After our summit yesterday we returned to Kosovo Camp (4870m/15,978ft) and had a couple of hours to rest, eat and drink, and then pack up. We hiked downhill for 3 hours to reach Millennium Camp (3820m/12,530ft) and were glad to reach it. Another early start this morning at 5 am, though practically a lie-in compared to our summit bid, saw us on our final day of Kilimanjaro. We dropped altitude and made our way from Alpine Desert to Moorland to Rainforest.
We were lucky enough to see Black and White Colobus Monkeys leaping from branch to branch high in the tree canopy. When we reached Mweka Gate (1638m/5,375ft), our exit point, we received a welcome that had everyone there looking on. The singing and dancing were well worth the effort that the team made over the last 7 days, and was a fitting end to our Kilimanjaro climb. So now we are back in Arusha before driving West tomorrow to Tarangire National Park, to begin the Safari.
Today’s Swahili: Congratulations. Hongera — Brother. Kaka — Sister. Dada
The sunrise was beautiful and gave respite from the previous hours of climbing in the darkness. Each of us in a pool of light from our headlamps, steadily climbing up the loose rock and scree. The faintest of light on the horizon, grew larger and brighter, transforming through a range of orange, red and pink hues. We reached Stella Point on the edge of the crater rim at 18,800′, and stopped for a hot drink and some shelter from the wind. From there the slope was less steep and dawn made the route finding easier. As the sun rose higher it cast a huge shadow of Kilimanjaro onto the clouds below. It put our presence on the side of the mountain, nearing its summit, into perspective. We reached the top at 6.45am, after a harder than expected climb for some. Kilimanjaro might often be referred to as a to trek, but its 19,341′ should not be underestimated.
Kilimanjaro, Uhuru Peak, is a beautiful mountain that allowed us to step on her summit a few hours ago, giving us memories to last a lifetime.
Karanga Camp to Kosovo Camp, the last segment before summit day. The Kili team has now climbed to high camp and will be heading to the summit tonight! Here’s lead guide Rob Smith with the details:
We reached Kosovo Camp (4870m/15,978 ft), our high camp at 12.15pm. For the first time in our trip, we have met successful climbers who have summitted Kilimanjaro. They did so earlier this morning and were pleased to be on their way down, as we continued up past Barafu Camp, where the majority of climbers stay. The extra effort today will give us a shorter summit day tomorrow. So now we rest, and we will have an early dinner before trying to catch a few hours sleep. Tomorrow begins at midnight, quite literally, as we will get up and prepare to leave at 1am. So wish us luck and tune in tomorrow for an update.
Today’s Swahili: Tabasamu – smile
We were awake at 5am in preparation to climb the Barranco Wall. It was a chilly morning. If we were lacking motivation, it came in heaps, from an impromptu song and dance send-off from our team. Dressed in thick coats and wooly hats, the pace ramped up until Willie threw a cartwheel followed by a backflip. Suitably impressed by his acrobatics, we left camp and were soon at the base of the Barranco Wall. 750′ of rock with a sinuous path worked into it by the passage of climbers. Part scramble, part walk, we made our way to the top. And we were rewarded with emerging into the sun and seeing a sea of cloud beneath us as far as we could see. With the crux of the day behind us, we descended towards Karanga Camp (4029m/13,220ft) with a final steep uphill to pull into camp after 4 hours.
Tomorrow we begin the final phase of the trip, as we continue to Kosovo Camp (4870m/15,978ft), our high camp. From there we will begin our summit climb in the early hours of the following morning.
Today’s Swahili: Hakuna Matata – No Problem / No Worries.
