Join Gary, Chief Project Manager at Nature Discovery, as he attempts to summit Kilimanjaro with a small group of guests. The walking is gentle today, and the group pass Giant Lobelia and lots of caves as they make their way to Third Cave Camp.
Day 5 and we are allowed an extra half an hour in bed, because it is a short day today. There is less wind, clear skies and amazing early morning views of Kenya and Kili. For breakfast today we have Spanish omelettes and toast and don’t forget the delightful coffee. We are offered trail snacks of dried fruit and energy balls made from dates, coconuts and sesame seed. We make sure that we have our required 3L of water and off we go.
The walking is gentle today and we see more buffalo spoor crossing our path going up, as well as a lot of plants which we stopped numerous times to photograph. The Giant Lobelia are really pretty and interesting as they change shape when they mature and open up. The Everlasting have a very appropriate name as they are hardy, yet beautiful in their own right. On this route, there are also a lot of caves, many in the distance but also a few on the trail. In the past, climbers and porters used to stay in the caves and make fires for warmth and cooking. This is not allowed anymore, and all campers and crew need to be self-sufficient. Fires are completely banned due to the strong winds and the possibility of bush fires. These do spread like wildfire and 1000’s of acres have been decimated in the past as fires have ravaged the mountain for days on end.
The Rongai route is the other route starting in the North and this route has camps near to caves along the way. Our destination is Third Cave Camp and obviously there is an amazing cave just outside the campsite. We all took pictures in the cave and of Kili from a different angle.
As its day 5, the chefs have received a resupply of fresh fruit, vegetables and meats, and of course, more coffee for us caffeine addicts. Lunch today is sweetcorn fritters, devilled eggs, guacamole and salsa. It is fresh and delicious. We have some time today to go for a short walk and just relax in our warm tents and catch up with some reading.
On most treks with more than 1 climber there will be assistant guides as our ratio is almost 2 climbers to 1 guide. They are all as qualified as our head guides and have numerous climbs under their belts. They complete the Wilderness First Responder courses every 2 years, are qualified in guiding, flora and fauna and customer skills. In the eventuality that a head guide falls sick, they slip effortlessly into this role. Cyprian, our assistant guide, is a fine example of that. He is knowledgeable and friendly, motivating and positive and always ‘chilled’. Any climber that summits with Cyprian is in the best hands.
Another regular on all our treks is the monitoring porter from KPAP, the Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance project. Their job is to monitor that we are following the guidelines set out by KPAP in providing suitable accommodation on the mountain, adequate meals, sticking to the 20kg maximum weight limit, and that we provide transport and pay a fair wage. As one of the founder members, we are leaders in ethical porter treatment. Oscar Martin, known as Baba Rama, discusses this role on the trek. He is very happy with Nature Discovery’s treatment of the staff on this trek, and we will receive full marks this time.
Dinner tonight was a traditional Tanzanian dinner from the Chagga tribe called Machelari, which is a favourite for many trekkers as we serve this on all our treks. It is a beef coconut stew made with plantain (cooking bananas), potatoes and vegetables. Hearty and warm and great carbo loading it helps us sleep well as tomorrow we expect only a few hours’ sleep before setting off for the summit, very exciting.
Stay tuned for the next blog in this series to find out what happens next!
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