Cimbing Mount Kilimanjaro - showing myself, I can do ANYTHING!

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So to say I was apprehensive would be an understatement. Arriving in Moshi off the plane I was taken to my hotel and told they would collect me the next day for the equipment check and then I could hire what I didn’t have. Kilimanjaro Wonders Hotel was lovely and I enjoyed the little bit of luxury after having lived a little more basic for a while. Movies and room service was my spoil and it was great – even the W-Fi was a treat to me. The truly best part though, was the view from the rooftop bar of the peak of Kilimanjaro. Tears filled my eyes and a wave of awe washed over me, it was beautiful and HUGE. I was actually going to climb to the top of this?! I had never with my own eyes seen such a big mountain; it was like something from a movie!

View from Kilimanjaro Wonders Hotel

View from Kilimanjaro Wonders Hotel

I met Gladys from Gladys Adventures the next day, as well as Ron who had answered my millions of questions over the last few months. I then got kitted out with Nelson, he went through all of my existing kit and then we compiled a list of what I needed to hire. We had a hilarious time selecting thermals, waterproof trousers, a down coat, gloves etc; I didn’t know hiring kit would be so funny, it reminded me of playing dressing up when I was little. Nelson then took me to the supermarket where I could buy any items I needed for the trip, plus treats for the summit night especially. £40 down and I had a huge sack of stuff; thank goodness I wasn’t carrying all my stuff myself. I felt bad for the porters but he assured me that I needed all this stuff and this was their job.

The next morning I met Ray and Marcel, the 2 guys who had let me join their group for the climb (this way we had company and also all saved money). There was laughter and jokes flying from the word go so I knew we would have a blast. They also got kitted out and I won the competition of hiring the least stuff, which was pretty shocking seeing as I was the one who had already been travelling and volunteering for 4 months.

So, now it was time. I got all my kit out in my room to pack it in my duffel bag, and sat on the end of the bed and all of a sudden it hit me, I’ve actually made this happen, I’m about to set off to achieve one of my lifelong dreams, and at the same time raise money for 2 amazing charities! More tears and a feeling of achievement already, that I was really making things happen and was so blessed to have the opportunities that I do. Now time to sleep, if I could!

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Day One

I met the guys at breakfast as we tried to fill our bellies that already were full of butterflies. We all had no idea what to expect really, just had to go with the flow. Gladys Adventures came to collect us at 8.30am and took us to the office where all the kit was being compiled. There was a bus full of people outside and I didn’t register that these were our porters. I asked where the bus was going and was answered ‘Up the mountain’, which is when the penny dropped; these were the guys (and girl) who would carry our stuff up the mountain. I greeted them, their response was awesome, big cheers and smiles all round J

We headed off into the National Park and after about an hour we were dropped at the gate. I called Mum on the way and that got me all teary; another realisation moment that I was really going to do this, I was really going to climb MOUNT KILIMANJARO, Africa’s highest peak and the tallest free-standing mountain on the planet!

We gathered with the guides, had a photo and headed off into the rainforest. I wondered what all the people were doing all queued up and were told they were all the porters from other trips too and were weighing out the stuff and deciding who carries what. This was my first experience of how strong these people are. So to put it in perspective; we carried a 5kg or slightly more pack with 3L water, food and waterproofs etc, whereas they carried up to 20kg and most had their own bag too so they carried the duffel bags on their heads. They put the duffel bags and kit inside huge waterproof sacks and balanced on their heads or neck or on top of their backpack – amazing!

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6-7 hours flew by which is pretty impressive as we were walking up a steep rainforest path, not too quick, or “Pole Pole” (pronounced poley poley and it means Slowly Slowly). It began to rain as we got about half an hour from the camp, the waterproofs came out; we were very glad to get to the tents and know it was time for some hot food.

