When a lifelong dream becomes a reality, I believe that one of the best ways to preserve those precious memories is to put the experience down in words. A diary, a notepad, or in this case, a blog, are great tools for remembering, sharing and reliving those highs and lows that come with an extreme adventure, and as we share our Kilimanjaro Climb story over the coming days, we hope it encourages you to share your own.
Day 2 – Machame Gate
By day two of our trip, we had already noticed the very positive differences between our Kilimanjaro climbing company – Big Expeditions, and the others that operate out of Arusha. Our departure from the hotel was scheduled for 9am; other Kili conquerors had to be up and ready to leave by 7am, leaving little time for packing and breakfast.
The Machame Gate is very busy during the morning ‘rush-hour’, and those that left early had to queue for hours to get their mountain permits. We arrived at the gate at 11am, signed in within minutes, and began our climb immediately after receiving our ‘snickers pack’ – a delicious goody bag filled with snacks to keep us going until lunch!
After ensuring we had all the right gear in our day-packs, Mathew lead the way to the entrance gate of Mount Kilimanjaro and set the pace of “poley poley” (slowly, slowly). It feels a little strange at first, walking so slow, but the scenery, wildlife, and abundance of rainforest flora and fauna soon make it easy to slow down and make the most of the experience.
Our guide was full of interesting information about the mountain and the different eco-systems it homes, and before we knew it, it was time for our first water and ‘snickers’ break.
Note: Drinking water is, perhaps, one of the most important things you need to do when climbing Mount Kilimajaro, dehydration equals failure! We were advised to carry a minimum of 3-litres per day in our daypacks, and we were fed copious amounts of soup, herbal tea and other drinks throughout the day – with Mathew questioning us each evening on the amount we had consumed.
After our 10-15 minute break, we carried onwards and upwards along the picturesque (and not very steep) Machame Route, and after a further 2 hours, it was time for lunch. Turning the corner we were greeted by the most amazing sight, our magnificent crew (who had gone up ahead of us) had set up a dining table (complete with tablecloth, flowers and candles!), 2 comfy directors chairs, the internet café (loo!) and had the radio blaring some dance worthy Tanzanian tunes! A huge round of applause was followed by singing, dancing, and a freshly cooked warm lunch, of soup, chicken stir-fry and rice and sweet pancakes – this all served on the edge of Kilimanjaro! Absolutely amazing!
Other climbers around us were perched on rocks and tree stumps eating their packed lunch that they had carried themselves. So shocked were they by our amazing set up, they actually came over and asked if we were on honeymoon! When we explained we were with Big Expeditions, one hilarious woman from Newcastle said, “Well, if you two have a hot tub at base camp, I’m your new best friend”!
This ‘special’ treatment carried on throughout our entire trip, and it raised more than a few questions from fellow climbers.
After lunch and a short rest, we headed off again towards our base camp for the evening. 30-minutes after we left our lunch station, our crew whizzed past us with all their equipment at an unbelievable speed – these guys are truly amazing.
The hike on day one isn’t too demanding at all, the scenery is breathtaking, and it took a mere 3 hours more to get to base camp for the night. Our tents, mess tent and internet café were set up and ready to use, and our crew greeted us with a couple of popular Kilimanjaro songs and a glass of fresh Mango juice – again, amazing!
We freshened up in our tent before heading to the mess tent for another 3-course, freshly cooked meal of zucchini soup, fish with vegetables and pasta, banana fritters with honey, and all the tea, coffee, hot chocolate and just about every other beverage one could possibly think of.
Dinner was followed by a friendly chat, and we retired to bed early, happy, excited and in awe at how brilliant our first day climbing Kilimanjaro had been.