Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, the rooftop of Africa

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is a great challenge for the beginner and very doable for the active traveller. Let me take you to the rooftop of Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro.

1. The motivation of climbing the highest mountain in Africa

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro
Mount Kilimanjaro trek

22 November, I landed in Kilimanjaro airport, Tanzania. For the past two weeks I have been looking for an idea where I could celebrate my 30th birthday. It was definitely a dream that Africa bucket list team made it happen. At that time France was in a lockdown situation, the only country open without any specific restriction was Tanzania. The idea of being on top of Kilimanjaro at my 30th was the main project. Most of my greatest things happened outside of my comfort zone.

The start of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro

This is Jakson my guide, the one in charge to get me to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. I decided to take Marangu route Known as the “Coca-Cola”route. Known as the easiest due to the gradual slope.

However, it has one of the lowest success rates, probably because people choose to do it over 5 days. This is the only route with huts you can stay in. This our starting point, were the journey begins. Tuesday 24 November. We will spend 4 days crossing a wide variety of ecological zones: rainforest, bushland, alpine desert and arctic. Hope you will enjoy your virtual climb with me. Let’s go. Kilimanjaro adventure begin here.

2. The first day in Mount Kilimanjaro

The first 3 hours were very pleasant. Crossing the deep jungle, we even had the chance to meet the Blue Monkey; known as the Diademed Monkey, found mostly in Kilimanjaro’s rainforest. It took us 3 hours to get to Mandar hut. Elevation 2720m. We will spend the night here, take the time to go around our hut and rest for awhile.

On the camp they were not many climbers. A group of 4 french climbers, a group of 12 Swiss here to succeed in climbing mount Kilimanjaro. Tomorrow we will be heading to Horombo hut. It will take us 5 hours of walking. First day wasn’t that difficult.

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro : 2720m

7 am, the porter wakes me up.” Mino get ready for breakfast and pack your bag we will have a long day today” he said. I got excited for this second day. I knew that I shouldn’t underestimate the mountain, anything could happen, so I stayed focus. The weather is perfect, for a good and long day, the next step, is Horombo hut 3720m. Along the way we noticed thousands of trees burned by a fire mountain that occur couple months ago.

The second day

The hike start to get physically a bit harder. Meanwhile I was contemplating the beautiful scenery surrounding me. I can hear my guide telling me to walk “pole pole”, which translates from swahili into “slowly, slowly”. A sign that the next few days will be really challenging.

Crossing the bushland of Mount Kilimanjaro

I made it to Horombo hut. My guide suggested me a quick acclimatisation walk to the zebra rock, which leads me to adopt : drink plenty of water , sleep a lot, pole pole repeat. On the way to the zebra rock I start experiencing the sickness altitude, my head start pounding and my heart beating fast. They say above 4000m most climbers experience sickness altitude (Headache, Dizziness, Nausea, Vomiting, Fatigue and loss of energy, shortness of breath, Problems with sleep, Loss of appetite).

The sickness altitude

On the back to the hut, I took half of paracetamol. And then I had my dinner and slept as much as I could. Tomorrow is gonna be even harder. I’m going to have a short night, and tomorrow is going to be very challenging. The clouds in the sky very much resembles the thoughts in my mind, heavy and coloured by a beautiful sunset. The high altitude and perhaps the lack of acclimation is giving me a headache. Regardless my heavy headache; I’m sitting quiet while watching this magnificent view above the clouds as the light begins to fade; tomorrow we will be heading to the basecamp.

The desert of Mount Kilimanjaro


The next morning; I woke up with the same headache, not really in my best form. Beside my headache, the weather was great. The day starts with a crisp morning and a deep blue sky. Never thought one I will cross a desert in the middle of a mountain above 4000m. Climbing mount Kilimanjaro is something unique. Along the walk, the view was gorgeous that my headache just disappear.

The desert of Kilimanjaro

I was walking there only my guide and I in the middle of nowhere, for a nostalgic person it’s an inspiring place to be. I can feel that our step are starting to get slower. We are entering above 4000 meters, were the oxygen is getting thiner. We stop30 min before getting to the base camp, we had a lunch break.. I couldn’t eat my lunch properly. I was having no appetite, I am getting the altitude sickness (Headache. feeling dizzy, loss of appetite. nausea)

Last step of the Climb Mount Kilimanjaro

You can tell on the expression of my face that I was not feeling that good. We reached Kibo Hut, (4703 metres). After taking this picture the porter showed me my room. I just step into it and I start vomiting and having a big headache. I start doubting if I could make it to the summit.My guide advised me to get a few hours of sleep; before being woken at 11pm. I couldn’t close my eyes; I can feel my head pounding so fast. 23.00pm the porter wakes me up and forces me to eat some biscuits and drink some hot tea.

The Climb Mount Kilimanjaro getting harder

4. Pole pole in the darkness of Mount Kilimanjaro

In a complete darkness, apart from the light of our head torches and the stars, we start ascending the steep slope. My guide is reminding me of “pole pole Mino” with a convincing voice. One foot in front of the other, in the middle of the dark night and the scary windy music, you could hear our breathe and my stick hitting the ground.

The beginning of the end

After 15 min zig-zagging up the steep mountain face, I’m feeling nausea, I throw up my breakfast (felt better, felt lighter). The more we go up the less oxygen, the less oxygen the shorter our breathe. We’ve been walking for 2.30 hours across the freezing darkness of mount kilimanjaro. At this moment, my next step is my whole life, not even questioning if I could make it or not.

Getting closer to the summit

I could hear my guide saying “we are near Stela point”. That news gave me a boost of energy. We got only 1 hour and 30min to get to the summit. Along the way the snow start to appear, the white color flirting with the dark of the night, the wind is hitting our faces, the sounds of our steps are synchronised with the sounds of our breathe. I check my surroundings; the sky lightens gave me a hint that we’re not too far away. I am delighted to be able to climbing mount kilimanjaro.

The rooftop of Mount Kilimanjaro

27 November 2020 will be a memorable date for my entire life. I am saying good bye to my twenties and welcoming my thirties with absolute joy standing on the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro, at almost 6000 metres above sea level. Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro was one of my best decision ever !