FOOD

I have to explain how brilliant the food was on the mountain. The chef was cooking on a small gas hob and open fire in a tent kitchen, and he managed to whip up the most delicious vegan meals. The first night straight away showed us how this was going to be, when they brought us soup with fresh bread, then an enormous silver plate of pasta and vegetables, a chickpea tagine and meat for the guys, followed by banana fritters. Wow. And here was me trying to lose some weight! We didn’t eat half of it but were told that it wouldn’t go to waste.

Chickpea tagine!

Chickpea tagine!

The meals continued to be like this all through the week, I have to rave about it because I was shocked that this kind of service could be delivered 4000m up. We were tired from the walk, that they had all done too and then still managed to prepare a meal, put up tents, lay a table and bring us warm water to wash. Examples of what we had:

Breakfast – fresh tropical fruit, quinoa porridge with toast and chapatis served with jam, margarine and an array of hot drinks. The guys got eggy bread (French toast to you Yanks) and sausages too.

Lunch – packed lunches wit homemade pasties, fresh fruit, muffins, veggie crudités.

Dinner – fresh soup with bread or half cake (like a donut type bread), some sort of bean/lentil/chickpea stew, which were all delicious, with rice or pasta or chips and vegetables. Plus a little meat for the guys. They enjoyed the veggie stuff so much that they said not to have meat after a few days.

After eating we settled in our tents. We were told that there were jackals around so to make sure we used our torch if we needed to use the toilet tent. Yes you read right – toilet tent.

Q: Should I pay for a private toilet to be brought with us up the mountain?

YES! Now I’m pretty hardy to this kind of stuff, not squeamish, and can wee behind a bush as good as the best, but this was the best decision we made! After having used the long drops in Uganda, I knew I didn’t want to use the busy over-used ones on the side of the mountain, and when we got there my choice was confirmed to have been a good one. The toilets were obviously only in one place in the camp, which being quite large camps, were often quite far from where we were camping; not fun in the middle of the night in the dark. Add to that tired legs to squat over a hole, and the stench from these kind of toilets, and you get a not-appealing option. Having said that, they have cleaners who look after the toilets and they are building new ones too so it’s not the end of the world if you don’t but I had happy toilet times, which is more than I can say for some I’m sure. Oh and we had the most fabulous porter Peter,  whose responsibility was to carry the toilet and keep it maintained - he was one the happiest men I have ever met and we all quickly made friends.

 

Day 2

After a nice sleep and 2 night toilet visits (due to the Diamox, see my later comments about this), we got ready, had a great breakfast and headed off into alpine desert.

I had read that the walk was like a David Attenborough (a brilliant documentary presenter for those of you who don’t know he is, you’re missing out!) documentary and they weren’t lying. From day 1 rainforest, now to alpine desert, then tundra, then…it was stunning!

We had a steeper but shorter (5 hours) day and arrived at ………camp for lunch. Whilst we waited for lunch I decided to do some yoga, which quickly turned into a lesson for porters and fellow teammates alike. They were great students and it caused a lot of fuss in the camp with people coming to take photos and watch, one guy even joined in! The porters must have enjoyed it because the next day they asked for it again as their muscles were aching; it is a great way to keep muscles long and ease tension.

After we finished one guy came over to say how impressed he was and how fit I must be to do that after a full days walking. We all got chatting and he told us the sad story that he was actually doing the walk in memory of his friend who had died the week before on the Baranco Wall (day 4s big ascent). He had got High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) and they couldn’t get him down quick enough. He had come all the way from Pakistan to honour him. What an amazing guy, but what a tragic story. This hit us hard and you could tell there was some fear brewing after hearing this, but we all had a talk after and agreed to keep spirits high and not worry unnecessarily. On average close to one person dies every month on the mountain (10 per year) but 30,000 people climb each year, and so the odds are in our favour. This does however hit home how brutally honest we must all be with our guides, any small thing, tell them, they’re the ones who will save your life. On this note I must add how attentive our guides were at checking our health and wellbeing. Not just asking us, but really watching us. Every night after diner Eric (our head guide) would check our status with a checklist he had. This asked if we had a headache, being sick, had diarrhoea etc (this is no place to be shy haha). He also tested our oxygen levels and asked us from 1-10 how we felt. I remained at an 8 or 9 for the whole time, apart from the night of day 4 when I felt tired and was a 7. We all scored well and it became a competition to see whose oxygen stats were the best. Marcel was predictably the worst as he is a smoker and started at 80 as opposed to the mid-90s that Ray and I started at. The guides even noticed when I developed a cough, they culd recognise it was just the cold and being tired, as opposed to anything sinister. But they really do watch, it made me feel very safe.

