ABOUT MOUNT KILIMANJARO
Kili is not for the faint of heart. At 19,341 feet above sea level, this dormant volcano beckons adventure seekers from around the globe.
Trekking to the summit is an arderous challenge. Due to it’s length and steep elevation gains, routes up Kili last between 4 to 8 days. Guides and porters are required, and their stamina and fitness is admired by many trekkers.
The final push to the summit at Uhuru Point commences in the middle of the night. Trekkers rise and dress in the cold, with hardly any sleep. Many struggle through side effects of oxygen deprivation (headache, shortness of breath, loss of appetite, nausea). Despite it all, they’ve come this far and so they start marching in the pitch black darkness, one step at a time, with headlamps illuminating only a few inches ahead. Legs cramp and feet feel heavy like lead. It’s a monumental effort just lifting and advancing each and every step. The final push to the summit is a mental feat as much as physical and the constant reminders of ‘Pole Pole’ (‘Slow, Slow’ in Swalili) rings out amidst heavy breathing and boots slipping on gravel.
Finally, the summit comes into view as dawn breaks. Bodies become invigorated. Tears freeze on cheeks as cold wind whips and stirs up euphoria of finally, finally conquering the mountain.
After the jubilation and obligatory photos are snapped, the descent begins. Some trekkers are so focused on overcoming altitude sickness and the physical effort of mountain climbing that they forget they need to get back down! It’s downhill and provides for more oxygen, but strenuous just the same. The final night is on the descent and spent celebrating with the guides and porters singing songs in Swahili.
Back at base, you’ll see filthy, glowing faces and hear the common refrain, “The best thing I’ll never do again.”