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The snows of Kilimanjaro

Author: Victoria Bordizhenko, Ukraine, Kiev
Teamleader: Sergii Novikov
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I had been dreaming of a trip to Kilimanjaro for a long time. Immediately after returning from the trek to Everest base camp, where I had gone with "Kuluar", I began to think about where to go next time. Elbrus, Kazbek... But for some reason it was the distant African peak that attracted my attention.

Perhaps because it is quite high, but trekking. Maybe I was impressed by the stories of my friends who had been there. It took me a year and a half to realize my dream.

I had no doubts about which company to go with. During the Nepal trek everything was perfectly organized at Kuluar. And when you go on such an unconventional trip, you want everything to be tested and reliable. The group had long been recruited, but before the New Year they added another group. I was very excited, because I wanted to start the new year actively and to celebrate my birthday unusually, which fell on the date of the expedition. So I packed for the hike in two weeks. I decided not to think about it for a long time, because I know: if I think for a long time, I will get scared, doubt and as a result I will step back from the plan. Well, I had all the equipment from the previous hikes. Within literally two days I had prepaid, bought tickets, and had my yellow fever shot. All that was left to do was pack a backpack.

The list of gear that is issued in preparation for the hike should be taken very carefully. Upon arrival in Moshi our guide Marina checked each participant's gear. I did not notice that my sleeping bag was designed for warmer temperatures. It's good that Marina quickly found a way out of this situation and we rented me a second sleeping bag and I slept in two. Already at the summit I felt the lack of waterproof ski gloves. I wore two pairs - thin fleece and wool. But my fingers were still very cold. A very important element is a thermos. Water in flasks and drinking systems can just freeze on the way. And everyone wants hot tea on the road. What else I would like to try is a self-inflatable mat instead of the usual karemat.

Национальный парк Килиманджаро

To be honest, before the trip I was scared. It seemed: Africa, a long way to go. But that feeling goes away as soon as I get to the airport. I was sure from previous experience that this trip will bring together a group of very interesting people, adventurers like me. It is very good that almost all participants arrive alone, almost no one knows each other before the trip. But they get to know each other very quickly and by the end of the trip become one big friendly family. Some of them have climbed Kazbek before, some of them have been to Peru, some of them are preparing for Lenin Peak and Aconcagua, and some of them are airplane pilots. Talking to such active people is always very interesting for me. We flew together with two participants from Kiev, then we met another one on a connecting flight to Qatar. Arrival, networking dinner, and the next day we were on a bus ride through banana and coffee plantations to the Kilimanjaro National Park.

On the way our group of 17 participants and 2 guides was accompanied by about 50 African helpers - porters, guides, cooks. Therefore this trek was very comfortable - we did not have to carry our own backpacks, set up tents, cook food. The cheerful Africans did it all for us. Although the program stated that we should have only two hot meals, breakfast and dinner, they ended up feeding us a warm lunch as well. This came in handy because we were hungry all the time on the road. The food was delicious. Very memorable was the banana soup, which tasted like potatoes.

Сенеции на тропе к Кили

The route was very interesting and varied. At first we walked through a tropical forest, meeting wild monkeys along the way. Then it was replaced by amazing African plants - lobelia and senecia. On the first day it was more difficult for me, because my body, used to sitting in an office, had not yet adapted to walking, had not yet developed a comfortable pace. The next day it was easier, then even easier, despite the altitude. On the third day a high wall Barrancowall appeared in front of us. We had to climb the stones - it was one of the highlights of the route. It was often drizzling rain and blowing wind. On the morning of the fourth day, a group of our African helpers sang national songs and dances for us, cheering us up before moving on to the assault camp. It was very moving. At lunch we arrived at Barafu Assault Camp, ate lunch and headed out for the acclimatization trek. The weather was fine, and the views were very beautiful. We even saw the cherished summit of Kilimanjaro. We admired this beauty, took pictures, returned to the camp, had dinner and went to bed early. But probably none of the participants slept. My head was spinning with thoughts about the summit - whether it would be hard, whether I would be able to make it...

