It was a long time coming but my trek up Mt. Kilimanjaro began on December 26th, 2015. In advance of this, I had been training at home and on the Bruce Trail for over a year. On a physical level, I was prepared but there were still surprises along the way. It is required to join a guided trek and being the Canadian I am, opted to go with G Adventures. This isn’t me endorsing them but I’ve had good experiences with them in the past as well.
The day started off with breakfast at our lodge and then proceeded with a long three or four hour drive out to the Londorosi Gate (after a stop or two at a grocery store for snacks) in order to register with the National Park rangers. It is quite amazing the change in temperature between the town of Moshi all the way to Londorosi Gate. We may have started off wearing a shirt and shorts but by the time we got to Londorosi, we all had jackets on.
While waiting for registration to take place, we ate lunch and watched as the rain started pouring. Fortunately, there was a relatively large covered gazebo area for hikers. Once we had all registered, we then drove to Lemosho Gate where everything was unloaded from the buses and we began our trek up into the rain forest.
Gearing up and putting on rain gear just before starting the trek.
The ground was relatively wet and could have been potentially slippery — particularly as there were sections that were pretty steep. Despite that, I decided to forego using trekking poles until the next day and I was also pleasantly surprised (and fortunate) with the pace that our mountain guides were setting for us. During other hikes I’ve experienced, people just go at their own paces — it’s like a free for all. Here, the guides set the pace that everyone will eventually appreciates whether they like it or not at the start.
I noticed a small group of Germans who passed us extremely quickly but we eventually caught up with them — I’m not sure if they got tired or if their guide requested that they slow down. Either way, the best thing about slowing down is the opportunity to look up, down and around our surroundings. Enjoying the lush green environment of the rain forest was the saving grace given the rain and the somewhat damp humid climate.
Passing by some beautiful wildflowers in the rain forest. The rare open area in the rain forest. So green!
We knew that today would be a relatively short hike (6km) but because we paced ourselves up into the rain forest slopes of Kilimanjaro, it took us probably 3 hours at least to reach Mti Mkubwa Camp which is where we would spend our first night on Kilimanjaro.
It was pretty muddy once we got to camp and mosquitoes were biting me like crazy. Funny enough, I couldn’t see them. I just felt some of them even bite through my rain jacket which was really bizarre. Shouldn’t be possible right? A porter laughed when he noticed my reactions to all the bites I was receiving, and I chuckled with him. What else could I do!
Arriving at Mti Mkubwa Camp. The rain ended shortly after our arrival. Huzzah! I believe this is a black and white colobus monkey that was injured and was taken in by one of the rangers at this campsite. He was very friendly until he slapped one of our guides for taunting him a sandwich.
The first day felt long when in reality it was quite short. Our arrival to our campsite coincided with the rain subsiding. After registering with the ranger station, we proceeded to find our tents that were already set up by our amazing porters. Unfortunately, I discovered that my tent had a giant hole in the insect netting but the good news was that by the time we had finished dinner (which was so good and hit the spot), it was pretty frigid that night. Dinner was probably the most elaborate this evening with the most fresh food. We had fried tilapia, chicken stew, potatoes, and avocado salad. Delicious!
Before hitting the hay, most of us decided to make use of the local latrine only to find that amongst so many tents, there was only one latrine. That wasn’t very fun. It explains why many groups hired their own chemical toilets. Nonetheless, tomorrow would be an exciting day as we made our way out of the forest canopy towards the Shira plateau on the mountain.
Check out Day 2 of the Trek on Kilimanjaro!