Saturday, May 12, 2018

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro - 5 - Day 3 (Starting the climb)

No alarm clock required - 530am was up - excitement, edginess you would say - yes but mainly I just needed to pee yet again (thanks Diamox!).

By 730am I was all ready from breakfast and went for my duffle bag weighing in and to fill my water bottles and in the main yard of the hotel there was a “controlled” chaos - people running around with bags, supplies, crates etc. How many people will be with us?!? Well we found out that we had about 60 accompanying us from guides (6) to kitchen staff, porters etc. since we were such a big group.

Weighing In
When all the team members had their gear checked by the crew, the owner of the Marangu hotel introduced our guides and each and then we were asked to find our personal porter who had a paper with our name on. My porter was Frank, a thin, young chap, for whom immediately I felt kind of sorry that he had to carry my stuff all the way up a mountain - could he do it? He looked so frail - but looks are deceiving and Frank was going to show me this all through our trip. 

Meeting the guides and the porters
“Hellos” over - we were asked to go to the main parking lot where we we found a scene from an apocalypse movie. Jeeps, vans and an ex military truck with people climbing on top shoving gear and bags all over the place. I was speechless - which is quite something for me! 

Loading the vehicles
On the way to our starting point of the “Machame Route”, the Machame Gate, we had the opportunity to chat with one of our guides (Reggie) and he gave us a bit of an insight of how they work, how the porters work and well the not so easy life they lead - but that the mountain is a “provider” for them and that’s why they respect it so much. 

Machame Gate
On arrival we were offered a packed lunch which was an introduction to the Avocado sandwich (you’ll see a lot of those!) and after some final group photos we started off towards our first camp. 
First lunch on the Mountain
The track towards Machame Camp is mainly jungle and you are walking uphill all the time. It’s a very well maintained pathway some of it with makeshift stairs made of wood. It’s not extremely difficult, but it’s hot and humid and long, very long, some 7 hours long!

On the way to Machame Camp
My suggestion is to start light and layer up accordingly, mostly when the sun start going down like that you are comfortable. Also have your head torch handy since at dusk it gets dark quick due to the vegetation and you definitely need to watch your step here!! (The route image below is thanks to Sacha Cutajar our teammate who logged everything {and I mean everything} during this adventure!)

Route to Machame Camp - Credit to Sacha Cutajar 
We arrived at 8pm (left around 1pm) at camp and after sorting our gear in our tents we sat for dinner and that was simply amazing! It actually felt good to eat Soup and a nice warm meal.

Personally I was a bit "agitated" since it was my first time sleeping in a camp, but this was made so much simpler by my great tent mate, Seb, who made all look so easy. Honestly I was tired, so the camp actually looked fantastically inviting and comfy. So in we went to sleep and rest for another long day the next day.

Getting ready for bed in Machame Camp

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