It began to rain after lunch so we had time for a nap and some time to reflect on the journey so far. The next day was going to the longest day we were told as we climbed up to …..camp, which is 4600m, for lunch to acclimatise and then onto our next camp, ……… camp at 3800m.

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Day 3

We did our longest walk on day 3 and were all fine with the altitude of 4600m atLava Tower Camp and happily ate our packed lunch, which was a good sign apparently. It was a sunny day, but cold in the wind and shade, so I was playing a game of layers on and layers off, much to everyone else’s amusement. The bushes were now running out as the altitude increased, which meant I now had to hunt for rocks to hide behind to use the toilet. This could sometimes mean I was walking further than everyone else to walk out to some rocky area but it always seemed to work out. And might I add; the views were amazing. A lot of the time I would be on the edge of where we were ascending (not right on the edge, don’t worry Mum), but this meant unseen and undisturbed views, and all alone. So being a girl and needing to run off alone several times a day proved to be a positive thing. Every cloud as they say :)

We got to the camp with a real sense of achievement that these days were fun packed and full of beautiful nature, and that we weren’t absolutely dying. For walking for 8 hours nearly all uphill you would think we would be really knackered, but it was manageable and the days didn’t drag at all. This can be credited to the guides for their songs and stories, and also to the guys and I for our long debates and our matching silly sense of humour.  Ray made me cry with his many comments such as “Is this even a trail?” when we would almost constantly come to an area of rocks either going up or down that really didn’t seem like a path or even a passable way! He would also comment on how unstable he was, which was pretty funny when perching on the side of a huge peak, and both of us enjoyed teasing Marcel!

By now the little things were really noticeable; the warm water that one of the porters Gerard brought us to wash with in the morning and when we arrived at the camp after a days walking; the hot water there for a cup of tea when we arrived; the mega thermal sleeping bags that we had been provided with (boy was it cold at night); the smiles that all the porters gave us when we arrived each day, cheering us on day by day.

Day 4

The last 2 nights I had been really cold and unable to sleep for quite some time even with nearly all my clotes on, hat and gloves and scarf and inside a -29°C sleeping bag with a silk liner in it. Once I get cold I can’t warm up and even since the first night it had been cold and had gotten progressively colder. I wasn’t too tired though and we set out to climb the Barranco Wall, then onto Karanga Camp. We had decided that as we were doing so well, we would then press on after lunch to Barafu Camp; our base camp before the ascent. On the 7 day walk that we had signed up for we would normally rest at Karanga Camp and then go to Barafu Camp on Day 5 to ascend to the peak on Day 6, but it was the same altitude as the previous night’s camp and we were all fit and well so we decided to do another long day on Day 4 and ascend on the morning (well it’s actually the very early hours, so the night of day 4) of Day 5, therefore summiting A DAY EARLY, WAHOOO!. This would mean we would leave a little later at 2.30am on day 5 early hours rather than the 12.30am start that is common, because we wouldn’t have been able to sleep as early as normal, as we would still be walking until 6 or 7pm. So we would wake at 1.30am and leave at 2am –ish. I was excited to push on and felt great apart from tired. The daily yoga was doing wonders for my hips and back, which I was concerned may have been an issue.

