Woke up 7 am before the alarm. I had everything organized already so quick “last” shower (there are no showers on the mountain except downhill at Horombo camp 5 nights and 6 days from now…) and off to breakfast.
Few photos at the lodge of everyone and their baggage and off to the bus for a three hour ride to Rongai gate which was our starting point for the journey up.
First I thought why would it take three hours, but seeing the condition of the roads, amount of traffic and condition of the car fleet I completely understand why it takes so long. There was so much going on, kids going to school and people walking on the roadside.
The soil was really red, a bit like Australia, but not quite as deep red. Vegetation in general reminded me of Australia. We were after all close to the equator and in hot and humid climate.
It was also surprising how high we were to start with. Our hotel (Weru Weru lodge) was around 1000 m above sea level already and now we drove up to 2463 m to Rongai gate. There is not a single place anywhere close to where I live that would be 1000 m high let alone 2400 meters. I would need to go all the way to the Alps about 2500 kilometers away to find such heights.
Clear to say that the starting point was already high for me so felt a bit nervous on how it all would affect me.
When we arrived to the gate I was genuinely surprised at how many people there was to greet us. I thought they must be for multiple groups, but no, everyone just for us. I felt bad about other people carrying my stuff and that I was getting off too “lightly” but it’s their job and they do it just as I do mine. But still I felt like I should have packed a little less to my duffel bag…
First leg 4,59 kilometers and 304 ascent
First part of the trek was through a rain forest going uphill the time with +30 degrees high humidity meaning I was sweating too much. I tried to drink as much as I could but since I am not used to this kind of heat it just wasn’t enough and I could feel my head starting to pound of either the lack of oxygen or just dehydration.
Tummy wasn’t feeling too well either, it’s the different bacteria in a different country. It was manageable and no need for other pills apart from natural Pre- and Probiotic which helped after a few days.
We arrived at the first camp called Simba camp around 2 pm where all our tents were already put up and ready. Our crew greeted us with song and dance to which they invited us to join. It was fun and a great way to welcome us to the camp relax the atmosphere a bit. We learned to look forward to these song and dance parties. We also learned the Kilimanjaro song pretty quick!
Food was absolutely delicious and we got to know our crew better. We took our first oxygen saturation and pulse readings and LLS score (The Lake Louise score to assess acute mountain sickness). Mine was still 96%, but pulse was a bit higher than normal (91). It did go down before the morning to min. 47 on my sports watch so wasn’t really worried. I also had a bit of headache, but now I know it was only because or dehydration and cleared off once I got some food and more water in me. I learned later to recognize the “high altitude” headache…
Around 9:30 pm I was already knackered and it was also pitch dark. I fell asleep fairly easily with a 6:30 am wake up to head to our next camp, Second cave about 3400 m.