African giants

Wet. When people ask me how my trip to Kilimanjaro was, wet is the only way to describe it. I don’t think it’s quite the adjective they expect when they ask but forget having beautiful vistas on our assent of the world tallest freestanding mountain all we saw for days was rain, rain and more rain. Grey skies blocked out the sun on a fairly consistent basis turning to white as we reached higher ground, when snow took over from rain.

Unlike so many of my other trips, Kilimanjaro was never a mountain that I had a desperate desire to go and climb, rather a place I thought, yeah maybe one day. However, when the opportunity came up for a trip over New Year I knew it was something I couldn’t pass up. Thankfully it exceeded all expectations.

Aside from the unexpected weather it was a beautiful place, even in the rain it has an otherworldly beauty to it’s diverse landscape, from the rainforest at its base, which reminded me so much of something out of a mythical story, to the lunar-esq fields of boulders which appeared to stretch on forever and the sloping path of the crater rim. Forget the physical toll of being there, just thinking of it now makes me want to jump on the next flight.

But in all reality this was a tough challenge, far more than I thought it would be. Forget being a slow walk at altitude, at times this felt like a crawl, drag, move your self by any means assent, primarily thanks to it’s elevation. I love climbing mountains but every time the altitude always manages to almost surprise me, punishing your body and taking away the oxygen you so need.

Add to that my shockingly bad circulation and a sprinkle of exhaustion and it almost became comical as delirium set in. Needless to say there was several instances of laughing fits amongst our little group as the air got thinner.

With any adventure it’s only once you return that you start to forget the painful bits, everything starts to become so much rosier around the edges, something even a few days later I’m already noticing as I reminisce. All those hours complaining about how miserable we where because of the weather, now it seems insignificant. Those instances of getting so cold that I could barely move, and crying when I warmed up because it was so painful, surely weren’t that bad. Having to forcibly suck in air with each step into the never ending darkness, all but a distant foggy memory.

Now all I want to do is go back, to retrace each step and take new routes, explore all sides of this mountain which will always be a special place. All I can say is it was certainly worth the journey.

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