Trail Cafe: Trip report - Mt. Kilimanjaro

Summary:

Title: Mt. Kilimanjaro
Trip type: hiking
Summary: Mt. Kilimanjaro, New years Summit 2015
Author: XiaoZhen (Jean) Cao
Date of Trip: 25-Dec-2014 to 3-Jan-2015, Summiting on 1-Jan
Country: Tanzania
Province: near the town of Moshi
County/City/national park/etc: Kilimanjaro National Park
Location Route: Machame Route
Distance: 60 km round rtip
Elevation Gain: 4000m
Directions to Set in or Trail head: Tour Company*: Absolute Africa
map
Map is from Wikipedia

The Trip Report:

Day 0: From Nairobi to Moshi (190 Km; 1000 m)

We were supposed to get to Silver Spring Hotel around 7:30 AM to catch 8 AM shuttle bus (Impala Shuttle), and it should take about 15 min to get there from my friend’s house… I had arranged Joseph to pick up us at 6:45 AM, just in case.

Something about this Joseph… He is a pretty successful local guy running his private taxi company. We have used his service a few times in Nairobi. All the guys working for him are driving a nice car (e.g., Toyota SUV). They come on call and the cars have no taxi sign and no meter. They mainly serve long term customers. The funny thing about this Joseph is that he also has a driver – when he is on duty, he drives; when he is done his work, his driver drives him around – what a life!

When we were all ready in the yard, 15 mins later, Joseph still didn’t show up. I was not so happy, so called him… Apparently, I miss-read my watch, it was only 5:30 when Chris and I were standing in the yard… Anyways, Joseph was on the way to pick up us now.

So, this is why we arrived at the Silver Spring Hotel shortly after 6 AM…

The shuttle bus came on time.

All luggage went up to the roof. It seemed that this shuttle was more for local business people or foreigners, so we didn’t see any sheep, chicken or baskets of vegetables among the luggage. The driver was up on the roof, and the ticket-man threw up the luggage to him… until he lifted Chris’s suitcase – he barely lifted it over his head, and had to lean it on the bus and pushed it up… I looked at Chris -- how this tiny lady carried her suitcase everywhere all these days.

The bus was almost full. A young girl caught my attention when she told the ticket-man that her destination was the Keys Hotel in Moshi as well. I wondered if she would be the girl who would be doing the same trip with us as mentioned by the company in an earlier email… (Yes, she was.)

There are only 190 Km from Nairobi to Moshi.

Map from Nairobi
Map from Nairobi (From Google)

But first, the shuttle bus stopped at the airport to pick up three Italians, two guys and one lady. We became friends in the following days on Kili.

It took a long time to get into the airport – every vehicles access the airport would be thoroughly searched and scanned and all the passengers need to be out and searched and questioned.

I didn’t expect those factors plus hadn’t taken shuttle bus for a fairly long time, so forgot the most important rule of taking long distance shuttle bus – do NOT drink water before hopping on the bus… @*#*^@… We finally stopped at a little gift shop for washroom break right before crossing the border. It was almost 12, and it had been a long day for me already.

Crossing the border was easy, just following the crowd, or the peddlers would passionately point where you should go. As foreigners, we need to “check out” from Kenya first at the Visa window. They also scanned fingers to make sure the same person left.

Then we moved to Tanzania side – walking over some uneven dirt open space under the hot sun, up and down, then someone pointed us a room where we had fever scanned and our Yellow Fever Card checked. Since no health issue, we joined the line for Tanzania Visa. US$50. Fingers scanned. Then, we also need to write down some personal information including passport number and occupation in a big notebook. I was a bit surprised that they need the information in writing. However, soon we found out that it seems that Tanzania government really likes to collect people’s handwriting everywhere…

The bus continued about an hour later when everyone were done at the Custom. Briefly stopped at a hotel in Arusha about another hour later. I had to run to bathroom again.

