A hearty breakfast; last minute faffing and packing and we get to meet the crew – all 26 of them! One personal porter per climber; one chief guide and 1 deputy chief guide; 4 other official guides, chef and the rest are general porters and dog’s bodies. There is a lot of stuff to get up the mountain. Each climber has his own rucksack, which a porter will carry along with his own. Then there is all the food and water and cooking equipment; and all the waste that needs to be returned.
The team at the start - LTR: Techno Dave from Nigeria; Sherif "walks normally" the Egyptian; myself, Nutty Nettie; Kirsty the rescuer; Surfer babe Tessa; Naughty Nonto; Rose the chief organiser from Shell Kenya; Thoughtful Theuri and disappearing Peter.In front: Captain and Kili vet Lazarus; Ritalin kid Lynne and Duracell Dumi.
My personal porter; Nelson and I
Unsuspecting enthusiastic climbers at the start: LTR Tessa, Dumi, Kirsty, Nonto, Nettie, Dick, Dave
A short drive to the park gate and we officially sign in. This is a fairly time consuming process. There is a lot of labour exploitation in the park, so each porter / guide gets his load weighed. If it is at all over the allowed weight, contents will be randomly offloaded!
Team Faff and I
Some group photo posing and we are finally off. We are warned to go pole–pole (slowly) so as to acclimatise best. It is well known that the fit guys who show off by walking quickly on days 1 – 3, are the first to be overcome by altitude sickness on summit day.
Ominous notice at the start
It’s a beautiful walk through thick rain forest along a perfect footpath. Going pole-pole allows us to enjoy it even more and to get to know one another and bond as a group.
There is Dave, who was on his laptop at dinner last night and has a photo voltaic solar panel mounted on his rucksack to keep his cell phone and camera batteries charged – he earns the nickname Techno Dave.
There’s Sherif, the Egyptian, who talks like a pom and walks like anyone else.
There’s “Duracell” Dumisani, who is always up for a longer or more extreme route or an additional loop, and is always up ahead. Pole-pole; Dumi!!!
Then of course there’s Lynne. Initially nicknamed “Sandton Shopper” and later “Mall Rat” ‘cos we saw here briefly on Sunday morning , then she disappeared, apparently to go shopping in Marangu – not exactly a shopping destination, and then caught a taxi all the way to Moshe. Turns out she is so not like the city girl type – in fact quite the opposite. SCUBA diver; mountain biker, KLR 650 rider… she’s into everything. On top of that she is studying part time and breadwinner for her siblings – this gets her nicknamed Rita-Lynne (Ritalin) because she cant stand still – along with Dumi, always up front.
Let’s not forget Naughty Nonto – now here’s a city girl. When she first caught a glimpse of the mountain she could not believe that we were making her go all the way up there.
Together with Nettie, Tessa and Kirsty, the above 2 make up team faff. And boy, can they faff. But more about that later.
Luckily, there were the 3 Kenyans – Peter, Theuri and Lazarus – experienced kili climbers and level headed dudes. We were lucky to have Lazarus as our leader, always ready with a wise word or 2 and stabilising influence on the group.
Typical day 1 scenery - Elias, deputy chief sherpa, leads the route and determines the pace.
Rita-Lynne with giant 'shroom brolly
Giant tree in the rain forest
We really did take it “pole-pole” – what should be a 3 hour 7 km walk we stretched t 5 hours, including a lazy lunch in the forest. Towards the end of the walk, as we ascended, the trees were less tall and the sun started coming through. Then suddenly we were in a clearing and there was Mandara huts. A quick cup of tea and a wash and then a short walk to nearby Muandi Crater – an old extinct volcano. On the way up we once again passed through some thick forest and saw some colubus monkeys – it was important to spot these today because it was the last day of Movember – and these black and white monkeys sport long white beards and moustaches.
Sunset on the crater rim, and back to Mandara for dinner and an early night. Tomorrow, a longer walk
Tessa and "Poisoned" Charles (pronounced Chalice) (the chief guide) at Maundi Crater
Charles pointing out our destination from Maundi Crater as the sun sets over Kilimanjaro
I though I would just throw in this one of me at Maundi Crater also...
Read about Day 2 below; or go to http://dickinnairobi.blogspot.com/2009/12/day-2-mandara-to-horombo-3720-m-cape_24.html