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I have just descended from Mt Kilimanjaro after three invigorating and sometimes very rainy days. My recent trek reminded me both how beautiful Kilimanjaro is and how wet it can be during the rainy season!
We arrived at Kilimanjaro from Longido near the Kenya border. We took the “short cut” that our guide Mbise wanted to try, which after a few wrong turns probably took about the same amount of time as the long cut but it was fun. After signing in I tried on my Kili rental gear (waterproof pants and coat, rain poncho, fleece, gloves, sleeping bag, etc.) All are first rate and I can highly recommend renting as it’s much better than lugging it all the way from the US.
Kili was once again a beautiful if not temperamental host. Sun broke through fog and clouds, which roll gently up and down the slopes all day long. Occasionally Kibo, the top cone, deigned to reveal herself just long enough for a picture from our base on the Shira Plateau. Guides Kaen Kapange and Muna “MC” Msafiri explained that Shira was the oldest and tallest of Kilimanjaro’s three peaks before collapsing. The crater was then filled with lava from eruptions on Kibo, creating a relatively flat plateau which now serves as the starting point for our Lemosho or Forest Route climbs.
After several hours trekking, my climbing partner, Anne, and I enjoyed a delicious dinner of spaghetti bolognese and more. My tent was very comfortable and I appreciated my warm sleeping bag and fleece liner. Come morning time, a porter opened my tent zipper bearing warm coffee and hot water for washing up. As we readied to leave, guide Kapange asked if I would be wearing my rain pants and gators. No I wouldn’t. It looked sunny. (Note to self: When a Tanzanian asks you if you’d like to wear your rain gear they really mean “put on your rain gear you dumb tourist!”. Needless to say, it rained all day and night and I was cold and miserable for hours. The hiking was good exercise.
This morning dawned sunny and bright and I enjoyed fantastic views of Kibo. The pace was fast and spirits were bright. I quickly forgot the negative thoughts of the previous day (what the hell am I doing here?) And enjoyed the scenery. After a farewell lunch we drove to KIA Lodge where I enjoyed their warm hospitality and an even warmer and very long shower. Now it’s back to Nairobi for the third of five visits to lovely (not) Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to meet the family. Let the fun begin!
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