The plane was 20 minutes late and we took off at 6:55am arriving in Amsterdam at 8:45am. The next plane to Kilimanjaro left on time at 10:40am. The plane was crowded and they were looking for someone to get off. The flight was OK, with food, films and books and an occasional sleep to pass the eight and a half hours.
When we arrived we waited for our baggage but discovered it had been unloaded from the carousel without our noticing it. We were met by Samia who will be our mountain guide and Elly who drove the dark green Land Cruiser through the dark to our hotel on the outskirts of Arusha. On arrival at the Mount Mehru hotel Rosemary was allocated a room next to us which she will share with Kathryn when she arrives on Monday afternoon. After unpacking we ate a meal of tomato soup, fish and vegetables followed by fruit salad. And so to bed at 11:30pm - 8:30pm in the UK.
The others in the party arrived from Nairobi on a bus and we all had lunch
together at about 2:15pm. We then clambered into 2 Land Cruisers and
went for a tour around Arusha, which
is very crowded, and up an unmade road to a restaurant where we sat outside
in the garden. Samia presented
John and Jane with a bottle of bubbly which we all drank. We returned
to the hotel at 6:45pm and both of us dozed off. Jane had a splitting
headache. We had dinner at 8pm and went to bed shortly after that.
We retraced our path and were driven to the trail head at Lemosho. There we were introduced to our personal porters. Jane's porter was Simon and Graham's was Adamson. Once we'd identified our luggage the porters put it into large dark green plastics bags. We walked through the forest for a couple of hours till about 1:00pm and then we got around a corner and saw a table all laid out with food and surrounded by tripod collapsible canvas seats. It was a wonderful sight to behold. We are given bowls of water with hypochlorite in it so that we can clean our hands. We were told to eat and drink lots and if we had to relieve ourselves we carried out a tyre pressure check.
We walked on through the forest and saw a few flowers and birds. A dog rushed passed us and tried to bite us. The last part of the walk was quite steep and Jane was tired and hot and lagged behind the others by about 10 minutes.
When we arrived at Forest camp
(8750 ft) we found our two-man tents had all been set up. There
are 4 bell tents for all the porters who with the guides number about 50
though we think this is a slight exaggeration. There is a mess tent
where we can eat and two loos. Each loo consists of a hole in the
ground surmounted by a toilet seat on legs and surrounded on three sides
by 5-foot high canvas. On one of the poles is the toilet paper.
On the ground by the hole is a trowel and a pile of soil. The used
toilet paper is put in a can to be burnt. The toilet is engaged when
the occupier places a hat on one of the poles. Nearby are some of the Americans
who were on the plane from Amsterdam who joined us for a chat. For
supper we had chicken and coconut rice with tomato and avocado salad. After
the meal Samia and Lawrence explained what would be happening the next day.
We retired to bed at 9:00pm.
After lunch and some tyre pressure checks we set off on a long trek up the edge of the Shira plateau. It was a bit taxing for Jane and she had a headache but Humphrey set a slow pace for her. We got to the highest point for the day at 11500 ft and then traversed the side of a ridge. We saw helichrysums and St John's wort. After a bit we stopped for a longer than normal break where we could eat some energy food and drink water. Jane and Kathryn didn't feel too good and neither did Roger. After another hour's walking we arrived at Shira camp. Kathryn retched a bit and took 250mg of Diamox. Jane took 125mg of Diamox and Roger took some Imodium.
From our camp we can see Kilimanjaro.
It is a wonderful sight with the moon shining on it. Earlier we seen
it with clouds on top but these had cleared as the moon shone. Dinner
consisted of lentil soup, Tilapia fish and chips with cucumber salad, banana
fritters and custard. Samia told us a some stories about his tribe,
the Chagga, and how he'd gone AWOL from the army. Lawrence, who is
a member of the Mehru tribe, told us how his grandfather had been up a tree
for 3 days to avoid a Cape buffalo. Eventually he threw a bee's nest
on to the buffalo which made it mad and run away thus enabling grandfather
to go home. We got to bed about 8:30pm.
We slept better and Jane is feeling very well but Graham is not really right at all. We had an easy day. We left camp at 9:15am and walked up to Lava Tower and then further up till we had our second water stop. The route got steeper and Samia explained mountain walking which we have since discovered is also called the Kili Shuffle. You lock your back leg for 2 seconds then move your weight to your front leg swinging the back leg through to become your front leg. Wait 2 seconds and repeat operation until you arrive at your destination. Jane found she was good at this and the pace was just right. She could even talk!! We arrived at Arrow Glacier camp (15,850ft) at 12:30ish and had lunch consisting of chicken soup, toasted cheese and tomato sandwiches, poppadoms etc. Jane is eating well but Graham isn't. He is having difficulties swallowing. Samia once again explained the importance of eating and drinking a lot. Tomorrow we will travel 0.9 miles but it will take more than 9 hours. It is a very steep climb to Crater Camp at 18,500ft. At 3:30pm there is an hour-long non compulsory walk. Graham is asleep and breathing badly. Jane has organized the clothes for tomorrow as it will be quite cold at times.
We got up early and climbed very slowly up to the top of the Kibo crater by clambering over rocks. Graham was helped by two porters. When we got to the top of the crater we found a plateau, part of which was covered in hard patches of snow. We had to walk half a mile to the top of the mountain where we stood in front of the marker board and had our photographs taken. After the photo shoot we walked for miles and miles down scree which could have been skied down. We had lunch at the Barafu Huts. We then walked for many more miles across barren landscape and down a stepped path to Mweka Camp. For supper we had fresh fish (Tilapia) and chips which we could wash down with beer. Samia has given Graham some Amoxyllin for his chest problems. Jane has a pain in her left foot. We give tips for the guides and the porters.
We wake up and have breakfast and sign the visitors book. We can see the mountain top in the distance and start to walk downhill. The path is stepped and winding as it passes under the trees of the forest. Jane is helped down by Samia and Graham is helped down by Adamson and Blackie. Jane got a lift for the last 2 kilometres in one of the Land Cruisers. We arrive at the end of the trail and sign the visitors book, purchase tee shirts and have lunch. After lunch we climb into the Land Cruisers and are taken back to our hotel. We are driven by Exaud who picked up Jane and who will be our guide on the safari. When we get back to the hotel we have long baths and a sleep. At 5pm we meet in the bar where we are greeted by the UN representative for Tanzania who looks remarkably like Samia. Lawrence was also there. Samia presented us with our certificates and we then dined. Rosemary left to catch her plane home. Our legs ache.