1. Learn to trust people
Jetlag is still present. I have a slight headache already because of the sleepless nights, but the vibe is to the roof. I’m smiling. Sitting in the back seat of a van heading to, what is probably one of the greatest and most fierce adventures of my life.
We went to the tour office at 9am. checked all our gears like they do in the army. There was a specific list of what to have with you and we went it through one by one. You needed to have good gear to participate, if you didn’t have warm or waterproof enough, the tour company would rent you what you needed. They didn’t allow you to go on the tour if your gear wasn’t all according to their requirements.
I needed to rent so-called peak pants so padded pants, padded gloves, sleeping bag, and a mattress.
Weather was rainy and grey, but quite warm still. I was prepared for this, mentally. With my lunch box on my lap, no rain can lower my vibe. Let’s see if I agree with this after four days.
In the van, there is 9 crew members and 3 of us. There is carriers, two guides, and a cook. You don’t have to carry your own gears to the mountain. 7-day hike and the gear, food and the water will be carried by the crew members. All you need to carry is a small day backpack, where you have your raincoat, second layer of clothes, daily water, sunscreen, sunglasses, and some snacks.
Five hours and 2542 calories later we arrive at the first base camp. The route was quite easy, the hardest part was to actually walk slow enough. You weren’t supposed to sweat so I quickly realized I have too many clothes on. This was simply because I was afraid to get cold. At the base camp, I needed to change quickly some dry clothes on and head to the camp dinner. Warm tee and food worked very well at the end of the day.
The record to climb the mountain is 8 hours to the top and back so it feels strange that the tour is for 7 days. Our guide Davis has made the trip in 21 hours, I think we are in good hands.
2. Learn how to respect nature and weather
The first night in the mountain went really well. I did wake up a couple of times to take pee from all the water and tee I was drinking. But the night was warm I did wake up full of energy and happiness for the day to come. And, what a luxury it was when you wake up at 6.30am and the coffee was served to the tent. Hot water in a big barrel so that we all could wash and then we had breakfast. I was thinking that if I needed to do this by myself it would have been a catastrophe. Whit these survival skills I wouldn’t be able to put the tent upright. So for this kind of amateur climbers, this was the only option. I am so thankful for the crew how they handled everything and how they took care of us.
Sun is also shining today so my hype is on a different level. Finally, I can actually see how high we have come already. Today we are facing 5-hour trek to the next camp, where we would have a lunch that followed a few hour trek to higher ground just to get used to it and then back to the camp.
This second day the trek was beyond beautiful and 5 hours just flew by. Our guides are awesome and they knew about nature and Africa almost everything. Weather was really moody as well, but after the first day, I knew what to wear. I was trekking without a jacket and when we stopped for a small break, I would put it on. First thought was that the sun is there so let me just do this on a t-shirt, it’s warm, but nature here is hard. The slashing cold wind will hit you out of nowhere if you don’t know how to clothe yourself.
You really learn to respect nature and listen to it after your first day. Also, my stress level has disappeared. Nature here is so calm and wonderful.
My mind and my body are at peace. It’s time to enjoy and be excited about everything. I can’t hide my smile. Today we also started to climb, like really climb. No more flat ground and no more forest. This started to feel like mountain climbing after all.
3. Food and Water equals life
Now I can really feel the meaning of water and food. The guides are looking over that everyone is eating and drinking even if you don’t need to. Altitude sickness will hit you that instant when you don’t keep your hydration level up. Cold is piercing you and hits you to the core if you don’t eat enough. This isn’t a diet or a training camp. Here you survive and you eat to stay alive. Food and water, all the time, if you can’t do it, you need to turn back home.
The food here is straight from the 5-star hotel. We eat 3 times warm food. Breakfast is porridge, eggs, bread, and fruits. At lunch and dinner there is a starter soup with bread and salad, also pasta, rice or potatoes are available. for a dessert you have fruits. Every day you get different food and it’s super healthy and the taste. The best food that I have had in a long time. I’m facing 7 to 8 hours of climbing today.
