Kilimanjaro Diary: Day Three

11:49 AM


There was no gentle way to start off day 3; my tent, bags and half of my clothes were soaking wet from the heavy rain, it was miserably cold. I regret not getting hand warmers or a hot water bottle that the only way to stay warm was by dressing up with whatever warm clothes you had and getting out of the tent as quickly as possible to the mess tent and curl yourself up into a ball. We were told that today was going to be a test of how well we do with steep climbs. As soon as we set off and the trail abruptly changed into a sharp steep one. The trail narrowed a few minutes as we bid farewell to Machame Hut (3000m), so packed with climbers, guides and porters balancing incredible loads of our stuff on their heads that the peace and tranquility of yesterday’s simple 12 kilometers hike was soon long forgotten. Most of us started doing the mistake of looking up high and just have our brains deny the possibility of us making it to the top. I started panicking wondering how it would be possible for us to climb without any technical mountaineering gear. Obviously the mind plays tricks on you and something you hear over and over again from the guides is the phrase ‘Pole Pole’ which means slowly slowly in Swahili which really helps you ease in the process because it really isn’t a rush against time. It’s about enjoying every single moment of your time rather than just the end goal. Soon enough it became easier to climb especially with the tip of just looking down around you and following the footsteps in front of you which in most cases was following my guide called Daniel. He’s awesome! Someone I really did enjoy connecting with as a guide, we were the same age and even though we came from completely different backgrounds we connected which made it even more fun.
Mess tent being packed
Off we go! 
Check out the traffic
Yup that's me in Pink being helped out by Daniel my guide
There were loads of waterfalls that we passed through but we couldn't enjoy them as much since it was raining and windy like crazy
Giving way to porters as they make their way through to Shira Camp
Almost there
Almost as soon as we started climbing, the flora changed to shorter trees, thinner vegetation and more lighter colors; a sign that we were quickly gaining altitude from the steepened trail. The sky began to be more visible opening up the panoramic view in front of you. That’s when you saw the angry dark grey clouds forming. This time around we all had our waterproof gear on, and I wore appropriately to the trek where I didn’t pile on a lot of layers but for a simple thin layer beneath my insulating waterproofs. As we continued through, the chatter of the group stopped, things became quieter as we unknowingly started to preserve our energy and truly appreciate the scale of the task ahead of us. But it didn’t remain quiet for a long time because the guides started singing along songs which the majority of us enjoyed and sang with them. Most of them were Swahili songs we grew up listening to seeing as more than half of the team either spoke Swahili or were of Swahili heritage. I think that aspect made us closer to the crew, we weren’t the normal Europeans they are used to guiding but we had a unique flavor that made the whole connection between the guides, porters and ourselves even cozier and friendlier.
How the trees were in the beginning of the trail

Thinning out as we climbed to the top





The steep climb soon led to a fantastic view point and a special treat was waiting for us just over the next rise. Unfortunately for me the rain that was pouring, like a mad man giving a piece of his mind, made it muddy that as I was attempting a steep climb I slipped and fell on my right knee, which remained painful throughout the trip. The mess & toilet tent complete with tables, chairs and tablecloth were all waiting for us with yet another amazing tasty soup and food that was almost enough to bring a tear to the eye. Seeing how all those porters were carrying everything along made you appreciate their efforts on making the trip as comfortable and lavish as possible.
Selfie during lunch while freezing in our semi wet and cold clothes
With bursting bellies, angry horrible rain, hail and winds, wet clothes for some of us and blisters for others, we continued to climb through the afternoon mist towards Shira Camp (3840m). The thinner air was starting to tell of the altitude but I was quite adamant before the start of our climb to take on medication to alleviate altitude sickness symptoms which I consider myself lucky to not have experienced any of the horrible symptoms the others went through.The sight that greeted us on arrival at Shira Camp brought home the sheer scale of the business of getting enthusiast to the summit of Kilimanjaro. It was literally a sea of tents spread out over a vast open campsite encasing the sheer volume of climbers, porters, food and gear moving up the trail.
Our tents in Shira Camp
Registration hall, you basically register in every camp you reach before calling it a night
Despite its dusty sprawling nature, Shira Camp enjoys a splendid view over the remains of the Shira Plateau and jagged peaks of the Shira Peak, the remains of the first volcanic eruptions that created Kilimanjaro. Day 3 to me didn’t seem tiring as the day before, maybe it has to do with my mindset of going slow and just taking in the view? Or maybe it didn’t seem that difficult once you get used to it? Or maybe the distance we travelled was shorter than yesterday? I’m not sure why even though the majority had said that today was the toughest so far. Now that we were done for the day, I tried to relax inside the tent when I started feeling nauseated which was baffling to me, was it the altitude? It can’t be because I have religiously started taking my altitude sickness pills. But then the nausea soon translated into vomiting and sharp tummy aches which alarmed me to something not normal in my system; possible food poisoning?
View from just outside my tent in Shira Camp
As the sun sank into Mount Meru, we were asked to head out to the mess tent for the customary session of scoffing food down your throat but I didn’t have the appetite so forced myself to have the soup at the very least which was delicious regardless of how I was feeling. Saying it out loudly that I am not well to the team was a relief because another one from our team voiced the same symptoms. Most of them said it’s because our bodies are not used to such extremities but I know my body too well to just blame change of weather and circumstances to this. A very cold night followed, but this time the rain was nowhere to be found, just ridiculously heavy winds that made sleeping in the tent more difficult especially when you need the toilet throughout the night.

Day 4 on the Machame Route awaited but I am now more apprehensive on how I physically felt than anything else.

Special photo credits goes out to Faisal Al Abri and Mohamed Al Touqi for some of the pictures shared in this entry.

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