Then stopped at the bus stop in Moshi, where most people took off, including the three Italians. Only three of us who were heading to Keys Hotel were still on the bus. I noticed that there was a hiking jacket left on the top of the shelf and it must belong to one of the Italians, kind of remembered that someone had tucked something there at the airport stop. I came out the bus, but the Italians were gone already.

We finally arrived at the Keys Hotel around 4 PM.

Who said that there were only 190 Km from Nairobi to Moshi?!

And it was damn hot there. I started missing Nairobi’s cool weather now.

This Keys Hotel is totally a hiker’s hotel -- simple, but very clean and cozy.

We met our guide Seleman and had our very brief Pre-Kili briefing… The young girl Anna, with whom we would spend the next seven days together, was from San Francisco but currently she was studying in London for one year. She did Mt. Everest Basecamp (~4700m) and went up to 5500m about 18 months ago. Since all three of us didn’t have many questions to Seleman, we soon let him go.

Latter we saw other groups having hours long briefing in the dining room, and some groups were quite big (over 10 people)… I was wondering what they were actually talking about? But it was too hot so I didn’t bother to social around and find out.

(A bit too long for Day 0… Don’t worry, the following days will be a lot shorter -- most time we were just walking, eating and sleeping.)

Day 1, from the Gate (1800m) to Machame Camp (11 KM; 3000 m)

Map of Mt. Kilimanjaro
Map of Mt. Kilimanjaro

Sunny and hot in the morning. Around equator, it seems always sunny and hot immediately after the sunrise…

Hiking partners
Hiking partners

Seleman came around 9 AM with our boys – nine porters, one cook, and his assistant guide William. My first impression was “Man, they sure dressed a LOT better than our Mt Kenya boys”. (I have confirmed that there was no female doing such work, including guide.) The boy sitting right in front me was wearing a North Face T-shirt… Chris reminded me later that those could be donations. Sure, but on the way, when we stopped at a local market to pick up a few more groceries, some of the boys bought snacks like nuts, cooked chicken/pork, and bottled Coca… I was sure that their pocket was not too shy.

We had to drive a fairly long way to the gate, passing through many villages. William told us there were three types of banana trees – they all looked the same to me though. One was the Sweat Banana for eating, one was not sweat for cooking, and one was for making liquors. I was quite interested in the last one…

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Oh, yeah, around half way there, we saw two Chinese people taking photos of Mt Kili on the road side. I was thinking “Ha! I will take much closer photos!”

Arrived at the park gate around 11 AM, all packed with people. And we were actually early ones. Vans and vans of people kept flowing into the parking lot…

Machame Gate
Machame Gate

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Waiting for registration work
Waiting for registration work

Seleman needed to get the registration paper work done and the boys needed to arrange the luggage. So we were told to stay in a waiting area with a sign “Tourist’s Shelter”. Look at the crowd in the shelter, and looked back at the busy parking lot… It was the time I started to realize that we would be on a TOUR rather than on a HIKE…

Still waiting,
Still waiting,

The Shelter was already full. We three found some space in the middle, but no table for us. However, there was a big empty corner reserved by some company: the tables were connected to one, covered with snow white table cloth, and bottled water and snacks on top… Two boys were guarding. But most of time, they were busy in chasing away monkeys… Anyways, if we were on a TOUR, those people were on a LUXURY TOUR!

Here was where I met Peter and his wife, another Jean. Actually, the first thing I noticed was something hanging on Peter’s backpack – it was a squeezed transparent plastic thing… Peter told me that it was a solar flash light, when pull it up, it turned into a lantern, and when fully charged, it could last for a good eight hours – what a cool garget! AND… he bought it from a dollar store in LA… No comments…

Peter and Jean were part of a group of 16 people with Zara. Zara was the first company Chris and I contacted but didn’t use. And almost everybody in their group were from LA. I was glad that we changed our mind, otherwise, it would be a 18 person group…

There was a group of 5-6 young Japanese, girls and boys.

