Pete traveled on safari with Thomson Safaris in 2012, and returned in September 2013 to conquer Mount Kilimanjaro. Read about his experience on the mountain below.
I made it to the Roof of Africa! We were a group of six and had never met each other before. We all got on really well together. One of the hikers was from New York, still working and 72 years old/young. We started climbing from 11,500′ and went to 15,500′ and back to 12,200′ over seven days to get acclimatized and in better shape. We all made the summit and Thomson Safaris boasts 98% success.
Trails were good but a lot of black volcanic dust which got everywhere, impossible to keep clean. First rest day at really nice wildlife lodge. However, no wildlife and very few birds on the trails but did see lots of tracks from Cape Buffalo and Eland which ascend in the midnight hours to lick the salt and minerals off the rocks at the higher elevations. Glad we were not around at those hours.
It was some 85F every day with strong sun so lots of sun block needed. Snow flurries on some days. Camping out every night, and every night was below freezing but I kept very warm in my LL Bean sleeping bag.
On day eight, we started at 15,520′ and hiked ten hours uphill to 19,341′ to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro’s Kibo Uhuru Peak. Tough going as you are running on about 50% less oxygen at higher elevations so lungs working overtime. Unfortunately, we had snow flurries and very low clouds on this day, and the next, so did not get the best views I was hoping for of the mountain, glaciers, etc. Can’t predict Mother Nature…
Slept the night inside the crater rim at 18,802′ next to amazing glaciers. It went down to 24F in my tent overnight and froze everything from my drinking water to sun block. Woke up to half inch dusting of snow.
From 18,802′ inside the crater, we descended to 12,500′ the next day and then to 5,450 the following, over 2 1/2 miles downwards in two days.
I prepared well and followed all the requirements plus some more. I never had one ache, pain, blister, etc. going up or coming down. Preparation was the key. Follow the instructions!
The food was excellent and we ate very well. For the 6 of us, there was a team of 43 porters, cooks, guides, etc.
Over the ten days, we walked some 64 miles.
An incredible and amazing journey of a lifetime.
Kilimanjaro Grand Traverse Trek, September 2013
Author: Thomson Safaris
Thomson Safaris has been providing photographic Tanzania safaris and Mount Kilimanjaro treks for over 35 years.