Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Day 02 (Machame Camp to Shira Cave Camp)
I woke up at 06:30, got ready, had coffee thanks to my attending porter/cook, had breakfast (fried egg, hot dog, bread and jam, porridge, mango slices, and more coffee), and then finished getting ready. The porter took down the tents and packed then away while the guide checked out with the on-duty ranger (they have to make sure we leave our campsite nice and clean, and that we take all our trash). After checking out, we were ready to go and my guide and I took off at 08:30 through the alpine up a steep route with a rocky rugged trail (if you can call it a trail); some portions of the trail required us to use our hands and was more like bouldering than hiking. Soon we reached the moorland and saw unique plants like the giant senecio. When we had started out today, the sun was shining down on us, but in about an hour the clouds moved in; soon we were hiking in cloud mist through the moorland. After hiking on along a ridge for some time, we soon turned in toward the Shira Cave Camp, where we would be setting up our tents (this camp has a number of white-necked ravens hanging around, looking for food). Today was a short day, finishing just after 11:00, and we had hiked five kilometers and were now 960 meters higher than from where we started. As we waited for our porter it began to rain again and we even got some hail; luckily I was taking cover on the ranger station’s porch; it is great that we had started early today and this were able to beat the rain storm; I only wish we could’ve started early yesterday, but it seems all tour guides and hikers end up starting after noon on the first day. As the rain continued on, our porter arrived and the guide helped him set up our tents; once the rain stopped I went to the tent and was treated to lunch (fried chicken, a diced vegetable sandwich, two muffins, cookies, cucumber soup, and coffee (well, I chose to make coffee with the available mixtures)) – it’s good to have your own porter/server. I then hung around in the tent as it rained on and off for a while. Eventually the rain stopped, the sun came out, and I was able to hang my wet clothes up and put my shoes out to let them dry. Also, it is worth mentioning, that in no time a tent city had spring up here – we’re like a bunch of nomads traveling together. In between cloud movements, I was able to glimpse a decent portion of Mount Kilimanjaro (actually most of it – about f’ing time!) before dinner, which arrived at my tent at 19:00; I had thin pancakes, soup, banana, mango, green beans, rice, and a sauce full of chopped vegetables and a chicken leg to pour over the rice (I must admit, I am weary of eating any more chicken served to me since I highly doubt that the porter has a portable freezer/ice box to keep it in; though I could be wrong). After dinner, I filled my camelback with water using a micro filter and then I put iodine tablets in there to purify the water; while doing this at night- and with the help of the moon shining above – I was finally able to see Mount Kilimanjaro completely free of any cloud coverage (and with the constellation of Orion right above it). I then returned to my tent and had some hot tea before going to sleep.