I made it. I, Sarah Herington, have conquered Mt Kilimanjaro! It was an experience that I will never forget. I will treasure every part of it forever.
The adventure started with a quick briefing. During the briefing I sat there extremely nervous in my boots and coat but I was determined. We commenced with walking through the rainforest to the Mandara encampment where I got to see so many African animals up close. They were all so much bigger than I thought. The thousands of pink flamingos near the lake was a breathtaking sight. Standing only 10 feet away from a giraffe made me feel like an ant compared to human. We than trekked to the Maundi Crater. It was a great way to see the surroundings including Northern Tanzania and Kenya. In the rainforest Eucalyptus trees filled with bird life and Colobus monkeys towered over me. As I walked under a branch I nearly got taken out by a flying seed as it fell from the hands of a monkey. We then made our way to Mandara Hut where we set up camp. Day 2 of the trek we left the glades of the rainforest and followed an ascending path on the open moorlands to Horombo Hunt were our camp was set up. During this day the views of Mawenzi and the summit of Kibo were amazing. The plants that grew in the area were incredible. The giant lobelia, with a towering flower spike, caught my attention. The grounsels did as well. They were enormous and bulges coming out of anywhere. Day 3 I noticed the change in vegetation from upper heathland to 'moonscape'. We walked passed the last water point and up onto the saddle of Kilimanjaro between the peaks of Kibo and Mawenzi. The track was continuous and there was not much to see. My legs were started to ache, my shoulders and back were getting sore and the altitude was getting to me. I was having a moment of doubt. I didn't know if I would be able to make, however, by the support and the encouragement of my team I managed to reach camp. At the camp I experienced my worst case of altitude sickness, as I vomited numerous times. I went to sleep early in hope I would be fine for the final climb. The next day, Day 4, was epic. I had overcome my sickness and was rearing to go! We left at 2am in the morning to reach the summit. We commenced our climb over the steep and dense scree of snow up to Gilman's point. Navigating with a head torch was extremely difficult. We went extremely slowly, pole by pole. I was scared of falling and landing on my sore wrist. We continued up the hard yakka of a hill to Uhuru Peak (the highest point in Africa). Once at the top there were unbelievable views at every way I turned. Looking out over Africa I felt like I was on top of the world. It would have been impossible to wipe the smile of accomplishment off my face. The dramas of the day before had been washed away. We soon had to leave the magical sight behind and started our descend to Horombo encampment. Walking down the hill was hard on the knees, but my mind was in a good frame of mind, so the pain didn't bother me. On Day 5 we continued our trek down the mountain. We went through the moorland to the Mandara Hut for a quick snack. While I was eating my snack I met a naughty blue monkey hiding in the forests that stole my apple! After our snack we continued our trek down through lush forests to the National Park gate at Marangu where we had another stop where I watched a 2 lion cubs play. Our final descent was a bit wet and muddy but was a great way to the end the trek. Once the trek was complete, and I was on the bus back to Moshi, I looked up to Mt Kilomajaro and thought I have been on the top of that.