Mount Kilimanjaro Day 1 - Lemosho Glades to Big Tree Camp

At a glance:

  • Day 1 of Lemosho Route
  • Lemosho Glades to Big Tree Camp
  • 4.3 miles
  • ? 1500 feet elevation gain
  • Final elevation 9,200 feet

We got up a little late at 6:51 this morning since we didn’t set the alarm right, and then we had breakfast at 7:00. I stuck to Corn Flakes this morning because I wanted to be easy on my stomach. Unfortunately I still had watery diarrhea and even threw up a little bit this morning. I took some Zofran for the nausea, took another Immodium, and also decided to start Cipro (an antibiotic for traveler’s diarrhea) to be on the safe side.

We finally saw Kilimanjaro for the first time today. It is BIG!

 View of Kilimanjaro from the road. It is so big!

We met Arden at 7:30 and also met our assistant guide, Raymond. Then we drove off towards the Londorossi Gate to sign in with the rangers at Kilimanjaro National Park. The [mostly] dirt road was a bit sketchy at times, and our driver drove FAST (like 60mph)! The ride was surprisingly comfortable and fun. There were some beautiful views of Mount Meru from the road.

 Our truck with gear at the Londorossi Gate.
 View of Kilimanjaro's summit from the Londorossi Gate.

View of Kilimanjaro's summit from the Londorossi Gate.

 Sign at the Lonsorossi Gate showing warnings of Mount Kilimanjaro.

Our next stop was the Lemosho Gate at 2300m (~7000 feet). Right before we reached the trailhead, the road turned into a huge mud puddle and the truck almost didn’t make it through. Once we made it through, our chef gave us a boxed lunch to eat before we started off. We had mango juice, chicken, a banana sandwich, Snickers, cookies, muffin, and other stuff that I couldn’t finish.

 Road to the Lemosho Gate.
 Our truck got stuck on our way to the Lemosho Gate.
 Our guides and porters for our Kilimanjaro climb.

Then we headed off into the jungle. The trail wasn’t too back, especially since we were going pole, pole (slowly, slowly) the whole time. Early into our hike we heard a scary loud noise which our guide said was an elephant back in the woods somewhere! We stopped for frequent water breaks so we stayed hydrated. It took us about 2 hours to walk 4.7 miles. We were the first ones at Big Tree Camp, so we got the best spot.

 Day 1 hiking view on the Lemosho Route.
 Lemosho Route Day 1.

At every camp there is a building that rangers stay in to make sure everybody has paid their permits, which are ridiculously expensive (like $1000 each for permits, camping fees, etc.).

We enjoyed the free time at camp since we got there at 2pm. We also saw some monkeys! Soon after, we were provided with 2 bowls of warm water to wash ourselves off with. Then our cook prepared us some popcorn, cookies, and hot water for tea. I didn’t have much of an appetite, so Charlie did most of the eating. We were in our own private eating tent with a table and chairs, and we felt completely ridiculous and spoiled. We also have our own private chemical toilet which is sheltered in a little tent. It is nice, but again feels completely uneccessary.

 Big Tree Camp
 Our tents at Big Tree Camp
 Monkey at Big Tree Camp
 Monkey at Big Tree Camp

After tea, Charlie spent his time building wooden utensils and a “house”. The porters and guides got a kick out of this.

 Our porter liked the stick house that Charlie built in our down time at Big Tree Camp.

A few hours later we had dinner. We started with cucumber soup and bread. The bread was hard and very unpalatable, even with toppings on it. There were four pieces we had to eat, but we could only get down one each. The chef insisted that we continued to eat the soup and bread, but we just couldn’t do it.

Then it was time for the main course. We were worried about this because neither of us was very hungry. Both of our stomachs were bothering us (Charlie more than me), and we just felt sick. The chef brought in a HUGE platter of potatoes, tomatoes, mangos, and cabbage, as well as a chicken soup/topping. All we could do was sit there and look at each other with a “we are such jerks” look on our face. Charlie had to run to the bathroom, and afterwards he felt good enough to eat some more. I did my best to eat as many potatoes as I could.

To finish everything off, we were given some hot water to have tea and hot chocolate (by the way, it’s like 80°F out). Then, Arden and Raymond met with us for our nightly briefing. Tomorrow is a long day (8.7 miles), and we will be gaining 3400 feet of elevation. Our chef will be waking us up at 6am to give us hot tea in bed (sigh), and our goal is to be out of camp by 7.

They recommended having us start our Diamox tomorrow to help with acclimation. We will do one in the morning, one in the evening, on the next morning, and then stop until we start to develop symptoms like headache and nausea.

We then headed off to bed early, and I slept surprisingly well. I woke up a few times, but it wasn’t too bad. At one point I had to go to the bathroom, and there were SO MANY stars in the sky!

One thing I forgot to mention in my previous journal entry: Our Canadian friend from the lodge said he climbed Kilimanjaro many, many years ago. When he did it he said there was a significantly larger amount of snow on the mountain. We are lucky to see it while there is still some left.