Wednesday 2nd January 2019
Update, 4-Jun-19: I am posting these articles anti-dated with the date of the day it took place (It makes more sense to me somehow). While posting them, Karen Valenti from Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project (KPAP) has just made me aware of a charity walking challenge that the Intrepid Foundation is running for the entire month of June 2019. The aim is to raise funds for the associations which work with the various tourist agencies. These associations audit agencies, create awareness among hikers and support overall fair work conditions for guides, cooks, and porters.
The concept is simple:
1. Go on this website: https://www.stepup.travel
2. Make a donation of EUR 16, USD 18, or AUD 25 or equivalent to that in the currency you choose. This money will go to ‘The Porters Collective’ which is a grouping of several associations supporting porters: KPAP, KEEP and Awamaki, see more details here:
3. Create a team or join a team (You can join mine called ‘WalkForPorters’ if you want!
4. Download the ‘Healthwise Mobile’ app
5. Wait for the Welcome email from the app with the password (It can take 36 hours as they actually create new accounts manually!!) and then log into the app
6. Synchronise the app with your Fitbit, Garmin, or Google Fit app on your phone
7. The app will start tracking your steps and the steps of your team. You need an average of 10,000 daily steps each day during June 2019 to be eligible to win an Intrepid Travel trip!
8. Registration is before Wednesday 5th June 2019 midnight Australian time (4pm France time) so if you wanna participate to the challenge, hurry up!
On Day 04, we went from Shira 2 to Moir Hut.
Here is the map again – Map Copyright ‘Ultimate Kilimanjaro’ agency.
The description for the day we had received from African Scenic Safaris:
In the morning, everything was frozen. At least, we had a clear view of the mountain and also of Mount Meru in the distance. I loved how we were at the same level of the clouds or just above them and how porters on the other end of the camp seemed to be floating into the clouds. We had brekky, sour mangos, crepes we filled with peanut butter or honey, toasts we filled with peanut butter and omelette, tea, chocolate or coffee. We took our 125mg of diamox. That was a tough thing every morning, to split that 250mg pill of diamox in half. Why don’t they just sell them already as a 125mg pill, uh?
We left Shira 2 around 8.30am and walked three hours to Lava Tower. Porters kept passing us. One can only admire them. Lots of people, when you are back home tell you: ‘Whaaaa! You have climbed to the top of Kilimanjaro! That’s amazing!’ but honestly? No one would manage to climb the Kili without the assistance of porters. Not even Hans Meyer and Ludwig Purtscheller themselves who were the first Europeans to get to the summit on Meyer’s third attempt in 1889 where he was on an expedition with a guide. Their climbing team included two local headmen, nine porters, a cook, and a guide. The ones who should get the biggest credit for making it easier for tourists to spend so much time on the mountain are the porters. They carry heavy loads during the entire hike, up and up and down. Loads that most of us could not carry. They setup the tents, they cook the food. They make ginger tea and bring it to us in the morning. Yes, it can be tough to walk with your own legs and a small pack for this hike, and not showering for 9 days. But remove the porters, and the success rate of getting to the top unassisted would go down drastically! So kudos to all of them for doing what they do. Even if it is a job. Even if they do it because they need the money. They deserve recognition and respect, it is very humbling to see what they can do!
During our morning hike, we had a snack break around 11.20am and while sitting, we had the visit of a four-striped grass mouse (Rhabdomys pumilio).
It is funny that Wikipedia says that it is found up to 2,300 meters of altitude, because we were definitely above 3,800 meters that day. For once, I can prove Wikipedia wrong!
We got to Lava Tower (4,600m) around 12.30pm where we had stretches, lunch, and enjoyed the view of the Lava Tower whenever the fog would let us see it.
When we got out of the tent after lunch, the weather had completely changed, and it looked miserable! We hiked in the rain from 1pm to 3pm to Moir Hut Camp. Juma went ahead with the others, while I continued my slow pace at the back with Nesto and Antipas. I strangely didn’t put on my rain pant, which could have been something handy to do, but I did discover the joy of the rain poncho and that 2-hour walk under the rain did help confirm that my hiking shoes bought in October were water-proof (French brand, Millet, Gore-tex and Vibram, highly recommend them) and that my gaiters protecting them and my pant under the knees also were. Always good to check out on this kind of things!
Towards the end of the walk, Antipas showed me some lobelia flowers as well as some everlasting flowers.
We could see Moir Hut in the distance, the first remote campground. We were not on the Lemosho route anymore, as by now we had turned North and were heading towards the other side of the mountain, a side where less people go, alias..the Norther Circuit! There are many routes that can get you to the top of Kilimanjaro, the most famous ones being the Marangu, Machame and Lemosho and Shira routes. There are also some called Rongai, and Umbwe.
Here is a map found on this website which describes the various routes quite well:
Although reputed to be less scenic than other Kilimanjaro routes, the Northern Circuit is also known to be the most recent one opened on the mountain and the less frequented, which made us choose it for that reason. Whoohooo, finally out of the main tourist trail, it was exciting!
I went outside around 10.30pm for a necessary peeing stop and was so amazed by the night sky that I put on some more layers and finally pulled out of the bottom of my bag my godzilla pod, timer and 12mm wide angle lens to try out to take night shots. It was tough though as I am not really a night photographer and I struggled with getting that right. Still got a shot of the Orion constellation.
Got a good shot of the ridge with the stars above it.
I tried out some long-exposure but I was too cold to leave the camera on for longer than 6 minutes! To get a beautiful long trail, I would have needed to leave it out there for 2 hours with the risk of the settings be wrong and the shot turning out too dark or too bright. Too cold for that! 🙂
Next day, off to Pofu Camp!