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Friday, 18 June 2010

Kilimanjaro Trek, Shira Route - Day 1 (Start to Simba One Camp)

Shira Start: 2800m
Simba One Camp: 3550m
Ascent: 800m
Descent: 50m

We woke after a decent nights snooze in a proper bed and fueled ourselves to the max with breakfast, the last meal we were to take off the mountain. Our bags had to be weighed in and we were only aloud 15kg per bag (one bag per person) as the porters are only allowed to carry 20kg each (plus their own kit).We set off in the 4x4's from Arusha for around an hour and a half on paved roads and then a further 30 mins on unsealed roads, the change was pretty much marked by us hitting a dog on the road. Disturbingly the driver didn't bat an eyelid and just focused on the road ahead.

The road into KilimanjaroThe road to Kilimanjaro in the National Park

Following the next 30 minute natural massage, as the guides called it, we arrived at the Londorossi Park Gate where we had to sign in and have all of our luggage weighed again to ensure that it was all the correct weight so that the porters were not going to return from this trip an inch shorter than they set off. There was the below warning sign at the gate, which proved to be a touch unnerving - to this day though I'm not sure quite what the symptoms of "Extreme" are in point 6, I suppose some things always remain a mystery.

Rules for climbing Kilimanjaro"Points to Remember"

Once we'd done all this we were then driven for a further half an hour within Kilimanjaro National Park through the forest where we saw colobus monkeys high in the canopy. The jeep came to an abrupt halt at our departure point at an altitude of around 2800m. Well, whole hell broke loose as the porters leapt onto the roof of the jeep tearing everything off, checking it through ensuring we had everything we were gonig to need for the next 8 days and rearranging it into their packs that they were going to carry for us which were more like duffel bags that they carried on their heads.

Unpacking the jeep on KilimanjaroUnpacking the Jeep

Us trekkers looked on and chowed our way through our packed lunches whilst this madness ensued. Once we'd eaten and were set to go, our guides led the way off up the dirt track which led to Uhuru, hopefully in 6 days time.

Kilimanjaro in the cloudKilimanjaro in cloud

We already got a view of a cloud draped summet which in fairness looked miles away but from here on we were to inch on ever closer albeit pretty unnoticably. The group was quite split from the off with a few taking the lead eager to get trucked on and make pronto progress, the guides having to slow them down by calling "Poley, poley" (slowly, slowly) with the remaining taking their time making leasurely progress only catching up when the group took a brief break to catch their breath.

Not long later the porters passed us at a jog with their packs containing their personal kit on their backs and our kit packed in the huge bags balanced on their heads.

The track wended it's way up the hill and then turned off onto the Shira Plateau, which was disconcertedly marked by a stretcher on wheels which would have looked at home on a battlefield some 500 years ago. Fingers and toes crossed that none of us would have a use for this during the week. The Shira Plateau is a huge caldera (collapsed volcano) predating Klimanjaro itself, which subsequently rose up from one side of this early volcano.

Along the plateau the winds picked up and sprayed us with orange dust that was whipped up from the ground and was to stay engrained in our clothes for the rest of the week. Even with this wind though the temparature was still pretty balmy and loads of the guys were comfortably still in shorts. From here we could see the first campsite, with the cluster of blue tents errected in the middle of the plains. The porters which had charged past us not that long earlier had clearly been pretty busy.

Kilimanjaro not in the cloud
Kilimanjaro - not in cloud

We continued through the scrub and heather and across creeks before we arrived at Simba Camp where we were welcomed by cups of tea and popcorn.

Kilimanjaro guidePascal the guide

All our kit was already in the tents so after taking in the views of Klimanjaro, which were already hugely impressive, I took the opportunity to get a lie down in. Rest was invaluable so it was key to get all we can. We had an awesome spread that night laid on by the exemplary chef Robert and served by head waiter Simon who wiped all the plates down as he laid them on the table to get rid of all the dust - not a load of nutrician in that although it is remarkable if you're looking to shed a few pounds. Dinner consisted of soup, fish and deep fried potatoes followed by fruit salad.

Sunset on KilimanjaroSunset over Kilimanjaro

We all yakked on for a while after dinner before we headed to bed at which point some of the guys realised they had migrains setting in - the first sign of altitude sickness.

We hit the hay at around 9pm to ensure we got a good kip in before the yomp on the following day.

3 comments:

The Odyssee said...

Great trip, look forward to reading more.
Have a good time.

The Weekend Dude said...

Hi Alan,

Thanks. It was actually a couple of years ago but am seizing the opportunity of being off my feet to get it typed and compile the photos alas. It really was a great experience though.

Victoria Barkley said...

Nice post. Your information is really good. Thank you for sharing.........................


Kilimanjaro Treks

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