There was a group of four senior men from Taiwan.

… …

Finally those “luxury tourists” showed up, and the three Italians were among them! I went over to ask if the shuttle bus driver had found them and given them back their jacket. Unfortunately, they hadn’t gotten it yet. Luckily Nicol, the lady, said she had a spare jacket. I gave her the name of the bus company so she could follow up after the trip. And we also found out that she didn’t know the other two guys, Antonio and Mario (he told me his name a few times, but I never could remember, too Italian, so decided call him Mario, and he did look like Super Mario…). They met somewhere on the way to Nairobi...

In the end, we, from every corners of the world, all met at this little shelter, waiting for our departure of climbing this famous mountain, 5895m, the highest in Africa!

Finally, William came over and told us it was the time to go. We passed the gate at 12:00 sharp.

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Entering the Gate
Porters on the Trail
Porters on the Trail

We were told the hike would be 5-7 hrs.

Hike was in rainforest mainly, nice hiking trail. Easy slops. Rained for about an hour, which was nice – finally it was cooler.

Trail Day one through the forest
Trail Day one through the forest
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Beginning portion of the trail

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Kilimanjaro Impatience

Flora
Flora

We kept passing by each other with Peter/Jean’s big group along the way. By the end of the hike of that day, everyone in their group knew there was another Jean…

We arrived at the camp ground around 4:35, but walked another 10 min to reach the registration office – this just to give you some idea of how big of the campground -- hundreds of tents, people, busy as market mall during Christmas.

At the registration office, we need to write down, in a BIG notebook, our name, address, country, gender, age, occupation (why would they care?!), guide’s name, company, trip ID, which day of our trip, how many days of our trip, and signature. This happened at every campsites and exit gate… And I needed to write two entries, one for myself, and one for Chris, so she didn’t need to search for her glasses. All she needed to do was sign her name at where my index finger pointed… As I said, they really liked to collect people’s handwriting.

Upon arriving, each of us was served with a basin of warm water to wash. It was very nice although I didn’t sweat much from the hike, but it was very dusty when driving though the villages.

They had already set up two green tents, one for Anna and the other for Chris and me. (I guessed that was how the company showed us “see, it was still a private tour for you…”) Our backpacks were already in the tents.

Soon, they set up another small tent for three of us to rest and have tea and dinner. Basically we were not allowed to stay under the sun directly, even though the tent was damn hot inside…

First Camp
First Camp
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Setting up the first camp

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first Camp, porter's tents
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Mt Kilimanjaro from the first camp

Dinner was a bit late but very nice: zucchini and fish soup to start, main course was fried fish, green vegetable and hot mixed vegetable, with pan-fried potato. I was hungry and had a lot.

Went to bed around 8:20, but couldn't sleep until later, it was warm, maybe even a bit too hot for me in the midnight.

Day 2, to Shira Camp (5 Km; 3840 m)

6:30 AM, hot tea was sent to our tent. We could brush teeth with warm water and warm water to wash.

Toilet was not a fun…

Breakfast had oat meal and egg and sausage. A neighbour team was singing and dancing.

Head out at 8:30. Walked through moos land. Constantly uphill like Heart Mountain in Canmore. Trail was narrow and very rocky. Also porters kept passing by, so we moved slowly.

Trail Day 2
Trail Day 2

Most people took a break at a small peak for viewing. We met Peter, but Jean was behind. Shortly after the break, we passed the three Italians; they found a quieter place for lunch.

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Mt. Meru from the first camp
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Porters doing the real work
Porters doing the real work

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a little bit of scrambling

Arrived at the Shira Plataux at 12:30. Registered first – writing all those information in another BIG notebook…

Right after we started our hot lunch in our dining tent, eating the banana beef stew and salad, it started to pour rain with hail. We got stuck in the dinning tent, and the outside was like rivers/waterfalls everywhere. Luckily our tent was ok and our porters helped to build draining ditch around our tents.

