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Wednesday 18 Feb 2009
Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

Day 2 ... Moorland

Day 1 ...  My home for...
Day 2 ... Coffee time...

Woke up nice and early after a semi-ok sleep (generally speaking I never had one night of decent sleep while on the mountain - or even on safari afterward come to think of it - I guess I like my bed mattresses too much!). I found I had to go to the toilet a lot during the night as the temperature dropped considerably and it also rained - not to mention I'd drunk about 6 litres of water the day before, so rather than having to get my grubby boots on each time, I resorted to using a technique I developed while camping around Australia and nominated one of my water bottles as a latrine Tongue out

The lads provided me with a small bucket of water to "rub" myself down with using a sponge or something. The idea is that you do this within your tent. Determined as I was to maintain some sort of hygeine while on the mountain (and also to keep my lovely tent free of water splashes!) I somehow managed to step out of my tent topless in the 5C temperatures and wash my hair AND shave my face successfully using the small amount of water provided to me. To say the least, this was the last time I did this on the trek as it was a nightmare trying to wash out the shampoo alone ... plus later on it became far too cold. So I think I shaved once more a few days later.

Luckily I'd come prepared with some "dry shampoo" (basically like talc powder that you spray into your hair) that seemed to do the trick without water for the following days.

Day 2 ...  The lads on...
Day 2 ... The lads on...

After a brekkie of semolina (filled with ginger and lemon bits too.. which at first tasted unusual, but as the altitude got higher it started to taste rather nauseating) we headed off to Shira Hut (3,950m).

The landscape on the second day quickly gave way to moorland and you could easily have imagined you were in Scotland or even the Wicklow mountains in Ireland, with heather and small grasses dotted around.

I decided to wear a tshirt and shorts today, but Shanny (or "Séan" as I called him assuming that was how we spelt it!) advised me to bring along my rain jacket (and also a spare tshirt to change into at lunchtime as I would no doubt be very sweaty. This was a very good recommendation as I was soon to experience first hand why the local tribes call this mountain the "Chameleon Mountain"...

The weather here is so schizophrenic that it even puts New Zealand's crazy weather in the shade. Literally over the span of 2 minutes the weather can go from 25C and sunny to 5C and rainy! Look at the below sequence of images that span around 20 minutes...

Day 2  ... Huge clouds...
Day 2 ... Huge clouds...

Day 2  ... 1.32pm ......
Day 2 ... 1.32pm ......

Day 2  ... 1.33pm ......
Day 2 ... 1.33pm ......

Day 2  ... Beggining to...
Day 2 ... Beggining to...

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pretty crazy, but I'd managed to stuff the coat into the back of my backpack when I didn't need it so it never really became too much of a burden.

The huge walls of cloud moved so fast it was quite unreal and also a beautiful spectacle.

Although I never suffered from altitude sickness in the extreme on this climb, one thing I DID have in abundance was a chronic migrane. This started ever so slightly on Day 2, and by the end of the day my head was pounding fairly badly. The feeling of pressure on your head during the climb is similar to the pressure you get when scuba diving, but unlike diving, the pressure doesn't go away when you swallow a few times to clear the nasal passages.

The reason for the headaches is partially because the air is thinner, but also because your nasal passages close up slightly so that it becomes hard to breath through your nose (worse with a runny nose!), and so all breathing is done through the mouth which can be somewhat exhausting.

(This, incidentally, is also why food tastes disgusting at altitude - as I was soon to discover - because you can't "taste" it properly due to the malfunctioning nasal passage)

I also have a pretty bad upper spine problem, so even carrying the relatively light day-pack gave me a sore neck which contributed to the pounding migrane.

Still, though, I persevered and didn't complain (too much!). I also met up with a Scottish couple who were suffering particularly badly, and they provided me with something I should have brought along from the beginning: pain killers! 3 Ibuprofen each night provided me with a modicum of relief - and no doubt aided me in reaching the summit later on. Without these pills I probably wouldn't have made it.

Talking of "must-haves" for this trip .. here are a few items that I remember I couldn't have done without...

- Water-sterilising tablets: essential. The only other alternative is to boil 2 bottles of water in the morning before you leave camp, but you will quickly run out. Carrying tablets with you allows you to drink from the odd waterfall or stream or snow that you might encounter, although don't drink too much as you will lose valuable salts (as I was to experience later). Read up on Day 4 to find out what happened when I forgot to bring my tablets with me once...

- Talc powder and baby wipes: due to lack of showers and proper toilet facilities (just filthy pit-toilets) you will find yourself wanting to clean yourself thoroughly, and baby wipes are an essential relief. Not to mention baby powder to prevent skin chaffing especially when you get sweaty all day long.

- Gaiters for your hiking boots: Not being a regular hiker, I'd never heard of these things before, but I decided to buy a pair (for cheap!) on ebay just in case as most websites recommended them. They were definately essential to keep stones and dust out of my boots (especially when coming down after reaching the summit).

- Strepsils throat tablets: With -25C temperatures on some nights, your throat WILL get sore, even just from breathing in the cold air. These help you along somewhat.

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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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Photo Album

  • 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