Yesterday we climbed to the first hut on Mt. Kilimanjaro. As most people reading this would know, much to my mom’s dismay, I am not a hiker. But when in Tanzania you have to hike Mt. Kilimanjaro right? Right. I was very excited before we started our three hour-long climb and remained that excited until about an hour from the hut. But lets start at the beginning…
We arrived at the base of the mountain and checked in to begin our climb. We learned that you check in at each hut so that you are accounted for and they know you’re not missing. Then we waited for our guide and got going. The first hour of the climb was great. The scenery was beautiful and the walk was just the right amount of hard. There were occasional sections that were very vertical and rocky but there was always a good break of flat level ground to catch your breath. I was in the group at the front with the first guide and we were having a great time.
The second hour got slightly harder with more vertical sections and shorter level ground in between. We started taking more breaks, about every 20 minutes. But we were still looking good and having fun.
Then we hit the third hour and boy was it hard. We lost the flat ground all together and proceeded to climb rock stairs for the last hour…and it was hard. There was multiple times where I didn’t think I would make it. We would complete a steep stretch and then think we were about to get a break and turn the corner and there would be another natural staircase standing in our way. We started taking breaks every probably 5-10 minutes during this stretch and were huffing and puffing like crazy. But we kept going and finally made it.
We made it to the hut and it felt so amazing. Our guide shook our hands and told us congratulations and I felt so accomplished. It was so challenging but it was the biggest accomplishment to do it. It is so cool that I can say I climbed 9,000 ft of Mt. Kilimanjaro. We took a break and ate, more like scarfed, lunch and then just enjoyed the sunshine and the high we were feeling for finishing. Some of us chose to climb for an extra 20 minutes to get a view of the summit. We were questioning whether it was worth it or whether or legs could even handle it but it certainly was. It was absolutely beautiful.
Then we started our decent. The vegetation on the mountain makes it seem like you are in an imaginary fantasy forest. It was gorgeous beyond words and I’m hoping my pictures will do it just a little bit of justice. It was a long quiet ride home from the mountain as we were all exhausted. But we did see a wedding party driving down the road. It included a pick up truck with a band playing in the back, a convertible with the bride and groom, and a pick up truck that the wedding party was standing in the back of. It was such a happy and fun thing to see. We also were reminded of the chaos that is Tanzanian roads and we came within inches of watching a car get in a head on collision while trying to pass our bus.
It was another exceptional experience in Tanzania and I was so thankful for our free day today, it was well deserved.
I enjoyed the climb, but don’t get me wrong, I’m still not a hiker ☺