Arusha, Tanzania – Kilimanjaro Trek

We were able to change bus tickets for the next morning for free since we had a police report number. The ride was long and miserable because we didn’t have our phones with games and books to preoccupy us. But we finally arrived! We didn’t spend much time in Arusha before we shopped around and booked a Kilimanjaro climb… We had to keep busy to keep our minds off of recent events. Since we no longer had our money we had to work out a deal to pay for our own park entry with a credit card. Otherwise it would have been 18 trips to the ATM and we are only allowed 4 a day so that was out of the question. See, they charge an arm and a leg for climbs and safaris but don’t take credit cards so we had no choice but to travel with a ton of cash. No wonder people get robbed… We are such easy targets because they know what we are here for!! Grr…

Anyways, we left the next morning for our climb. There were supposed to be two South Koreans with us but it ended up being only us. The first day was pretty easy and pretty short. Four hours after we started walking through the rainforest we arrived at camp one. We settled in and enjoyed a good dinner. Before bed we did happen to see two different types of monkey, the Black and White Colobus and the Blue Monkey, and a tree hydax. The views were not great but they were there.

Day two and three were very similar to the first day in terms of intensity. The hike themselves were pretty easy but much longer. As we progressed from camp to camp the climate change had us starting in a rainforest and ending in a desert. It was crazy how dramatic the altitude altered the scenery. At camp two we decided to hike to Zebra Rock for a bit of acclimatization. It was interesting to see and allowed us to climb another 1000 feet. Every time we sat down for a meal the guide told us to eat as much as we could and then eat more. He also took an O2 (oxygen) reading every night at dinner. My readings were 97%, 91%, and 87%. My reading were higher than John’s. The third day ended with an early dinner and bedtime because we had to get up at 11 pm to start our push to summit… Ugh. The anticipation lead me to only sleep for about half an hour.

Summit day can be summed up with one word… COLD! We we’re able to start without our headlamps because there was a full moon and it was bright enough to see the ground. It did take away from the stars though. I was struggling a bit on getting into my groove and could only focus on the cold so I required short stops to rest. We got to a routine rest point and I pushed myself a bit to get there because the thought of a quick seat was rather enticing. However, I pushed myself to the point of vomiting. It was so sudden and out of nowhere but I felt great afterward!! As we got higher and the hours ticked by, the moon went down which caused us to continue with our headlamps. This allowed me to focus on the ground with every step and my breathing so I was slowly able to work into my rhythm and required less stops.

We finally got to Gilman’s Point!! Unfortunately, this was a false victory. It was the rim of the crater but it was not the highest point in the rim. So we pushed on for another hour in the cold during which John vomited. As we were on the home stretch the sun began to rise. It was a truly magical scene!! We were literally looking out at a sea of clouds watching the sunrise on the top of Africa!! This was a moment I dreamed about and I was finally here! We took our pictures with the summit sign and surrounding area as well as took a summit video. All in all, we climbed for six and a half hours for 10 minutes at summit. The longer you stayed the more the altitude affected you. I was feeling great aside from the exhaustion but John had a slight headache. Our guide pushed us pretty hard on the decent. We were walking back into base camp by 9 o’clock. Ultimately, we summited and returned to base camp in 9 hours. We were permitted an hour and a half of rest before lunch. I literally laid my head on the pillow and an hour and a half later I woke up in the same exact position. John and I both ate very little for lunch. A couple hours later we arrived back at camp 2 for the night. Dinner was good and the night’s sleep was better.

The next day we had an early wake up for breakfast and handed out tips to our cook, 6 Porter’s, and two guide… a lot for the two of us but mandatory except for one of the guides who was a trainee. We also exchanged information with some awesome people we met along the way and then hit the trail down. Again, our guide was pushing us pretty hard… He must of had something going on back at home. Along the way we encountered close ups with both species of monkey in this area. I love monkeys! Finally we made it to the trailhead and ate our lunch boxes. Upon our return to Moshi, we had our certificates laminated by the company. We were then transferred back to Arusha.

The summit was a huge achievement! The experience was like nothing I have had before. I finally got to experience a completely catered mountain climb!! The food was awesome… Way better than hot dogs! I could of carried my own bag but hey the lack of weight was refreshing.

Check out our YouTube channel at jktrekkers for videos from all three camps and summit!!

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