After loading a mountain of gear, we headed to Machame Gate (3000m), a two hour journey. A seething mass of porters, trekkers, guides and persistant souvener sellers welcomed us to Kilimanjaro. With almost 200 climbers starting from Machame Gate, supported by 800 crew, it took almost two hours to get on the trail.
The cloud forest quickly swallowed us up and the five hour walk to Machame Camp (3800m) was probably my favourite day of the trek. Huge trees, suffocated by clinging vines and moss swallowed up the huge numbers of climbers and crew. A short sharp shower cleared the air and a peaceful atmosphere quickly desceded.
We were on our way to the highest point of Africa, Uhuru Peak, 5895m.
As I slowly gained height, my stiff legs loosened, my pack settled into my back and I started to get to know our group a huge weight lifted off my shoulders.
After the dreaming, planning, lists, risk assessments, emails and chasing lost luggage I could relax and get down to what I do best; helping people achieve their dreams and goals by supporting, laughing, cajoling and encouraging them on the mountain. It’s a tough job. 🙂
All too quickly the sounds of camp pierced the tranquility of the cloud forest and we arrived at Machame Camp. Machame Camp spreads out over a huge area of forest, but each group occupies it’s own clearing so it is a pleasant overnight stop.
After the nightly ritual of signing the camp register, I can still recite our groups names, ages ad occupations off pat, we had our first taste of camping Kilimanjaro style. Our sleeping, toilet and mess tents were all pitched by our smiling porters by the time we arrived. Air beds inflated, although not for long, a warm basin of water ready and popcorn and hot drinks waiting in the mess tent.
I don’t think I will ever be able to backpack in Scotland again, I simply can’t make the adjustment to roughing it again.
Dinner was served at 7.00 in the mess tent, a huge North Face Base Camp Tent, which is fully kitted out with tables and chairs. The menu blew me away. Starter, Cucumber Soup, Rice and Stew followed by fresh fruit and hot drinks. All delicious and I am ashamed to stay I stuffed myself until I could eat no more.
Sleeping in a two man tent relaxes me, perhaps it has echos of childhood, and sleep came easily.