Kilimanjaro 1 – Nalemoru Village to 2nd Cave Camp
Kilmanjaro 1 – On 01.07.12 my son, daughter, daughter-in-law and myself set off from the UK to travel to Tanzania in East Africa in an attempt to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Mt. Kilimanjaro is the highest walkable, free standing mountain in the world, at 5,895 metres/19,341 ft. Due to the height it presents problems with altitude sickness, also known as AMS (acute mountain sickness). This can happen from around 2,000 metres/6,500 ft, although most people can ascend to 2,400 metres/ 8,000 ft without any problems.
AMS manifests itself with headaches, nausea, loss of appetite, fatigue, flu like symptoms, nosebleeds and peripheral edema (swelling of the hands, feet and face). Also in serious cases, H.A.P.E. (high altitude pulmonary edema – fluid in the lungs) and H.A.C.E. (high altitude cerebral edema – swelling of the brain), both of which are potentially fatal.
Altitude is graded as follows –
High Altitude – 1,500 metres to 3,500 metres/5,000 ft to 11,500 ft.
Very High Altitude – 3,500 metres to 5,500metres/11,500 ft to 18,000 ft.
Extreme Altitude – above 5,500 metres/18,000 ft.
The only way to tackle altitude sickness is acclimatisation by ascending slowly. This is why we chose a 6 day trip rather than the normal 5 days for this route.
Our choice of the African Walking Company, through the Africa Travel Resource agency, proved a wise choice and comes highly recommended for their knowledge and professionalism. We certainly couldn’t have chosen a better company.
After travelling for almost 20 hours, with 3 flights and a 2 hour car journey, we finally arrived at our hotel and had a quick dinner and a pre-walk briefing. Then it was to bed before being picked up and transported to the starting point of Kilimanjaro 1, after another 3 hour land rover journey.
The starting point of Kilimanjaro 1 was in Nalemuru village. This was where we met our leading guide Charles, his assistants Damas, Senani and our cook Meshack. Altogether, including the guides, cook and porters, we had 21 staff looking after the 4 of us.
On Kilimanjaro 1, we started the first days trek around mid-day, and after an hour, stopped for a lunch break at a convenient table in the woods. We watched the porters with their huge loads hurry quickly past and felt sorry for them with all the weight they had to carry. It was an uneventful climb, with our guide Damas, apart from distributing sweets to the local children.
We finally arrived at the Moorland Camp, where our tents had already been erected by the porters. We had gained 650 metres/2,132 ft of ascent today and were now at an altitude of 2,600 metres/8,530 ft. This was just above the level when altitude sickness can start to show effects.
After a wash, the Tanzanians called it ‘washy, washy’, we entered the mess tent for our evening meal. This was delicious, especially the soup, which was to become an highlight of the trip and far superior to any restaurant fare. Then it was early to bed after a game of cards.
The following morning we were awakened with hot drinks and after another ‘washy, washy’, breakfast was consumed and then it was back on the track to the 2nd Cave Camp. Soon we were overtaken by the smiling, cheerful and friendly porters who were on their way to set up camp for the 2nd night.
On this second day of Kilimanjaro 1 I started to show symptoms of altitude sickness. I was already suffering from a cold caught the previous weekend. I suddenly had no energy whatsoever and had to make constant stops for a rest. Our head guide Charles came to the rescue and despite having an enormous load on his back already, carried my rucksack as well. This helped me but it was still a task to walk uphill, with little energy left in the tank.
We got used to the guides instructions in Swahili of ‘pole, pole’ (slowly, slowly) and eventually reached the 2nd Cave Camp. This was after a 850 metre/2,788 ft ascent to reach an altitude of 3,450 metres/11,318 ft.