Stuck in the tent, in the river
Stuck in the tent, in the river

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Our Tents in flood

Sun broke out briefly so we saw the Kili for a few second. I grabbed my camera, but by the time I slowly climbed up a higher place for a better view, the fog covered the whole mountain.

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Mt. Kilimanjaro from the second camp

Now I started to feel the high altitude thin air… Couldn't take photos of Kili, so I turned over, and took a photo of the camp ground…

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Panorama view of the camp ground

When I came back to our campsite, our Boys sang and danced for us. Later we learned that one of them was the well-known Kilimanjaro song that every group would be “served”, part of the package:) The last song was to introduce everyone.

Two seconds after the singing and dancing, fog covered everything, even couldn’t see 5 m far. We had to cancel our late afternoon short hike and had tea in the dining tent instead.

Dinner had cucumber-fish soup, again, great taste but didn't see any fish. Main dish was chicken curry, rice and cabbage. I skipped the orange -- they looked sour.

The clouds were amazing before dark.

On top of the clouds
On top of the clouds
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Mt. Meru on top of the clouds

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Night was cold, but no need for liner yet.

Day 3, to Barranco via Lava Tower (10 Km; 7 Km up to 4550 m, 3 Km back down to 3900 m)

Started moving, very slowly, at 8:22 AM, from Shira Plateau to Barranco.

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The trail up had moderate slop, easy to walk. But look at all those people on the trail! It was just like the Animal Migration!

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On top of the clouds
On top of the clouds
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Passed Lava Tower junction at 4550m to acclimatize. We had packed lunch there. Anna had headache so Seleman took her down first. Chris and I would like to stay a bit longer, but William worried about the weather so we came down shortly after.

Lava Tower junction at 4550m
Lava Tower junction at 4550m

The trail down to Barranco valley was very easy to walk. And started seen those big "buffalo" plants – Senecio Kilimanjari. However, they didn't look as pretty as those in Mt Kenya, they actually looked pathetic.

big "buffalo" plants - Mt. Kilimanjaro
big "buffalo" plants - Mt. Kilimanjaro
big "buffalo" plants - Mt. Kenya
big "buffalo" plants - Mt. Kenya

Mt Kilimanjaro (left) vs Mt Kenya (right)

Rained a bit on the way down. Arrived at 2 PM.

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Barranco Campground

Met a Vietnamese boy at the registration station. He was by himself so had 7 supports! The guide even carried his daypack and another one having a big umbrella for him. And the guide filled up his registration info for him and he only needed to sign… We teased him that he hiked like a King:)

Anna was resting and reading in her tent, trying to recovery from her headache.

Chris went straight for a nap.

So I walked around by myself before dinner. First I went back to the registration office, trying to see if I could meet the other Jean. I saw Peter and a few other LA people, but they said Jean would be another hour.

That was where I saw a girl who was wearing a pair of Canada Olympic gloves. So I asked, and she, Katherine, was even from Calgary. But currently, Katherine and her husband were living in Singapore. And maybe that was why she had very hard time up at the Lava Tower. She also told me she felt very cold…

I went down to the valley -- really beautiful area, had some photos in the valley and then on a big cliff. Felt great after walking around.

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Mt. Kilimanjaro from Barranco Campground. More Glaciers on this side
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Our tent under the Mt. Kilimanjaro at teh Barranco Campground

Anne finished her first book and started a new book.

Dinner started with salty pancake, really good, then had kale soup and pasta with ground beef sauce. I had to add chili sauce to the beef. Dessert is fried banana, really good.

Went to bed early. No sickness.

Day 4, to Karanga Camp (5 Km; 4100 m)

A short hike from 9 to 12:15, up and down, up and down, then up, done.

The first up was a steep scramble so very crowd.

Colourful Human Migration
Colourful Human Migration

Chris and co.
Chris and co.

