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Paul Foster

Kilimanjaro part 1 - Nice easy start

Posted on 05 Nov 2013 at 02:51

Our first sighting of Kilimanjaro was when we flew from Nairobi to Kilimanjaro airport. We were around 20,000ft in the air and out to our left we could see the mountain sitting proudly at an equal height to us in the plane. There were huge gasps up and down the small plane as people realised how daunting it looked rising up high above the clouds. I must admit to being shocked at the sheer magnitude of the challenge we were taking on.

After landing in Tanzania we were picked up by our Expedition leader Ake (pronounced Orca). He took us to an amazing hotel called River trees which was just a tease to be honest as we knew we had 7 nights in a freezing cold tent ahead of us. After a tasty pizza cooked outside in a clay oven we all retired early to bed.

6.00am we rose to get breakfast and have a full briefing with Ake about the trip and how it would work, any vital details we needed to know, and last minute kit checks. After loading up the truck we drove 2 hours to the start of the Lemosho route to sign in and start our trek. As we crossed over the Masai and Chaga planes Ake spoke at length about the history of both the sets of people. They are steeped in amazing history and a fascinating culture, something I would like to learn more about.

As we arrive at the gate and sign in there is an air of nervous excitement in the group, we have the last kit check and a bit of lunch then a short 30 minute drive through very rough terrain (aka African massage). We meet our whole crew of 36 guys that get our gear, tents, mess tent, food, chairs, pots and pans up, toilets and many other things up the mountain. Today is the easiest day 3 hours trekking through the jungle watching the big black and white Colobus monkeys bounce around the trees till we hit camp at 2800 metres above sea level. The Swahili phrase used by our guides who we would get to know very well is “Pole Pole” meaning slowly. It was very important that we learnt the pace we would be trekking throughout the climb. Gabriel our head guide led us to the 1st camp which we arrived at around 5pm. As we arrived the whole crew were there waiting for us singing traditional Swahili songs to welcome us into camp. The tents were set bowls warm water ready for us to have a squaddie shower and dinner was being cooked.

After a relatively easy first day trekking we ate some fried tilapia fish, and played some cards. The spirits were still high yet we all knew this would get a lot harder. We retired to the tents at around 9.00pm and the temperature had dropped massively all can remember is all of us laughing in our tents as Paulo was shouting expletives at how cold it was.

Photos below are a combination of Mine, Ashley’s and the plane shot from Paul Gwilliams

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