First we had to ascend the huge cliff wall of rock next to our camp included in another 7-8 hour walk. So we set off, and boy was this wall steep! We had to use hands at some parts and so Pole Pole was really the only way to move here. It was also at 4300m and so we easily go out of breath with every over exertion and so took things slow-ish. It was hard. The porters even slowed down somewhat for this part of the ascent but still steamed past us even though we had left after them! The views when we got to the top were amazing, as they were on every day, breath-taking beauty as a reward for our climb. We continued on quite a way after this until we reached the camp for lunch.

Chips and veg as a treat for lunch and then a steep ascent after, which made the chips feel like a dead weight in my stomach and definitely a mistake! This felt hard and the last push to Barafu Camp was really just that; a push. Steep, lots of big rocks to step up and just up and up. Now I was really tired for the first time and longed for the camp chairs! It kept seeming further and further and even when we got to the camp we had to sign in at the office, and then walk another kilometre or so to find our tents. I went straight in and lay down – we were finally here at base camp but boy did we work for it. And the hardest was yet to come! Luckily the excitement and apprehension had kicked in so I was keen to do it J

Legs strong, but head game stronger!

This is the part where I really say what I think gets you up here, and then up THERE! Yes, your body must be strong, your legs need to be trained, your back and shoulders need to be used to a pack, because if not then the all day every day ascent is going to DRAG, and probably even not be do-able. I disagree with things I have read that anyone can do this, yes anyone can, but as long as they are in the right state of body and state of mind. If you are weak and don’t ever walk long distances for long hours then your legs will be in shock, you may pull muscles, and at best they will ache a lot, and so when it’s time to walk again early the next morning, you are starting on sore legs; that just isn’t going to work. In my opinion yoga and stretching did wonders for me. I didn’t really have any aching until we came down from the summit day and that is really a miracle as I walked more uphill than I ever had and EVERY DAY for the week. So yeh, I don’t think coming unprepared is the way to go. If you want to enjoy the stunning views and the experience then be at one with your body, be it’s friend and get strong!

Now for the equally and perhaps more important part, your head. If you think you won’t do it, then you won’t. Or maybe you will be lucky enough to have guides that will drag you, but your head game has got to be on form. This might sound weird, but I read a lot before I went about other people’s accounts of how they felt and what they did to prepare, and I don’t think I read one that talked about making sure you are mentally there, as well as the physical preparation. I wanted to climb Kili for years, literally about 19 years since I first saw a challenge that Born Free were doing at age 12. I was at the time probably too young and then I had a couple of years of being very anaemic, and the story goes on. But I finally got there. Now that means I had a LOT of time to dream, visualise, imagine and pray that one day I would do it. So of course I was going to get to the top. Yes I could have got altitude sickness and had to come down; no amount of manifesting can stop nature necessarily. But I knew that wasn’t going to happen, and not just a kind of hope, I KNEW. This is the power of the mind. I am one who struggles with doubts and low self confidence, and I know what you’re all thinking, I’m confident socially and an extrovert and seem like I just get on with it, but I don’t. Yes I have a natural confidence for meeting people and saying what I think and getting stuff done, but deep inside I limit myself. My life can and will be so much more as I work on these. BUT the most important lesson I learnt climbing this mountain, was that when I put my mind to something I CAN DO ANYTHING AND NOTHING CAN STOP ME. I used to believe this stuff, and had seen it work in my life, but this was so blatantly in my face having worked! I knew that this is a lesson, one I want to share, and one I want to continue to remember and practice. I knew I was getting to that peak, and I would have bet my whole life on it :-D

