I have supported Cancer Research UK for many years and have done various challenges to raise as much money as possible. In June 2017, I took on my biggest challenge yet – Mount Kilimanjaro!
Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa and the tallest free standing mountain in the world. I knew it was going to be tough, I was going to have to train hard, but I also knew that is was going to be an incredible experience. The great thing about Mount Kilimanjaro is that it is non-technical which means almost anyone can do it!
We started our 7-day trek from Machame Gate and trekked for around 6 hours through the magnificent rainforest, climbing steadily until we reached Machame Camp. I enjoyed taking in the breath-taking surroundings and getting to know the group better and finding out why they’d also taken on the challenge. That night we all ate together as a big group, we laughed and chatted and then got some sleep ready to start day two!
After breakfast, we set off and began a steep climb through the forest and onto the Shira Plateau where the views are spectacular. If you look behind you can see Mount Meru above Arusha town in the distance.
The third day of our trip was the longest yet, we were now walking through high moorland which was a drastic change from the lush, thick rainforest we had previously walked through. We walked for around 8 hours before reaching Barranco Camp for the night. To help our bodies to acclimatize to the altitude we followed the ‘walk high, sleep low’ code.
Day four starts by descending into the Great Barranco, which is a huge ravine. We then have to take on Barranco Wall with an elevation of 257 metres, it’s not technical but it’s amazing. It takes around 2 hours to climb and the trick is to make sure that you get your footing right. Once at the top we headed toward the Karanga Valley, our last stop before the summit. We then made our way through barren and desolate land toward Barafu camp (base camp). We had a few hours to eat, get our kit ready before going to bed ready to wake up at 11pm and take on the summit.
Setting off at midnight, in the cold, wind and pitch black we head steeply upwards for the summit. This was tough, all you could see were tiny patches of light coming from other people’s head lamps. We didn’t have much sleep, we were tired, it was very cold and very steep. After 5-6 hours walking we reach Uhuru Peak (5,895m) and we were all ecstatic. The sense of achievement was like nothing I’d ever experienced. The sun had started to rise and I was standing on the tallest point on the African continent, it was absolutely breath taking and felt as though we were standing on top of the world. The comradery in the group was incredible and we all celebrated with a group photo at the summit!
We couldn’t stay too long and admire the view, we had to descend quickly to get to a lower altitude. The next two days were spent descending back down the mountain, back through lush rainforest to Mweka Gate where we all received a certificate to hang with pride. We returned to the hotel for a well-deserved rest, thinking back over what an incredible experience it was and how proud I was of all that I had achieved.
See some photographs from Jon’s Ultra Adventure trip to Mount Kilimanjaro.