[pic762 l]

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Rocks were very solid, therefore easy to grab and walk on.

At the top of the first peak, we ran into Katherine and her husband. She looked a bit better than yesterday, but she was still walking very slowly. Chris told her that we could give her some ginger powder that could help her feel warmer. She told us she was with Hidden Valley. No surprise, it was because her husband used to own a house in Hidden Valley:)

Today's hike overall was fun, and saw three valleys. Now we were at Karanga campsite, 4100m, south of Kili. So, we could see the glacier dome of Kibo right above our head…

Karanga campsite, 4100m -
Karanga campsite, 4100m -

We had a good timing, as always -- shortly after filling up the registration book, rain started. Light rain. But likely would be foggy/rainy this whole afternoon.

Had big lunch, veggie soup, butter toast, salad, potato veggie stew, and orange. Ok, they ran out of meat…

The outhouse nearby had no door and had many holes on the other three sides, so not for ladies; the one uphill had very tiny room for one foot, so need some yoga exercises... So far we couldn’t find anything that we could handle... And tonight our tents were the first time in the middle of the campground, Chris and I would have to walk a far way to pee in the night...

Before dinner, Chris and I decided to find a big rock instead of fighting against those outhouses. We walked uphill following a trail. It must be the trail for tomorrow. We met groups of porters carrying water tanks from down the valley to next campground Barafu which was 500 m higher. We were already told that after Karanga Camp, there was no water source, porters had to carry water to Barafu, the basecamp. We counted, basically need three porters for one tank of water, they need to switch hand, or head…

There were also a few groups of people on the trail doing acclimatization, led by their guides.

The Indian family was my favorite…

We walked and walked, until almost at the first peak, all other groups had returned at earlier points. The last group we ran into was those Italian, and they started to call us Those Strong Canadian Ladies:)

We went all the way to the first peak, and it was foggy, couldn’t see anything else except for those big back/yellowish rocks. The yellowish was actually some kind of algae. Anyways, we found our perfect outhouse behind those big rocks:) And it was obvious that those rocks had many many visitors already… Yeah, Mt Kilimanjaro IS a big toilet…

Chris and I also walked around and tried to find Hidden Valley’s tents, but no luck, just way too many people.

When we came back to the tent, William was worried, and said we should have told them so they could have come up with us… Apparently, we were their responsibility during the trip and we were not supposed to leave outside their sight. I didn’t tell him that I was wondering around by myself for two hours the day before. He probably would have a heart attack right there.

When Chris and I got up in the midnight to pee, we got lost. There were so many tents everywhere, and they all looked strange to us in the dark… Finally I managed to find the outhouse, the one didn’t have a door, and used it as the landmark…

Day 5, to the Basecamp Barafu (4 Km; 4600 m)

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Mt. Kili in Sunrise at Karanga Camp

2:15 hour easy walk to the base camp Barafu.

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It was very sunny and hot before 9. Right about when we started moving, fog started, all the way along so made the walk easy. It was easy up about 200m then flat (this was where we went the day before), then up, then slightly down then up about 100m.

The camp was located on a narrow ridge, fully covered by people from four accending routes. (There is another basecamp including people from the Coca-Cola route.) We had about 350 tourists at our basecamp. So we estimated that there would be 500+ tourists summiting tonight.

Had lunch around 1. Cucumber/fish soup, buttered toast, salad and pasta. No meat since yesterday lunch. We are eating a lot carbs.

After lunch I had a good deep 2 hr nap. Then packed for the big night tonight. It was cold outside, but I needed to go to the bathroom. The bathroom was a newer one, but quite a way down the hill, so it became a big job again... I was walking about one step per second.

Chris was still asking around looking for Hidden Valley but no luck. Anne said Katherine wouldn’t make this high.

We had dinner around 5, then could have a rest till 11pm, then start summiting at 12.

