Ithas always been my dream to climb some of the world’s tallestmountains, and top of my list is Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Ihave waited for a quite a few years to make this dream a reality. Iread as much literature on it as I needed to and my dreams came truea week ago. After a year of training at the Himalayan MountaineeringInstitute to get in shape to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, I finally wenton the expedition. I was in the company of a few others who had takenon the challenge. It was exciting for me as well as nerve wrecking. Ichose to believe that I could get to the peak no matter what.
MountKilimanjaro is the number one mountain on the list of all mountainsto be climbed, right before Mount Khuiten in Mongolia. There is ahost of choices in routes that one can use to climb to the top of themountain. My options included “Machame” also known as the whiskeyroute. This route is recommended for climbers that want a view of thescenery. It is however very challenging to get through the terrainthat leads through the heather moors, rain forests, glaciers andfeatures of lava formation. We agreed to take the Shira route as itguarantees a high success rate. It converges with the Machame routeon the fourth day of the expedition. It is as well spectacular withdramatic gorges.
Thefirst day, we started through the tea fields through the stunninglandscape of 5 temperate zones. It was amazing to experience thebeautiful sunrise and magnificent sunsets of Africa from the heightwe were on. The second day saw us gather for an exploration then getall our equipment and check their working conditions. We then went ona hike through the slopes of Mount Meru that are lush and welcoming.It is important to warm up as it keeps us alert and ready for thejourney ahead. There are a number of animals common in the regionthat one should look out for. I spotted bushbucks, buffalos,giraffes, duiker and black-and-white colobus monkeys. A few minuteslater we were in the montane forest where our trek began. The trailwe were walking on led us through the jungle with plenty of colobusmonkeys dangling from the trees. On the third day, we crossed thesub-alpine hagenia zone. In the last three days, we continued withour warm up hikes, as usual, to keep our bodies fit. I had beeninformed of the need to walk as slow as possible and not to be in arush to get to the top of the mountain. The Swahili word thatTanzanians in the region used was “polepole,” which means take itslow.
Idrew an important life lesson from this, as I learn that one canalways get to the destination hoped for, just take it slow and arrivesafely. The fifth day saw me trek through the Shira plateau, and wethen followed the trail that led to the western slope of Kibo Massif.From this point, I could see the snowy summit looming up above ourcamp as soon as we settled to take a rest from the day’s climb. Thesummit was glowing as the sun was slowly going down behind it. Themassif led us into the alpine zone which is a glorious sight. I couldnot get enough of the rocks giving way to grasses and lichens notcommon in any other region I have been to. This is why my climb ofMount Kilimanjaro was an event that will be etched on my mind andheart forever. It is very scenic and has different kinds ofgrasslands that cannot be found easily in another region.
Themost exigent part of the trek was the crater camp, which is a steepwall of rocks that rise to the crater. A look into the crater exposesnatural ice sculptures and glacier. This view made my whole time tothe trek worth it. It is a good feeling to get a reward for theeffort put and making it this far was the treat I needed, especiallyafter the fever I suffered the night before. Thanks to my fightingspirit, I managed to beat the fever and make it out of the camp.After the paramedic crew had made sure I was fit to take on theclimb, I went back to trekking.
Onthe 8thday, I was 19,340 feet above the foot of the mountain. I had made it!I was at the Uhuru peak soaking in the magnificent view and the bluesky above me. It was a great feeling to have accomplished one of mygoals to reach the peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro. We then descended throughthe Mweka route, and I was beside myself. I still could not imagine Ihad made it up the mountain. This event is very dear to me as itreminds me to have a conqueror attitude towards any situation andtask that I will have to face in my life.