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Tuesday 17 Feb 2009
Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

Starting the Kili climb today...

Just a super quick entry as I've only 4 mins left... arrived Moshi by plane .. very nice view, got a lift to Moshi with a German bloke working here ... met up with Paul, the guy organising my trip. Nice enough sort, seems to have everything covered.

Got a glimpse of Kili this morn.. effin huge!! Looks unreal ..like a painting

Anyhoo.. off I go trekking... will be back in 6 days after (hopefully ) reaching the summit!

...the following has been written post-trip...

Paul Shayo had been recommended as a "guide" to me on the Lonely Planet web forums by several people, and we had been in contact with each other over the course of around 50 emails (!) so I was all ready for him to be my guide up the mountain.

As is standard practice for these kind of things, I had to pay up a deposit of 10% via Western Union a few weeks earlier as I was told by several Kilimanjaro-climbing companies that it takes a few days to prepare all the equipment and food/porters/etc. When I arrived in Moshi, though, I met many travellers that managed to book climbs up the mountain on arrival that were leaving the following morning.

Something to consider if you don't like sending money to strangers via the internet.

Still though, it was nice to have the peace-of-mind that the trip was booked when I arrived.

As it stood though, I was lucky with Paul Shayo. He is a nice (if rather huge) gent who is softly spoken and honest when it comes to payments and organising the trip (he even lent me a spare backpack to use to carry the supplies I would need - which meant I wouldn't have to lug all 18.5kg that I'd brought with me initially - I also used the backpack while venturing on safari and Ethiopia later on!).

He charged me a very decent rate of 980 USD for the 6-day climb up the Machame route (I'd met many others later on that paid around 1,200-1,300 USD each as they went through COMPANIES instead of private individuals), and 170 per day for the safari (which is cheap also apparently ... but this was dependant on him finding some others to join the safari!).

This morning, I quickly found out that HE wasn't to be my guide up the mountain, though, as he had to remain in Moshi to answer the mobile calls (as he is in constant demand from all the Lonely Planet recommendations no doubt!).

Meeting the gang
Meeting the gang

He introduced me to my guide, Shanny, and I jumped into the jeep to meet the remaining "crew" for my expedition up Kili: Lawrence and Abbas (the porters who will carry all the tent equipment etc) and Ali (the cook - whose penchant for ginger was to really get up my nose - literally).

Nice guys, although only Shanny spoke decent English and initially was fairly quiet. He soon turned out to be a class act, though, and offered to take over the position of "photographer" as well - which was great as I was doing the climb alone and wouldn't have had any pictures of myself going up the mountain otherwise. All pictures of me on Kilimanjaro are Shanny's work ... not bad at all! Laughing

Off we went .... leaving my hotel, the Kindaroko (which has a great rooftop bar looking up at Kilimanjaro incidentally!), on our adventure toward Kilimanjaro.

View of Kilimanjaro from...
View of Kilimanjaro from...

Now... I'd assumed climbing Kilimanjaro was a relatively easy thing for a person to do who is in any way fit. I cycle to and from work every day about 30km (albeit I hadn't done so for about 2 weeks on account of crappy weather in Ireland) so I assumed I was in pretty good shape. When I arrived in dusty Moshi the day before, I'd had a glimpse of Kilimanjaro from the rooftop bar, yet unknowst to me the top 30% of the mountain was hidden away by a curtain of cloud. All I saw was a very gentle sloping "hill". Assuming that that the cloud was hovering over the summit I thought this would be a cakewalk.

This morning, though, I got my first REAL glimpse of Kilimanjaro from my hotel room. No cloud this time. The space previously occupied by a cloud suddenly revealed a huge peak section with very steep sides (check out the photo).

These steep sides, I would later find out, are part of the last day summit climb up to Stella Point. This section would prove to be one of the most grilling hikes on the expedition ... more later...