Рассвет на Килиманджаро

Rise at 11:30 at night, tea and cookies - and we go to the top in the dark with flashlights. A small minus, but wind, so it's cold. But down jacket and membrane protect from cold. We are going very slowly. Local guides keep repeating polepole - take your time. At the top of the mountain stretches a string of lights - the groups that went before us. The sight is unusual. The Africans are singing songs trying to cheer us up. We stop every hour and a half. At least, this is what it feels like. I am walking well. I feel good. The first final point, StellaPoint, was about 6 hours. There we were to meet the sunrise, and from there to the summit, Uhuro Peak, we had to walk another hour. This last hour before sunrise was the hardest. I felt as if my strength was failing me (as if I had celebrated the night before) and my stomach was full of twisting. But I calm myself: nothing terrible is happening yet. We have to go slowly, and everything will be fine. And so it turned out. At StellaPoint we met the sunrise, had tea, rested and headed to the summit. The path was not complicated there, though, it was more difficult to breathe - whatever you look at, the altitude is more than 5700 meters. But it was good to walk, we worried more about how to photograph all the beauty that surrounded us without freezing of hands when removing the gloves. And here it is - the summit. The sign with the marking "Uhuro Peak". Tears came to my eyes - I had been dreaming about it for a very long time...

Восхождение на Килиманджаро, пик Ухуро

On the way down, the sun started blazing. Then I realized that it was a good thing we were going up at night. It would have been harder to walk up in that sun. I was thirsty all the time and my lips were dry. Soon we ran out of water. It took about 2.5 hours to get down to the assault camp. I reached the tent and lay down without legs... I felt I had no strength left after the descent. And here we began, probably, an even more difficult stage than climbing up. We had an hour to pack up, and then we had to go down to the lower camp, passing 7 kilometers. For these 7 kilometers the path went through a dried up creek, over big rocks. It turned out that we were on our feet for the second day without sleep. I couldn't feel my knees at all, and each kilometer took forever...But after that, the sleep in the rainforest camp was just great.

Снега Килиманджаро

Was it hard in general? My acquaintances, who had climbed Kilimanjaro before, told me how in the middle of the storm I felt nauseous and how difficult it was to walk. Therefore I was prepared for the fact that it would be harder. But I had experience from previous treks, in Kamchatka and in Nepal. In Nepal I tried my body at an altitude of 5.5 kilometers, saw what it was like to walk for 12 days. Without this experience the climbing of Kilimanjaro would have been more difficult for me, both physically and mentally. Therefore, I would advise participants who are thinking about this journey to first try an easier route, such as Himalayan trekking. However, we had participants who had not hiked before, and they were able to get to the top. So everything is very individual.

Along the entire route, of the means of communication I had only texting worked. And then, only in some places. But it was great to spend almost a week without social networks, internet, phone calls. A real reset.

Счастье в горах

Next, a new adventure awaited us - a safari. We spent two days in jeeps looking at elephants, zebras, antelopes, lions, monkeys, and interesting birds. The first day we spent in Terengire Park, where there were a lot of elephants and baobabs. We spent the night in a campsite overlooking a beautiful lake in small kel pods that looked like a termite mound. It was very colorful. And the locals put on a dance and acrobatic show in the evening. The second day was spent in the Ngorongoro crater, where we remembered the wildebeest, buffalo, hippos, lazy lions, and cute yellow birds. Ngorongoro is something inexpressible, a real lost world.

Сафари в НгороНгоро

And finally, the flight to Zanzibar. It seemed that the body did not have time to get used to such frequent changes. Tall coconut palms, white sand, warm ocean... Here at a restaurant on the shore of the Indian ocean we celebrated my birthday in our cheerful company. That's why they sang "HappyBirthday" to me in Swahili too. They also sang my favorite African song "Akunamatata". The next day we went to see the big turtles, walked the bright streets of Stone Town - the capital of Zanzibar. Then we went snorkeling on a coral reef by boat. Seen the moray, starfish, corals. Bought fruit - pineapple, mango, coconut and had a pool party. It was great! If you have any doubts whether to stay after climbing safaris and Zanzibar, be sure to stay.

Отдых на Занзибаре

Probably one of the most important advantages of "Couloir" is very experienced and attentive guides. Many thanks to our guides - Sergey and Marina. They watched the well-being and mood of each participant, supported us and organized everything very well. I felt confident and comfortable with them. And in general, it was very cool and interesting with them!

Now, after returning to Kiev, I can not even believe that all this was really true. It seemed very unreal possibility of this trip, and it was very memorable! I begin to dream about new expeditions... Maybe Mont Blanc? But in general, I would very much like to go trekking in Patagonia, walk along the 37th parallel in the footsteps of the characters from my favorite book - "Children of Captain Grant"... "Kuluar", when will we have a group to South America? 😉

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