The days hike is really beautiful and the sun in warm the whole way. First five hours was hard and 15 minutes before the lunch camp I was totally beaten. I felt like damn! Can’t get up and I still need to walk 3 more hours. I had lost my appetite because of the altitude, but I also knew that I need to eat, my body was completely empty. I needed to eat slowly so it would stay inside and back to the trail even though my body said: “It’s enough already for today”. At this point, I hadn’t had any symptoms of altitude sickness, but when we started heading down to the camp I felt nausea and slight headache in the back of my skull.
Last half an hour was pure hell. I was so close to puke on every step, I needed to hold back, otherwise, I wouldn’t have made to the camp.
At the camp I finally made it to the tent and then it started, the whole night lasting noise and vomiting, with unbelievable headache and cold shivers. When I was puking through the tent door I really felt like how am I getting out of here? The only way was to walk with my own two feet and in this condition, no way. guides were really helpful and on top of things. They gave me some medicine for the altitude sickness after I had puked couple of times, but I couldn’t keep anything in, not even water.
Dinner was served to the tent for me because I was too weak to get up. I had a soup that was literally poured to my mouth, while I was humming my mantra, this will pass, this is good for me. It did help so much that I could take another pill cocktail. One blue, one-half of white and two whole ones. I had no clue what they were but I was ready to take them all just to be back alive. I also had a full cattle of ginger tea which settled my stomach and calmed me down so much that I fell asleep for the next 10 hours. In the morning I felt normal, good and energetic, myself again. Let the trek continue.
4. You learn to respect other peoples work
Day 4 and breakfast is tasting better than ever. I am truly thankful how I was helped yesterday, how they took care of me and never left me alone. It’s out of my understanding of how can these crew members walk with us every day and the same route. Carrying more than ten kilos on top of their shoulder or head. Everything is always ready at the camp. Tents are up and warm food waiting for us when we arrive totally beaten. If these guys wouldn’t be here our trek wouldn’t be possible. We wouldn’t have sleeping bags, tents, food, water or anything if someone wouldn’t carry it for us.
This is so organized and time lined that we amateurs would survive. It’s also really nice to see how they have such a good team spirit, working with a smile on their face. They are singing and shouting motivational words. Here you really start to respect the small things and how someone makes this possible for you with their strength and power. It’s day 4 and the feeling on top is gratitude.
Today we have the same length of trekking as yesterday so pole pole which means slower slower.
The fourth day went smoothly. The beginning of the hike, they call breakfast and it was climbing alright. We climbed with all four limbs for 2 hours. It was challenging and I was scared a bit about the altitude sickness from yesterday, how far do I have the energy. The breakfast was so nursing that I did feel strong. The weather was like a bride and we had so much fun in our group. In the afternoon I still felt okay, so I guess the sickness was in the past.
5. You start to understand the importance of sleep and rest
Today it finally starts, peaking. Excited, scared and terrified at the same time. We set to the next camp, 4-hour trek. There we will have lunch and dinner. We try to take a nap before making our bags for the peaking and at midnight we start to head off to the top. We walk through the night towards the sunrise. You can even stop for a while on this 6-hour trek otherwise you will freeze.
I have slept every night for more than 10 hours unlike everyone else. On the altitudes, it’s hard to sleep normally. You dream a lot, you wake up for no reason and then the coldness. Sleep and resting are the most important thing to recover from the strain, every day you need to carry on more and more and the air is getting thinner and thinner. Also, the symptoms of altitude sickness are getting easier when you sleep.
Getting a small nap is successful before and after lunch, at 4600 meters everything is tiring on its own. After the dinner the mood gets thrilling. Trekking clothes on so basically everything you have. New batteries to the headlamp and water bottle into the sock and upside down to the bag. Couple of hours sleep and we continue again. We have 14 hours of walk altogether and every minute of sleep is vital.
6. Challenging yourself and go over your limits
It’s midnight, we are standing under the stars with the bright night sky, backpacks are packed and we are dressed up like Michelin man. Everyone is full of excitement. Now is the peaking time. It’s just below zero and I’m feeling cold even though I have 5 layers of clothes on. The worst fear I had for this week was the cold. How can I ever complete the peaking without hypothermia? I hate and fear the cold so much. Sleeping in the tent has been surprisingly warm and I have learned to dress up so that I can’t feel cold. Today I will put this all into a test. Another thing I’m afraid is the altitude sickness when peaking, what if it hits in the middle of the final climb? This peaking takes 10 hours and it’s freezing cold up there. You can’t let your mind to take control, forward march!
