When I heard I’d be taking over as the Kilimanjaro manager here at WT, I read and re-read the itinerary, learning the story of the trip as it’s written in our travel packet, reading the packing list and familiarizing myself with the logistics of the trip, visas, inoculations, weather patterns, reviews of the trip from past climbers. Until there was only one thing left to do: get my own two feet on the trail.
On the stunning and remote Shira-Western Breach Route, we took seven days to ascend Kilimanjaro, hiking diagonally across the mountain. We passed through different climate zones as we climbed, from rainforest where colobus monkeys can be found hanging in the green trees, through the strange giant-finger-like plants that grow out of the mooreland, and up to the alpine desert where only a few small flowers live in the inhospitable weather. Finally, the glaciers that remain in the highest altitudes came into view and we arrived at our last camp before summit day, set in the shadow of Furtwrangler Glacier. And after a night of light sleep the whole group, who ranged in age from 18 to 63, woke in the morning to make the final trek eight hundred feet up to Uhuru peak.
Climbers come back from Kilimanjaro with different outstanding memories: the rigor, the popcorn and card games played in the mess tent at the end of each day’s hike, the sunrise view from the summit. For me, the crew hiking along with us is one thing I’ll never forget. Our trip leader, Bonaventure Kiyuvo, who has climbed Kili more than a hundred times, always kept the group uplifted with his positive attitude; he knows the mountain like the back of his hand. And then there was our co-leader, Samuel Mhina (pictured above), who was always willing to help, offer encouragement, and answer questions (we had many!). Somehow, even at 18-plus thousand feet Sam and Bonaventure and the entire crew laughed and joked as they hiked, while always keeping a close eye on all of us climbers and how we were doing. Their confidence, experience and humor made the challenge less daunting and so we all made it to that sign that congratulated us for standing on Africa’s highest point, with a view of the whole continent below us.
By WT team member Brian Allen, Kilimanjaro Climb and Serengeti Safari