Mount Kilimanjaro | highest mountain in Africa
Share in our Clients review on their experience of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro via the Machame route in September 2012 with Soul Adventures
Okay, so you are looking at climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, but are still pretty much undecided on who to go with, what route to go on and generally what to expect. Well, we hope this review from one of clients will help you on your way. No matter who you decide to climb Mount Kilimanjaro with, the experience is mind blowing.
Mount Kilimanjaro Review by Soul Adventure Customer Riana van der Merwe
Read more of her Mount Kilimanjaro blog entries by Clicking here
The decision to climb Mount Kilimanjaro
The new season is starting, but I just wanted to share what happened in the little off period I had. In August my sister and I took on the highest mountain on the African continent, Mount Kilimanjaro, and it was glorious. On the 24th of August we embarked on a 7 day, 6 night hike to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, in the beautiful country of Tanzania, via the Machame Route. It is also worth it to point out that this is also called the Whiskey Route and also the most scenic. Hiking Kilimanjaro was one of those things that I have waited and wanted to do for as long as I can remember and the same goes for my sister, Mala. We of course did not undertake this likely and for some moral support we took a mascot with us on this journey, my beautiful Seven Springs Vineyards 2011 Pinot noir.
Day 1 – Machame Gate to Machame Hut (3000m)
We start the day by being picked up from our hotel and driving to Machame gate at 08h30 in the morning. We go sign in at the gate of Mount Kilimanjaro which is at 1800 m.a.s.l. (meters above sea level).While my sister and I wait for all the safety checks the porters and our guides, a total of 13 people, we just take in the awesomeness of what we are about to do. We started the hike around 10h00 and we were all excited. The one thing that I’ve heard over and over was that you needed to walk slowly on Kilimanjaro as to adjust to the altitude and on that first day it was quite difficult to keep to that, because excitement kept making me want to run. But “Pole, Pole” was the word of the day, it’s Swahili for slowly, and we had to stick to that. We were hiking most of the day through the rain forest and almost to the Hut we got our first glimpse of Kilimanjaro and it was just magnificent and I think it struck me just there that I had gotten off my bum and was living a dream 🙂 We got to camp around 5 that afternoon and was spoiled by our porters and cook to a great dinner. I have to say that I had some of my best camping meals on this mountain.
Day 2 – Machame Hut – Shira Cave (3840 m)
This was a shorter day, only 5 hours of walking. We got an early start as there were a lot of people, and I mean a lot! The day began with a hearty breakfast and then we were off, climbing up a steep ridge to reach a small semi-circular cliff known as Picnic Rock.
What a view!
This is the view from close to Picnic Rock, where we stopped for lunch. From there it was a much less steeper climb to reach the Shira Plateau. We camped that night at Shira Cave, where we got some spectacular views of the Shira Plateau and of the Volcanic cone of Kibo, the second highest volcano on Mount Kilimanjaro. We got to camp long before sunset so we decided to take a quick 30 min hike to Shira Hut and also to go passed the old Cave, where hikers used to sleep, but now it’s too unstable so we camp in our tents. It was also at this camp that we had our first encounter with the crows – WOW! these were some seriously big birds. One of them even stole our soap! It was very windy on the plateau and so that night none of us got much sleep. Luckily we were told that at our next camp there was no wind.
Day 3 – Shira Cave – Barranco Valley (3950m)
After not getting much sleep, we headed out. We were going to hike up to 4600m and then back down to 3950m to the Barranco Valley. At 4600m we got to the Lava Tower where we stopped for lunch and just a bit of a rest to try and get used to the altitude. Hiking high and sleeping low is a good way of adjusting your body to the extreme altitude.
At Lava Tower we took a little time out, literally to catch our breaths and also to take in the sight and the majesty of Mount Kilimanjaro from close up. For 3 days of being on the mountain and years prior to that I’ve had to be patient and just look at her from a distance, but NOW I was standing so close. I closed my eyes and just listened. It was quiet and peaceful and I could hear the wind whipping around the mountain, but also, more distressingly, I could hear the water running as the glaciers of Kilimanjaro were melting. I then really saw what an impact climate is having on Kilimanjaro. Where we were standing we could see bits of the glacier, but not so long ago there was a whole lot more glacier to see and it’s sad that it’s all going to be gone very soon. After our little rest we started heading back down and on our decent the rain started to fall, making the journey down a lot more slippery. I fell a total of 2 times 🙂 , what is hiking without some bruises to show for it. Finally we go to our next camp in Barranco Valley and they had not lied, there was no wind.
Day 4 – Barranco Valley – Karanga (3930m)
“A steep climb up the Barranco Wall” – that is what the brochure on Mount Kilimanjaro said and again, they did not lie. The only thing here was that they did not mention the traffic jams that you could experience here. You’d think that that would only apply to the cities? Well, no! This is what it looked like going up Barranco Wall. I think we stood and waited more for the people than actual climbing-a disadvantage f going in the busy season.
Finally up the Wall and it starts raining again, but lucky for us we got our rain gear ready to go, and this time I did not fall. It took us all but 5 hours to get to Karanga, where some people stayed over and most continued on to Barafu. We opted to stay at Karanga and get a good afternoon nap in while the rain drizzled down and also to spend the night and make our way to Barafu, the final camp before attempting the summit, the next day. After the rain had stopped we got to explore the scenery and Boy! was it worth it.
Stayed tuned for Part 2 of their Kilimanjaro experience.