Early in the morning we had our breakfast, packed all necessary equipment for the mountain, left the rest of our luggage at the hotel, and started our drive to Londorossi Gate where all mountaineers wanting to take Lemosho Route need to register.
Tip: Stay as close as possible to the starting point of your hike/route. Avoid bumpy rides in Tanzania.
The drive through Tanzanian villages, green fields and forests was long and bumpy. As we arrived to Londorossi Gate our jaws dropped from the surprise: it was an absolute chaos packed with safari cars and people. It looked more like a market rather than a national park. Hundreds of tourists and even more porters, cooks, and guides were supposed to start their hike today.
We were waiting for our registration and filling our camel bags with bottled water we bought on the way. The plastic bottles are not allowed into the national park. A line of tourists waiting for the registration was already quite long. The registration itself was providing basic information, including passport details, in old, half-torn journals.
The quick look at the registration book revealed that most of people come from the USA and Europe. I guess not so many people from Kyrgyzstan made it to the top of Kilimanjaro because of strict visa regulations of Tanzania for Kyrgyz people. In fact a quick search in Google revealed only one story of Kyrgyz who was on top of this majestic mountain. So I am actually one of the firsts.
After the registration we drove to the beginning of Lemosho trail where we got our lunch boxes. These standard boxes were quite basic: a box of juice or a bottle of water, dry poultry, some pastry. We got similar boxes also on safaris.
After a quick lunch we started our hike through lush mountain rainforests. It was hot and humid, but we were excited (hey, we finally started!) A long caravan of porters was passing by all the time on quite well-prepared trail. We were surrounded and smashed by a thick greenery of the forest into a narrow trail line curling around leafy bushes. We were enjoying these stunning sceneries and weird sounds coming from the crowns of surrounding trees. We spotted some wild animals including endemic monkeys with funny fluffy long tails. It did not feel like that we were hiking on Kilimanjaro. Instead, I felt I am on adventure somewhere in the Amazon forest.
The hike did not last long and after about 2 hours we first heard a slight hum and later a strong noise coming from ahead: we have reached our first camp right in the middle of the rainforest. We were surprised by the countless number of tents around and by noise of the camp. So many tents of different colors, forms, and sizes I have never seen in my life! This camp was rather a tiny village or a market. So, the feeling of mountaineering and wilderness disappeared immediately, but we were still very curious to explore the camp.
Tip: bring your best ear plugs to avoid the noise 🙂
There were many different types of tents. Some were extremely luxury with proper beds and mattresses, tables and chairs, and a lot of space. Others, like ours, were rather basic. Some groups had even portable chemical toilets and poor porters had to carry that shit!
Talking about porters: there were hundreds of them with an approximate ration of 3-5 porters to one tourist. We had also a huge team bringing us uphill: 18 porters (!), one cook, one assistant cook, 3 guides. When we got to know this at first, were were skeptical whether we need so many and joking that they will carry us on thrones to the summit. In that case, I would take my princess crown with me.
The porters were doing the hardest job: bringing equipment, food, basically, everything on their backs and even their heads. I am full of respect towards them, because they do basically all the job for us. They make it possible for us to ascend the mountain successfully. They make sure that we achieve our aspirations. They make our dreams come true!
The way they carry duffel bags seem to me very unhealthy. Christian, who is a doctor of medicine, had the same opinion. All that hard work of carrying the heavy equipment brings a lot of health-related problems later in life. It is pity that their strenuous work is not valued as much as it should.
Tip: bring any equipment or clothes that you do not need any longer and give it to the porters. They will be very thankful.
When we arrived at the camp, our tents were already ready. We were immediately served some warm water for washing. This will become our daily ritual now for every new camp: arrival team picture at the sign, registration, unpacking, washing, discussions over tea and dinner. The dinner overcame our expectations: we had a yummy local soup, the main dish and some fruits. The meal was very delicious! It was much better than in the village or in the hotel. We were happy with the cook all our hiking days!
Tip: bring enough hand disinfection. Save water. There is not enough water in the camps and porters have to carry it from valleys below.
Christian proposed also a good idea: after each dinner we shared our day highlights, concerns, physical and mental status. This helped us to come even closer as a team.
Right after the yummy dinner we went to bed quite early at around 8pm. It was noisy outside, but I felt asleep immediately. Damn good that I took my earplugs!
P.S. For more detailed overview of the day with pictures and videos, have a look at my Instagram stories titled “Kilimanjaro”.