The last day. Today was an emotional day, after waking for the best sleep of most people’s lives, we ate breakfast together and shared stories of the day before, mostly starting with how bloody long and hard the climb was! From there we had a celebration with the team, again with more songs, speeches, massive thanks to both us and from us to the team and it was the perfect way to end the trip before we began the last hike. The sun was splitting the sky and for the first time in days we were warm enough to enjoy it.
The last 10km today was a tough one as well. The terrain was actually not nearly as bad as usual, but everyone’s knees were goosed from the day before and the ground was slippery making us walk even slower. I have never been happier than when after 3.5 hours we arrived at the gate and knew it was home time.
The hike...afterthought. I was so goddam nervous to do this hike, so nervous. I trained hard, I refused point blank to fail as after a few years ago when I hiked mount Taranaki with Leo and nearly gave up, cried a lot and just hated every second. This time round I refused to let this happen.
I was still nervous as f. It's crazy that over the 7 days as much as you are surrounded by people all the time, how much free time you have inside your own head. That's why I say this hike is mentally challenging. As you climb there are long periods of time where you feel pretty alone and as much as the team surrounding you are so supportive, you still have your doubts every so often.
I found my struggle to stay positive pretty challenging. I found my anxiety heightened in parts, mostly when we first woke up as I was nervous about how the day would go and the most nervous, I got was each day measuring my vitals. I knew they would be fine, I felt fine and we all laughed about as it would go round the table, "haha, your about to die" , "haha, time to turn around" , "dead in 20" , it was actually hilarious but each and every time the monitor attached to my finger I would start to sweat and the feeling of doubt, dread and sickness returned. It sounds crazy right? But if you have any sort of anxiety then you will totally relate to being singled out if something went wrong. Overall, I find this hike actually helped. It taught me resilience, resistance and self-belief. The overwhelming feeling of sheer pride in the last hour to reach the summit was a way to kick at least some of my anxiety and the sentence "you can do this" never left my brain.
Overall, this was by far one of the best experiences of my life. I have tried to be as honest as possible throughout as it was bloody difficult. The struggle was real, and this hike is not for the faint hearted. You must be mentally strong and at least at some level of fitness to do this hike for sure, but overall, it’s the team and company you are with that helps the most. I couldn’t have done this without Leo, truly, each day he was there to make sure I was ok and vice versa. The other team members were just the best of people and together we supported each other up the mountain. Lastly, I have to say thank you so much to the team at Monkey adventures as without them, this would have stayed a dream of ours, yet they made it a reality.
Is this challenge for you? Please message me with any questions you have!
ONE TEAM, ONE DREAM!
We managed a long lie this morning until 7.30am – it was a treat and a half! Breaky wasn’t served until 8.15am and as per always it was fantastic. From there we made the 4 hour ascend up the Branco wall to 4200m. After a brilliant sleep by practically the entire group we were in great spirits and ready to rock climb the shit out of that wall. It was super hard however, very exhausting and every step we took felt like 15 on a stair master. Today, Remi our chief guide warned us not to take any pain killers if we had headaches as we had to check whether the altitude was affecting us seriously so they could detect it early.
A few in the group started playing music on their phones so we had a sing a long to Queen, 90’s rock and Bob Marley which made the time past faster along the way. It helped a lot, so did talking but sometimes it was too difficult to hold a conversation on the ascend. We arrived at camp at 2pm and at this stage we had reached 15,100ft so we were advised to rest the afternoon and try and regain as much strength as possible. We ended up watching a few episodes of the Witcher which I had downloaded on my phone before passing out just before dinner.
Tomorrow is base camp day so we were to up our Diamox and stop all other painkillers by this point. Also by now we were on a 4l drinking water per day and if anyone had ever taken Diamox , you will know that it makes you pee at least 15 times a day… the only time being a girl has sucked bad was on this trip. Peeing outside with so many layers on is a bloody mission!
Sleep: Slept from 9pm – 6.30am.
1 x Diazepam
CBD Oil for sleep
Night time cold and flu meds
Walked: 4kms taking 5-6 hours
Today was the day when we knew that everything we had been working towards since booking this trip mattered. Today we were reaching Base camp and tonight we would start the hike to the Summit. Up at 7am, after breaky the whole team got together for group pictures, and we were able to meet the full crew for the first time. Behind the scenes there had been a few issues along the way and being short staffed meant that a lot of the time the porters and staff were doing double the work, so we never saw them.
They started by singing traditional songs from Kilimanjaro and I am not quite sure how to describe how I felt. It was a mixture of sheer excitement and determination but at the same time I wanted to burst into tears. It was incredibly motivational to know that this team of complete strangers had our backs for this hike. They cared about getting us to the summit, they cared about how we were the entire time and they were there will big smiles and warm hearts. It was just such a special and emotional moment of the trip.