In the briefing after dinner, both Seleman and William came. We were told to wear five layers up, four layers lower, and two pairs of socks. No water bags since the pipe would be frozen. And put the water up side down in the bag pack.

My modified version was three layers up – merino base layer, thick fleece and wind breaker, two and half layers down – knee protectors, merino base layer and hiking pants, and one pair of very thick wool socks.

I have balaclava, wool hat, and bandanas to cover the neck and nose; thin gloves and fleece gloves that can tuck in the thin gloves.

I packed a down jacket, ski pants, fleece headband, hiking shirt, sunglasses and ski gaggles. I brought about two liters of water in the bag, and one bottle of hot ginger sugar water.

I packed my Nikon camera in my down jacket in the bag pack, small Sony camera and phone in my pockets of my fleece jacket to keep them warm.

Day 6, to the Uhura Peak (5 Km; 5895 m); down to Mweka Camp (12.5 Km; 3100 m)

Totally forgot that at 12 the New Year started. So when I came out from the tent, everyone were singing and dancing in the campground.

However, Chris was still looking for one of her thick mittens in the tent, so, when I dragged her out of the tent, and forced her to go, it was about 12:10 already. Later on the way up, I gave her one of my thick glove and I used my fleece headband outside my thin glove, it worked.

We were not the earliest to start; actually there were already quite a long line of lights up the trail, like a wandering dragon, looked amazing. We followed Seleman's steps – Anne, Chris and then me, and William at the end. In general, on the information sheet, it said 5-6 hrs to Stella Point (5795m), then another 2 hr round trip to the summit.

The trail started with a steep uphill, but soon there was a blocking. I thought it was some scrambling section as we did the other day, but later Anna found out that someone was vomiting. (We actually met the girl at the Hotel two days later. She threw up all the way to the summit and it took her 8+ hours – she had to go up since her now-fiancé was planning to propose to her… She said she couldn’t remember anything he said up there and just wanted to get it over and came down:) -- This must be part of her fiancé’s plan:))

I tried not to think much but just followed Chris’s steps. Time to time, we passed people who were taking breaks. And we saw some guides were feeding their clients water… and some guides were holding their clients’ arms to help them moving up…

It was actually easy to take pee breaks – just walk to the side for a few meters and turn off your head lamp:) As I said, Mt Kilimanjaro was a big toilet…

After we passed all the lower crowds, people were more spaced out on the trail, so we were able to keep at a little bit faster but steady pace that I liked and could handle. However, whenever we needed to pass any team, we had to to speed up which made me out of breath. But I managed recover in 30 seconds or so after back to our normal pace. Along the way especially in the first 2 hrs, William, and sometimes Selleman as well, sang to keep us awake and entertained. Those local African people liked singing dancing in nature and could easily make a duet or choir. They had beautiful low voice, and sang in their local language. It was very nice to have the music while we were struggling on moving up on the long journey.

1 hr, 2 hr... Time was passing really slowly. And when we went up higher and higher, it got colder and colder. We also were getting more tired. After 3 hrs, I felt my toes and ears were getting frozen. I started to regret that I didn’t followed the instruction…

I didn't really feel sleepy since we were more or less excited for the summit. But it was getting harder because the long tardy walk in dark and cold. At this time, William told me we actually more than half way.

I didn't really struggle on the steps -- the pace was ok. Although we kept passing other groups, and there were only few lights ahead now. I believed that it was more the coldness and non-sleeping made the hike getting harder after 4:30. So I decided to count steps as I usually did at the last tough section. I was going to count one more hour which should be 3600 steps. When I counted about 200, we got to Stella Point! 4:45 only.

Congradulations - Stella Point
Congradulations - Stella Point

We took a very brief stop before continued to the summit. So far, we had three very short stops, I barely had enough time to open my backpack and had a few sips then put the bottle back… never had enough time to put my down jacket and goggles on… Sigh:( it would nice to have them on – I was cold and my eyes were getting sore because of the cold wind.

