A JOURNEY TO THE ROOF OF AFRICA FROM KUWAIT
Category: Travel
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Mount Kilimanjaro, also known as Roof of Africa is the Tallest Mountain in African Continent located in Tanzania at an elevation of 19,340 feet/5895 Meters.

Mount Kilimanjaro falls under Tanzania province of Africa. This country was established by uniting perhaps 150 Tribes and apiece tribe had its own dialect and ethos. The renowned local tribes are Mosaa and Chaga. Irrespective of the language discrepancies, inhabitants of nation resided together and spoke Swahili. Tanzanian’s termed mountain as “Uhuru Peak” where Uhuru Means "Freedom" in the Swahili Language.

The mountain is deceptive. "When you glance at Kilimanjaro beyond the bounds, Escalade appears manageable," nevertheless one needs a lot of firm effort and groundwork prior any attempt. There are 6 official Routes to reach the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro out of which few are Technical Climbs (meant for trained mountaineers/trekkers) and remaining routes can be ascended by individuals who are robust. The six rise trails take hikers through five unique ecosystems, beginning from CULTIVATION, RAIN FOREST, HEATHER, MOORLAND, ALPINE DESERT and finally leading to ARCTIC TUNDRA with temperatures varying from 90 degrees to 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

I had been planning to footslog on Mount Kilimanjaro since past few years yet things didn’t go concrete owing to some personal commitments. Ultimately, I made it on June-2017 and chose Machame Route known as the Whisky Route comprising of 6 days trip. I was self-training for around 3-4 months by running, cycling, swimming and walking with a 10kg backpack along with yoga to improve my breathing.

DAY-0: Voyage Commencement

I embarked to conquer Kilimanjaro on Ethiopian Airlines in the wee hours of 3rd June via Adis Ababa.  The flight landed at Kilimanjaro airport around 2:00 PM the following day. Considering geographic latitude of Kuwait and Tanzania there was no time difference, thus no jet lag. Kilimanjaro International Airport is pretty small airport analogous to the domestic airport yet a predominant tourist attraction for Hiking and Safari in past few years. There is a considerable increase in the crowd traveling to Tanzania and in fact, around 60000 people visited Tanzania last year.

All co-passengers in my flight were here to explore the remarkable Kilimanjaro Hikes and Safari Trips. Each one of us was required to complete a visa process at the immigration checkpoint. There is a discrete visa fee based on the nationality - for Western Country citizens - $100 and rest $50 per head. Everyone was greeted by the Airport officials saying Jambo (Jambo means Hello in Swahili). Since learned some basic Swahili phrases and terms as I thought its best time to make hay while the sun shines. I wished them saying Jambo and submitted my documents for immigration procedure and within 15 Mins officials stamped my Passport. I said Asante which astonished them (Asante Means Thank you).

By the time, I completed the Visa Procedure, my luggage was ready at the belt. There was one more security check before heading for taking luggage and saw a representative from tour company named Emmanuel with my name card. I was supposed to go to Moshi Town which is 1 Hour drive from the Airport and the accommodation was arranged in a hotel called KEYS HOTEL which is quite well-known among Kilimanjaro Trekkers. The accommodation was already booked; hence, I went to the reception straight forward mentioning my name and got room keys immediately after finishing the formalities.

It was a hot climate with slight humidity in the air. I had set my stuff in the room, meanwhile, Guide Eden arrived and explained me the schedule for next 6 days including the details of the path, required gears and weather conditions. Sometime later, he checked all the gears available and noted down the names of gears which are mandatory for the hike. Usually, maximum Tour Companies charge for the gear on a rental basis whereas Trekking Hero incorporated mandatory gears as part of the package.

