Day 3: December 30, 2013, Mti Mkubwa (Big Tree) Camp
9,170-ft/2,795-m • 3-4 hours
Today, we finally get underway!!! I’m sure there will be a lot of excitement and nervousness as we set out on our journey. All of us have been “in training” of one sort or another for several weeks (even months) prior to arriving in Tanzania so I’m sure it will feel good to get active again after a couple days rest.
We will ride to the entrance of Kilimanjaro National Park and check in at the Londorossi Gate located on the western side of Kilimanjaro. In doing a little research, however, I was taken by pictures of the “happenings” at the Gate. There are several warnings to climbers about the hazards of the trip and the strict rules of conduct while in the Park. In addition, all loads that the porters will be carrying must be weighed and meet certain criteria. I had no idea that there could possibly be so many porters and therefore so many climbers starting off at the same time from the Gate.
Our first day’s journey will take us through the lush rainforest and to the first camp known as Mti Mkubwa (Big Tree). What I did not know, until I read a few blogs, is that there is an armed ranger posted at the camp due to the presence of big game in the area. That certainly brings home the warning at the Gate advising climbers to camp only in designated areas. I also read another climber’s blog that noted his flight from Nairobi to Moshi was delayed due to the presence of a two metre snake that decided to enter the airport terminal. It was later chased away by a number of brave men bearing bamboo sticks. It certainly made for a sleepless first night on the trail.
(A quick aside: I had not realized myself that on a Habitat for Humanity trip to a small remote village in southern India that king cobra were known to be very close to the build site. I had a couple fitful nights once I learned – fortunately after the build – and expect this may also play on my mind during my first night at camp. On subsequent nights, though, I expect I will be too tired to give it much consideration – at least that’s my hope!!!)
Night temperatures can often drop to freezing at this campsite and, not surprisingly, it rains frequently. Ah, so that’s why clotheslines are featured in the tents!!!
What is also evident is there is much activity at this first camp too as there are many expeditions offered by different companies. I assume the crowd will thin out as each group gets underway the following morning and faces the first long day on the trail…