DAY 5

As we tried to sleep after a quick dinner, the excitement rose in me and that and the altitude meant I slept very little and broken; I was so fidgety to get going but told my body and mind I needed to rest. When the call came from Gerrard to wake up at 1.30am I was so ready and nearly jumped out of my tent. I swear this mindset made the difference. As we set off in the pitch black only guided by our headlamps looking at the floor and the feet in front of us, I wondered how the guides knew their way, it was just rocks and scree and UP; pretty impressive. We were wrapped up in layers. I didn’t wear my huge ski pants as I knew I would get hot walking, but 2 thermal layers and waterproofs on top to block out the wind seemed to do the job, plus 2 pairs of socks which meant I could barely move my toes; a non-important issue right now. My head and hands were the cold parts, balaclava, scarf and big hat, plus gloves and waterproof big gloves and now I looked like I was ready for the arctic. This did however mean I couldn’t do anything as the big waterproof gloves were mittens. I couldn’t even tuck in my sleeves into the gloves; Eric and Simon saved the day and helped with every little thing we needed, they even carried our spare water in their backpacks and tucked my hair into my balaclava when the wind was whipping it into my face. I walked behind Eric, he set the steady pace and although it was all up, it felt do-able, for now. Regular peeing due to the Diamox was a bit of an issue at this point, no rocks and no bushes?! But luckily it was pitch black so I was told to go ahead of the group and turn off my head torch – voila, a solitary private toilet space haha. This was an experience. Later on when the sun had come up I actually had an amazing view over Africa whilst heading for the toilet around the corner of the mountain all alone! All we could see as we walked were what looked like little glow flies ahead, but were actually people who had started before us doing the longer trek. We passed one big group so we must have been going at a good pace. It was hard to breathe unless you went slow and got into a rhythm but luckily it wasn’t made worse by the wind, which sometimes can be very strong or even bring blizzards. The wind kept us cold and when we stopped we felt the -18°C temperature. We had a few mini breaks for ginger biscuits, dark chocolate and a sit down, anywhere. As we continued we realised the sun was coming up, the time had gone quicker than I though and it was now nearly 6am. We took a proper few minutes to break to coincide with taking some pics of the sunrise over the Mwenzi peak and over the African Savannahs. My first tears as the view literally blew me away. I’m crying writing this now remembering it, it will stay with me forever. Ray asked Eric if we could stay and watch the sunrise, he got a blunt no, and a “let’s go, get up” to keep us moving.

By this point Ray was struggling, I think Marcel was too as they lagged a bit behind me and Eric and the stops got a little more frequent. The sun was now up and this kind of made it harder as we could see some of where we had to go, and even that part seemed so far away. We continued on and reached our second proper (which meant a few minutes) break point, I slipped as I tried to sit on the rock, ended up on the floor and started crying. It was really hard now and tiredness was really starting to hit my body. I let myself have a little moment and then took some deep breaths and looked at where we had already come. I said at this point I didn’t want to break anymore if possible, and just to plod on, stopping actually seemed harder because you then had to get going again! We were told we were close to Shiva Point; the last point before the summit – YES!

When we reached Shiva Point Ray really had me laughing at his hilarious disbelief that this wasn’t yet the top. This then turned not so funny as he said he couldn’t go on anymore. A lot of people actually do stop at this point as it can seem almost an impossible struggle to carry on and feels like the top. We encouraged him and told him he could and the guides said it was probably 30 minutes more – this seemed like a lot to me too, but it was the last stretch and so I got my fifth wind, not second or third or fourth, those had already happened haha!

We pushed on, as we greeted others walking the other way they were encouraging and friendly, telling us it wasn’t far and how well we were doing. We congratulated them and were given an extra boost of energy seeing the happiness, achievement and relief in their faces. Ray and Marcel asked to break and so we decided to split out, I went ahead with Simon and they would follow with Erick. There was still some more uphill to do which seemed a little like Mother Nature setting a real test to only allow those who could overcome the challenge of more incline to reach the prize of being on the top of Africa.

