If you have ever climbed Mt Kilimanjaro or are considering climbing in the future, then please read Dean's diary entries from his 5 memorable days away conquering the 'Roof of Africa'.
Many thanks to Dean for letting us share his journey and to Tanzanian Trails (www.tanzanian-trails.com) for making the trip possible.
Day 1 Kili -
First to arrive at Machame Gate (1800m) but as per the Tanzanian way things didn't go according to plan. A miscommunication meant we didn't have the money to pay for the park fees so we were waiting for many hours to get registered and pay. Funds eventually got transferred and we were on our way however were the last to leave. It was 11km to our first base camp (Machame camp). Starting last out of all the groups wasn't too much of a worry as we set a good pace early on and eventually started overtaking people who left before us. The total time up to the camp was probably around 5 hours which included a stop halfway for lunch for about 15 minutes. Camp was all set up when we arrived (which is the job of the porters. Had a hot chocolate and popcorn when I arrived and that was followed by dinner which was a stew and a piece of chicken. Overall the body is feeling good, however I pulled my hip flexor on contiki and could definitely feel that during the walk. An early sleep is on the cards and because my guide Nixon is happy with my pace we get a bit of an extra sleep in tomorrow and won't be leaving until 8:30am. Went to the toilet just before bed and the stars above me are probably the most incredible I have ever seen. I wish my phone could capture what I am looking at but I guess it's one of those moments you just have to take in.
Day 2 Kili -
One of the first to set off today was only going to be 5km total, however, it was gonna be around 4 - 5 hours which meant the incline was a lot more than yesterday. The weather was great as we were above the cloud line and there was nothing but blue sky. This allowed for some amazing views along with the fact we were making our way to 3750m above sea level. We finally arrived at Shira Cave Camp around 12:30 in the afternoon. They have so far fed me like a king and just keep bringing me food at each stop. Had a nap after lunch and then went about another 200m up to acclimatise a bit more before heading back down to base camp. Already some people/groups are having to make their way back down as they are too unwell for the climb. It's all a mental battle so far! Hamara Kama Simba (strong like a lion)
Day 3 Kili -
Toughest day yet. Strong headaches and a bit of an upset stomach meant the climb today was rough. We walked 7km to lava tower where we had lunch and we rested there for around 20 minutes. That sat 4600m above sea level which is the highest we have been so far. From there we finished the rest of the day with a 3km trek to our 3rd base camp, Baranco. Baranco only sits 3900m above sea level which is why we went to lava tower first to acclimatise. I have finally taken an altitude tablet in hope it will set me back to normal. Motivation is low, headache is still here, no appetite whatsoever and am already in bed at 6:30pm. Tomorrow is a new day and I hope I'll be ready to climb!
Day 4 Kili -
Woke up feeling much better! Body is still feeling a little off but overall ready for the day today! Just have to keep reminding myself why I took this trip and what it means to me. I just want to get as far as possible up this mountain! Left Baranco camp and the first challenge was not so much walking, but rock climbing up part of the mountain. We climbed the first part and then the incline got less, so it was more of a hike. That part stood at 4200m before we kept making our way to our lunch stop which was Karanga camp. This stop for some is a night stop where they set up camp. However for us we stopped for around an hour, had lunch and then continued on to our final base camp. This walk was only around 2 and a half hours from our lunch stop. We finally made it to the final base camp - Barafu Camp. This stands 4673m above sea level and is our final stop before we trek to the top of Kilimanjaro! We leave at midnight tonight to begin our climb up to Uhuru Peak which is the top of Kilimanjaro. If all goes well we may even reach the top and head all the way back down to the bottom and finish the mountain a day earlier. Only 5km/1200m/7 hours until the top.
Day 5 Kili -
Technically still day 4 as its 11:40pm, however have had a few hours sleep and we are going to be heading up to the top of the mountain soon. Have to try and push through these last hours to get to the top. It's definitely in the negatives outside and I have 2 thick layers, 2 lower body thermals, weather proof pants, upper body thermal, 2 long sleeve shirts, jumper and then weather proof jacket on, neck warmer, gloves and a beanie too. My phone needs to stay inside a sock so it doesn't freeze. Soon I will start the final climb. Began nicely, we were one of the last to leave the camp however we gained ground very quickly, everyone was really feeling it and myself included. The next 6 hours were the toughest of my life! I can't begin to explain the emotions I went through as I left Barafu Camp (4673m) all the way until Uhuru Peak (5895m). In freezing conditions which were definitely below negative from the start of the climb I knew it was going to be tough. Just how tough is an experience you can only feel. Nausea, headaches, body aches, tiredness and 0 motivation. It was all about putting your left foot forward and then your right foot and thinking about anything else than what your body is saying. After 5 excruciating hours we were one of the first to reach Stella Point which sits 5756m above sea level. A quick photo stop and the head already felt clearer knowing we only had about 200m above sea level to go which Nixon told me would take around an hour. One more hour. That's all I heard. We got our stuff and continued on passing just one more group. I powered through as I could see the top where the sign was. About 20m before the sign I stopped and started vomiting for about 2 minutes straight. Energy was definitely low, however just had to endure 20m more and be the first up at the peak. I did just that, I became the first group to reach Uhuru Peak (the top of Mount Kilimanjaro and the top of Africa). Nothing can describe the feeling I went through and the feeling I am still going through after completing that. Not only was it the hardest experience of my life, it was certainly the most rewarding! On the descent we passed a few groups who were definitely struggling. Some needing oxygen masks, some crying, some head down and not making any sort of sound other than heavy breathing. One Asian bloke came up to me and was crying. My guide told him it's not far to go, you are almost there. He asked me if he could have a hug and of course I said yes. I can't exactly remember what I said as the whole climb is a bit of a blur, but after that he was more motivated than ever and I knew he would make it to the top. The journey down to the fourth base camp only took around 2 hours as it was all downhill and all quite steep. After a short rest and a feed we started to pack and make our descent to the bottom today rather than tomorrow making it a 5 day journey instead of the usual 6. After a 45 day Contiki, to say I climbed to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro is hilarious to think, and to think I did it in a day less just makes it so much more sweet.
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