DAY 5 HIGHLIGHTS
- I woke up at 0-dark-thirty as usual and waited out the sunrise. The waterfalls cascading down the rocks were the first we’d seen since the Day 1 walks through the rainforest. To my left, there were three cairns perched precariously on a high cliff above the camp, the route we’d be taking out of Moir Hut later that morning.
- With Moir Hut at 13,632 feet and our target destination Buffalo Camp at 13,600 feet, we assumed we’d be doing a fairly flat traverse around the northern side of the mountain, but the way out of Moir Hut was a super steep switchback with 500 feet of straight elevation gain.Pole Pole pace makes these kinds of ascents not only possible, but fairly straightforward, as long as you’re not suffering any altitude effects. Caryl was in her 2nd day of on again, off again brutal headaches and combating sinuses as well, staving off Diamox for the moment, while the three members of the team on Diamox were back to normal and doing great. The rest of us marched onward to little effect, though I think Irina had mentioned a headache here and there.
- As we were headed out of Moir, we could also see the porters for the camps taking the Lava Tower route (the same we had done for acclimatization the day before) across the way. Tiny people, a vast and rock strewn landscape.
- No surprise, we were once again shrouded in mist, with limited views below. About 45 minutes out of camp, we took a 100 foot boulder scrambling detour up the lowest of three Lent Hills [13,728 feet], where the biggest cairn forest we’d yet seen awaited us.
- We relaxed in the mist up there, unable to see much.. “How far is it down there?” we asked Said, pointing down off the cliff into the white mist. “You should move away from that cliff edge and be careful,” he replied. Well, that’s as good an answer as any. We took our requisite team photo, scrambled back down and headed for Buffalo Camp.
- Buffalo Camp was different – it was on a fairly stiff decline on the mountain, and we first saw it across a giant ravine, along with our beloved cafe. I took a picture looking up at still snowbound Kilimanjaro from the camp, shrouded in mist. I should note that we’d gotten used to the mess tent being canted so steeply that those of who sat on the lower side always felt a tip away from rolling backwards and bringing down the tent.But hey, they brought us warm food for our bellies, so we made it work with just the occasional wry comment or two. I felt a little queasy at lunch, ran outside and hurled behind a boulder, slept for a half hour, then all was right with the world. I think it was something I ate, rather than altitude, since it came out of nowhere, and never happened again.
- The weather never quite cleared up that night, but we had spectacular views of cloud tops, with the plains of Kenya and Tanzania hidden below. We slept like big baby rhinos and although JT had warned of winds and rain, we had a brief patter and then nothing but the asychronous cadence of snores across the campground.
How did you book this epic journey?
Through Peak Planet, the best reviewed agency we found. Researching the Kili guiding is an exercise is due diligence – but something to consider is the treatment of porters and guides helping you up the mountain. The cheaper operators have a reputation for porters and guides with tattered clothing, substandard shoes, and not getting paid for the many days away from their families. From all testimonials and references, Peak Planet is the opposite of that, working with the African Walking Company to ensure good treatment while keeping the prices reasonable. I have zero stake in Peak Planet, but the blog should speak for itself – the guides and porters were excellent, friendly, helpful, courteous, etc. all you could ask for on such a comprehensive undertaking.
What camera did you use?
- The Fuji XT-1 mirrorless APS-C with an 18-135mm lens. All of it heavily weather resistant, unstopped by rain, freezing cold, sleet, or altitude. I did bring 4 extra batteries, kept warm in a wool sock…which proved to be good for the whole 9 day mountain journey.