I could not have been more excited to hear that we were going to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro last Wednesday. My professor told us that we would be climbing to the Mandara Hut that is at 9000 feet. So on Wednesday morning, we packed up the coaster and drove to the mountain! We were getting concerned along the way because there were a lot of dark clouds and it was hard to see Mt. Kilimanjaro. I was getting more and more excited for this hike.
We get to the gate and this time we actually got out and went to register! We all signed the book saying that we were going to climb and waited at the entrance for everyone to sign in. I started to walk through the entrance with a huge smile on my face thinking that I am actually on Mt. Kilimanjaro about to hike half way up. I started hiking at a semi fast pace so I slowed down and hiked most of the climb by myself.
The trail that we hiked was all rainforest. It was such a beautiful environment to be hiking in and I just took it all in. I loved all the branches with moss on them that were hanging down from the trees. I could hear beautiful birds chirping and waterfalls flowing. It was just such a peaceful hike to think and reflect on the trip. The only time it wasn’t peaceful was towards the middle of the hike when it was getting higher and the hills were getting steeper to climb up. I had to mentally prepare myself for every incline because of how steep it was. It was really hard for be but I took my time and succeeded. I made it to the Mandara Hut and just cried. I was so exhausted but so proud of myself for making it. I just can’t believe that I got to climb half way up Mt. Kilimanjaro. I really would like to climb the whole mountain one day. 🙂
Waking up the morning of going to Mount Kilimanjaro I was so excited! This had only ever been a place I had learned about in school or seen in really cool pictures, so to be going there was awesome! My favorite part was definitely hanging out with the kids we met going to the Chaaga hut and taking pictures with them and dancing with music. Seeing the mountain was obviously very cool, but of course the children stole the show 🙂
As well as hiking to a spot to experience a beautiful scene of the mountain we also hiked to a waterfall where many of us jumped right in! This was so cool! How many people can say they have been in a waterfall right next to Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa?! It was a wonderful experience, especially to have experienced it with the people I did and the way I did.
Another thing that was very unique about this weekend was Saturday night. Saturday night after a day full of fun and adventure, we had a bonfire back at the hotel and sang songs and danced with the hotel staff! They were awesome and brought out a guitar and we swapped between them signing their favorite songs and us sharing American songs. This will definitely be a part of the trip that will always stand out to me as one of my favorite experiences!
Between walking around town during the week, the four day safari last weekend, and the Massi village trip to come I was prepared to not see too much beside Mount Kilimanjaro during our hiking weekend. Don’t get me wrong, I was very excited to see the tallest mountain in Africa but I figured that it wouldn’t be my favorite weekend adventure. We did get to see the base of the mountain and our guides for the weekend walked us through the process that hikers have to go through before they can start their climb.
That night we had multiple games of euchre, which has come to be a staple when we don’t have lessons to plan. We were able to get to know the staff at the Babylon Lodge better than any other place we have stayed. Some of us decided to sit by the bon fire and sing songs with them starting with our respective countries national anthems. I am proud to say that we all know the words to The Star Spangled Banner. It continued with different song, most by American artists and a few created on the spot.
At the start of Sunday it seemed like the campfire and sing-a-long would be the highlights of my weekend, minus some inside nerd jokes about fish sticks. I quickly found out that I was wrong. One of the first places we went was Marangu Falls Kinukamori. Looking at it from the top was pretty but our adventures sides dared us to try and cross over the stones or calculate if we could jump over and survive. Before any of us were able to test it our guides lead us on to the next site to see. We passed through a spiraling, stone stairwell covered with sticks, making our sunglasses obsolete. At the end of the tunnel we discovered we were at the bottom of the waterfall admiring the perch we had just been on. It took only moments for shoes and socks to be removed and few of us to venture in the cold water. Most of the students went swimming, but just a few only got their feet wet.
Wet cloths and all we migrated to our next stop. Knowing we were going to a blacksmith didn’t arouse excitement in anyone. Once we got there we found out that we would actually have the chance to keep the fire going that was heating the metal; some of the guys were able to try to hammer the metal. With our nearly purchases spears we head back to the cars, back to Arusha to see what the next week would bring.
On Saturday we left for Mt. Kilimanjaro to do a weekend tour. We were driving to the mountain and on the way we stopped on the side of the road for a picture. We could see the mountain peaking through the clouds and it was so big! It looked almost fake in the clouds but it was just so cool. Then we reached the entrance gate to the park where we got out and we were able to walk around. We didn’t know that we weren’t hiking because there was a miscommunication with the tour guides and our teacher. It was still cool to see where you start hiking on the mountain, but I was really looking forward to hiking. We stayed there for only a short time and then we headed to see a Chagga hut. The Chagga hut was really cool; it was made out of grass. This was the first Chagga hut built in the 17th century. We were able to go inside and see what it looked like. It was really small inside because there was a cow, a calf, a cooking area, and 2 sleeping areas. I can’t believe that there was a whole family that lived in such a little space. As we were all waiting to go inside the hut, a lot of kids came around us to take pictures! They loved using our cameras and taking pictures of us and themselves!! Following our little hike to the Chagga hut, we went to the first Roman Catholic Church that was built in the Kilimanjaro area. It was a beautiful church on the outside and more beautiful on the inside. It had huge ceilings, stained glass windows, a balcony, and different worship corners. The funny part about the church was that there were 2 weddings going on! It was like we were crashing a wedding because we walked right in and were able to take pictures! There were a lot of beautiful gowns and people taking pictures of us! Right outside of the church, there is a few coffee plants that were the first ones around that area. We were able to try the coffee…YUM! I really enjoyed it. After that, we went to our hotel and relaxed for the night.
