Kilimanjaro Trek - Marangu Route
Day One - Marangu Gate to Mandara Camp
A drive from the hotel through Moshi and villages on the south slope brought us to Kilimanjaro Park headquarters. Here we registered and in the meantime I pondered about how I would escape the madness I got myself into.
From here the vegetation zone is densely populated sub-montane agro-forest. Water droplets fall from the branches of camphorwood and yellowwood trees. Sound of rushing water can be heard. The tree ferns (Cyathea manniana) are huge. The trees branches are covered in 'old man's beard' and lichen.
These two Tanzanian boys were following us up so I decided to take a picture. They weren't smiling at first so I told them to smile and my guide Milton translated. The taller boy then said: 'something, something'. After two snaps I happily gave them something. They followed us for a while and vanished when they realised I wasn't going to take more photos of them.
Half way up to Mandara huts we stopped for lunch. We weren't the only ones who were hungry - a bushy-tailed Mongoose(Bdeogale crassicauda) was looking for a munch too. I assume that it is used to the people stopping at this spot for lunch, to grab a bite from fallen food and handouts.
This road is used by porters, maintenance and ambulances. Guides and those looking to conquer Kili have to take the long muddy route.
Finally after 3-4 hours of hiking through forest, we arrived at Mandara huts(camp) - a name given to it from a tribe chief Mandara who believed the mountain was a god and thought it was blasphemous to climb it.
Day 2 - Mandara Camp to Horombo Camp
From here the forest clears to slowly reveal moorland and heath. The appearance of fog becomes apparent but its actually cloud cover that we pass through.
Two hours into the hike and Kibo will show itself displaying its melting icecap.
Coming up to a ridge you can see the Horombo huts but before any lying down or having a deserved snack its a another half-an-hour hike up another slope. The walk is slow paced but the breathing doesn't show it - long deep breathes, nausea and a headache are signs of high altitude.