Thursday, 5 March 2009

Kilimanjaro Part II

Yesterday I have arrived in Dar Es Salaam and met Edith and Walter again after a week. They've chosen YMCA as their favorite place to stay. Nevertheless the hostel was quite OK and today they are already on their way to Zanzibar. I try to relax here in the big city and follow later on Saturday.

Starting over where I left was the Kilimanjaro experience. After I've managed to get the visa without a yellow fever certificate I've managed to get a free ride to Moshi, a little city close to Mt. Kilimanjaro. The next challenge was to find a flexible tour operator who could organize a tour in short time. Luckily I found one and at 17:30 I signed the contract for 8:30 the next morning.

Day 1:

Got up early. Picked up all my stuff in my cheap hotel room and left the unnecessary things at the reception for my return. Almost in time (just half an hour late) my guide Haruni arrived and we drove to the entrance of the Kilimanjaro national park, Marangu gate. This route can be done in 5 days (without an acclimatisation day). After a late start because of some formalities and paying the park and hut fees (523US$) our backpacks got weighted and we could go. With a load of 14kg on my back I've arrived quite quickly after a few hours at the Mandara hut (2743m). After a welcome tea my guide and me had a nice little walk to a nearby crater and in the rain forest we've seen many whitetail monkeys.

Day 2:

After a night with little sleep we left the rain forest and crossed open moor land to Horombo hut (3760m). Again we have been the quickest group and therefore a long time to relax. After the obligatory tea and a briefing I've decided to ascend 200m higher and enjoy the view over the mountain. Unfortunately later the evening I've got a stomach ache and suffered from this for the next days. This time I've shared the hut with two Americans.

It is recommended to stay for a day at Horombo hut but I've spared it out to finish hiking earlier.

Day 3:

Short walk through moorland then alpine desert to "The Saddle" between the peaks of Mawenzi and Kibo. From here about an hour to Kibo hut (4730m). Kibo hut is the base station for the Kilimanjaro summit. This time I've just got outrun by an Italian marathon runner and finished second. It was very cold at this high altitude so I've decided to have a quick rest before dinner. Also inside the hut it was so cold because it was made of stone and without isolation! My light sleeping bag liner was not the right choice but the only available. After dinner I've showed my guide my equipment and he was shocked. I was adjusted for the but not for a high mountain. Hakuna Matata! - No problem! - I've organized from the porters my missing equipment: Gloves, extra pants, wind protection and was ready to go.

Day 4:

Very early start at 00:30 for the summit on steep scree up to Gillman's Point (5681m) which is on the crater rim. We have been the second last to leave the hut. After some where exhausting hours we've continued around the rim (about two hours) to Uhuru Peak (5895m) the highest point in Africa. After a few photos and enjoying the sunrise we've descended to Kibo Hut for tea and a one-hour sleep. Then down to the thicker air and relative warmth of Horombo hut. Our decision was to go further down to Mandara hut (2743m) because we could then end earlier the next day. Completely exhausted we arrived there at the later afternoon and after 4000 height meters in total.

Day 5:

The final day was the easiest. After two hours walking through the rain forest we arrived again at the gate. I was very lucky with this hike because it was at the beginning for the rain season. The descent was getting already wet and at the last night we had a heavy storm with lots of rain. Also remarkable was that I've met an 81 year old woman from Cape Town. She made it up to the base station (4730m)! If she has reached the top she would be the oldest person on Mt. Kilimanjaro.

After all I can say it was a great experience and I met many lovely people on the mountains. Especially with my guide Haruni I had a very good connection and we've learned a lot of things from each other.

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