Conquering the roof of Africa

The idea to go to Tanzania, Africa came up about four years ago from my course mate. He was telling me, that we should climb Mount Kilimanjaro, which is the highest peak in Africa (5895 meters)! I haven’t climbed any mountains in my life, except while snowboarding the slopes in Norway, Austria, and Japan. But all these are below 3500 meters and is a completely different experience… I liked the idea of combining an exotic trip with a challenge, which should be doable to everyone. I said yes, but our day-to-day life interrupted planning this great adventure, so finally we started taking the first steps towards the trip last spring. Although we have had plenty of interesting people in our team through the years, our final team was combined before the summer of 2017. There was four of us: Risto, me, Liisa and Berg. A Slovak named Juraj joined our group in Africa.

I did as much research as possible on Kilimanjaro by reading blogs, websites and books. I also met with some people, who had climbed it before. So I had a pretty good overview, what I needed and should be preparing for. The complete and detailed overview about the planning, execution and memories about this trip are covered in my other blog dedicated to this adventure, which is in Estonian. Hence why I will not focus on those details here. I apologize, but you can always ask me to tell you about it… 🙂

Busy day in Moshi

To summarize this trip I have to skip all the emotions, but I’ll manage! For me this trip was planned to take place between 16.02-01.03.2018. We arrived to the Kilimanjaro airport and had a transport organized by our climb organizers from Karibu Adventure. We had one day for resting and for exploring the city of Moshi, from where the hike started. On this free day our guides came to check us and our equipment, to make sure we have it all we would need. 

We started our climb towards the peak of Kilimanjaro on the 18th of February and we had chosen the 6-day Marangu Route for that. This is said to be the easiest road and it’s also the only one with huts. The easy part isn’t true, but I’m really happy we had the huts although we had perfect weather during the whole trip!

The first days of the climb were great, the nature was changing with every step we made and the road was of a medium difficulty. We used walking sticks for most of the climb, but it wasn’t steep enough to whine about it … just yet. On the third day we had an acclimatization day, which we used for a 2-hour hike and resting. We carried our backpacks that contained drinking water, some clothes, and snacks. We had 12 porters total who carried all the other equipment, including our other stuff and cooking supplies. Our bags were not that heavy but every following day was harder than the previous due to the altitude and physical exhaustion.

On our third day we arrived to Horombo camp

The fourth day was our longest hike which lasted about six hours to Kibo Huts (4700 meters) and we were exhausted. We arrived to this camp in the afternoon and had only about 3-4 hours for eating and resting. The wakeup for summit night commenced as early as at 11 pm and then started the nightmare. From Kibo Huts to the Uhuru peak it should take six hours and these hours are the most challenging. The route wasn’t an easy-to-walk trail anymore, but rahter a wall – first the soft sand, then the sand plus gravel and lastly the rocks. I felt so sick after only one hour, so much so that I didn’t eat nor drink almost anything after that. I just focused on putting one leg in front of the other. My head was dizzy and I was shaking from the freezing night’s cold and there were few times I thought I should give up and do something better with my time.

But I didn’t gave up! We reached the peak about eight in the morning, when the sun was shining. It was warmer and so amazingly beautiful. We were super tired, nearly dead, but somehow we managed to get some nice pictures for memories. Our guides were bossing us down just after 15 minutes and then started the other unpleasant experience – trying to get down from the mountain. It took me three hours to get back to the Kibo camp. There we had a slight meal and we had to go all the way back to Horombo camp (3700 meters), to stay there for the night. I don’t know from where I got my strength to go down but when we reached Horombo, I was so overwhelmed and tired like never before in my life!

On the roof of Africa!

After the Kilimanjaro climb we had a few rest days, so we visited the Kikuletwa Hotsprings and simply enjoyed the sun and the pool at our hotel. The rest of our team was flying back to Estonia, but I stayed in Tanzania to explore the local safaris. I travelled to Arusha, for three day safary started from there. During these days I visited Tarangire, Lake Manyara and Ngorongoro parks. I mostly enjoyed Tarangire and Ngorongoro, because of the animals and nature I saw there. I also visited a (fake) Masai village and since I still had time to my flight back home, I went to the Cultural Heritage Centre with one other safari mate. I strongly recommend this centre, since it’s like an art gallery-shop with so many different exhibits, which will give you a great overview of Africa’s arts and crafts.

Zebras in Ngorongoro

It’s has already been a over a month since I arrived back from Tanzania. I’ve had time to recall all the great places, animals and things I saw, the people I met, the things I did, and the emotions I felt. This was definitely one of the top experiences in my life and I recommend to mark this adventure down to your bucket list. Africa is something totally different and I wanna go back there someday to explore new places and experience more of their kind of lifestyle.

Hakuna matata! 🙂






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