To say the least my first reaction was: *GULP*

Getting supplies
Getting supplies

No turning back now, we ventured off - picking up some food supplies that the cook would need on the way. The route toward the mountain is full of people trying to cash in on the industry (in fact the town of Moshi itself is entirely built up to cater to the Kili and Safari industries) and you got people selling bottles of water, fruit, even waterproof black bags to cover your rucksack with (the last thing you want on Kili is to get your clothes wet in the rainforest sections on the first 2 days.)

We soon arrived at Machame village and went through the gate into the national park. Here we signed the forms and also met a few other budding climbers. The majority of people climbing Kili tended to be from one of the following countries: Germany, France, US, Canada, or Latvia (!). Yeah Latvia (or Estonia too) ... lots of Eastern Europeans in Tanzania I was soon to find out, which is very odd as I've never met Eastern Europeans in any other countries I've travelled to.

Soon we were on our way...  Day 1! (we actually cheated a bit by driving up to Machame as Machame gate is already at 1,900m altitude)

Day 1 ...  Nice...
Day 1 ... Nice...

The first day was actually quite a relatively easy stroll through lush rainforest, on a paved path, and the challenge of avoiding stepping on armies of red ants which covered the forest floor at some points (check the gallery for a pic).

Myself and Shanny were zooming ahead of all the other groups as the air was a nice humid 17C and we were fresh from a nice sleep the night before.

I hadn't brought any hiking sticks, though, as I never used them on any other hikes I've been on (albeit low-altitude hikes in Australia), so I just carried two bottles of water - one in each hand - which I used as "swing weights" to keep my walking rhythm up. It worked somewhat, although in retrospect hiking poles probably would have been a good idea.

After 4 hours hiking through rainforest we eventually arrived at our destination of Machame Hut (3,000 m) and the camp was already setup by the gang. My muscles were killing me though, and I had trouble sleeping that night in the tent without getting cramp!

 

4 Comments for this Travel blog entry

Christian Says:

20 February 2009

Oh man, I told you it will get really wet. When I waked up I really thought this poor guy, hopefully he has enought clothes for climbing.

When you read this you can tell us if you made it ;-) Do not even try to lie, I will find out if you made it! Ha H

peterforan Replies:

23 February 2009

ya mate.. finally made it.. unbelievable feeling... although I think I got overexcited and paid too much in tips after (325 dollars?!?).. doh!

floyd Says:

21 February 2009

Jumbo mzee peter,

habari ya Kilimanjaro ? being keeping a track on all tales. i am sure you are having fun. take lots of pichar...

peterforan Replies:

15 March 2009

Poa kaman matope! Yeah lots to write about.. will probably have to do it when I get to Addis Adaba tho

Gretta Says:

22 February 2009

Well Peter, it's been six days since you started up Kili. We are waiting anxiously to hear from you - hope no broken bones this time? Hope it was all that you expected. Mum,Dad,Gary and Teddy

peterforan Replies:

23 February 2009

yep was amazing... will write it up when I get to Addis (assuming the internet works ok there)

Btw.. mobile doesn't work up north here in case you were wondering

Owen Says:

22 February 2009

Hey Its Garys mate Owen. Sounds like you're having a ball.

peterforan Replies:

23 February 2009

thanks :) ... yeah it's a bit crazy here though .. cheezy como ndeeze as they say

I bless the rains down in Africa

Travel blog by peterforan

Day 3  ... Lookin forward to Uhuru peak, Kilimanjaro

Day 3 ... Lookin forward to Uhuru peak, Kilimanjaro


With Toto's defining tune ringing in my head, I don khaki pants and venture full-throttle into Africa! Elephants, lions, huge mountains, men with spears intent on stabbing me (probably) and the "Cradle of Humanity" (tm)... 4 weeks ain't gonna be enough!

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  • Entrance to...

    Kilimanjaro

    Tanzania

    Entrance to Machame town
  • Day 1 ... ...

    Kilimanjaro

    Tanzania

    Day 1 ...  Rain!
  • Day 1 ... ...

    Kilimanjaro

    Tanzania

    Day 1 ...  Shanny "Sean", the guide
  • Day 1 ... 2...

    Kilimanjaro

    Tanzania

    Day 1  ... 2 bottles of water for support