At the twilight, met the Trekking Hero Company Manager Jackson and he Introduced me to Fellow Climbers. We got acquainted and had a small talk about the next 6 days of life on Mount Kilimanjaro. We were glad to meet an American Mountaineer Jeremy who returned after 3 days of hiking due to Acclimation issues. He immediately acknowledged us with great enthusiasm and shared his experiences regarding the trek hiccups and how well we should be psychologically prepared. We had dinner and led to the room to pack as per the first-day requirement. You are supposed to carry only the day pack consisting of water bottles, rain jackets, few basic amenities and rest all the gears will be placed in duffel bag which will be carried by the Porters. I slept early with all sorts of feelings, excited of the journey, the contentment of making it, the thrill of new horizons and fear of oxygen left me baffled.  

Day-1: Machame Gate to Machame Camp

I got up a little early, verified backpack and went to the restaurant for breakfast. Subsequently, checked out the room by putting the things together non-obligatory for the hike and kept those at the Hotel Locker Room. Around 10 am we departed from Hotel, and on the way stopped at a super market to take the medicine called Diamox which helps the body to acclimatize to higher altitudes and water purification tablets and finally saw Kilimanjaro for the first time. It’s tremendous, spectacular view and the foremost word uttered was WOW!!!

We had set our foot through the Cultivation zone of Kilimanjaro and reached Machame Gate about 11:30 AM. At the Gate, we got to register ourselves and simultaneously all the Guides and Porters had to register with their luggage. Kilimanjaro national park has well-defined laws accounting for the safety of all Hikers along with assistants. The National Park Maintenance Rangers office is located at every junction of summit route to track the tourists and guides compelling every traveler to sign at each office as they cross on their way.

Unfortunately, the Registration system was down so we had to wait until we receive the Permit to start the climb. Eden, our guide in the meantime got lunch at the gate waiting for the area where we ate lunch and kept waiting for the clearance. By afternoon 2.00 PM the system was restored and ultimately got the green flag. YAY!!!. The trail was moderately steep and encircled with rain forest. We saw several Blue Monkeys on the way and the forest being dense won’t allow seeing much sunlight during the journey. Reached Machame camp by 7 pm after traveling for 5 hours approximately. The hike wasn’t troublesome as it was initial day yet the sheer made us feel weary. Porters pitched tents and prepared supper with hot soup. Our guide was very generous, appreciated for the achievement of the day and briefed about next day trek. Post dinner we slept in tents as the night was almost freezing -1C and fortuitously sleeping bag was decent enough to keep me warm. 

 

Day-2: Machame Camp to Shira Camp

Last night before sleeping took Diamox and counter action for Diamox is that you need to pee many times. It was -1C outside and for every hour, I had to move out of the sleeping bag, wear gloves, Head Torch, shoes, open up the Tent and complete my job and the same procedure was repeated over and over. I had to wake up 5-6 times during midnight caused exertion and less sleep. In spite of all these, woke up with energy and geared up for Shira Camp. it’s a short hike compared to all other days. The hike is different today as the jungle gives way to zones of giant heather and moorland. The terrain is mostly rocky and it took around 5 hours to reach Shira Camp, got there by 2 PM and our cook prepared lunch, after lunch had a short nap then we went to Visit Shira Caves. Back in time, this has been the place for porters to sleep though climbers sleep in tents until National Park restricted. We had an amazing sunset over the Shira camp and we completed our dinner by 7 pm and rushed to go inside our sleeping bags.

Day-3: Shira Camp to Barranco Camp

Woke up early to complete nature’s call and got a bowl of water to freshen up myself. Meanwhile, the breakfast was ready, we had it and lunch box was packed. We began our expedition at 8 am to Barranco Camp. The distance to reach Barranco Camp is 10 KM with semi desert terrain and the first target for the day is to visit Lava Tower (elevation of 4600Mtrs). The basic rule of mountaineering is Hike High Sleep Low so that your body will get accustomed to the climate. As the altitude rises, the oxygen level goes down and body needs time to adapt the changes. Hence, it’s always recommended to Hike high in the day and return to camp during dusk. We had lunch on the top of Lava Tower then descended towards lower altitude Barranco Camp at 3700Mtrs Altitude. This was an exquisite night as we were surrounded by rolling mountains, cool breeze, and pleasant climate.