The walk between the Stella Point and the Summit was VERY easy, flat as walking by the river. But it was getting windy and much colder.

We arrive at the summit around 5:45! Still in dark, but the east started showing orange on the horizon. There were four guys ahead of us, so we three girls were the No 5/6/7 on top of Kilimanjaro in 2015! Not bad, not bad at all!

Happy New Year - Uhuru Peak  No. 5/6/7 to summit in 2015
Happy New Year - Uhuru Peak No. 5/6/7 to summit in 2015

Chris and I had no HAS (High Altitude Sickness) at all. We took photos in the dark and freezing cold wind. I tried to make a Happy New Year video using my phone but when I came back to the basecamp and found out that the sound wasn’t recorded. I am quite disappointed. (People told me later that iPhone did have the problem in very low temperature.)

In the video, we were yelling Happy New Year in Mandarin, Cantonese, English and Swahili!

Anna had headache again so Seleman took her down first. So I got a lot of time taking sunrise photos and running around. Even now, a month after, I still could feel my joy at that moment on top of the highest point in Africa, the highest place I had been to in my life…

Plus, we were supposed to be the lightest since the gravity would be the lowest on top of Kili!:-)

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This time, more people approached the summit including Peter and Jean, they were almost at the summit as well, good job Jean since she was always a bit slow in the past a few days. We hugged and wished each other happy New Year.

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We passed those Italians near the Stella Point on the way up but didn't see them summiting. Maybe I was taking photos, but they should have summited as well.

Kilimanjaro Glaciers (what's left of them)
Kilimanjaro Glaciers (whats left of them)
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More photos can be seen on my Flickr account

After Stella Point, it was almost fully bright. The hill down became steep, and the trail was covered by screes and dust. So we could run down the hill. At half way, I started feeling low blood sugar, so had to stop and took some ginger candy. Overall my body was extremely tired and had a hard time running downhill as usual.

We met people going up all the way, even close the base camp, so we were not sure how far they planned to go.

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We came back to our tent at 8, and Seleman nicely allowed us to rest one hour. I passed out right there. But only slept for 20 min, too tired to keep sleeping. I felt exhausted, and had to move very very slowly.

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Breakfast at 9. I was hungry but no appetite for food. Either part of the delayed HAS reaction, or maybe just tired of the African Mountain food... Didn't eat much.

Barely started moving my body to the final camp… it would be at 3100m. From 4600m the basecamp to 3100m... A long journey because we were all exhausted.

The trail started with mild slop going down. We took slow steps...

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Made it to the campground at 1 pm. Finalized our 13 hr summit day!

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This campground was divided into small campsites. We were the only group in our small tree-surrounded campsite. Feel like back home in a Rockie campsite. I passed out in the tent for a good 2 hours or so.

In my sleep, I vaguely heard it was raining again. Yeah, it was nice to rain every afternoon – at least the toilet got flushed once every day!

After my long nap and when I came out of my tent, holy cow! There were at least another ten tents squeezed in our campsite, left, right, up and down… our tent were surrounded. People everywhere. I went out to the main road, all the campsites were full of people and tents. This reminded me how bamboo shots suddenly grow out of the ground after the rain…

We had our tipping ceremony after dinner. They sang a song, Chris said something nice to them, then they sang another one, then Chris gave them the tips from three of us, then they sang another song. Then they let us go and they all went to the cooking tent to split the tips…

We each offered them $280, at the higher end of the $250-$300 range that we were told in the company email.

Day 7, to the Gate (10 Km; 1640 m) and back to Hotel (~1000 m)s

We got up at 6 and left the campground at 7 to avoid the crowd. Had the last peek of the mountain before heading down.

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Anne sprained her ankle so we walked extremely slowly. My energy almost fully recovered, so it was easy for me.

It was sunny, but soon we were back in Rainforest again, so I didn’t use sunblock. And I really enjoyed the scenery all the way down.

