In June 2018, Sofia climbed Kilimanjaro. Read about what she experienced on the tour below.
After four months’ preparation, including everything from long walks to purchasing equipment, it was finally time to leave in mid-June.
We arrived in Tanzania on Friday night, having travelled all day. Our climb was supposed to start on the Sunday morning, so we had plenty of time to prepare, relax and gather strength. The day before the climb, we met with our guides, who provided us with useful information and helped us check that we had everything we needed, and we rented the last pieces of equipment.
In the morning, it was go – our adventure was beginning! I had never tried anything like this before but had heard and read stories about others who had climbed Kilimanjaro (don’t believe everything you read!). The first day felt good even though it was hard sleeping on a thin mattress and the nights were cold. Lemosho is one of the longer routes and takes eight fantastic days.
You enjoy a totally unforgettable nature experience. The gate is located in the rainforest, which means that you walk through dense forest along paths surrounded by all manner of sounds. You don’t see all that many animals, but you are in no doubt that they are there. As the days go by, the landscape changes to medium-high bushes, and eventually you get to what is known as the lunar landscape with its low bushes that barely go up to your knees. The porters race past every day – they have to reach the next camp before us to put up the tents, cook etc.
The food is so delicious and everything is really professional. They’ve thought of everything, and we always feel safe. The guides take good care of us and take our blood pressure and check the acid level in our blood every night with a small meter that you put on your finger.
Before reaching basecamp, we climb to altitudes of up to 4,600 metres a couple of times so that our bodies can get used to it.
Basecamp, the place where you set up camp on the day/evening before the last push to the top, is situated at an altitude of 4,600 metres. From here, there is a climb up to 5,895 metres, and this takes place at night, so that you can reach the top in time to see the sunrise.
We were woken up at 11 pm and given tea, biscuits and popcorn, and an hour to get ready. We started to walk at midnight and it was really hard! The first part of the way is on stone and gravel – that was okay – but you could feel the altitude, and your energy is quickly used up. You have to eat something at least every hour (take a stash of energy bars and nuts with you – they’re worth their weight in gold). Higher up, there was snow and ice on the ground, and the terrain was uneven. The breaks were very short due to the cold. Halfway up, I felt that there was no way I would be able to do it. Then my guide offered to carry my backpack – it felt insanely heavy, as if I had a 10 kg stone on my back, but in fact it weighed no more than 3 kg. If he hadn’t taken it, I don’t know if I’d have made it.
I did not suffer from altitude sickness at any point, and when we were nearing Stella Point, I had a burst of energy. By that time, we had been walking for five hours and were beginning to approach the finish line. Only one hour to go! At this point, however, my friend began to suffer. I think she threw up around five times before we finally reached the top. The last stretch was easy terrain. There was snow, but it is was nice and even, and the sun was starting to rise. I felt completely high. What an amazing feeling it was to be up there and see the sun slowly rising over the mountain! Fuelled by renewed energy, I started taking a lot of pictures. My friend really wasn’t feeling good, but I eventually got her up on her feet and we took some pictures together.
It was really tough to get to the top, but I did it and I feel so proud. I wouldn’t have missed this experience for the world – it was worth all the hardship.
Would I do it again? If you’d asked me when I’d just got home, the answer would have been “never again”, but now that some time has gone by, I would say “perhaps”.
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