Climbing Kilimanjaro

Preparing for Climbing Kilimanjaro while in Arusha, Tanzania

On Friday, September 2nd, I departed from Amboseli National Park, Kenya, for a 3-hour drive to the Tanzanian border and the Namanga border crossing. At the border, we were greeted by a dozen highly aggressive ladies selling whatever they could carry. as we walked to the customs building, they swarmed us. Hence, we had to run to stay out of the mess practically. Once we got through customs, our driver, who worked for the hotel we had been staying at in Amboseli, had found our new driver, who worked for the company we were using to climb Kilimanjaro: Climbing Kilimanjaro. We drove for 2 hours, some of which I spent in simi-sleep, after which we arrived at Mount Meru Hotel in Arusha. I enjoyed the Mount Meru Hotel primarily because of the vast grass lawns that were excellent for romping with my brother. I ordered some gluten-free pasta (yes, they had it!) and continued my frolicking. Before our food came, some people arrived at our table and said that they were the people who were going to take us up the mountain and that we had to move to a different space so they could brief us on the journey.

Saying as we had not eaten since 6 am, and it was now 4 in the afternoon; we said we could have our briefing where we were, or we could wait for our food to come out. They said they had another group and would brief them first, and we could eat. The pasta was delicious, with cream and mushrooms; it made me want to cry; it was so good. Once we were done, we waited for the other group to finish up, and the people came back to us with one more person, whom they introduced as Tomas, our head guide. The briefing was surprisingly short and talked about what we should do to prevent high-altitude sickness and what we would do if we got it. They asked what medication we had for prevention, and we responded that we had none. They seemed extremely surprised and told us that we needed to get Diamox. We did a gear check, and then we went to bed. The next day, I woke up to a hungry stomach and went down to a good breakfast. We met up with Tomas in the hotel lobby and got a car to get the gear, snacks, and medicine we needed for the trip. Once we had done so, we returned to the hotel and packed everything in the vast duffles we had rented.

Day 1 On Kilimanjaro: A Late Start

Today I woke up at around 6:30 so we could hopefully get out the door and onto the bus early and have an early start on the mountain. As you can probably guess, that didn’t work out like that. The first thing that went wrong was that the previous day we had learned too late that we didn’t have all the things some people needed. We could get onto the bus on time, but we had to spend 30+ minutes running around trying to rent everything we needed. After this, we had a 4-6 hour drive to the mountain. We arrived at the mountain from 1-2 pm and had lunch about 30 minutes later. What we didn’t know at the time was that over 300 people were entering the mountain at the same place and time as us and that that caused a massive backlog which ended up with us not going until about 4. We arrived at the first stop, the Lemosho Gate, 15 minutes into our hike so we could take pictures.

The first stop

We walked until around 7 when we arrived at our campsite: MTI Mkubwa camp.

The First Campsite

We had heard that there is fresh popcorn for ingesting at every campsite once you have settled in. This rumor was confirmed after we ate dinner and went to bed.

Day 2 On Kilimanjaro: Sickness

I woke up the morning of the second day well rested and refreshed. We ate breakfast and set off at a slow pace. It is imperative on the mountain that you go slowly because if you go fast, you gain too much altitude to fast, which leads to altitude sickness. if you start going too fast, that guide will say to you, “Plolè Polè. Polè Polè.” which means “slowly, slowly.” it can also mean “slow and steady.” Polè polè was extremely vital the second day because it was mostly uphill. My mom had an excellent suggestion of singing to lift your spirits and morale. as such, by the time we came to our lunch stopping point, I had sung entirely through the first act of Hamilton, with interjections of Six, Pitch Perfect, and other songs and musicals. At the start of the hike, we were given a plastic bag with three things for snacking: a chocolate bar, a banana, and a juice box. We were supposed to have lunch at the lunch stop, but the only lunch we had was the plastic bag, and the banana was now brown and gross; we had eaten most of the chocolate, and the juice box was tiny. After a 10 to 20-minute rest, we continued.

The second half of the hike was challenging because of 3 main factors: the lack of a proper lunch, altitude, and a ton of sun. We had been hiking for 4 or 5 hours, with very little substance, a lot of water and peeing, and almost all uphill hiking: me and my mom we getting headaches, the most common symptom of altitude sickness. Altitude sickness is caused by over-accumulation of carbon dioxide in the body. Your body is set in an average of 50% Oxygen and 50% Carbon Dioxide, unless you are an asthmatic like me, in which case it can be more like 40% carbon dioxide and 60% oxygen (see more on that in this book). Because you are so high up, there is less oxygen in the air, and your balance is unsettled, and when this balance is unsettled, your body is thrown into a tizzy. Your body can take 24-48 hours to adjust how it breaths so that you can have your balance back. In the meantime, you feel sick. Diamox is supposed to help with this by helping move the carbon dioxide out via urine. But it didn’t do this for us very well. After hiking for 6-8 hours, we got to the camp, and I laid down due to a roaring headache. The headache was so bad that if I sat up, I felt like I would puke out my brain. I felt better after a while and moved about a lot in my tent. The second I lay down again, the lava flowed through my head, worse than ever. I could get up and stagger to the mess tent at dinner time. I ate some rice and immodestly threw it up, with all of my snacks of the day and a good portion of the 3+ liters of water I had drunk. I felt much better after the puking, ate two spoonfuls of rice, and went to bed.

Day 3 On Kilimanjaro: Opting Out

It happened like this on what was to be our 3rd day on Kilimanjaro but ended up being our last day on kili. We wake up and pack our bags. We go to breakfast—the talk about the day ahead. We tell them we might not continue: we still feel very sick. By now, all but 2 of our group felt sick. We discuss as a family if we wish to go on, and all of the four who are sick people say no, so we tell them we want to depart from the mountain. The 20-minute ride in the rangers car was intended for maybe ten people at most but was stuffed with 14 people, including our family and our guide. The nauseating sensation of being in a car smelling intense sweat, BO, and sick people were terrible. After enduring this for a while, we got to what was hoped to be our stop but turned out not to be. Once this was found out, plus the fact that it would be another hour of enduring this, we said no, and to find a car that was safe because my brother and my sister had to sit on other people’s laps. After this, we got a car and went to the hotel without event.


As soon as we were down the mountain, the four sick people felt better, and the two that were fine felt ill, probably due to the coming of Diamox. The rest went smoothly, and we returned everything we had rented, and I am now headed for Zanzibar. See you there!