Within 3.5 hours we had made it to base camp where we were told to sleep until lunch time. At base camp there is also no water so the porters effectively have to transport 300l of water up and down for the previous camp that day continuously until we had enough. If I was stronger, I would have tried to help but we knew we had to sleep asap. After lunch it was time to sleep again and then at dinner, we checked our oxygen levels, pulse and were told by 11pm it was wake up time. We were about to begin the ascend to the Summit.
Sleep: Slept for only a couple of hours through the day
Night time cold and flu meds
Walked: 4kms taking 4-5 hours
We woke up at 11pm – so effectively still on day 5 and I will tell you know. Waking up at that time and having a put on that amount of layers knowing that for the next 14 hours you would be hiking in the freezing cold, it made me want to vomit. Seriously, we were so cold and tired when we woke up, climbing the summit we could both see far enough. I had 7 layers on my top half, a scarf, balaclava, alpaca wool gloves and 4 layers on my bottom half including Ski pants and jacket.
As soon as we left it started to snow, it was so dark and cold and as much as the vibe of the group was good, a few started to deteriorate rapidly along the way with headaches, nausea, dizziness and overall feeling and exhaustion. The guides and porters started to take the day packs off the ones who were feeling the altitude affects and walked with them. We were in a slow ‘’pole pole’’ line the whole way but through that 6 hours waiting for the sun to rise, there was many tears, I fell asleep while walking 3 times. I felt sick, dizzy, disorientated and the want and need to get off the mountain as so strong. Near Stella point – the first point before the Summit, the sun started to rise into the horizon and lit up the sky. As soon as it did the group began to sing, chant, dance and the groups spirits lifted so high, it again brought most people to tears. We were nearly there, we had made it to Stella point.
1 more hour to go and we would be there, the Summit of Kilimanjaro, the epitome of the challenge, the reason we all came. It was so close and after stuffing as many protein bars and snacks down our throats as possible we began the last and final ascend to the Summit – the roof of Africa. We finally arrived at the summit and were welcomed with -20degree temperatures and the strongest wind. The sun was now high in the sky, but the temperature was something I have never in my life felt. I couldn’t remove my hands from my pockets for more than 30 seconds at a time, it was the coldest I have ever been in my entire life.
We did it, we made it to the top and from there it was time to get the fuck off the mountain. The climb down took just under 4 hours and this took us back to Base camp where we were given 2 hours to sleep before lunch and before the 7.5km hike to the camp we would be staying that night. My headache by this point was so intense that I took meds, I had to. I couldn’t sleep even though I could hardly keep my eyes open, I was in a bit of a mess despite feeling great at the Summit.
The last 7.5km’s today felt like the summit all over again, I have never in my life walked that much – 14.5 hours overall and it was exhausting. At dinner we had our ‘last supper’ and then made our way to bed as soon as physically possible. It was a great day, wonderful in fact and one of the best experiences of my life but at that point in time all I could think about was sleep and not feeling so shit.
Sleep: 8.30pm – 6am – Great sleep 8+ hours
Night time cold and flu meds
Walked: 14kms taking 14.5 hours
DAY 1: After a pretty ‘pole pole’ (slow) morning, with A LOT of pissing around we were on our way. Our group which was originally 9 was now 19 and with the guides, porters and other members of staff we had a village ready to summit this mountain! Day 1 was the most stressful day because of all the politics to get into the park, a lot of paper work, and lots of nonsense bureaucracy. It took a couple of hours to get us signed in, so we had time for our box lunches, final bathroom breaks, and chatted a lot since it was our first time all together as a group.
Once we began, the rainforest section of the mountain was beautiful, with lush green trees and plants, and the occasional blue monkey or black and white Colobus monkey. We had to walk very slowly, in a single line the entire trek. This was so the guides could spot easily who was struggling along the way but for the first day we found it super frustrating as I don’t think anyone in our group expected it.
Arriving at our campsite 4 hours later and now 7pm (very behind schedule) we found out tents and made a wee nest for the night. Our tents were just spacious enough for two people plus our duffel and day packs, an area for our dirty shoes, and warm water tubs for ‘’washy washy’’ before meals . The porters carry the duffel bags and deserve a bloody medal every day as well as setting up the tents which was amazing to arrive into.
We ate around 10pm and were served a feast of pasta, cucumber soup, salad and some fruit before everyone in the group scattered to their tents for night 1’s sleep.
Sleep: Slept from 11.30pm – 6am.
