Africa X: Kilimanjaro Machame Route Day 5

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 4 of our Kilimanjaro climb, with Erica and I camping out with Zara Tours at the Karanga Valley Camp (13,100 ft) after climbing the Barranco Wall. Now it’s time to face day 5, and make our way to base camp at Barafu Camp (14,930 ft). This day is all about starting around 8am, climbing the 4 hours to Barafu where we then eat and rest to wake up at 11pm this same day and climb to the summit of Kilimanjaro (Uhuru Peak at 19,340 ft). This is the day that we’ve been working towards.

Day5a

You can see above that the morning view is clear and incredible. Between the clouds we can make out the town of Moshi down below. Note the frost on the ground and tents… it was a cold night, and it’s only going to get colder for the next 48hours.

Day5b

This is looking behind our tent up at the summit. I’ll see you summit in 24 hours.

Day5c

 

There’s that jungle layer down below.

Day5d

Time to pack up and get the day going. The earlier we get to base camp, the more sleep we can get to prepare us for our 11pm start for the summit.

Day5e

This was midway between the Karanga Camp and Barafu Camp… still SO far from the top of the mountain. It’s daunting and has me worried since we still have so much further to go.

Day5fDay5g

These porters are so impressive and speedy. This day is a pretty steady up hill climb, but nothing too crazy and we just took it all at a slow pace.

Day5h

Looking back down the trail mid-hike. It’s steep!

Day5i

Base camp is at the horizon line here. With the fog out of the way in the morning we could actually see where we were headed. Rare for Kilimanjaro.

Day5jDay5k

As we wind our way up to Barafu Camp, the views to the east are incredible. Thomas tells me that people use to hike this mountain in the distance but it’s no longer safe to climb. The Marangu route takes you up this side of the mountain, where the trail we’ve been on started on the west side of the mountain.

Day5l

Made it to the base camp!! It’s a steep camping area, so you do sleep on a bit of an incline.

Day5m

This photo was taken right outside our sleeping tent looking west. The summit is up to the right of the photo off in the fog. How are we still so far away from it? This is when it becomes clear that when we hike later tonight, we have a loooong way to go.

Day5n

Getting situated in our home for the next few hours (above). We arrived here around 12pm, where we ate lunch and then headed right to bed. I’m SO lucky that I actually slept for about 4 hours. They wake you up for dinner around 6pm. You eat dinner and then immediately head back to bed.

Day5o

I snapped this photo above (and below) of the sunset after we finished dinner.

Day5p

After I took this photo above, I immediately went back to sleep for the next 3 hours. At 11pm later this night we woke up and began our hike to the summit. More on that next as I talk about day 6 (the summit!) and day 7 (time to go down!) of our Kilimanjaro climb. Check back on Monday for my final Kilimanjaro post.

Advertisements

Africa VI: Kilimanjaro Machame Route Day 1

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

____________________________________________________________________

Now that I’ve gone over what to pack, where to stay, and how it all works it’s finally time to start the hike! After breakfast we brought all the luggage we didn’t want to bring on the trek to the hotel storage room, and checked out of the hotel. Around 9:00a we met up with our Zara Tour Guide Bruce and Assistant Guide Thomas in the Springlands Hotel courtyard. Our van was loaded with gear and then we left on our journey!

We made a last minute pitstop at a row of shops where we picked up some goodies (cookies and crackers) and Bruce picked up some snacks. We then continued on our way to the Machame Gate just as it started to rain.

Day1a

It took about 45 minutes (?) to get to the Machame gate (see gate above). I should note I purposely didn’t bring a watch, as I didn’t want to know the time and wanted to feel free of watches, phones, and electricity for the trek. Once you arrive, you fill out the permit forms and then wait while the permits are processed and your group of porters assemble.

Day1b

Above, the gate is on the right, then the permit building in the middle (with a restroom) and on the left is the holding area for the climbers waiting for their permits to be processed. My sister had a watch, and noted that it took about 2 hours until the permits were processed and we could start the climb. I sort of didn’t realize it takes this much time, so when you start your day at the hotel, the earlier you leave the earlier you get to start the climb.

