Kilimanjaro Trek - Eyewittness Account
My personal trip to Kilimanjaro started in my imagination many years before, but, its physical manifestation began in Capetown South Africa in June 1994. I had just chucked my job and bought a one way ticket to Africa to find out how the other 80% of the world lives. Two and a half months later I would be standing nervously at the Machame Gate at the base of Kilimanjaro. I had worked my way north from Capetown through the deserts and savannahs of South and East Africa to bring the trip to its hopeful culmination; the peak of Kilimanjaro; the rooftop of Africa!
Our expedition numbered 8 climbers from 5 different countries: Nigel was a Brit who had also quit his job to do a bit of traveling. Andrei, was a quiet young bloke from Norway. Canada was represented by the high-strung traveler Annie who was always talking about shadow puppets from Indonesia or something about the “amazing” masks in Mexico City. [In retrospect I really appreciate her enthusiasm and have since seen the Mayan death masks of Mexico, which are really “amazing”, but at the time she had way of getting on your nerves].
To get to Arusha we had an overnight drive from Dar es Salam. The road was the most ruined and rutted out road I had ever driven on. Due to this, we were forced to drive very slowly. In fact, we were going so slowly that bandits were able to carefully and quietly hop on the back of the truck in the dark. They climbed the small ladder to the roof and began throwing equipment in order to steal it Greg, the assistant driver heard the slight shuffling above and popped the roof hatch just in time to see the “perps” jump off the roof to escape. We drove back in the dark and Greg had the courage to go rummage in around the side of the road in the dark underbrush and managed to find our camp stove and one of our tents. Unfortunately the eight foot high carved wood giraffe that Annie had bought was smashed into three pieces. [This trip was 1993 so when I returned 10 years later I was impressed to see a beautiful paved road recently built with Danish financial contributions and engineers and must be one of the best roads in East Africa.]
From Arusha we made our way to the small town of Moshi to coordinate our expedition. After a day and a half of preparations we set off from the base camp at about 6,000 feet. In a human frenzy at the trailhead, our leader selected 3 assistant guides and 11 porters from the frantic mob of desperate job seekers. The porters, of course, carried most of our stuff which required 4 porters), food stores required another 4 porters, and their own blankets and food required another 3 porters. Plus we had 2 guides; Modesto and Chris, who's main role was leading us for the “assault “ on the peak on summit day. (Also I forgot to mention