Mount Kilimanjaro Day 3 - Shira Camp 2 to Barranco Camp

At a glance:

  • Shira Camp 2 to Barranco Camp
  • 6.2 miles
  • +2300 feet, -1950 feet
  • Final altitude 12,950 feet

I slept pretty well last night. I woke up a few times, but that’s expected. Both of us are having tingling in our faces and extremities from the Diamox, which is just weird feeling. Since it is a diuretic, it makes you have to pee more, so I had to get up once in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. Luckily our personal bathroom is right next to the tent!

Our morning view at Shira Camp 2

Our hike today was in the alpine zone. We started with beautiful views of the mountain before the clouds started rolling in later in the day.

On our way to Lava Tower with beautiful views of Kilimanjaro

Today we go to Lava Tower, which is over 14,000 feet (the highest I’ve ever climbed!), and then we go back down to our camp at 12,950 feet. This will be great for acclimating. Today was our best day yet. We are walking at a good pace, and we are feeling better health-wise (we thought we were just going to get worse). On our way towards Lava Tower we passed by a memorial for a person who died on the mountain last year. Arden said it was related to the rain and thunder.

After a few hours we made it to Lava Tower. We had our boxed lunch and had to protect our food from a rodent that was trying to steal it.

Lava Tower

The porters took a different trail than we did today. Instead of going up and over Lava Tower, they went around the base.

Porters making their way past Lava Tower

After lunch, it was all downhill to Barranco Camp. We passed by some trees that looked like Joshua Trees, and we also saw some ice for the first time.

Making our way down to Barranco Camp

Our assistant guide, Raymond, is quite the jokester. He has been telling us about crocodiles and hippos in the water, that we are climbing Mount Meru, and that he has no idea where we are. He is also taking good care of us and is making sure we are eating and drinking enough.

We made it to camp in pretty good time, and we were the first group here again. They have permanent bathrooms here which are nice. Barranco Camp is probably the busiest camp we have been to so far. At this point, the Lemosho Route has joined with the Machame and Umbwe Routes. These are all “up only routes.” The Marangu is an up-and-down route, and Arden said this is a tough route to do since it is discouraging to see people coming down as you are going up. The Mweka Route is used only to go down, and this is the route we will be taking to go down after we summit.

Checking in at Barranco Camp

At camp, I spent some time in the sun washing my legs, feet, arms, and face. My lower legs had dirt in every follicle, and it sure felt nice to get cleaned up. It’s also nice not having to see dirt under my fingernails. It didn’t stay sunny for long, since it’s pretty typical for the clouds to come rolling up the mountain in the afternoon.

Washing up at Barranco Camp

Raymond just stopped by to say hi, and he is making Charlie promise to eat all his dinner tonight :). I forgot to mention that we checked Arden and Raymond’s pulse ox’s at the Lava Tower. Arden had a pulse of 64 and O2 sat of 89%. Raymond’s pulse was 100 with an O2 sat of 90%. They win. We’re still in the high 70s - low 80%.

We asked Arden and Raymond what the biggest group they’ve ever guided was. They said last week they had a group of 35 clients which required 15 guides, 80 porters, and 6 cooks. All but 2 made it to the summit. The two that didn’t make it suffered from altitude sickness.

Charlie and I just checked our pulse ox again in the tent. Charlie’s was 81%, and mine was 89%! I think mine is so good because I started 40mg prednisone today for my asthma (and I’m starting to get a flare of my ulcerative colitis). Prednisone just also happens to be the treatment for altitude sickness :).

Dinner tonight started with leek soup and four fried bread-type things. I pulled my weight by eating three of the bread things and two bowls of leek soup. By the time dinner arrived, I was stuffed. There was at least a pound of pasta tonight, pineapple, and beans. I could only get down two pieces of pineapple and a few bites of pasta. There is no way that could all fit in our stomachs.

Beautiful view of the mountain from Barranco Camp

Tomorrow is going to be an easy day. They will be waking us up at 7:30, and we only have 3.7 miles to walk. We will be going up and down about 800 feet. We won’t even need a boxed lunch because we will be at camp by 11:30!

We learned a new phrase today: “Na wewe pia,” the same to you.