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Tanzania Adventure Part 2 Kilimanjaro

January 12, 2014

After coming down from Mt. Meru we both dozed off a bit on the drive back to Arusha since traffic was bad so it took two hours rather than one it took to get there. I think our crew was pretty happy to be coming back and the mood was jovial in the mini bus all the way back.

We came back and settled in for a nice dinner at the Jacaranda before a good rest in advance of our morning drive to Kilimanjaro national park. I will not go into the details here but, the guy sitting beside us made us both uncomfortable since it seemed that an older Dutch man had found/purchased a local young Tanzanian fellow. That made for an awkward dinner to say the least.

After a good nights sleep another simple but delicious breakfast, Victor and the team arrived to cart us off to the mountain. We made our requisite stop for fresh vegetables and supplies and hit the road. While heading out we were stopped at a police checkpoint where I learned a valuable lesson, if a police officer asks for your sunglasses don’t give them to him, I almost lost a pair and everyone got a good laugh. Next time if asked, I will just offer to sell them. After our drive of a couple hours we made it too the gate and were pretty giddy about starting the climb.

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There are some formalities at the gate while we got permits and the porters weigh the gear to make sure they stay under the 20kg limit. As with the first mountain between Libby and I we only had one bag of less than 20kg with porters. I wonder if next time I’m climbing I should carry my own gear, less glamorous but more realistic.

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Plenty of rain that first day so not too many pictures but was an amazing day wandering through the rain forests on the slopes of Kilimanjaro.

This was the first night in our tent together and we were still trying to get things dry from the first mountain so it did feel a bit damp in the tent but as my mother has always said, Champions adjust, so we just dealt with it without complaint. The first camp was at Macheme Hut and that morning was beautiful but cold. We got some much needed sunshine and views of the mountain.

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Day two was the toughest day for me, straight out of camp was a steep climb along a muddy route for few hours. We did well and made good time but I could really feel the Meru summit day in my still recovering legs.

Victor kept our spirits high and told us stories of other climbs and all about the mountain and Tanzania.

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One high point of climbing Kilimanjaro during the rainy season is certainly that everything is so lush and green and that there are waterfalls and streams running everywhere. Granted this is at the expense of being in a poncho most of the time while trying to stay dry.

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The weather was only clear in the morning before the rain began so each morning despite it being cold it was beautiful with the sun shining. The camps were busy but not crowded and on mornings where we got a slow start you could see how transient the camps were being that they would be totally empty by 10am.

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On our way up to the lava tower the rain turned to snow which was actually quite pleasant until realizing how hard it was blowing in a place we had to stop for acclimatization. I believe the cave we huddled in for lunch was at about 15,500 feet.

After coming down off the tower the snow subsided the the rest of the day was quite nice and only a touch damp. Making camp at that night we slept well knowing we were getting close to summit day, which was reaffirmed the next morning with beautiful views of the snow wrapped massif.

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That morning we would climb the Baranco wall which was daunting until we got up to it after which time the path became clear and very doable. The views while the weather was clear were pretty spectacular.

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The breaks were well deserved and full of smiles and good cheer.

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After the wall most of of hard vertical was done for that day and we were ready to be in camp for last good rest before the darkness of summit night.

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Once we got past Gilmans point we knew we made it, all snow for the last few hours before dawn but so amazing to watch the sunrise from the roof of Africa, Uhuru point on top of Kilimanjaro is indeed one if the top picks on my spectacular sunrise list. We got our sign and flag and posed while enjoying the coldest Heineken I have ever had, and certainly the only custom one emblazoned with the family name.

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It was cold on the summit and we wanted our pictures more than others but it is pretty cool to mention that one of the climbers in another group brought his trumpet and as he played much to our delight, out guide Victor immediately whipped out his harmonica and join in the festivities. I unfortunately didn’t get photos but this was indeed pretty special way to celebrate our success.

On the way down to camp for a well deserved nap there was more great views and I think Libby and I may have both gotten a bit of a sunburn with the reflection off the snow but was such a great morning we barely noticed.

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Once we got to camp Libby dozed for a bit while I laid down and tried to shut my eyes but I think the mountain had me, I was still sort of stunned to have just that morning set foot ok my first peak above 19,000 ft. Was amazing to say the least. After a brief rest we headed down to the low camp for out over night before the last morning on the mountain, which I will say was just as cool as the first morning just in a different way.

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Last views of the summit on the way down were a little bitter sweet.

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Once back down on the forest we knew we were there, the crew was happy to soon be getting back to their family’s and Libby and I were ready to have the comfort of hot water and a night not sleeping in a tent.

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We got a great song from the guys thanks in no small part to Victor’s nephew Jackson one of the coolest porters ever, he actually came to the summit for his first time with Libby, Victor, Dominick, and I.

A very special thanks goes to Victor and his team. I would highly recommend his guide service throughout Tanzania.

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He is both a consummate professional and a nice guy while also providing great and reasonable service and accommodations to climbers of al levels. I will go back and edit these posts and add some links about how to contact him but if anyone is ready to head that way just add a comment and I will provide any info or tips you need.

From → Goals, tanzania, travel

One Comment
  1. Betty Wiley permalink

    What an awesome adventure you have experienced, Nezda. You got some good pictures. You should hang that summit picture on your wall as a reminder and conversation piece. Thanks for sharing.

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