In the beginning, I had a good mood, pole pole. I felt warm as soon as we get to move. The weird thing was that we had climbed 200m higher and I couldn’t stay awake. It’s quite normal to feel sleepy at these altitudes but it should come only at the top. It was hard to stay awake from the get-go. I was afraid of the altitude sickness and it hit me instantly. I felt nausea the whole way and I started puking before halfway there, so sure that I need to quit. 5-7 hours in the pitch black night with minus degrees, the wall was steep, I couldn’t possibly continue. Then Davis our guide said to me that I shouldn’t quit, not at this point even when I was feeling sick and I needed to stop all the time. There is a timeline to reach the top because there is only 50% oxygen than on the sea level.
Finally, I had puked out everything that I had in me and I was feeling a little bit better. The whole group was broken and everyone had a headache with other symptoms of altitude sickness. But we made it, in 7 hours we were on top. The air on top is so thin that you can only stay 10 minutes on the top. When we finally reach the Stella point I was relieved. I was barely conscious. Me or anyone else had no energy left to climb higher. 7 hour of struggling had taken every drop from all of us. This was the point they told that the peak itself was still about 30 minutes away and at this thin air every step was agonizing. I said many times that I can’t do this.
I was collapsing, I broke down and I was still puking, my body was messed up. Davis was dragging me with him and said that you have come this far so we are seeing this through. I don’t give up easily, but I was in so bad situation that I just couldn’t walk.
We reached the top, took the necessary picture from the sign and then one of our group members started losing his balance and was walking like a drunken person. Now we need to go down and quick. We were literally running downhill. Others on Davis’s hands and me by myself. From the top of my head, I was just thinking to get down so I would feel better and as quickly as possible.
Now I’m sad because I couldn’t enjoy the peaking, not even a second. It was so unbelievably beautiful and I worked for a week to get there. I am happy though, I managed to overcome my limits by far. This days hike has been the hardest and the most awful thing I have ever done. I can’t even describe how I felt, there is no word for it. But I did overcome my fears by crossing my comfort zone. I was tougher than I ever believed that I would be. Now I know that in the future I can do anything. The bar is set at 5895m higher.
I DID IT!!! I climbed to the top of Kilimanjaro. It wasn’t easy but it was worth it. Big thanks to our guide, without them, we would have turned around on midpoint.
But the day wasn’t over yet. We still had 5 hours hike to the lower base camp. So we needed to hike 7 hours for peaking, 3 hours to the camp and 5 hours to switch to the base camp. Total of 14 hours with altitude sickness. This is the nature of the game which you can do nothing. You need to keep pushing. Downwards is the way so you can feel better. Now the final dinner and final night at the tent in the morning we have the last hike and car drive back to Moshi.
7. Make new friends and experience the culture
Last day started like all the others before it. It’s 6am, ginger tea is served to the tent. You can take your time to get out of the cozy and warm sleeping bag until they have the washing water ready. If you think how the hygiene works on a trip like this, well actually pretty good. Every morning and night you get a bucket of warm water and soap to wash. I didn’t feel dirty at any point of the climb.
After the last breakfast, we had a tipping ceremony, where we could give feedback to the crew and also brace them for taking care of us and the tips.
It was absolutely the best thing in Kilimanjaro climb to get to know these wonderful people, the African culture and nature. Learn a few words of Swahili as well as Tanzanian songs, that had its place in every day. Something that this country has is singing and dancing. Tanzanians are good-hearted, kind, laughing, funny, life-affirming and hard workers. I am super grateful that I got to know these magnificent people and I bet I just made life long friends.
Thank you from all my heart to Nyange Adventures and of course, our guides Davis and William you made my dreams come true, I will never forget this trip. Thanks also to the whole team without you this wouldn’t be possible. Thank you also Tommi and Jake it was nice to roam with you.
If you dream about Climbing Kilimanjaro I recommend Nyange Adventures Tour from the bottom of my heart.
The really know what they are doing and they keep you safe. If I need to give a grade from 1 to 10 I would give 12+++ everything was better than I expected.
Thank you universe for a dream fulfilled!