Another day of beautiful weather here on Kilimanjaro. Our 6am wake up is becoming the norm, and there are no complaints when the first view is Kilimanjaro casting its shadow onto the clouds below us. The trail climbed steadily from the start, and we rose above the trees to enter a rocky landscape resembling the surface of the moon. This zone of the mountain is clasified as Alpine Desert, and is hugely different from the rainforest we started in. Despite the austere environment, there is some wildlife living here. We saw some 4 striped mice scurrying between the rocks at a rest stop. White collared ravens tustled in the air, as 2 birds locked feet together and tumbled towards the ground before releasing and flying on.
After 4.5 hours we reached Lava Tower at 15,000′ where we had an extended stop to take advantage of our height gain. Spending time there should help us sleep tonight as we have dropped in altitude to 13,000′. The trail down passed between Giant Scenecio plants which look like they belong to an older world. We reached Barranco Camp in time to have a look at Barranco Wall, a rock feature we will climb tomorrow. We are all in good spirits and are looking forward to the challenge tomorrow.
We have had a beautiful day today on Kilimanjaro, moving up the mountain.
We awoke at 6am in the shade but in good weather. By 8am we were moving up the steep rocky trail above our campsite. The landscape changed from the dense rainforest we were in yesterday, as we passed through sparser trees and vegetation. Birdsong rang out and porters could be heard singing at the camp we had just left. A thick blanket of cloud lay over the plain below us. Higher up we reached sunlight and the temperature rose. We would crest a ridge to see another in front, with glimpses of Kilimanjaro through the trees.
Scrambling in places we finally reached out high point after 5 hours, and had a clear view of the mountain, its wide crater rim now visible. A quick walk downhill brought us to Shira Camp (3833m/12,575 ft), where we were greeted with harmonious singing from our porters. Tonight we will be sleeping at 12,500′ so we are making good height gain. A beautiful sunset and a very fine meal rounded off our day!
Today’s Swahali: Mambo – What’s up? Poa – Cool.
The drive from the airport passed through verdant fields of maize, sunflowers, and coffee. Roadside sellers had all sorts of goods including freshly butchered meat, charcoal for fuel, lumber for building and 3 piece furniture suites. School children dressed smartly on their uniforms made their way home. A boy with freshly caught fish slung from his hand boarded a bus and a motorbike so laden down with sugarcane veered across the lane to halt beside another stall. Small vans full of passengers decorated with everything from Jesus to football teams to machine guns picked up more passengers on their way to somewhere else. This is everyday life in this part of Tanzania, a small slice of what the country has to show us.
John, Jaclyn, and Kristin arrived yesterday afternoon and have settled into the hotel, despite one of the reservations being a double room for Mr. and Mrs. Madison. A minor delay while we explained there was no one called Madison in our group and no couples.
This morning we did gear checks, making sure we have the right clothing and equipment to take us to more than 19,000′. It’s hard to imagine in the heat of the day here, that we will need down jackets and the rest of the warm gear we have with us. But then again the famous Snows of Kilimanjaro would not exist unless the temperatures were freezing up there. This afternoon we had a look around Arusha, the town where we are staying and had lunch with our local Guide Daniel. Much more colour, hustle and bustle on the streets, compared to our ordered Western lives.
Tonight we make our final preparations and pack our duffles to leave for the start of our Kilimanjaro climb tomorrow. Exciting times.
Yesterday was a favorite so far for our Kilimanjaro team! The Baranco Wall can be an intimidating feature and as we woke up we could only see it for brief moments through the breaking fog. We stashed our trekking poles and steadily climbed. Mike, Todd and Cassey showed no signs of slowing as we crested the wall! As we bobbed and weaved our way around the mountain we were all in awe on the mountain to our left, and the beautiful countryside of Tanzania to our right. Karanga camp was a welcome sight!
Today we sit primed and ready for our climb tonight! The climb from Karanga to Kosovo camp at 15,500ft is a rewarding but demanding day. As usual Mike, Todd and Cassey floated it! As the scrub brush disappeared leaving only gravel and rocks, one starts to feel the change from hiking to climbing. Now we rest, drink water, eat and prepare for our late night start and our climb to the top of Africa!