This is part 2 of my Mount Kilimanjaro climb. If you missed part 1, you can read it here.
I awoke to the sound of footsteps outside my tent. The soft morning light filtered in through the half open zip on one of the windows and as the footsteps got closer, I remembered that I had just spent my first night on Mount Kilimanjaro. “Hello” I heard a voice call out from outside my tent. “Water for washing”. “Okay, thank you” I replied, realizing that this was my wake up call.
The warm water felt great on my cold hands, and after splashing my face and feeling the cool crisp air against it, I was awake and ready to continue my climb of Africa’s highest mountain.
After packing up our gear and enjoying a hot breakfast in the dining tent, we started off on our trek, our guide continuing the slow pace that had been set the day before. The morning sun shined down to melt the frost that covered the ground as we began climbing. The terrain was immediately steep, but the slow pace kept me from feeling out of breathe.
The rocky path was surrounded by the low shrubs and bushes of the moorland that cover this part of the mountain, and as we climbed higher above the clouds we could see Mount Meru in the distance, poking it’s head above the cloud cover. Every time that we stopped to let some porters past, I took the opportunity to look back at where we had come and enjoy the incredible views out across the blanket of clouds.
The higher we climbed, the better the views became. As we reached the top of a ridge, Kibo Peak once again made an appearance, taking my eyes away from the already stunning scenery of the moorland and views from the mountain. The snow and ice capped peak of Kilimanjaro towered above the rocky rugged terrain of the Shira Plateau above me, while all around me the unique vegetation and wild flowers took my breathe away. There was so much to see that I couldn’t even notice any tiredness in my legs from the steep hike.
Slowly we trekked on, climbing the steep rocky path one ridge at a time, often climbing up boulders and rocky steps, all the while the scenery remained breathtaking. When we finally reached the half way point, we stopped for a break to have a snack and take in plenty of water. A popular resting spot for hikers, this place seemed to attract a large number of native crows known as White Necked Ravens. They were much larger than the typical crow that I am used to seeing, and their beaks are thicker but more rounded.
From here we could see the trail making it’s way up the rocky terrain above us, slowly climbing and moving along to the left towards the Shira Plateau. There was still a long way to go.
Our guides made sure that we never rested for too long, and we were soon up and hiking again. The terrain remained very similar for the next few hours as we slowly made our way to the top of the climb, passing Shira Cave on our way.
Eventually, just when it seemed that the Shira Plateau would never arrive, I climbed the final steep rocky steps and found myself once again looking at Kibo Peak, this time with the vast rocky landscape of the Shira Plateau before me. Just around the corner I could see the very welcome sight of Shira Camp, our destination for the day at 3840m.
We settled into camp with a wash and a hot lunch, some of our group spending the afternoon having a nap, while a few of us played cards with some of our crew in the dining tent. Before long our lead guide came to collect us to go on an acclimatization hike to Shira Hut, meaning that we would climb up higher, before returning to sleep at the lower altitude of our camp.
As the sun sank low on the lava formed landscape, we trekked the fairly gradual climb up to Shira Hut, where the Shira and Lomosho routes come up the mountain. The soft light of the late afternoon made the already beautiful landscape spectacular.
As we made our way back to camp, the sun set over Shira Peak in the west, casting a glow over the rocky landscape and blanket of clouds below us. The cool air of the night set in on the Shira Plateau, and when we arrived back at camp and had dinner, I was well and truly ready for bed. The next day was going to be a big one.
Read part 3 – The Lava Tower and the Great Barranco Valley
Mount Kilimanjaro Adventure Series
- Machame Gate to Machame Hut
- Trekking to Shira Plateau
- The Lava Tower and the Great Barranco Valley
- The Great Barranco Wall to Barafu Camp
- Conquering the Summit