The hike to base camp! The next 36 hours are going to be pretty long with only minimal sleep. Of coarse, we didn’t realize this waking up on this cold Tuesday morning. Our wake up call came at 6:30am. It was quite cold and we couldn’t wait for the sun to come over the top of the mountain and warm us up a little bit. After a nice tasty breakfast and getting everything all packed up, we brushed our teeth and were ready for the days adventures. Leaving camp at 9am, we had a 3 hour hike ahead of us to Barafu Hut, which is located at 4693m (15,269ft). Leaving Karanga Hut at 3930m (12,983ft), we had a total elevation gain of 763m (2,503ft) over the next 4km (2mi). Some steep uphill climbs were ahead of us because of the steep elevation gain. Besides being cold in the morning, the day was beautiful and sunny.
Now during the whole hike, each of us had just been carrying our day packs with the necessities for that day. This means the rest of our clothes and belongings had to be carried by porters. Carrying our belongings was not their only job. The porters also had to carry tents, food, cooking utensils, water, and the toilet. Once we left, the porters would breakdown camp and pack everything up. Next they would have to speedily make their way to the following campsite and set up before we got there. This is very impressive and they did a good job beating us to camp and getting it set up before we got there. Now, since the porters have to carry so much, Zara Tours did an excellent job and limited the amount porters were allowed to carry. At Zara, each porter is limited to 25kg (55lbs) total. This typically translated into 15kg on the head and 10kg on the back. Not once did I see a porter drop anything and there were a couple tricky obstacles as well as bags on the head that were big and awkward looking. These guys work hard and do a great job for the little money that they are paid. I am definitely impressed with these porters.
Arriving at base camp right around noon, we got all settled in and waited for lunch. After lunch, Lasse and I went through our clothing and sorted out some of the items we would need for the hike to the summit. With nothing to do until dinner, it was time to try and get a few hours of sleep. A little before dinner, our guide Salim popped his head in the tent and wanted to go over the clothing we had for the summit. Both Lasse and I showed him what we had planned to wear and he approved. I had two layers of socks, three layers of pants with the base layer being Under Armour cold gear and the outer being my rain pants to block the wind. For the top, I had 5 layers with the base layer being Under Armour cold gear and the outer layer being my rain jacket. Next I had my gloves with a pair of liners and a pair of hand warmers. For my head, I just wore a beanie and bandana around my face. I felt confident in my clothing and knew the biggest obstacle would be to stay warm since the temperatures will be below freezing plus the wind chill.
With it being almost dinner time, it meant that the sun was going down. The sunset from base camp was really beautiful and each of us enjoyed the last sunset we would see from on top Kilimanjaro. Soaking in the last rays of sun, some great pictures were captured and it was time for dinner. The temperature dropped substantially while we were eating so I went back to my tent to grab a couple extra layers. After dinner, Salim came in to give us our plan for the summit hike. Since Raoul hadn’t been feeling too good, he was going to go on ahead of us and had a 10pm wake up call and 11pm departure. He was going to be accompanied by our assistant guide Stephen. This was so he could go on at his own pace and be more successful summiting. We all agreed this would be the best for the group. That left Lasse, Jose, William and myself to be accompanied by Salim, Goda (assistant guide), and our waiter Salim. It was decided that we would all wake up at 11:30pm and leave for the summit at 12:30am. With our plan made, it was time to call it a night and try and get a few hours of sleep before hiking to the summit!!