I climbed Kili with 3 other friends, Thomas and Archy Fairhurst and Barclay Morison in July 2004. We chose the Lemosho route as this is slightly longer than other routes on the mountain and I hoped it would allow us more acclimatization time as we ascended more slowly. Alot of people get sick on Kilimanjaro as the altitude gain is so rapid and the Coca-Cola route especially see’s some people rush up in 5 days. 5 days to reach 5895m is not my idea of fun.
If you have the time I recommend picking a longer route like the Lemosho – or even acclimatising by climbing Mt Meru first before you get to Kilimanjaro. Mt Meru is 4565m tall and sits about 70km to the west of Kilimanjaro.
It is compulsory to take guides on Kilimanjaro, and we also used porters. We booked through M. K Safaris (Mr Musa is the owner). They did a good job and I was happy with their service. One small issue was that their chief guide (who performed well on the mountain with us), then started sending me emails on a monthly basis, ever since the climb. He still does at the time of this writing. Each email asks for money, for some various reason. Each of the reason’s is very tragic e.g. his wife’s shop burnt down. I did some background checking on this and was told my M.K Safaris that the stories were all fabricated and that the guide no longer is in their employee.
Kilimanjaro really is a very lavish style of trip, compared to what I am used to. Everything was carried for us, chairs and tables were at each camp with bowls of hot chocolate and popcorn waiting every time we arrived. I am not sure I would describe it as mountaineering – more kind of very posh hill walking! But it was nice for a change.
I felt very fit and strong for the first few days – however a brief burst of energy on day four as we trekked up to 4600m was a big mistake! I decided to race up to the summit of a small rock outcrop called Lava Tower. I spent the rest of the day with a huge headache and had a very big vomit that night. I never felt strong again for the rest of the trip and it was a struggle to get to the summit. Moral of the story is don’t push yourself too hard when you are acclimatising.
The trip is beautiful for the amazing views of the African plains, seeing the small towns of Arusha and Moshi and their interesting culture.