This past Saturday we embarked on our climb up Mt. Kilimanjaro! We woke up around the same time as for school, ate breakfast, packed our snacks, refilled our water bottles, and got on the bus at about 8:00am. The drive there was a lot longer than expected because we were not really aware of how far away the mountain would be. It took around 2 and a half hours until we arrived at the base. Approaching it, you are not really able to see the Mt. Kilimanjaro as a mountain in the distance. There are a lot of trees and bushes and greenery built up around it that sort of block the view. When we got there, we put our packed lunches into our backpacks and threw on our rain coats – we got a nice rainy climb. Before you can go on the mountain, we each had to sign in. Then we were able to begin the trek up the mountain with our multiple guides (in case the group becomes smaller groups of various paces).
We began at a fairly fast pace, since I think we were all excited to make it to the first hut (we wouldn’t have time to go any further and in general to climb the entire thing takes people five days). Some kept with the faster pace and some of us began to slow down just a bit and pace ourselves. As we climbed, quite a few of us began to shed our layers. It may have been raining, but it was just too warm climbing to be wearing a rain coat. We also stopped along the way to get snacks out and get at our water bottles. But they were never too long of breaks – we had some place we needed to be!
The trail you follow up the mountain is a mix of semi-paved with stones, rocks, roots, mud, stairs of rocks and dirt, steep, flat, and the tiniest grade of downhill. It was sort of interesting how much the path varied. What we saw along the way though was very consistent: tons of ants at random spots along the way, and lots of trees and shrubs and vines. On the way down we were able to see two black monkeys hanging up in a tree ahead of us.
After a little under 3 hours, we made it! It was such a relief to make it to the first hut, all our hard work climbing and hiking had paid off and we could all then say we’ve hiked up Mt. Kilimanjaro! At the top, we got rehydrated and refueled. They also had another sign in book to keep track of all of the people that made it to that point. At the first hut, is kind of hilly and just grassy. There were huts where I believe hikers climbing the entire mountain can sleep in, the main hut (an A-frame building with an office and the other part open with benches for people to sit), and bathrooms. We took pictures by the sign to prove we’d done it and after resting a while began the trip back done the mountain.
Heading down, took about the same amount of time. And then we got on the bus, all wet and muddy and drove home. It took around 3 hours so we got back around 8:30pm, because night time traffic was pretty crazy. We when we arrived, dinner was awaiting us! So we ate up and then went for our much needed showers and to climb into bed.