On Sunday, we had a 3 hour hike ahead of us! First, we hiked to another view point to see the mountain. I got really beautiful pictures of it because the sky was so clear! We then hiked through banana tree fields to see the grave of the first man who climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and his two wives. It was really interesting to hear his story. He lived until he was 126 years old. He climbed the mountain over 100 times. This man did his last climb when he was in his upper 70’s. This man was so inspirational to many and I am definitely jealous of how many times he has climbed it! After this, we hiked to the Marangu Falls Kinukamori which was a beautiful waterfall. There was a huge statue of a woman at the top of the waterfall and the waterfall is named after her. The story behind this woman is that she was pregnant before marriage and in the Chagga tribe, that is something you will get killed for. So this woman went to the waterfall to commit suicide. She didn’t end up doing it but as she was talking back to her tribe to ask for forgiveness, a leopard was running after her and she fell down the waterfall. We were able to walk down to the waterfall and go swimming in our clothes! It was super cold but we did it. It was my first time ever swimming in a waterfall and it was just so much fun! After this we then headed for the blacksmith. This was really awesome because they were making heads of weapons. We were able to keep the fire going by pumping bags with our hands to push air into the fire. After doing this we were able to purchase some items that were made from these men. We then walked a little way to another Chagga hut that was an underground tunnel. It was so cool because we were able to go inside the cave and crawl a little ways. It was moist and I got mud all over my back because I was way too tall for this cave! The guide that took us down there said that 60+ people could live down there at a time. The Chagga used these caves to hide from the Maasai. There were wars between these two tribes a long time ago and that is why these caves came in handy. We then headed for lunch and to try banana beer. It was a traditional African lunch, which was so good! The banana beer was not that good; it was really grainy and bitter. But I can say that I tried it!
Overall, this trip was a great one but we all felt like tourists. We did so many things in a short amount of time. It was great to see all of these features around Kilimanjaro but it was so hard to see the mountain in our reach and not be able to hike. My favorite part about the whole weekend was the waterfall because of how much fun I had. I really like learning about the history of the Chagga tribes and seeing how they lived.
I really enjoyed my time this weekend going to Mount Kilimanjaro. Even though we did not hike very much or far up Kilimanjaro, I had a good time. I have asthma and a bad knee. I had a sore throat today as well. I had a torn meniscus last semester, so I am completely fine that we did not go on a five hour hike. I like that we did got to hike and see the waterfall. I loved going in the water, but when we got really close to the fall, it was hard to breathe. Also, I was not smart enough to take my phone out of my pocket before going under, so my phone got water damage. I am not sure if it will be recovered, but it is sitting in dry rice right now drying off. If the rice does not work, my dad is an engineer and has recovered some phones from water damage today, so I am thankful for that. It was totally worth it though. I am getting an upgrade on my phone soon anyway. Now I will get it sooner rather than later. Also, with going into the water, I did not like having wet clothes when I got out. I was rather cold.
I enjoyed the place that we stayed at, but there was not really any hot water. I took a shower Sunday morning, and the hot side did not have any water coming out, so I slightly turned the cold knob, and it was slightly warm water, so I used that. I forgot to put the mosquito netting down before I went to bed, but I did not get bit. The beds were really comfortable, and the pillows. I did enjoy the food, although it was weird that there was not that much variety of food. I loved the bonfire. I think our group really bonded. Most of us were out there singing and we got to know some of the workers. One worker was playing the guitar, and it had a missing string, but still sounded amazing.
I liked seeing the hut on Saturday and the kids. I love how there are always so many kids just hanging out every place that we go. You do not see that in America. Most parents probably think it is not safe for kids to be out on the streets like that. I love how everyone here is so friendly.I thought it was awesome that Hannah brought out her phone and played a song for the kids to dance to. I grabbed a little girl’s hand and we were sort of dancing. After the music was done, she was just hanging onto my hand. She was so sweet. I sort of felt like a wedding crasher, but enjoyed hearing all of the noise from the two weddings and everyone dressed up and decorated cars. The coffee was really good, and I did not know that coffee beans were white. When we went to take photos of Mount Kilimanjaro, it did not seem as big or tall as I expected it to be, but it was funny that there was snow on the tip. The lunch was good both times. I liked the soups. The blacksmith’s place was pretty cool, and the banana beer was interesting, but I did not like it too much because I do not like beer. I also enjoyed seeing the cave or tunnel. I have been to a cave in Germany, but it was much, much larger. Overall, I had a great trip, and I think the next group should go here as well. The guides and drivers were are super nice. It was also amazing to hear that the man who was a guide and was buried lived to be 126 years old. I think that is what I heard. Either way, I hope I am blessed to live that long.