Today I arrived at the Kibo Hotel. I was expecting a little more than what I got. But beggars cant be chooser’s. This is the starting point for all things to do with Mount Kilimanjaro and its history. Ironically it has not been renovated since the day it was opened. It is in the town of Manunga, which is a little sleepy town that has very primitive amenities and a population of about 12000 people.
The hotel is famous not only for it’s Kili history, but also because former American President Jimmy Carter stayed there when he climbed the mountain in 1988. I couldn’t help myself with my American counterparts on this trip. They said “did you know Jimmy Carter stayed at this hotel?” I replied “Who’s Jimmy Carter?”. The other Aussies on the trip knew exactly what I was doing.
I asked them if they knew who the Australian Prime Minister was. There was silence…….oh well. 🙂
The bar in the Kibo is awesome. there is not much to say other than it reminded me of a 1950’s African movie scene. Big open fire in a hearth, lots of space, a beautiful wooden floor and deep lounge chairs. this place is made for those cold winter nights that we have back home in the mountains. I really do miss the mountains at home sometimes, but this week I have a bigger mountain to climb.
I am really excited about the adventure I am about to embark on. This has been a plan in my head for about 10 years and I am finally standing here. Kilimanjaro is the worlds biggest free-standing mountain and at 5895 metres (not putting in feet, learn to convert!) it is no give-away. It is is called a trekking peak, however at altitude there are always factors that will test even the fittest of climbers.
We have now met our group leader James. He is a robust Tanzanian man who takes his job very seriously and wants us to be very clear on what we are about to take on. There are 33 people involved in the logistics of getting the 11 people in our group to the summit and back down safely. This is something that I had not taken into consideration and am now very much aware of what these people do to help us meet our summit goals.
It is a 76km round trip to the summit and back down to the gate (as it is known). Tomorrow is a relatively easy push of three and a half hours of hiking to the Mandara Hut at 2720 metres above sea level, the following day is five hours (11kms) to 3720 metres to Horombo. Day three is 5 hours (9kms) up to Kibo Hut at 4720 metres. Then that night we begin our summit bid at 12:00am; 6kms and 1200 vertical metres. It will take us approx. 6.5-7 hours.
I am totally psyched about this as I have wanted to do it for many years now and have talked about it long enough. To make the experience complete and align with my absolute passion for music I want to listen to Toto’s song Africa if I reach the summit.