Day 2 - Simba Camp to Kikelewa Caves, 3,600m
Trip Start Feb 15, 2008
9Trip End Feb 25, 2008
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It seems no-one has really had slept much last night - the combination of intrepidation, unfamiliar environment and rocky beds has taken its toll.
At breakfast we get our first taste of Kilimanjaro porridge. Now I love porridge, and reckon its pretty hard to get it wrong. So I'm not sure how they make Kilimanjaro porridge, but it sure tastes revolting! Having read so much about how important it is to keep eating and drinking while you are trekking up Kili, I try to force some down.
By 8am we're all kitted up and ready to go, leaving the porters to pack up the camp. It's warm already so we set off in shorts and t-shirts. Predictably, those who keenly sunned themselves yesterday are now totally sunburned (haha) so needless to say, a few more people are wearing hats and sunscreen today....
The path is quite steep from the outset so we head off very pole-pole today. The terrain is drier than yesterday but there's still plenty of trees and vegetation around. Kili looms ahead of us in the distance - she really does look so far way, but at least it gives us something to walk towards.
Throughout the morning we take regular breaks to drink lots of water and eat the snacks we've been given. By the time we arrive at Second Cave for lunch, we've already been walking a good 4 hours and have worked up quite an appetite. I've already drunk the 2L of water in my Camelbak so am well on track to drinking the requisite 3L for the day.
The porters quickly transform the area, setting up tables and chairs for all the groups. We note with amusement one of the 'posh' tour groups sitting next to us who have fancy chairs with backs and arms on them (we have camping stools) and are served up a lunch of fried chicken! Our lunch is a someone simpler affiar - a vegetarian meal of soup, bread, cheese and avocado salad, followed by fruit and tea-cake. Everything is delicious and we leave feeling satisfied, ready to hit the trail again.
After lunch, the walking starts to get a lot tougher, and we get our first taste of what lies ahead. The guides warn us that we might start feeling the effects of altitude this afternoon as we go above 3,000m for the first time, and boy are they right. Walking up small hills suddenly seems a lot more difficult and I find myself geting out of breath quickly. It's also a really, really long way to the camp. We were expecting it to only take a couple of hours but it takes about 4 hours in the end. Every time we go over a ridge, another one looms in the distance. The group ends up dividing into 2, a faster one (which I only just manage to keep up with) and a slower group who trail about half an hour behind.
When we eventually spot the mass of coloured tents at Kikelewa in the distance, our spirits are lifted, but by now, exhaustion is really setting in. Every step is an effort. By the time we get to the camp, it's almost 5pm and my head is pounding and I feel nauseous. Thankfully the porters have already set up our camp so we're able to lie down in our tents for a while. I can barely muster the effort to drag my rucksack inside my tent.
After a quick rest, its time to head to the mess tent for some rejuvenating roasted peanuts and Milo which makes me feel a lot better. Eventually the second half of our group arrive and dinner is served. It's vegetable soup (again), followed by a chicken and vegetable stew with rice which is delicious. I try not to think about the fact the chicken has been unrefridgerated for a couple of days now.... The group demolishes everything and we're all in good spirits now we've recovered from the walk.
Knackered, we head off to our tents about 8pm. I have to get up to pee 3 times before I go to sleep - the effects of the altitude and all the water I've been drinking are catching up with me. It's really cold tonight so I pray I dont have to get up during the night. I go to sleep in my thermals and socks and thankfully am toasty in my sleeping bag all night.
I'm starting to worry about the next couple of days. I'd prepared myself to expect the worst on summit night, but honestly hadn't expected the walking on the days leading up to it to be this tough. Hopefully tomorrow wont be so bad....
Where I stayed
Kikelewa Caves Campsite