Day1c

While we hung out in the holding area, we met some fellow climbers. It also didn’t occur to me that we would end up seeing these people all along the trail as we climbed. They were all in different groups and with different companies, but you are all on the same trail together and end up motivating each other when times get hard.

Day1d

This is the view from in the waiting area. You can see far off in the distance all the porters are getting organized while us tourists take “before” pictures.

Day1e

This is a great rundown of the Machame route (minus the Arrow Glacier trail that splits off). This makes it seem not-so-long, right? Some 3 hour days in there… I can handle that, right? I should note that the 3 hour days are steeper than the 6 hour days. Except for the Barranco Wall… nothing is steeper than that. More on that in my “Day 4” post.

Day1f

Above, the porters are all gearing up.

Day1g

The logistics of who-carries-what seems complicated, as there’s so much gear and food to carry and each porter has weight restrictions. I think just for me and Erica, we had a support staff of 10, which is required as part of the permit process. It promises employment for a lot of locals and helps fuel the Tanzanian economy.

Day1h

I think these were some of our porters (above). It was all a bit of a mystery to us as we were never introduced to the whole gang and since everything was always setup when we arrived at camp, we never saw who-setup-what. Once the permits are processed and ready to go, you walk through that metal gate above, and you’re officially on the Machame Trail.

IMG_38851 (Photo via As Her World Turns)

We took a last minute “Are we really doing this?!” photo, and then started the trek. Waiting the 2 hours for the permits to be approved was painful because I just sat there panicking. I was anxious to get started and to prove to myself I could do this.

Day1i

Day 1 is basically 5 hours of jungle, so be prepared for moist air. It’s got interesting plant life and birds. You can see the trail is wide and a bit muddy. The bottom of my pants got pretty dirty but once the mud dries it flakes off. So when I took the photo above I had no clue, but the guy on the right with the gray shorts is actually Earnest our waiter. He was super nice and it’s funny to look back at my photos and recognize porters I met later in the trek.

Day1jDay1k

Porters far off in the distance. They carry so much on their backs and heads and still way out-run us up the mountain. I can’t imagine how many times they’ve climbed this mountain.

Day1l

About 2 hours (?) in we passed this outhouse above. Thankfully I was able to hold it most days along the trail. Who knew they’d have outhouses?

Day1m

There was interesting plant life in this portion of the climb. Thomas and Bruce told us about several of the plants.

Day1n

Up we go! Thomas and Bruce are in the photo above.

Day1o

 

This photo above gives you a sense of the steepness at time during day 1. It’s also slippery, but the trail is clearly marked and even has “steps” built in.

Day1p

We went slowly to take many photos, so we arrived to camp later than I hoped. Above we signed in at the Machame Hut which is our home for the night.

Day1q

When we arrived our tents were setup and snacks were waiting in the food tent. Our sleeping tent is the round one by the tree and our triangular food tent is to the left of our sleeping tent. Our bathroom tent is hidden off in the trees. You can see we were in thick fog, which made everything damp. This had me a little down, as all my clothes felt wet and it was only day 1. The dampness added a chill to the air as well. We got setup in our tents next, as once the sun sets, it’s hard to change clothes (too chilly) and organize our sleeping bags in the dark. They also give us a hot water bowl and soap at the start and end of each day to do a little sponge bath.

Day1r

Above is our food tent, and Guide Bruce checking on things.

Day1s

Inside our food tent there was hot water and yummy cookies and popcorn waiting for us. The popcorn was so delicious and Erica and I looked forward to that at the end of most hiking days. You can see our table also has lots of condiments on it that went with us to each campsite.

Day1t

Dinner time! Since it’s dark, we eat by candlelight. For dinner we have a first course of hot soup and bread.

Day1u

For the main course we had some pasta, veggies, and potatoes. For dessert we had fresh fruit. All the meals were very large like this and very tasty. Since I’m a vegetarian and Erica doesn’t eat eggs or cheese, we were a challenge for the chef, but he did an excellent job making meals Erica and I could both eat. There was always SO much food.

After dinner Erica and I played cards via candlelight while drinking hot cocoa. Bruce stopped by to chat about the next days climb. Tomorrow would be a shorter distance but would have some steep sections. After day 1 of hiking I was feeling more confident and ready to do this!