We packed up all our things at the hotel, loaded onto a bus and drove for around 2-hours out to the mountain. The road was bouncy and dusty, and as we neared the mountain, my heart rate kept increasing with nervous excitement.
We arrived at the registration gate, organized our daypacks, filled our water containers, and officially signed into the mountain. No turning back now! I watched all the porters divvy up our larger packs, food and equipment. Everything had to be weighed as they were only allowed to carry a maximum of 25kg (with our stuff only allowed to weigh 15kg). These guys are the true superheroes of Kilimanjaro. Then everything was placed into waterproof bags, loaded back onto the van, and then we drove another 45 minutes to the starting point.
We ate some lunch, grabbed a group photo, and then we were off. It was steep right out of the gate. The man-made, wooden-framed staircase led us up into the jungle. We would be hiking for about 3-5 hours today through the rainforest section of the trail. If it weren’t for the beautiful scenery I would have thought I was back in the gym climbing a Stairmaster.
I could feel the humidity press in around me the moment we got on the trail. With trees towering overhead and brush covering the jungle floor, save for the path we were walking on, there wasn’t much of a breeze. There also wasn’t much in the way of animal life to be seen except for a few black and white coloured monkeys hanging out in a tree.
I was surprised by the pace. It was slow. Like REALLY slow. I actually felt like it may have been easier on the body if we had picked up our pace a bit, but seeing as this was our very first day on the mountain, there was no point in overexerting ourselves already. For the most part, the trail was a steady incline but in a few spots we would descend a bit and the trail would even out, a welcomed change.
Every 45minutes to an hour we would stop to take a break. We didn’t have much time to rest. The breaks were mainly used to go to the bathroom, grab a snack, and check on our water pouches.
As slow as our pace seemed to everyone, we made it to camp in 3 hours, the shortest amount of time expected! It was a bit of a surprise to everyone when we rounded a bend and could see tents set up. Many of us expected to be on the trail for another hour or so. The camp was called Big Tree Camp, with an elevation of 9,100 feet above sea level.
We signed in and were then immediately briefed on how things worked in camp. Firstly, every tent had a number. We would choose a tent, remember our number, and then every campsite moving forward, that tent would be ours. Secondly, we were instructed to set up the interior of our tents (sleeping pads and bags) and change out of our daily hiking clothes. The porters would come around with a warm bowl of water, which we could use to wash up with. We would then be given some time to relax with a snack (popcorn today!) and coffee, tea, and/or hot chocolate.
Our main guide, Rhiannon also briefed us on the toilet situation in camp. I’m going to save this explanation and demonstration for an upcoming video. I promise, it’s not that bad!
About 20 minutes before dinner, we all piled into the dining tent. Rhiannon briefed us on what to expect for day 2, including what kind of temperatures to prepare for, how much water we would need, and how long we would likely be on the trail for. We were all starving by the time dinner arrived. We were served cucumber soup, stir-fried vegetables, potatoes, tilapia, and mangos for dessert. It was delicious!
All in all, day 1 was a great introduction to the rest of our climb. It was challenging at times but I found it very manageable. I had to keep reminding myself to consume water while we hiked, as it was easy forget while chatting with everyone along the trail. But I felt really good physically and was excited for Day 2!
Have any questions about Day 1 on Kilimanjaro’s Lemosho Route? Let me know in the comments below!
Come back again next week for Episode 2 of my Kilimanjaro video series!