Friday, June 22, 2018

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro - 8 - Summit Night

On the 6th Day (if you are doing the Machame Route), you will arrive to Barufu Camp, which is the last Camp site before reaching Kilimanjaro's summit.

Saying it plainly, Barufu Camp is not one of the nicest camps on this mountain and these are some points to illustrate what I mean:
  • Its very crowded, since a lot of groups meet there for their attempt to summit. 
  • It's situated on a slope so your tent will basically be at an angle.
  • There are a lot of loose rocks, some looking like slate and one needs to walk with caution (its very depressing getting hurt just hours before your push to the summit!) 
Barufu Camp - Kilimanjaro - Photo Credit Sacha Cutajar
Well, grumbling aside, still it offers great views (everywhere has great views on this mountain!) and also, I think this was the most "emotional" camp, since you will arrive quite early, eat lunch and your guides will immediately suggest that you go to sleep to be up again at 11:30pm to start up for summit. This can have a profound effect and it did on some of our group members.

Barufu Camp - Kilimanjaro - Photo Credit Sacha Cutajar

One suggestion I can give is to prepare all before you go to sleep.

If you want to wash (or simply feel fresher by the use of wet wipes) do so now, wear your summit gear and prepare your back pack for summit, before you actually sleep. You will be rudely awoken at 1130pm so you will not be in a great mood to prep, thus having all ready is a plus! Also its good to wake up in your summit gear ready to go! Oh Have your Head Torch ready!!

Barufu Camp - Kilimanjaro - Photo Credit Sacha Cutajar
The trek to the summit for me is actually like a dream. Maybe it is just because I was not fully awake when we started out or the over exhaustion afterwards, my brain seems to just have kept the best bits.

You will be seeing a lot of groups trekking up. Mainly you will see their head-torches and you will see some that are a long way higher than you - don't let this put you down. Trust in your guide and yourself and always remember "Pole Pole" does it - slowly slowly. We actually encountered groups that zoomed next to us and we felt like "hey those guys are amazing", only to see them being rushed down with some guides as altitude sickness kicked in on one or two of them. It's really not a nice site to see, but you need to be aware that it does happen! Also no one in the guidebooks, websites and videos told me how many people I will see (or just hear due to the darkness), puking - but yes its a reality, so do use your head-torch well and check where you will sit or against what you will rest your back to avoid nasty surprises.

Eventually after what seems an eternity (honestly I was kind of on autopilot and just kept going on), we reached Stella Point which is the first "peak" on Kibo to say so.

Stella Point - Mount Kilimanjaro
Some people just simply stop here but we wanted to do the full thing and headed to Kibo, the highest point of the mountain.

This is a video showing extracts of the last trek to reach Uhuru peak - unfortunately the GoP Battery died before we arrived!

But we did make it! And I urge anyone who is reading this - just go for it and climb a mountain, it will definitely change your life! 

Me at Uhuru Peak - Mount Kilimanjaro

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro - 7 - The Campsites

If you are a weathered adventure seeker or a total outdoors junkie, then this will be a breeze for your, but for someone like me, who loves the outdoors, training and exploring, but was kinda stuck in a bit of too much of a comfort zone, then its a different story.

My camping experience and knowledge before doing Kilimanjaro was down to, well, zero - so this was going to be an entirely new experience for me and I must say it was one of the scariest, obviously since it was an unknown factor.

What I can say is that its not that bad. If you go with a good and reputable company, the camps are usually very good quality and one thing I noticed is that the porters assigned to you and your tent mate (unless you decide to stay solo), will do their best to place your tent in the best and the flattest place possible. The latter is very important, since a rock under your back is not a nice feeling when you're trying to get some rest!

In my case we had rental sleeping bags (top tip: take a sleeping bag liner - its more hygienic and does add a layer of insulation) and sleeping mats. The sleeping mat was just a simple foam mat, it did the trick but others of the group who had an air mattress did boast of added luxury, so next time camping I might actually check these out.

When you arrive at your next camp, after a 5 hour or so trek, you will find you group's mini camp town (which will have neighbouring camp towns all around the campsite) made up of guest tents, tents for the porters and guides, dining tents and in some cases communal tents. Your porter will be waiting for you to show you the location of your tent. One thing I found very handy is to "mark" the tent with a piece of coloured string or fabric to identify it, since all the tents are the same and if you are out at night for a quick loo visit and cannot find your tent its no fun when the temperatures are at minus something!

One suggestion is to keep all your belongings in your tent at night. This is mostly to avoid getting your shoes or any other gear totally wet at night, the other is (although not much is reported on Kili) to avoid ending missing your trekking shoes in the morning - you never know!

Overall you shouldn't be scared, the first two nights might be a bit tough, but you will get used to it and you will be calling your tiny tent home in no time! Just let your hair down and go with the flow :)

Our Campsite at Shira Camp

Morocco Mount Toubkal Climb - Day 2

Day 2 started with early breakfast from the always faithful Abdullah and also met Stewart and Simon who made part of the team we were ...