Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Day 01 (Machame Gate to Machame Camp)
I woke up today at 07:30 in my cozy hotel room in Moshi, got ready, had breakfast (bread with jam, fried potato mix, beans, pineapple juice, and coffee), finished packing, put my extra bag with nonessential gear and dirty laundry in to the hotel’s storage, and then waited for my guide to pick me up. At about 09:45, my guide came and we got in to a car driven by a hired hand; we first drove to the gear rental place and picked up our porter, tents, cookware, and other gear; next we drove to the tour company’s office to settle some business and to pick up boxed lunches at a nearby restaurant; then we drove back to the gear equipment place and I picked out a down jacket and cold weather sleeping bag. We were now ready to drive to Machame Gate. We drove up toward Kilimanjaro (still covered in clouds, through many banana plantations and small villages. We finally reached the gate and I was given my boxed lunch to consume (fried chicken, a burger, a muffin, a banana, mango juice, and cookies). Around the pavilion where I ate my lunch, there were several blue monkeys hanging around, waiting to snatch food from hikers who had let their guard down (this is the only place today where I saw any monkeys (didn’t see any in the rain forest) – they know where a steady food supply is, so why bother staying in their natural habitat). I then waited around for my guide and porter to take care of the necessary paperwork and weighing of supplies before I was called over to pay the park entrance fee ($694 – this is an expensive trek and this fee is the primary reason why). Soon we were ready to go and my guide and I started down the trail shortly after noon (the porter had already gone ahead). We started at a very slow pace, but as I started talking with my guide, touching on past hike I had completed, the pace soon picked up (he was probably trying to gauge my fitness level). The rain forest itself was beautiful (with moss covered trees and flowers) and I was enjoying it, that is, right before it started to rain. I put my rain jacket on, but my pants and shoes were left open to the elements; I then quickened my pace knowing I would need as much time as possible at the camp to try and dry my shoes. About the time we began to move from rain forest to a pine forest, the rain had stopped, but most if my clothing was wet. We then continued on, climbing steadily before reaching Machame Camp (eleven kilometers distance and 1,210 meters elevation from where we started at Machame Gate. I signed in at the ranger station and then talked to two English hikers while I waited for the porter to arrive with our tents (I had passed the porter somewhere in the rain forest while I was hiking at a rapid pace through the rain). It then started to rain again, so I took cover under the ranger station; eventually the porter arrived, set up camp, and the rain stopped. I went over to my tent and was then treated to coffee; I also changed in to dryer clothes. While in camp – a camp occupied by many other hikers, guides, and porters (it was a tent city) – I talked with a couple (South African guy and American gal) and a Polish man. At about 19:00, I was given dinner – cucumber soup, bread, a small banana, potatoes, onions, and a vegetable sauce to put over the potatoes and to mix in with the vegetables – the dinner was more than I had expected and quite filling. I was also given the choice to have more hot water to make either coffee, tea, or hot chocolate, but I declined since it was late; so I just got ready for bed and soon went to sleep.