 

The prize in sight

And wow was it a prize. We came around a corner and Simon pointed to a dot in the diatnce, it was the sign at the highest point. I screamed back to Ray and Marcel that I could see it and it wasn’t far. I started to try to jog, Simon protested and I shortly could see why, I almost fainted from the lack of oxygen as my muscles tried to cope with the extra exertion! Ok, so a quick walk would be as quick as I could go, but now the end was ACTUALLY in sight and the adrenaline pumped through my body, I could almost taste it as everything within me woke up and pushed my muscles on; I felt like I floated the last part.

The BEST feeling in the world!

Ohhhh the feeling, I can’t put this into words of how good it felt to reach the sign and know I DID IT! I took the last few steps toward the top and the tears flooded in along with the strongest, most wonderful feeling of accomplishment I have ever felt in my life. All the years of waiting, all the wishing and visualising, and preparing, all the conversations with others and myself about meeting a challenge such as this; and I BLOODY DID IT! My whole body shuddered with sobs as I screamed this out over Africa. I literally was on top of the world (well Africa), and I felt it in every part of me. And even better; I was completely alone there, not one other person, just me and my guide on the highest point in Africa. This was the advantage of arriving after sunset; to soak this in and have solitude and peace in this magnificent place. Simon said “oh don’t cry” but I assured him these were happy tears of pure joy. I’m crying again writing this, I can feel the emotion and the aliveness whenever I relive it. This will forever be a place that I can go to, to show myself that I can do anything. Don’t doubt ourselves, just decide, plan, prepare and DO IT! On top of this, the beauty is beyond explanation. I could quite literally see over Africa, for miles and miles, stunning views over the savannahs and towns. There were glaciers on either side, towering above the snow, and the Mwenzi peak in the distance looking perfect in it’s fragile rocky state. I could stay up here forever, well I couldn’t because the altitude would eventually mess with me no doubt and we were nearly out of water and had only a few ginger nut biscuits left, but you get the sentiment.

The guys caught us up about 10 minutes kater, we cheered them on as we neared the end and we all hugged in celebration. We had some more photos with the sign (make sure we have proof and memories of this) and sat down to take it all in. We were joined shortly after by two American guys who had been travelling to different places and taking a random photo they said. They warned us to be ready and Ray asked if he was about to see more flesh than he wanted to, they replied “yes sorry buddy” and stripped down to their American flag pants. And when I say pants, I don’t mean American pants, I mean the U.K. version; underwear, and Y-fronts to be exact! What a shock. Well nice views all round at the top of Kilimanjaro haha.

So as we relaxed, we realised for the first time that we now had to walk all the way down this crazy climb that we had just done. It had not even occurred to me once really, I had been so focused on getting up, that I forgot that we then had to come back down. That sounds dumb but honestly it’s like your brain cleverly diverts attention from this daunting fact to ensure you only have the bits you need to worry about at the time. So we began. We were told we could walk slowly down the way we had came, or we could kind of slide down the scree on a different area that would be quicker but needed some courage; so we took that option. It was SO much fun, I felt like I was skiing as I let go and allowed myself to slide in the deep shingley sand. Thank goodness for gaiters (I heard some people saying they weren’t needed, but honestly I would have been stopping every few minutes to empty my shoes had I not had them on). Simon and I made headway, Ray had already expressed his dislike and difficulty in going down so they went at a steadier pace and we slid off going possibly a little too fats but my poles saved the day a few times. I realised I had really learnt to relax about a lot of things in the last few years, I remember really disliking sliding downhill like this in the past but somehow now I was whooping like I was on a ski slope.

