DAY 5 HIGHLIGHTS
- Buffalo Camp, situated above the Kenyan Plains, made for the best morning on Kilimanjaro so far, with unobstructed views of Kilimanjaro swathed in snow above us, orange African sunrise to the West, and grand views of the Kenyan landscape below, rolling hills dotted with trees. I spent two hours before everyone was up snapping the changing views as the sun rose.
- We set out into–what else–a misty undulating traverse to Third Cave Camp at 13,000 feet. However, unlike our other hikes of recent days, the mist cleared out, and we were left with spectacular views above the clouds the whole way – the views hike we’d imagined when we all signed up. Caryl was on day 3 of splitting headache, and at the end of the day, she recalled very little of our best hike segment so far.
- At some point, we came over a ridge and got our first glimps of Mawenzi, the second of three volcanic cones that make up Kilimanjaro. The first, you may recall from earlier posts, was Shira, of which the Shira Plateau represents the collapsed caldera. Mawenzi, like Shira, is also extinct. It is only climbable via technical gear, but JT indicated that after a fatal attempt in 1989, the Tanzanian park service cut it off from any climbing. Kibo is still active, with gas still emitting from its crater and represent the highest of the volcanic cones. At any rate, the sight of Mawenzi was pretty awe inspiring the way it sat across the mountain from us.
- Eventually, we came to gash in the side of the hill that was First Cave. We made our snack/lunch break there. The cloud formations below were pretty amazing, including a big nuclear bomb shaped cloud rising above the rest.
- At last, across a wide ravine, we saw Third Cave. The camp was situated at such a steep mountain angle, the whole thing looked a little sideways, but it was sunny, and we relished a relaxing afternoon and evening. The real ascent up Kilimanjaro would begin tomorrow. In the meantime, Caryl and JT chatted, and Caryl became team member #4 on Diamox to ease her headaches. We would see the next day.
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.