Sunday, July 29, 2012

Day 1 : Machame Gate to Machame Camp

I had a good nights sleep with the fan going and earplugs in, I think the last good nights sleep I will have for a while.  Simon had a really poor nights sleep with a drunken party going on next to their room and Arthur coughing all night long.  I didn't hear a thing and I think earplugs are not an optional extra for camping, they are an absolute necessity.  We woke up at 06:00 and had what will be the last decent shower for a while before some last minute packing and then breakfast.  Breakfast consisted of maltabella and eggs on toast which went down very nicely indeed although the juice had a very strange taste to it.

The entire group met up in the courtyard and at the last moment I decided to hire one of the canvas bags that everyone else was using which proved to be a very good decision although I should have ditched my big bag altogether and left it at the hotel.  We met Prosper who was to be our guide and then later we met Arsenal who was our "official" guide which I didn't quite understand.  The party hadn't paid for the private toilet and oxygen so I paid for the toilet and I don't know who paid for the oxygen.

Back in the bus we trundled up the hills and into the mist, the driver had to use 1st gear on several occasions and if he had missed a gear change down I'm not sure we would have been able to get started again.  We finally arrived at Machame gate eager to start the days walking but we had to wait for what felt like ages while the porters were sorted out so we actually only started walking at 11:30.

The whole of day 1 was fantastic as we climbed up, into and eventually out of the rainforest. We spent most of the day in the mist which made for very cool walking which I in particular enjoyed.  When we started out, Andre, Simon and myself sauntered off ahead unintentionally; I think our natural pace is just a little bit faster but we were brought up quickly by Prosper and thereafter we trouped along behind him.  The motto that we all learned quite quickly was "pole pole" pronounce "poli poli" which means slowly, slowly in swahili and anytime anyone would speed on out front we would hear the admonition coming from Prosper.  As it turns out, Prosper's pace is perfect for me because I could stop and take photographs and still catch up easily without getting out of breath.

Note the difference between the backpacks the porters are carrying above and those that we are carrying below.  It is amazing the amount that the porters carry as well as the speed that they carry it at.

The group from left to right is Andre, Marita, Arthur, Simon, Shirley, Petrie, Prosper and Cronje.

The path itself was great, a nice gentle gradient with mostly small steps, one just needed to "hou links" (keep left) every now and then as the porters overtook us with all the camping equipment we would be using in the evening.

The whole experience was quite ethereal with the backlit mist and the trees fading away but we eventually broke through the top of the mist belt for our first glimpse of Kilimanjaro 3000m above us.  Quite an intimidating sight.

The whole party kept pace with prosper which bodes well and Simon, Andre and myself walked and chatted a bit with everyone so it looks promising on the cohesion of the part as a whole although time will tell.  The 'gay' jokes about spooning between Simon and Arthur are already starting to wear a bit thin so I hope they stop soon.

I absolutely loved the walk but I ate too much at lunch time since I felt obliged  to finish the lunch pack provided  but I won't make this mistake again.  Above the mist it was already late afternoon and with the sun scything through the rainforest it was just beautiful.

We finally arrived at Machame Camp at 17:30 to a warm bowl of water to wash with so I headed out of camp and had a sponge bath and it felt fantastic to feel clean, warm and dry.  The disposable towels that I brought as well as the cotton towels are going to work a treat and I think I have brought just enough to last the entire trek.

Back at camp supper was served in a tent with tables and chairs, all of which arrived today on someone's back.  This really is luxury camping; I could get used to it.  Supper consisted of cucumber soup as a starter followed by roast potatoes, chicken and boiled cabbage and a vegetarian curry all of which was quite tasty.  Andre and Simon have decided that discretion is the better part of valour and turned vegetarian for the duration of the hike so they missed out on the chicken but I am sure that the porters made sure that there were absolutely no leftovers.  Dessert consisted of oranges, bananna and paw paw and once this was consumed everyone went off to bed.  I stayed up a while longer to write up my diary by candle light.

The statistics for the day are:
Distance : 11km
Altitude : 1210m climbed
kcal : 2638
heartrate : 120 average, 149 maximum
walking time : 6 hours

Andre is still struggling with a bit of an uncomfortable stomach or as he describes it "Air bubbles all down the colon" and I had a very mild headache but nothing to really complain of.

Although we weren't the slowest today on the walk we were very close to it but I really liked the pace we are going at and I am looking forward to tomorrow.  We met a couple of overweight british girls whom we named the two betties and whom we gave absolutely no chance  of making it to the top given the difficulty that they were having on day one.

"mzungu" is swahili for "white man" which caused a fair amount of hilarity between the porters, staff and andre.

1 comment:

margaret said...

Roland this is a wonderful account of your Kilomanjaro adventure. Congratulations on doing so well. Enjoyed your beautiful and interesting photos. If you see this I hope you are enjoying your Norwegian trip. Keep the blog going.