Our first breakfast in Kilimanjaro consisted of omelets, hot dogs and fresh mango. I drowned myself in instant coffee because I knew my jet lag will kick back in later. Samuel and the crew waited for the three of us to pack which took about two more hours than originally planned. They let us linger then because in the next few days, waking up at 11pm to hike for eight hours will mean waking up, really, at 11pm to hike for eight hours.
From Machame Camp, the path was up, up and up! Godibless walked in front of us to make sure we wouldn’t go any faster. The trek was narrow and filled with everyone who was at camp the night before, so it was difficult to forge ahead even if we wanted to. The porters were also on the same path and we got used to stepping aside whenever we heard Jambo!
As we increased altitude–2,642 feet total–more flowers started to appear and from the top of large boulders, we saw the progress we made in just three hours. The mist let up and Kibo showed herself again with her snow-capped top. Samuel confirmed that there was definitely more snow ten years ago.
From our lunch spot, we could see Shira Plateau, the namesake of the next camp and the second peak in Kilimanjaro National Park. To her left was Meru Peak shrouded by pillowy clouds. It was a crazy view to behold while we ate Majengo’s packed lunch for us: fried chicken (God bless him!), a coleslaw sandwich, banana and mango juice.
The remaining two hours of the day’s trek were on smaller rocks but flat land. Along the way, we couldn’t help but pick up garbage other trekkers have left behind. The thought that even Kilimanjaro travelers would even think of throwing garbage on the ground appalled me. Aren’t we more educated and sophisticated travelers than this? Hikers who don’t care for their environment shouldn’t be really allowed to hike any more. For the next few days, I came to hate one particular brand of candy in yellow-blue foil wrapper.
It was cooler up in Shira Camp. It didn’t just feel like we were above the clouds–we were actually above the clouds! The camp was flat and open, and thankfully, the porters picked a spot where our tents were far away from everyone else’s. We later found out that they all know Samuel’s preference when selecting the group’s spot for the night and it’s almost always away from the riff-raff. I liked our main guide even more after I heard this.
While waiting for dinner, the three of us walked around the camp. We had heard about a cave that was used as a sleeping spot until the park rangers officially closed it. It was disappointingly small and did not look like a cave at all, but the walking at least helped us kill time until sunset.
Do people get tired of watching the sun set when they travel? I always expect that I would, but Mother Nature never ceases to amaze me. Shira Camp was blanketed in orange and some deep purples while the clouds moved fast in the valley below us. Yet again another beautiful setting before we had to eat pumpkin soup and pasta with beef tomato sauce. That night, I ended up sleeping for twelve hours, a good night’s rest before the Diamox altitude medication started to kick in.
Day 2: Machame Camp (9,842 feet) to Shira Camp (12,467 feet)
Altitude gain: 2,645 feet
Time: about 5 hours from ~9:30am to 2pm