People started passing us. We also saw an older guy in a stretcher. He had food poisoning. Luckily this was already the last day.

Time to time, we saw people limping down the hill. It seemed that it was common people fell on the trail.

About 2 hr later, the trail changed to road. There was a big 4x4 waiting there for rescue, and soon, there was another one coming.

We were almost at the gate, then I fell, on this wide and flat road – yeah, it was always like that…

We got to the gate at 9:25.

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Of course, registered first. But this time, we received our Certificate! Yeah~~ hop hop:)

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Selemon is writing our Certificates
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Certificate

We came back to the Keys Hotel before 11. While waiting for our room to be ready, the first thing I did was to grab a bottle of Coco-cola from the restaurant, ice cold! No wonder the Coco-cola was so popular in Africa…

While Chris was taking nap in the afternoon, I hand washed my boots and a few clothes so I could wear something clean on the airplane. They dried in 20 mins in the hot sun – it was above 30C, and yes, now we were back to real Africa.

In the late afternoon when the sun was not that strong, we went to the Moshi town to buy some tea to bring back. I took a photo of the map from Anne’s touring book. It was sufficient to let us find the Nakumatt Supermarket.

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map of Moshi

We found the exact tea that we had in the mountain in the past seven days. Then we realized that the Mt Kilimanjaro picture on the tea bag showed its legendary image with all the snow covered on the top. Comparing to what we saw…

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Tea Bag with Mt. Kilimanjaro and glaciers of old
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In the town, we ran into the two Italian guys again, and they told us that one guy died at the Stella Point this morning. This news was confirmed by another group the next day at breakfast. That was probably why we saw some rescue vehicles near the gate.

The food at the Keys Hotel was amazingly good, my appetite started coming back.

The next morning, we left Moshi, and started our 36+ hour journey coming back home.

FAQs:

Q: Why do you pick Absolute Africa?

A: Dennis Garcia used them in August 2014, and highly recommended.

Q: How much does it cost?

A: ~US$2000 (including transportation from/back Nairobi and tips).

Q: Was it hard?

A: Nah~, but we did our training in Rockies before the trip. Also, for whoever wants to do Mt. Kilimanjaro, I strongly suggest do Mt. Kenya first – so you won’t be too disappointed for your trip, plus can acclimatize better.



Gallery

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Map from Nairobi

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Map of Mt. Kilimanjaro

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Hiking partners

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Machame Gate

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Waiting for registration work

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Still waiting,

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Entering the Gate

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Porters on the Trail

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Trail Day one through the forest

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Beginning portion of the trail

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Kilimanjaro Impatience

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Flora

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First Camp

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Setting the first camp

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First Camp, porter's tents

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Mt. Kilimanjaro from the first camp

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Trail Day 2

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Mt. Meru from the first camp

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Porters doing the real work

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a little bit of scrambling

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Stuck in the tent, in the river

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Our Tents in flood

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Mt. Kilimanjaro from the second camp

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Panorama view of our camp ground

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On top of the clouds

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Mt. Meru on top of the clouds

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Lava Tower junction at 4550m

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big "buffalo" plants - Mt. Kilimanjaro

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big "buffalo" plants - Mt. Kenya

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Barranco Campground

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Mt. Kilimanjaro from Barranco Campground. More Glaciers on this side

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Our tent under the Mt. Kilimanjaro at teh Barranco Campground

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Colourful Human Migration

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Chris and co.

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Porters still doing all the work... just more of it now

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Karanga campsite, 4100m -

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Mt. Kili in Sunrise at Karanga Camp

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Congradulations - Stella Point

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Happy New Year - Uhuru Peak No. 5/6/7 to summit in 2015

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Kilimanjaro Glaciers (whats left of them)

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Selemon is writing our Certificates

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Certificate

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map of Moshi

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Local Tea package

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Content Copyright © XiaoZhen (Jean) Cao 2015


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