Tanzania 12 — Mount Kilimanjaro Triumph

Time to look back to Berny an my climbing of Mt. Kilimanjaro, too. As I hoped and expected, the pain is mostly forgotten, the excitement and memories of the amazing views is still vividly there. I almost feel I could do it again, while I remember strongly feeling the opposite immediately after coming down…

The first part of the adventure is the booking and hassling with safari and tour company people, of course. And that respect we got not all bad, even though some things annoyed me majorly. Good things included somebody from the company picking us up at the bus to bring us to the hotel, and waiting out the two hour delay. Really bad was mostly the equipment we had to rent: for me a (supposedly) warm jacket and sleeping bag, gloves and a flashlight. The stuff definitely wasn’t warm, and so made a big contribution to the desperation on the last climb that made me seriously consider turning around.

But here, of course, I still didn’t know, and was fascinated and slightly appalled by the industrial character of the gate and the whole operation, with more than 100 tourists starting the climb on this route alone each day. And that’s not even the „Coke Route“, but the more demanding „Whiskey Route“ (Machame) …

On the first picture Berny proves that the hawkers have a Pawlow reflex to mzungus.

These are the assembly of waiting tourists, and of porters distributing the stuff. Luckily for them, it seem the weight limits are pretty strictly enforced, with scales before the start and on the first couple of camps.

A picture of the luxury version of the Kili climb, which means some 6 porters per tourist and the comfort of having lunch with chairs at a table. Next to it the very promising path up the „fog forest“.

But already the first night was above the clouds, we woke to splendid sunshine.

This is our small group, and our guide.

It also didn’t take long for the vegetation to become scarce, even though a nice flower here and there can still be found.

Resting on a rock at the second camp. And trying not to carry too much dust into the tent. And a sad little speck of snow which looks like coming back next year you wouldn’t find it any more.

This is a view down from „Lava Tower“, where you go up to get used to the altitude somewhat. And to not seeing any plant life anymore.

What you do see, though, is another testament of different possibilities regarding comfort — some people have chemical toilets in these funny little tents carried up for them. Even though the ones which are there anyway are among the nicest public toilets I’ve seen anywhere in Tanzania. The plants which are there going down can grow to amazing sizes …

… and look really nice as a little oasis.

This is a snapshot of two of our porters, and of the small luxury we also had — a pillow which we took turns sleeping with.

Beautiful sunrise and sunset at the third camp.

Realizing that looking up from some 4000 meters (13,000 feet for you crazy people in the new world), the mountain still looks high.

One of the many picturesque places the porters find for their own resting time. And a look from above on the last last camp before the peak, already some 4600m (15,500ft).

The six hours of steep climb in thin air and horrible cold (I suppose better equipment would help a lot there) in the dark and without even thinking of taking pictures, starting at midnight after a few hours of very light sleep due to the lack of oxygen. Thinking of and convincing yourself to take the next step is enough. Thinking really pretty much stops up there anyway. And then, almost at the top, the sun creeps up behind the clouds, and that’s when the drug-like feeling, which has something of a bad trip until there, turns into euphoria.

Which is equally helped by looking down at the beauty, and up at the really short way that is left now.

The obligatory peak picture, with our patient and helpful assistant guide — the group had to go different speeds for the last part. As much as Berny and certainly I would have liked to walk more slowly, the cold forced us to keep moving. Also good to know that on the peak, there are only a few of the hundreds of tourists at a time — even though supposedly most do reach eventually.

As you’d expect, the sun comes up really fast so near the equator. Which is good, because you couldn’t stay up there for too long anyway.

Here I need German for a moment: Der Beweis, dass der Kilimanjaro andere Berge in den Schatten stellt. Kili’s long shadow cast on Mt. Meru, looking tiny from up there.

As I said, the sun rises fast, and brings a little bit of warmth and comfort.

But the happiness doesn’t last long, because the way down the steep rocky desert is if not equally strenuous as climbing up so still strenuous enough.

Still, we didn’t loose our smile!

The nicest view a toilet can ever have — I said the normal ones are very nice up there! And a welcome to the first little flower encountered on the way down.

Looking back the same day, the peak already feels as far away as it looks.

And looking ahead, I really appreciated some humidity, and green …

… which was soon to surround us again. The other picture is our special friend, the „waiter“, one of the people with the most positive energy I have ever met. A big man, but so gentle and caring.

Coming down, more fog forest green, to the point …

… of being now almost a little much of wet. And, finally, in front of the hotel proudly displaying our certificates, with signatures from many important people. And again the guide who brought us up, also him a very good soul. It is sad, anyway, how good the mountain people are, and how scheming and exploiting many of the safari guys down in the cities seem to be. So it is good in a way that a lot of their pay is tips, at least they get it directly. But then, if you already paid more than $1000 dollars for a hike, you’re kind of pissed of to realize that you’ll have to spend a lot more for the porters and all. Nasty business, good experience…

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Datum: Dienstag, 23. August 2011 22:11
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  1. 1

    Liebes Bruderherz,
    ich bin so stolz auf dich, dass du trotz widrigen Umständen durchgehalten hast und so diese wunderschönen Bilder mit uns teilen kannst!
    deine kleine Schwester