Yesterday, I tried to offer a general overview of the climbing experience and the two biomes we saw and provide pictures for people who have not been on Kilimanjaro and/or may only want to live vicariously through other climbers.
The first 8-9 km are truly in the deep rainforest. Here is a video I took of the path. You can see it is an incline, but not steep in this section.
The path has been made through the trees and sometimes includes the trees and their complex root systems.
As for the practical aspects of the trip, there are pit toilets available along the path but there are also many little paths on this trail where you can go off into the woods when nature calls.
It is necessary to carry all of your supplies with you. For our day trip, we carried them ourselves, including a little over 100 oz of water for the trek. I drank about 80 oz on the trek. Methley, our fantastic guide, carried our lunch. And this was not a camping lunch that you might think of like sandwiches or freeze-dried food. We got the gourmet treatment.
As I mentioned yesterday, he was not only the guide but also the chef and he does this for his full treks as well. When he is doing a full trek, he will cook the dinner fresh for you right there, but we didn’t carry a stove up for this short trip.
He made a lovely tomato, onion, and chili garnish with fresh herbs and garlic for the tilapia he had grilled at home and carried up. He also brought us a beautiful avocado and sometimes serves this dish with a baguette. He also topped it with a hard boiled egg. This light and healthy meal was perfect for providing us energy for the long trek back down.
He did much of the preparation while we were resting at the Machame hut including seasoning it to taste with our desired level of spice.
We also had a beautiful view for our lunch of Kibo. After lunch, we took some more pictures including this one of Sarah at the Machame Huts.
I also watched the porters and support staff for the climbers going to the top setting up camp for their groups.
Then we started our journey down. I looked at my watch and remember it was around 4pm or a little after. He told us it was 3 hours down. Methley frequently reminded us to drink up. We needed to stay hydrated. As we went down, we passed several groups of hikers on their way up to camp for the night.
You could see Mt. Meru from Mt. Kilimanjaro, the other peak in the area. It only takes three days to reach the summit, but it is a more technical climb that most Kilimanjaro routes, but still doable.
As we descended, it was getting dark. I was able to capture this one picture of the forest around sunset.
In the end, we walked the last 30-45 minutes in the dark and that slowed us down. Sarah and I used the flashlights on our phones to help us see, but there were big piles of rock along the road we were trying to avoid that had been placed in intervals on the road, but not yet spread evenly on the road to help with traction for ranger vehicles on this lower section.
We got to the gate and her car at about 7:30 in complete darkness and very tired. The descent was much worse than the ascent because of the pounding on our calves and my less than appropriate shoes did not help one bit. Walking poles for the descent would have helped tremendously, proper shoes, and finishing in at least a little light.
Nevertheless, it was an incredible experience and I really enjoyed it. The day hike makes me want to go up to the summit even more and gives me confidence that with continued endurance training and getting the right equipment I can have a good chance of success. I am still worried about altitude sickness as I go up, but I will plan and prepare and take what comes.
And the shoes are being retired. They have been with me since 2007 and my first trip to Tanzania. They have gotten me through many miles in Lushoto, some in Arusha, Dar, and Zanzibar, and now many in Moshi. They have been good, but are done. For $50 J-41 shoes, they were awesome (on sale).