I’m very excited to share with you all the details of my Africa (Kenya/Tanzania) trip, and hopefully it helps you plan your own trip, encourages you to visit these places, or at the very least teaches you about another culture in another part of the world. I loved my Africa experience. To catch you up on my trip, check out all my Africa posts:
Africa I: Planning Logistics + Budgets + Immunizations + Clothing/Gear + Getting There
Africa II: Kenya Stop1, Baby Elephants
Africa III: Kenya Giraffes, Karen Blixen and Artcaffe
Africa IV: Arriving in Moshi + The Good Hope School
Africa V: Kilimanjaro Details
Africa VI: Kilimanjaro Machame Route Day 1
Africa VII: Kilimanjaro Machame Route Day 2
Africa VIII: Kilimanjaro Machame Route Day 3
Africa IX: Kilimanjaro Machame Route Day 4
Africa X: Kilimanjaro Machame Route Day 5
Africa XI: Kilimanjaro Machame Route Day 6 and 7
I left off in my last post at the end of day 2 of our Kilimanjaro climb, with Erica and I camping out with Zara Tours at the Shira Camp (12,600 ft). Now it’s time to face day 3, and head to the higher elevation of Lava Tower (15,190 ft) for lunch and then head back down to the Barranco Camp (12,960 ft) for the night. This stretch is all about acclimatization, by going extreme up hill, spending time at that elevation for lunch, and then going back down to a campsite that’s only slightly higher than our campsite the previous night. It’s a bit deflating knowing that we have to do a lot of uphill only to then go back down again, but this is a key day in getting used to the altitude.
Here is our morning view from our tent at the Shira Camp. I love how the mornings are the clearest, as it’s nice to start the day with a fantastic view. It gets me amped up for what’s to come.
Time to hit the trail! As the sign says, we are 6 hours from our next campsite, with lunch at the halfway point (Lava Tower). Thomas leads the way above.
As we get higher and higher, our Shira campsite dissapears from sight and the clouds begin to roll in. I make it my goal to keep moving to avoid the mid-morning fog for as long as possible.
This portion of the hike is steady uphill (nothing too crazy) and very rocky/volcanic looking.
Up, up up!
How are we ever getting up there? That question looms in my mind the entire week.
I enjoyed this half of the day a lot. I kept my speed up long enough to avoid the fog for a few hours, which meant sunny skies and you can see the terrain was steady uphill, but doable. Plus I didn’t have to worry about heights (Im VERY afraid of heights).
You can see Erica off in the distance snapping photos.
Thomas leads me on the last stretch up to Lava Tower (that upper rocky area above).
Lava Tower (above). This is were we took a longer lunch break, meant to get us used to this altitude. The porters set up our bathroom and food tent and we hung out her for longer than our other lunches. This was a taste of the altitude and thankfully neither Erica or I felt any altitude sickness. This bodes well for the upcoming portion of the hike.
Above is the reverse shot of Lava Tower. There is a trail from here that leads up toward the summit. I think it’s extremely challenging and not many people attempt it. We could see the path upward that they would have to climb and it was practically straight up the mountain. You can see there are a few tents setup, and I imagine those people are attempting this route.
After lunch, we started the descent down to our campsite at the Barranco Wall. I did not enjoy this half of the day because it was covered in fog the whole way. This meant it was chilly and we had to wear lots of layers but also the air was damp, which chilly and damp are not fun. Plus you could hear waterfalls and you could tell that this landscape was really beautiful, only you can’t see it!! Oh well, at least we had a relatively fog free first half of the day.
We also met up with a fellow American we met while in the waiting area at the entrance gate for the Machame Route. It’s funny how some climbers you bump into every day and others you see many days apart, even though you are all doing the sam trek. She is very sweet and we hiked and chatted all the way to the camp. I should note that most of the hikers we met were from Europe and only this girl (from Oregon), another couple using Zara Tours (from Connecticut), and a group of men/relatives from Florida were Americans.
The trees in this portion of the hike reminded me so much of Joshua Tree. In the photo above you can see one waterfall of many that we passed. It’s too bad they were so hard to see.
Because of the fog, this portion of the hike seemed to go on FOREVER. Not being able to see far ahead on the trail really messed with my psyche. Plus not having a watch made it so that I had no sense of how far we’d gone. But eventually, like a mirage, the sign-in hut seemed to appear out of the fog. We made it to the Barranco Camp!
It was foggy most of the evening, so the views weren’t too impressive. Thankfully at night the fog eventually lifted and we could see stars again. At night Erica and I would read or play cards. I would do my best to rehydrate while we had our toilet setup. Going back and forth to the bathroom sucks in the cold of night, but it’s better than having to go mid-hike where everyone can see.
Day 4 on the trail was the worst for me (other than the summit day, of course) due to the height issues. Thankfully at the end of day 3 I didn’t know what was coming tomorrow, so I was able to sleep through the night in ignorant bliss. More on day 4 of the hike tomorrow…