Join Gary, Chief Project Manager at Nature Discovery, as he attempts to summit with a small group of guests. This is the first installation of a day-by-day blog series exploring what you can expect on your Kilimanjaro Group Trek.
I woke up this morning with a mixture of nerves and excitement as I had my last shower for 8 days. I say goodbye to my sprung mattress and feather pillow, my dog and cat, grab my backpack and duffel bag, and climbed into the waiting safari car and head off to meet our climbing partners.
The trip starts way before this with all the planning and preparation in the office, purchasing food and supplies, packing the tents and briefing the crew about the forthcoming trip. The team double-check any dietary restrictions, medical issues, special tent and extra requirements.
Polite, the head guide on our trip, meets with the climbers the day before the trek for a briefing to introduce himself, discuss the itinerary, and confirm special requirements. He also checks that the gear is suitable for their time on the mountain. They weigh the kit being handed to the porters as weight limits are strict.
The team also answer the many questions guests may have in an effort to calm any last-minute nerves. The guides do such a great job at calming down their clients and letting them know they are in good, safe hands as they have all had years of experience doing multiple summits.
It’s quite a long drive from Arusha to the mountain, around 4 hours, but the scenery is beautiful, and we even see zebra and giraffe along the way.
We arrive at the gate to see the porters distributing the equipment and food, and doing their weigh-in. Very strict maximum weights are regulated by both the Nature Discovery camp manager and Kilimanjaro Park’s authority as nobody may carry more than 20kg. We have 28 porters for the 4 climbers, plus a chef and waiter, a head guide and assistant guide. Entry fee permits are produced for the authorities, and we were allowed on our way. Another half hours’ drive to the Trailhead and everything is off-loaded as the crew readied themselves to trek to the first camp.
Lunch is served al fresco. Roast chicken, salad and a delightful quiche all prepared in the kitchen at base and wolfed down by the hungry climbers. Tea and coffee if you like, make sure your water bottle is full, and get your bag ready for the 1 ½ hour trek to Shira 1. Polite introduces us to the key staff members, chef, waiter, camp manager, safety porter and toilet attendant as we will be walking and talking with these guys a lot over the next 8 days.
We set off on a lovely walk through Moorland vegetation with shrubs and small trees that are still green, Hebenstretia angolensis Rolfe, Estoebe Kilimanjarica and in the background Erica Aborea. We cross small river valleys with amazing views of Kilimanjaro in the distance.
After a very gentle first day’s hike where we are welcomed by the staff who are singing and dancing at the Shira 1 camp that has already been set up awaiting our arrival.
Chairs are set next to our tents making it easy to remove our boots. Tea and coffee are already waiting for us in the dining tent.
After laying out our sleeping bags and getting ourselves settled in our tents, we tuck into our dinner together with Polite, interrupted only to admire the clear starry sky. After dinner as is to be our nightly routine, we have our pulse and blood oxygen levels checked and listen to what the next day has in store for us.
Early to bed and early to rise, we turn in with smiles on our dials.
Stay tuned for the next blog in this series to find out what happens next!
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