machame trail head and began our hike through rainforest. The guides go very slow, but after 5 minutes you're glad they do as the route is fairly steep and constantly rising. Our guide's name was Yusuf and we had an assistant guide Mohamed, a cook, and 10 porters for our bags. The trail this day was fairly muddy and the hike lasted 6 hours. A highlight of today was seeing a chameleon eat a fly! The guide said it was a good omen. Made camp at about nightfall and were surprised to find that we needed all of our cold weather clothing on the first night! Food was great as it would be every night. After dark the skies cleared and the almost-full-moon rose to give us a great view of the summit.

October 11: The cook made tea at 7am and we got on the trail about 8:30am. We hiked for approximately 6 more hours and saw another chameleon. More good luck? Camp at 3800m was very cold this night, but we've now learned to get on our cold-weather clothes and into our tent by the time night falls.

October 12: Pretty ugly day! Our hike began good enough, but disintegrated into rain by lunch. All down hill after lunch... We looked forward to that, but that was a mistake. Downhill is hard on the knees! The hike this day was about 7 hours and we experienced the first effects of altitude. While we huddled in our tents, the porters dug a trench around our tent to keep the rain from getting in.

October 13: Today we were supposed to leave early in order to arrive at our destination in time to rest for the big hike up to the summit. Unfortunately, a 6:30am wake up still found us leaving at 8:30am. Our understanding was that Kili was a hike and not a 'climb'....wrong! Within 10 minutes of leaving we were climbing up the face of a near vertical wall. In a couple of places we had to hug the wall while sliding from one ledge to the next and once had to jump to another rock not reachable by a mere step. Fear not, we wouldn't have fallen more than 70 feet or so! This took about an hour to ascend. We then traveled down into the Karanga Valley for lunch. After lunch we had to climb another very steep wall to get to the ridge. Guess they don't believe in time to digest your food! Up the ridge we went toward the Barafu Hut. This afternoon hike left us a bit dizzy and nauseous when we were walking too fast. The hike lasted 8 hours. We got to bed at 7:30pm for an 11:00pm wake-up to start for the summit. At 4600 meters the wind was blowing so hard it felt like our tent would blow away!

October 14: After 2 hours of sleep we got up for the hike to the summit and left at 12:15am. Luckily, the moon was full so we didn't have to use flashlights at all. The hike to the summit began with an hour through rocky terrain then a short hike across a valley. After that the trail was a series of zigzags to the summit. We were wearing 4-5 layers of clothes but were still very cold in the freezing temperatures. We also estimate the wind to be at 30-40 knots at this point. Don was not doing well and the water bottle was frozen shut at this point. After 3 hours he had had enough and I actually feared for his safety as he veered along the path. He was quoted as saying "I'm cold; I'm tired; And I just don't want to be here anymore." So down he went...Wuss (Don wrote that line)!!!!! We estimate that Don made it to 17,000 feet in altitude which is no small feat!

I was then left with the guide Yusuf. About 5 minutes after Don left with another porter to go back down, we ran into our trip-mate Monika on the side of the path. She was also not doing too well and needed Yusuf's attention. As it was too cold to stop moving, I continued alone up the path. After several minutes I could make out the rest of our group ahead, but it took another 30 minutes or so of speed walking to overtake them. I did not want to be on the mountain alone! This really wore me out as the rule is to hike very slowly to avoid altitude sickness.

After hiking with Suzanne, Eva, and our guide Mohamed for a while we were all very disheartened when Mohamed told us we had another 2 and a half hours to go to reach Stella Point then another hour to the summit of Uhuru Peak! On this break we were all in such bad shape that Mohamed had to help Eva open her water bottle, help Suzanne put on her gloves, and help me get my water out of my backpack...pretty bad!

The last hour and a half of the hike to Stella Point was in dirt so fine that for each 3 steps we would slide back 1 step...think of walking on a beach at a 30 degree angle. Wind estimates at this point are in the 40-50 knot range. We reached Stella Point at 6:20am in just over 6 hours of hiking to see the sunrise. We were all set to stop at that point, but our guide insisted that we had to reach the point. He cajoled, joked, and at some points literally pulled us along to Uhuru Peak at 19,540 feet. From the 'Roof of Africa' we took pictures and signed the book kept at the top. Once there we were of course glad that Mohamed had insisted we get that far! We started back down the mountain at 7:30am and reached camp to find Don waiting at about 10:30am. We had hiked 22 of the last 27 hours! At this point I could barely walk and as I hadn't put on my sunglasses immediately when the sun rose, my vision was clouded as well. Not a pretty site! Don tucked me into my sleeping bag for a 2 hour nap before lunch. After a short lunch we once again packed our gear and hiked another 4 hours down the mountain to the Mweka Camp. The old knees decreed that we go very slowly, but finally made it into camp for a full night's sleep.

October 15: Had another 4 hour hike down to the Mweka Gate today to meet a van back to Moshi and our hotel. The knees were still hurting, but after a week with no shower we were all willing to endure the pain just to get to a hotel and shower. At dinner that night a new batch of hikers were giddy about starting out the next morning....little did they know! Our little group drank a bottle of champagne to celebrate both our safe returns and Monika's birthday.

October 16: Departed from Moshi on a bus to Nairobi. Heard that the American Embassy in Nairobi had been closed due to the Middle East crisis, so were a little nervous, but all seemed well in the city so we felt good going to sleep. We're staying at a 4-star hotel to rest up and be pampered!!

October 17: Started the day with hour long massages at the hotel!! Very happy to be staying in a place with actual washcloths and little bottles of shampoo and lotion!!

 

 

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