`Day-4: Barranco Camp to Barafu Camp

This is the hike with Alpine Desert Terrain and people do have every right to be frightened as hikers die often climbing the Barranco wall. Crossing Barranco camp is quite painful and hazardous as you have to crawl occasionally between stones. It took about 2 hours to cross the Barranco wall and moving to Karangu Valley. Porters carried enough water for the Base Camp Barafu as water was not available in the coming stage. It took around 9 hours to reach Barafu Camp and yes next day was the Summit Day. We were supposed to start by midnight which forced us to take early dinner by 6:30 pm and went for a nap.

 

 

 

Day-4/Day-5: Summit Day

The trek to the summit started at midnight. We were wearing 6 Layers of Shirts and 4 layers of the bottom, Double Gloves and a Head Lamp at -10 Degree Celsius and wind was blowing heavily. it was frosting and we were unable to see anything except the legs in front. The hike was extremely steep and often lost strength and morale to continue. Yet kept moving as I saw numerous climbers who were returning back due to altitude sickness besides they were not even in a position to walk. Altitude sickness is risky because you start feeling dizzy and possibly vomit. I was losing my strength and above all, I started doubting my ability to reach the summit as 8 hours passed. I stood nowhere near to summit although my guide Eddy always encouraged me, boosting my morale which kept myself pushing towards the Summit.

After 9 hours, reached Stella Point and in the next hour made it to the Summit Uhuru Peak, and was elated at the site of Summit Post. When you are in mountains, always listen to your guides, they spend their entire life and have seen thousands of climbers every year then you can definitely trust their decision. As I was perplexed, Eddy uplifted my spirits one more time by saying that I am doing an absolutely amazing job and it’s quite common to feel exhausted. Everyone got together POLE-POLE towards the summit means I am there for you, don’t worry. At the summit, I was speechless and unable to express what I was going through. Never been so joyful in my life after achieving my dream to be on the pinnacle. We enjoyed the breathtaking view, captured moments and subsequently started descending as weren’t supposed to stay more than 15-20 minutes owing to high altitudes resulting in sickness. Unimaginably, descending was far stressful, entirely tired due to exertion, lack of sleep and food (had energy bars once in a while) taking breaks every two minutes. This happens due to a scarcity of oxygen in the body making it tiresome. Descending made me feel better after a while and reached the Barafu Camp. A total of 15 hours tedious journey but guess what this was not over yet.

PART-2: Day-5: Barafu Camp to Millennium Camp

In mountaineering, it’s recommended to go down as slow as possible particularly on the summit day, as our body is exposed to a higher altitude. Later took rest for an hour and proceeded to Millennium camp. This was the most gruesome day of the trip nevertheless relished it wholly. I was preparing for this day for months and magnificently conquered. Living with Passion is what makes your life worth.

Day-6: Millennium Camp to Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate         

A path of Forest Territory with the body not recovered totally from yesterday’s hiking and the route is completely rocky so we kept walking slowly and gradually reached the last point of Kilimanjaro. Apparently, it was an incredible experience encompassing marvelous flora and fauna, glorious dawn and dusk, diversified territories, dreadful chilling temperature and overwhelmed to overcome all the obstacles. We felt ecstatic and shared our joy with a chilled beer. We reached our hotel by around 4 pm, had a shower finally after 6 days. It was so refreshing to come back to normal civilization. At 7 pm, Trekking hero Manager Jackson came along with our Guides Eddy, Emma, and Joseph. We celebrated our Victory and thanked our Guides for their support throughout the hike. Ultimately, received our Certificates issued by the Kilimanjaro National Park.

 

Day-7: Tanzania to Kuwait          

Had a sound sleep, woke up at around 9 am. Met my fellow climbers, bid adieu and departed to Airport and finally landed in Kuwait with sweet memories and achievements. 

 

Priya Darshan

 

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02 Jan, 2018 0 883
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