An amazing experience, great scenery, long hard days, excellent food and catering, great guides. The trip is tough but well worth it as one of these once in a life time events
- What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?
The most impressive sight was mid way in when i walked out of my tent and saw that we were above cloud cover. At 3,500m in the morning, feeling like you are standing on top of the clouds is an odd sensation. That was a better sight than the summit.
- What did you think of your group leader?
- Very knowledge, had been up the mountain 104 times and our trip was his 105th! I didn't see him much, the other guides were the main people who walked with us, but the best kind of group leader is one who makes sure everything is done and sorted and the one you don't see rushing around shouting at people. It was all very professional. The other guides were amazing, they didn't talk too much, but you always knew they were there, ready to help.
- Do you have any advice for potential travellers?
Don't underestimate this trip. Even though Kilimanjaro has become commercialized with 30,000 people going up each year and the whole fan fare of the celebrities going up it, the trip is still hard. Altitude is hard to adjust to and you will have no idea how you whilst you are sitting at sea level reading this. I got bad altitude sickness which actually prevented me from gettting to the true summit, I only managed to get to Gilman's point, as I was being sick for a good 4 hours prior to getting there.
If you are getting headaches and feeling ill early one, i.e. before base camp, take altitude sickness pills. I acclimatised slowly and usually over night, but at base camp (Kibo Hut 4700m) you may be able to acclimatise, but once you start summitting you are climbing 1000m in one night to the true summit (5900m), there is little chance to acclimatise whilst climbing, so if you get sick it is too late to take pills.
In heinsight i would begin starting altitude sickness pills from the start. If you weren't going to get sick its fine, but if you were, then taking them may reduce the effects of the sickness. Essentially I didn't take them and if i had, i may have summitted, something which i am gutted about.
The only problem about pills is that the side effects can be the effects of altitude sickness, so if you don't think you are going to get and then take the pills, the side effects from the pills could be make it look like you have altitude sickness when you don't. Hard choice.
Obviously you need to seek professional advice around this, and I can only say what I would have done.
- Is there anything else you would like to add?
Firstly enjoy it, the days before summit are managable and enjoyable. Summit is hard, cold and long, don't underestimate it.
Pack well, but don't over pack. Don't worry about water purification tablets, i bought some but the guides would treat the water every day, so buying it was a waste. Layers are good, but also good quality gear is key, especially a down jacket on summit night, it was so cold, water froze in my bottles and froze in my camel back tube! Exodus's guide to what to take is pretty good. In terms of cash i took $200. I tipped $130 (the big general tip at the end), and the rest was spent on drinks and tipping other guides/porters individually. Other people took much more, some $700, which i thought was far too much. You wont spend anything on the mountain, except say the odd coke($3) or snickers ($4) at Kibo Hut, the rest you can spend on drinks at the end, up to you i guess.
Also take some entertainment for the evenings, thankfully one person in our group brought some cards, that made the evenings go quickly, no one wants to go to bed at 7.30pm!
I would probably advise on doing a different route than Rongai as Rongai i think is the hardest. But then again having walked back down through another route, I would say the Rongai is more interesting in terms of scenery than the other ones. You also stay in tents, rather than everyone sleeping in a wooden hut together.