A Jenman African Safaris’ employee Debbie braved the heights of Mount Kilimanjaro, situated in the Kilimanjaro National Park in Tanzania. Mount Kilimanjaro, a now-dormant volcano, rises to 5895 metres and is both the highest point in Africa and one of the highest mountains in the world.
The climb takes six days and the routes can vary, according to your preference. Debbie says that one should be careful which route one chooses, as each has its own distinct advantages and disadvantages.
Debbie and a friend decided on the Machame Route, which is also known as the Whiskey Route. Accommodation on this route is restricted to tents only, although the breathtaking scenery more than makes up for this, even if tents aren’t your preference.
The trip starts in the town of Moshi at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro, and progresses through various climate regions, starting on day one with rain forests that humble one with their beauty. On the second day the rain forests slowly give way to the moor lands, which in turn become alpine desert on the third day. Day four brings hikers into further desert regions that develop into rocky volcanic glaciers on day five.
On day two hikers are able to view the peaks of Shira and Mawenzi, and Debbie’s group were lucky enough to spot blue monkeys, which is a rare sight.
On day four the tour guide, Julius (aka Whitey), stopped to set up camp at around 4pm and the group settled in to sleep at 7pm. At 11pm they were woken for tea and biscuits, and then, at midnight, began the hike to the summit of Kilimanjaro. The group reached Stella Point at approximately 6am, took a short tea break, and then proceeded with the last 45 minutes of the hike to the summit.
Debbie says that, nearing the end, the one thing that kept her going was the cold. She reasons: “I knew that the colder it got, the closer we were to the summit.”
The walk down (via the Mweka Route) is steep and takes about 2.5 hours. The group rested for 3 hours before they hiked down to the last hut in the rain forest.
When asked what the highlight of the trip was, Debbie found it difficult to pick just one thing. She says: “The whole experience! Reaching the top!”
Debbie also says that while she had worried before the trip, it didn’t turn out to be the torture that she had expected and she was able to have fun and enjoy the hike.
Debbie goes on to advise anyone interested in taking this trip to ensure that they have the stamina needed to do so. Although there is no need to be “super fit”, Debbie says that a reasonable amount of fitness is required and that one should perhaps participate in less daunting hikes in order to increase stamina and fitness before attempting Kilimanjaro.
A party of eight led Debbie and her friend through the various regions to reach the tip of Kilimanjaro, consisting of: the guide, an assistant guide, a chef, a waiter and two porters.
Debbie says: “Everything is done for you; you don’t even carry your own equipment, other than a daypack. All you really have to do is walk!”
They had regular contact with the base camp via cell phone (believe it or not, but there is reception!) and frequently passed other hikers along the way, so at no point did they feel completely disconnected from the rest of the world.
Debbie says that one shouldn’t stress about anything. “Just go with the attitude that you’re going to have fun, and be sure to bring lots of socks with!”
All equipment can be hired and meals are provided, so the only thing one really has to bring with on the trip is personal items such as clothing, and any snacks that you may wish to nibble on along the way. It goes without saying that hiking boots worn for the trip should already be worn-in.
The group didn’t see much in the likes of spiders and insects, although there were numerous mice and plenty of birdlife to be seen.
Debbie says: “Our guide was amazing. His enthusiasm, positive attitude and knowledge put me at ease immediately.”
The guides sang Swahili songs as they walked, making an effort to teach their charges a little Swahili as well.
Debbie and her friend thoroughly enjoyed the trip, and spent the next six days in Zanzibar in a hammock sipping cocktails and relaxing.
For anyone interested in hiking Kilimanjaro, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.