Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro
Trip Start Feb 01, 2007
27Trip End May 30, 2007
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Five days before that morning, Matt and I were picked up from our hotel in a mini bus of sorts with a bunch of people already on the bus. "Hmmm," I though, "Maybe we're taking a local bus downtown to take another car to the trail head?" So, I get on the bus and tentatively say "Jambo?" and was greeted with an enthusiastic "Jambo!" We're on our way towards downtown and I suddenly think "Wait, for Matt and I to climb Kilimanjaro we need to hire a guide (which is why we went with a outfit called Tanzanian Journeys) and that guide comes with 9 porters. So, all of these people are coming with us!" Good heavens we were quite a crowd.
In fact, the whole mountain was quite a crowed, I'm sorry to report
One thing that struck me as we were waiting for paperwork at the trail head is that all the porters I saw were black. They were carrying big loads for mostly white clients. Having read and seen many pictures in my school history books about black slavery made me a bit uneasy. Also, a lot of the climbing companies do not pay or treat their porters very well, so it's not unlike slavery in the south. We found our company through a recommendations from the Porter Assistance Project which works to make sure the porters are treated fairly. I'd like to give a shot out to this organization because it is a bad situation which I think not many tourist know about. So, if you or someone you know is hoping to climb this beautiful mountain, please go to Porters Assistance Project so they can recommend a company that is treating their staff fairly.
We spent six days on the mountain, four ascending 9,000 net feet (there was a fair amount of up and down) and two ascending 4,000 feet and descending 13,000 feet. Ouch. The mountain is made up of five ecosystem zones; forest, rain forest, moorland, just rocks and glacier. It was interesting to walk through these layers because it was a very abrupt change.
Not a surprise to anyone, but Matt and I have confirmed that we are not the "to be guided" type. It was hard to have someone else set the pace, which was very slowly. So slowly that I had a hard time keeping my balance. On the other hand, it was nice to have the porters take a lot of our weight, including all the food and tents. So, I guess that's the trade off, they help us schlep our stuff up and we do as we're told.
In sum, Mt Kilimanjaro is a beautiful mountain and I'm blessed that we were able to climb it.