October 4 – Our First Report from Kilimanjaro

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Hi, this is Cami Mattson calling from the Shira camp on day 2 of our climb on Kilimanjaro.  We are just over 12,000 ft (3657m), it is in the late afternoon on October 4th.  Brittany and I arrived into Kilimanjaro airport on the evening of September 30th after 24 hours of flying.  We were met by our BAI guides Nicholas and his fiancée Angel and our driver.  With a traditional kiss on both cheeks we felt like family.              

BAI guides in the mist of KilimanjaroBrittany and I spent two days in Arusha before beginning our climb up Kilimanjaro.  On Friday we were guided by Simon on a hike to the foothills and village outskirts.  The land is very fertile and many crops are grown including bananas, corn, papaya and all sorts of tropical fruit and vegetables.

The people of Arusha are so beautiful and kind.  All the women wear skirts and dresses.  The children followed us around to the dirt roads in the village and we discovered that handing out a few pistachio nuts allowed us to get a few pictures of them.

We had a briefing with Nicholas on Saturday to prepare for the climb and we left the hotel at 8:30 yesterday morning to head to the Machame gate.  It took us several hours of driving to make it to the gate; many villagers walked the dirt road heading to church because it was Sunday.

Brittany and I are the only two climbing clients; we have 16 African guides, porters and cooks.  Most of the porters come from the Chagga tribe; they were the original tribe to climb the mountain. Tanzania has 125 tribes in all.  I have been amazed with the climbing team, we have been so graciously cared for.  Yesterday we hiked up 4000 feet through the lush rain forest.  A new and improved trail made the hiking very easy, the trees were dripping with moss and dew.  We were in a cloud mist with so many interesting trees I feel like we were in a Dr. Seuss book. 

Lunch is served!Yesterday about half way through we stopped for lunch and I was surprised and humbled with the care and preparing for me and Brittany.  A table was set up with fresh avocados and tomatoes that were sliced, hot tea was served, more food than we could imagine was laid out for us.  We have been saying ‘asanti’ a lot which is ‘thank you’ in Swahili.  We are trying to learn the language from our guides. 

We reached Machame camp around 5pm yesterday.  I almost cried when we turned the corned and our whole climbing team sang the Kilimanjaro song and danced for us it was truly amazing we feel very safe and protected.  The sun was bright this morning and we were served hot tea in our bed.  We hiked about 5 hours through the moorlands and we are out of the forest.  Plants are getting much smaller.  It was a steep climb today with lots of volcanic rock.  We took it slow so we still have energy.  It is in the late afternoon right now and the clouds of mist have joined us, pretty much soon after we started hiking the sun left.

But we feel strong and we have been taken care of beautifully.  We have not seen the peak of Kilimanjaro yet but we know that it is towering about us.  We appreciate all our friends and loved ones at home thinking about us.

Here’s Brittany

Hi this is Brittany up at the Shira camp.  The two first days were filled visiting Arusha and seeing the daily lives of the people which has brought even more to our experience of climbing Kili.  Each and every guide is so kind and so personal, even on the first couple days Cami and I feel at peace with the struggles we will endure.  Yesterday was full of every shade of green possible to draping the trees and covering the floors.  All we could here walking through the rain forest were the sounds of birds and the steady pace of our trekking poles. 

Even in our first two days we have had a great start.  I am enjoying the mountain’s beauty so far, we still have to experience two more ecosystems on the mountain. We are making great friends along the way.

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