Walked: 7kms taking 5 hours
Today was a 17km hike day. That is all. No, I am joking, it was 17km’s but it was awesome so I will write a little more about it. We woke at 6am, had our quick ‘’washy washy’’ bird bath shower, beautiful breaky of porridge, crepes, fruit, tea and coffee before hitting the road at 8.30am. Today was broken into 2 parts – 1st part was to Shira 1 camp where we would stop for lunch and then Shira 2 camp where we would stay for the night. It was a 10-11 hour hiking day which we were seriously not looking forward to but off we went! We had monkeys at our camp when we woke up and the first few hours of the walk were simply beautiful – hot, yet beautiful! After 7km of climbing uphill in the heat we reached Shira 1 and inhaled lunch before hitting the track again for the final 10kms.
We arrived late again at 7pm but were welcomed with the first sighting of the Summit which was amazing, daunting yet empowering. Everyone in the group had a headache by this point and were pretty spent after the long day. I have to give a shout out here to the chefs on our trip as each and every day they surprise us with truly delicious food. It has to be very carb heavy to prevent Altitude sickness, but they vary it up each meal and it’s always DELICIOUS!
Sleep: Slept from 11pm – 6am.
CBD Oil for sleep
Walked: 17kms taking 11 hours
After a shit nights sleep, we woke this morning to find our tent had leaked through the night and our sleeping bags were soaking. We were ok inside but with a headache, icy cold temperatures I was ready to throw in the towel. The group helped immensely and instantly my spirits were lifted…after a coffee sat in the sun outside appreciating what was happening and manning the F up!
Next stop was Lava Wall – another 7km uphill to higher altitude and it was cold this morning. The views were incredible but we had bad news about some of our porters who had caught pneumonia and were sent back. With a smaller staffing, meant extra work but we powered through, but today was hard. It was a very difficult climb, hard to breathe, intense headaches and general exhaustion. Lunch kept us going that day as it was so good, they made us beef pies with vegetables and soup which soothed the soul and gave us all the energy to power through.
We read that our body would be burning 4000 calories a day. So on this hike it was normal to lose between 1-2 kgs and it was so important to eat whenever possible…even when you weren’t hungry! It was like me dream week.
We hiked for another 4 hours but this time down hill in order to acclimatise and let our bodies rest at the third camp. When we arrived Remi our guide let us know it was an early to bed night and a late wake up – this was the best news ever. I have never been so excited to go sleep on the group before in my life!
Sleep: Slept from 9.30pm – 7am.
1 x Diazepam
CBD Oil for sleep
Walked: 6kms taking 5-6 hours
Keep reading for the next few days of this adventure...
For the past 7 days we have spent this hiking the incredible Mount Kilimanjaro, and guess what?? WE MADE IT TO THE SUMMIT! Kilimanjaro is not only Africa’s tallest peak, but also the world’s tallest free-standing mountain. The summit, named Uhuru Point, is 5,895 meters (19,341 feet) above sea level. It was also the highest we have ever hiked after Cotopaxi in Ecuador back in May reaching 16,500ft.
I literally have so much to write, so many thoughts going on in my head about the experience as a whole as it was quite honestly, one of - if not thee best experiences of both our lives. However, it was also the most challenging experience both physically and mentally along with the temperatures and lack of oxygen - it was really bloody hard to hike!
I will try and condense the experience as best as I can and split into categories but expect me to go off in a tangent when I start getting excited about a specific topic along the way.
BACKGROUND: Kilimanjaro (loosely meaning ‘White mountain’) located in Tanzania is actually on the Equator line and is composed of 3 different volcanoes. The journey to the summit is like going from the equator to Antarctica. This is no lie – the summit was -20 degrees Celsius when we eventually reached it and I felt like I could freeze to death. While climbing Kilimanjaro, we experienced five distinct ecological zones on their way to the top. These included:
THE COMPANY: We researched who to do this with for a while. We knew we had to go with a reputable company that was mid-ranged priced as Africa has blown our budget out the water but eventually we chose ‘Monkey Adventures’ . We chose the Lemosho track which was a 7-day track and spent a lot of time acclimatizing to the altitude. Honestly, if you plan to do this, take the extra time and do it properly. More than 50% who attempt Kilimanjaro fail due to Altitude sickness. Their itinerary sounded fun, has great reviews, extremely well-planned, and exciting. I especially liked their efforts to only work with local guides and porter companies that are certified under Kilimanjaro Porters Association Project (KPAP). (If you choose to climb Kili, make sure your company follows the KPAP rules and regulations)
THE ROUTE: The Lemosho Route is widely considered to be the best route on Mount Kilimanjaro due to its beauty, remoteness and success rate. In short, it maximizes the chances that a climber will reach the summit and enjoy the experience overall. This is why we chose this route. If we were paying all this money to hike our asses up this giant mountain, I wanted it to not only be the most stunningly beautiful route but also increase the chance of me making the summit!