Kilimanjaro Lemosho Route: Day 1

Today was a good beginning. Starting with a carb loaded breakfast, I met my group and we all piled into the van that took us to the mountain. Thus began the Kilicoaster: the van often encountered bumpy roads with plenty of ruts and other vehicles needing to share the limited space. At some points, the van seemed in danger of tipping...and yet resourceful porters managed to hang on to the back ladder for brief lifts.

After several hours of driving, we arrived at the gate to check in. We filled out the required paperwork (noticing some interesting "professions" listed, like prostitute...they're very thorough in ensuring accurate reporting) and ate our lunches. Then we got back on the bus and headed for the route trailhead, with even more time on the Kilicoaster.

The route starts in a rainforest at around 2,360 meters (7,742 feet), with beautiful trees and scattered wildlife (monkeys and birds being the most common). We hiked for ~3 hours over moderate up and down slopes, ending our trek in an already prepared camp at 2,895 meters (9,498 feet). Our porters had already heated water for us to wash with and were working on an excellent dinner.

Over dinner, our group discussed backgrounds and motiviations and it was quite clear we would have an interesting time. Every continent but South America and Antarctica was represented. We had people that have swam with sharks, scaled Mont Blanc in a storm, survived avalanches, spent time working in the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo and more. Jobs as varied as restaurant owners, sous chef at the Games Workshop kitches, vice-consul at the Kuwait embassy, driver development lead at Microsoft, the first female motorcycle cop from New Zealand (now making sure employees of her company in SE Asia are following the rules) and so on. Experience levels ranging from never having gone camping through regular solo mountaineering in the Cascades, and the guides have as many as 460 Kilimanjaro climbs each under their belts. Maximum altitudes spanned from sea level through Everest basecamp. All-in-all, a little of everything. And nice, funny, fun-loving people overall. Likely to be a great trip!

Oh, and waking up in the middle of the night in the hope that the clouds would clear out was well worth it: the stars were bright and beautiful.

Next entry.