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Kilimanjaro: Quarantine Hike

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Author: Marina Bronevich, Ukraine, Kiev
Teamleader: Sergii Novikov
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Thanks to you know what, the choice of destinations for hiking on New Year's holidays 2020-2021 has shrunk to a minimum. God left us either hiking in the Carpathian Mountains (great option, but I wanted something more distant and higher), or distant and previously put off in a long box edges - Africa, Mexico, Ecuador. From the latter I chose a hike for myself, after Ararat (5137m) wanted something higher - and so the idea of Kilimanjaro appeared.

To be honest, Kilimanjaro was a big physical challenge for me. In the first two days the hikes were quite difficult - most of the time the road goes uphill and you get very tired, you don't have time to recover. Most of all I was confused by the information I found on the Barranco Wall - they wrote that it was quite a difficult climb, although not long. In fact, it turned out to be quite interesting to climb Barranco. The ascent took about an hour and a half (about 300m elevation gain) and we often had to climb the rocks, holding on to them with our hands. The boys in the group and the guides helped a lot, I don't think I could have climbed it by myself at some points. For me personally, it was much harder to just keep going up the first two days than climbing the wall.

But the toughest day, 48 hours long, is, of course, the day of the assault. Those who do not have enough time in the day, take note! The exit to the summit started at midnight, the local guide was the first to control the pace, so from the beginning we were moving very slowly. Sometimes it made me mad - I can move faster, but in the end, it saved so much needed strength. The ascent took about 9.5 hours and was exhausting because of its duration, physically it was not difficult to climb, the weather was not bad, but the wind was blowing.

We reached the "point of no return" 5500m and you know, that dawn is rightfully takes the title of the most expected dawn this year. It became much warmer and as if we had more energy. At Stella Point there was a certain feeling of psychological comfort - you are already on the mountain, technically you have climbed Kilimanjaro! The cherry on the cake was still ahead, though: a one and a half hour climb of the last hundred meters to Uhuru Peak. But how much I wanted to see the cherished Uhuru Peak sign that read "Uhuru Peak - You Are on the Highest Point in Africa" and feel proud of yourself, of what you had achieved! And then the snow appeared in front of us (it was a special joy to see it before the New Year, when it's +10 at home) and then the sign behind it - the symbol of pride and happiness. We did it!

After the mountain.

Separately, I want to write a few words about the excursion part of the program. Safari exceeded all expectations - for me it was the first such experience and to see so close animals in their natural habitat was like in a fairy tale. The second national park, Ngorongoro, located in the crater of an extinct volcano and looks like a lost world, struck us with its beauty even before we saw the animals - so unique and beautiful nature there!

Absolutely, I think you should spend at least a few days in Zanzibar after the hike. I was there for 4 days, that was enough time, I would not want to see more, in fact - there's not much to see on the island, tours are average interesting, but the ocean is very beautiful, fruits are delicious, and seafood is cheap.

Hiking conditions.

In addition to the guide from Couloir, there is a whole team of local guides, waiters and cooks. All in all, for our group of 9 participants + guide - FORTY people 🙉🙉🙉🙉 Just think about it - forty people go on a hike to be responsible for the comfort of ten!

I think this is one of the most comfortable hikes there can be.  Every morning before 7 a.m. there is already a thermos of hot water in the dining room tent for everyone to make themselves some tea or coffee. After getting up (usually 7:30) two basins with warm water for washing are brought to each tent.

Each camp is equipped with stationary restrooms, with varying degrees of comfort, but the Barranco Camp restrooms even have lockable doors! 🤣

Every day for breakfast they give omelets, pancakes, for lunch and dinner something meat or fish is obligatory. As a side dish they serve rice, potatoes, fried bananas. There is always fruit on the table - mango, passion fruit, bananas, and watermelon.

The staff always makes sure you are comfortable. If you leave your trekking poles outside your tent, they will carefully pick them up and put them away in a secluded spot. If you're trying to unzip the tent from the inside, they'll come over and help you. If it's raining and you've forgotten to pitch your tent, you can be pretty sure they'll come over and do it for you.

At the transitions, the porters carry all the stuff. You come to the camp, where your tent with your things inside is already there, and there is a dining tent with hot water and tea, coffee, and cocoa.

Equipment.

All required equipment is listed on the special tab on the site, I can add that I need a good fire blanket and a warm enough sleeping bag, although it is, of course, a very individual issue. I usually don't particularly freeze and my sleeping bag is comfortably -7, but there were a couple of nights when it was really cold to sleep - mostly because the sleeping bag got wet from condensation in the tent. I slept in two pairs of wool socks and a fleece, sometimes a down jacket and a hat.

I am very glad that my choice fell on Kilimanjaro, and I think that this hike will please anyone - it is quite comfortable; due to the proximity of the mountain to the equator, the altitude is more easily tolerated than in other hikes; to see how to live at the other end of the world is interesting. And, of course, if you go to Kilimanjaro, then with Kuluar!

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