Showing posts from 2018

Morocco Mount Toubkal Climb - Day 2

Day 2 started with early breakfast from the always faithful Abdullah and also met Stewart and Simon who made part of the team we were going to be in.
At 7am the van came to pick us up and we left for a mini Marrakech tour to pick up other team members, 7 Portughes, 2 girls from London and a Croatian living in Germany with a fantastic character! This done we headed for the 2hr drive to Imlil.
On arrival at Imlil we met Ibrahim and Hussein who were going to be our guides. They checked if we needed any extra gear (which they can provide) and then asked us to leave our additional items so that they can be taken to the refuge by mule. Here was my first mistake - I thought I was light enough and Ibrahim made it a point that my pack was too much. I insisted it was fine, but clearly it wasn’t!!

We left towards the refuge which is an 18km trek, but Imlil standing at 1800m and the refuge at 3200m that’s an xxxm climb.
The initial part of the trek was actually pleasant through trees and running…

Morocco - Mount Toubkal Climb - Day 1

Traveling alone has its benefits - you get to do things faster: checking in, getting through security, getting a drink and chilling smoking a cigarette and even if you are too early (which usually I am) no one is there to ask you why and you can simply read, answer mails or write a blog like I am doing now.
On the other hand, it has its learning curve and can also get boring sometimes. I love my me time, but it’s also great to have company and the ability to chat and share with like minded people.
Today I am in Marrakech and this is my first time in Morocco. I landed in Casablanca and for comfort sake I had pre booked a taxi to take me for the near 3 hour drive. I met Kamal just out of the terminal and was amazed by his great command of English, which he proudly (and don’t blame him) announced is self thought! It was a long drive but actually very pleasant with ongoing conversations about tourism, politics, culture and even touched on the sensitive subject of women drivers!!
Around 1…

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro - 8 - Summit Night

On the 6th Day (if you are doing the Machame Route), you will arrive to Barufu Camp, which is the last Camp site before reaching Kilimanjaro's summit.

Saying it plainly, Barufu Camp is not one of the nicest camps on this mountain and these are some points to illustrate what I mean:
Its very crowded, since a lot of groups meet there for their attempt to summit. It's situated on a slope so your tent will basically be at an angle.There are a lot of loose rocks, some looking like slate and one needs to walk with caution (its very depressing getting hurt just hours before your push to the summit!)  Well, grumbling aside, still it offers great views (everywhere has great views on this mountain!) and also, I think this was the most "emotional" camp, since you will arrive quite early, eat lunch and your guides will immediately suggest that you go to sleep to be up again at 11:30pm to start up for summit. This can have a profound effect and it did on some of our group members…

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro - 7 - The Campsites

If you are a weathered adventure seeker or a total outdoors junkie, then this will be a breeze for your, but for someone like me, who loves the outdoors, training and exploring, but was kinda stuck in a bit of too much of a comfort zone, then its a different story.

My camping experience and knowledge before doing Kilimanjaro was down to, well, zero - so this was going to be an entirely new experience for me and I must say it was one of the scariest, obviously since it was an unknown factor.

What I can say is that its not that bad. If you go with a good and reputable company, the camps are usually very good quality and one thing I noticed is that the porters assigned to you and your tent mate (unless you decide to stay solo), will do their best to place your tent in the best and the flattest place possible. The latter is very important, since a rock under your back is not a nice feeling when you're trying to get some rest!

In my case we had rental sleeping bags (top tip: take a sl…

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro - 6 - Weather & Clothing - what to expect

Before embarking on the feat to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, I had read a lot about it, watched videos and listened to the experiences of other "Kilimanjaro Challenge" Participants who had done it before me. What I can conclude is that ever experience is different and mine was different from theirs too!

Here I will mention things which are generic situations and tips & tricks, which normally everyone will feel and experience, but for the rest it will be your personal experience when climbing that will make your adventure unique and completely yours.

I will start with the Weather and the clothing approach for the climb

The Weather. 
The mountain has its own weather system, so weather actually is kind of unpredictable, but there are some typical patterns including :

Start (jungle area)
Hot / Humid / Wet, but turns colder when reaching higher altitude (towards Machame Camp)

Mid Section camps
Still can be very warm (remember you will be walking), but turns nippy quickly and might …

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.

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 throug…

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro - 4 - Day 2 (Orientation in Marangu)

The day started off with me trying to switch a "birds' call" iPhone alarm, only to realise it was an actual bird just out of our window!

Anyway - was a good start and after a shower went up to the hotel's dining room for breakfast - Glorious!!! Fruit, cereals, toast, eggs to order and some strange looking but tasty bacon & sausage - the basic staples, but all amazingly fresh. I must stress on the fruit. In Tanzania the Papaya & Mangos are to die for and I simply couldn't stop eating (that also might explain some rush trips to the bathroom later on when thinking about it!).

After breakfast, we all got ready to go for a walk around Marangu, but before managed to get some basic Swahili words :

Thank you          : Asante You’re welcome : Karibu Good morning   : Habari Water                 : Madi Hello                  : Jumbo  (Don't mix this with Jamba since the latter means "fart" and can be embarrassing!!)

Before leaving I managed to get a…

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro - 3 - Day 1 (Getting there)

Early morning flight from Malta to Istanbul, which, with relatives from 18 team members and also a nice attendance from local press, was far from quiet, but ultimately that was the point to raise more money for the cause.

We then had a layover at Istanbul Atatürk Airport, which is not a bad place to spend around 4 hours, with a good selection of restaurants & cafes and a variety of duty free 'temptations'.

Our next flight was to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, were we arrived at about 4am (Tanzania time). Here we had our visas checked and a word of warning is to be ready to wait - it does take some time and we were a bit unlucky of merging in with another two flights. Also it is important to check which type of visa you require and if you need to do it before or if it can be obtained there and then at the airport (in fact for Maltese citizens we found that it can be done at the airport itself).

After the visa check point, we simply got our bags from the baggage claim and altho…

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro - 2 - Physical Training

I started my training for Kilimanjaro with our KC11 team in April 2017, this about 9 months before actually going to Tanzania to attempt the mountain.
The team’s training schedule started easily with a Sunday trek every week, but then we started to add more days gradually in our training days.
Summer in Malta is very hot and humid, so this presented us with some “problems” - mainly to avoid the gruelling heat of the sun - simply solved by starting our treks at 5am in the morning! This didn’t really solve the problem, since in August we were experiencing temperatures of around 25 degrees at night and with the first rays of the sun it went rushing up to about 28 in a matter of minutes.
Training with the team is great and there are opportunities to engage into more elaborate and longer treks, like the 2 day around Gozo trek or a 3 day trip to Sicily to climb Etna (I will add another post all about this soon). But also individual training is key.
Learning to train, walk for longer distan…

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro - 1 - How it started

I never thought I would be here writing this, but yes, I managed to climb a mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro
You may say, “thousands climb that mountain every year”, and in fact they do and this makes it look easy and so reachable, but it’s not. Many still fail to reach the summit and many are overwhelmed by altitude sickness or by sheer exhaustion. Kili is still a mountain and mountains are hostile places where, we as human beings are totally out of our element. 
“So why do it?!”. For me it was simply to do something different, to have a target and to prove to myself I could achieve something which not everyone (in Malta at least) does. Also, unglamorous & egoistically as it may sound, it was a target to get myself training again, loose weight and feel good and fit again. I am 41 years old, so to shed the extra pounds is not an easy task, but I felt the challenge would make it possible and in fact it did. 

I joined a Maltese run organisation, who prepare a group to climb Kilimanjar…