Day Four...Leaving Shira Camp

Mount Kilimanjaro Travel Blog

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I had a good sleep the night before and stayed very warm in my sleeping bag during the night…I was also wearing fleece underclothing during the night and some thicker socks. But I have a problem staying in bed for too long. At home I sleep 5-6 hours and here I’m forced to stay in bed for something like 11 hours. But despite having a good rest, I was not exactly feeling on top of the world this morning…I was a bit nauseous and could feel one of those nagging headaches coming on. I managed to drink a liter of water before breakfast, hoping this would curb my headache.

Sometime after 8 am we were ready for departure from the Shira campsite and from my book “Kilimanjaro - A Trekking Guide to Africa's Highest Mountain” we knew that we would have about 6 km ascent to start with.

It was nice and sunny but the wind was cold so it was best to walk with the hood up on my Gore-Tex coat. I can’t understand how our porters can take this weather. They didn’t seem to be dressed properly for it. As cold as it was, it felt strange applying my sunscreen, but the sun will fry you up here in no time. I was also wearing my floppy safari hat to keep the sun out of my face.

As we walked we got higher and higher and in the end we were at about 4500 meters. And I wasn’t feeling any better….it actually felt like taking a long walk with a really bad hang over….my headache persisted and I was still feeling nauseous. At lunchtime our lunch pack contained 2 sandwiches, a banana, an orange and a cookie but I didn’t have an appetite at all. I did eat the orange, and the cookie for some energy. I have no idea how long we stopped for lunch…but it was felt great just to sit down and relax.

After lunch we started going up a bit more and then down as we started descending to the Barranco campsite. On the way we passed the Lava Tower. The 10 km walk today felt much, much longer…and at about 4 pm we reached the campsite at 3950 meters (12960 feet). Barranco is just slightly higher than Shira camp, but not much. My headache was almost gone by the time we reached camp, and my appetite seemed very healthy. Coming back down to this level was part of the acclimatizing process. The Barranco campsite was quite nice and we were in a valley next to the Barranco wall (or Breach wall). The view would be great for a few minutes and then the clouds would drift in like a London fog.

We gathered in the mess tent around 5:00 and for dinner we had chicken soup to start with and then we moved on with macaroni, vegetables, potatoes and sauce.

And for dessert we had pears. I ate like it was my last meal…hoping, of course, that it wouldn’t be! I took some aspirin to get rid of the rest of the head ache and after supper I was feeling perfect. Our guide checked in with everyone to ask us how we were feeling and to give us some information about the next day. Everyone in our group seemed to be doing fine, except for a couple of the ladies who spent half the evening puking. I really had my doubts if these two would even make it to the summit.

Each evening when we reached our camp we had water for cleaning purposes, but tonight it didn’t appear that anyone was too anxious about getting wet in the cold wind. Aside from that, I don’t think anyone had the energy to do it in the first place. I was really starting to feel dirty, and my beard was getting itchy. Thankfully, I didn’t have a date or have to impress anyone up here! And, of course, we were all in the same condition so no one really cares.

The extent of my bathing consisted of brushing my teeth and liberally applying my bottle of germ-x sanitary gel.

When we were at the highest point today I felt like I was in another world. And as bad as I was feeling, I started wondering why I was doing this in the first place. What drives a person to pay lots of money to feel like this? I also started to wonder if I would reach the top, because I knew there would tougher days ahead. A lot tougher! But once we got to the Barranco campsite I was more confident than ever of reaching the top.


At about 8 pm I went to the outhouse one last time before getting into my warm sleeping bag. It was a clear night and there were lots of stars and planets to be seen.

The moon was about half and it made the glaciers on top of Kibo glow. It was such an inspiring sight. At that point I started thinking about my thoughts earlier that day. Suddenly this wave of emotion came over me that is difficult to explain…it was like a high I never experienced before. In that moment in dawned on me how amazing it was to sleep in a tent at 4000 meter above sea level…at the equator…in Tanzania…next to the highest mountain in Africa.  Suddenly it felt like quite an adventure…

pearcetoyou says:
It IS worth every penny, Richard!
Posted on: Nov 22, 2008
gimpel says:
ok, you pay a lot of money you said,but i believe it's word every penny.Beautiful pictures and story,i think i will put this on my dream destination.
Have a good weekend..Grt richard
Posted on: Nov 21, 2008
BlueMoonAdventure says:
James, awesome blog about the journey so far...I got goosebumps and could feel the excitement. Pics are amazing!! I need to get that book and start getting serious...
Posted on: Nov 14, 2008
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Mount Kilimanjaro
photo by: pearcetoyou