It still took us about 2 hours to get most of the way down. We had by now ran out of water and so I was over the moon to see Gerrard and Peter waiting for us with mango juice about 30 minutes from the camp. What legends! They had walked uphill to come and join us to bring us a treat. Mango juice has never tasted so good, and gave me the boost I needed to plod on to the camp. When I arrived the porters were there to welcome me and I fell into my tent. I gathered by now I would be hungry seeing as we hadn’t eaten anything but little snacks and walked for 11 hours, but I was just utterly exhausted. I don’t think I have ever experienced this level of exhaustion. I tried to keep awake to hear Ray and Marcel arrive so I could welcome them. Nearly an hour later they arrived looking exactly how I felt; glad, but weary and almost not standing. We had a small celebration then were told we could sleep for half an hour, then eat lunch and then we would have to carry on down to the next camp. I didn’t know how this would be possible, but was aware that we wouldn’t rest well at this altitude and should do some of the walking down today to have a shorter day tomorrow. I kind of dozed but was almost so overtired that I couldn’t rest. I got up to eat but felt nauseous and could only stomach half a bowl of soup. Marcel stayed asleep so I packed him some chapatti and mini-bananas for the walk. We woke him to leave, he did not look impressed and we al agreed that we didn’t think this was possible, but as a team and with the guides help we gathered up enough energy to get on the move. And as soon as we started we actually felt a little better, it was like our bodies had gotten used to walking and this felt better than resting!

We walked on for 2 hours and reached High Camp at dinner time; great timing. I wanted to just go to sleep but the guides urged us to try to eat and then rest; good advice. Once we ate we felt immediately better and went off to sleep a lot happier than we had been a few hours previously.

 

DAY 6 - The rest of the walk down

The next day I imagined that it would be hard to wake up at our usual early time, I thought my body would slip into a deep rest and would be hard to keep moving, but it was fine. The porters and guides serenaded us with some songs with a backdrop of Kilimanjaro; an absolutely magical last morning with them; I couldn’t keep the tears back!

The excitement of getting down pushed us on and we enjoyed 5 hours walking down through the rainforest. We got to see colobus and blue monkeys on the way, which I had been wishing for; what a wonderful end to the week. The only not-great part was the blisters developing on the end of my toes, heels and sides of my feet from all the walking down. Strangely my thighs had begun to hurt too for the first time on the whole trip; it seems walking down is hard in a whole different way to walking up. I wasn’t even hungry, I just wanted to finish but focussed on keeping present and enjoying the surroundings and the moment. I walked ahead of Ray and Marcel, getting a good rhythm going with my sticks but nearer the end I waited for them so we could all finish together.

Last view of Kili

Last view of Kili

Reaching the last marker at the finish gate was AMAZING! It felt unreal; we had actually done it. We had climbed Kilimanjaro, 19,314 ft (5895M) over 6 days and come down strong and happy! Some adhoc yoga at the gate, hugs and photos and we were ready for our lunch that they cooked us behind the reception. And when I say lunch, I mean a full on meal on silver plates, which we had been spoiled with the whole trip! They served us Chagga, which is a local tribal dish of grains and vegetables in a thick sauce; it was delicious. After which we clambered in the van to head back to the office and the hotel for some much needed R&R, oh and a SHOWER- yipppeeeeee!

It was sad to say goodbye to the team of guides and porters, but after we had been presented with our certificate and paid our tips, we were ready for a wash and a lie down!

I have never enjoyed a shower so much, and the luxurious rooms were a great choice. I called my Mum immediately and couldn’t get through, they weren’t expecting me to be down a day early so I asked her to call me when she could. When she came on the phone I could tell that she thought something was wrong; she said she thought I must have been calling on the way up and struggling maybe. I told her I had done it and was down a day early; she was happy to say the least. Calls with the rest of my family and some friends were lovely, it was nice to touch base and feel the support of everyone who had been waiting to hear how I got on. I felt on top of the world.

Thanks to everyone who supported me and believed in me. I made one of my long-time dreams come true and it was so much better with you all with me!! Oh and we raised 1000 pounds to be split between 3 charities!! AMAZING!

 

I woke up the next day pretty achey and with black toe nails, but nothing could take away from how awesome it felt having achieved it and lived a dream. Next was a few days relaxing here and in Arusha waiting for my family to come and join me for safari and then Zanzibar – one lucky blessed woman over here!