Trip Journal – Kilimanjaro Day 1 – June 15, 2016 – Machame Gate (5,380 ft) to Machame Camp (9,301 ft)
Welcome to the Jungle!
Today we started our trek. We met our guide Amos (Ah-mos), and boarded a large van with 6 porters in addition to Amos and the driver. We set off on a 2 hour drive to Machame Gate where our gear and supplies would be weighed and we would obtain the necessary permits to climb. Along the drive we made 3 stops and picked up 5 more porters, our assistant guide Frank (Fr-ah-nk) and our cook Bonifas, at seemingly random points on the side of the road. It’s a serious crew of 14 we have helping us make the climb.
We are climbing the Machame Route – check out a map and other cool info – www.machame.com. Day 1 takes us from Machame Gate to Machame Hut – about 4 hours of hiking. Our hike today was almost entirely through a beautiful rainforest. It reminded me of Robin Hood, Tim said Jurrasic Park. You get the idea. Very cool especially when sun was poking through. The trail was steep. Many refer to Kilimanjaro as ‘a long walk’. Today’s portion was not like any walks I take, more like climbing stairs for 4 hours.
The vegetation changed dramatically just before we reached camp and we’ve gone from rainforest to Moorlands. Having laid awake a good portion of the night (jetlag), I was excited to come into our camp and rest. We had a shower (a bowl of warm water) and then a snack and dinner by candlelight. We were able to briefly see Uhuru Peak (the summit) by the moonlight as the clouds cleared. Pretty awesome.
Arrived at our first camp
Our guides – Frank (left) and Amos (Right). On our last day we learned this was Frank’s 304th summit! He has been climbing Kili for 27 years – 21 as a guide and 6 as a porter and rescue ranger. He hopes to make it to 500. Godspeed Frank!
Amos is 29 and has been a guide since 2009. He told us that as part of his certification he had to make it to the summit and back in 2 days. 2 days!!! No pole’ pole’ on that trek!
This was our toilet for the week. It was worth every expensive penny that we paid! The alternatives are what they call ‘drop chutes’, which are essentially a hole in the floor (yes, serious), and stench more horrific than you can imagine. One of our porters – named Jiwe (Gee-Way), which means Stone in Swahili – was responsible for the toilet. This seemed to amuse the other porters greatly. We loved Jiwe for manning the toilet and hauling this thing up and down that mountain. I’m not sure we’d have made it otherwise.
We ate dinner every night by the light of one candle. The food was incredibly good – we had no idea how Bonifas brought that much fresh food up the mountain and cooked hot meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner (almost) every day at that altitude.