Dwayne Perry set out to climb Kilimanjaro in October 2019 with Follow Alice. He made the summit of the roof of Africa on the 7-day Lemosho route. He made new friends from around the world along the way, and documented his day-by-day experience. Here are some of the entries in his Lemosho Route Kilimanjaro journal!
“Uhuru peak on Mount Kilimanjaro. The tallest freestanding mountain in the world. In a mixture of rain, snow and freezing rain for 7 days, I made it!”
Day 1 – Lemosho Gate to Mkubwa Camp
We are all packed up and ready to go. The lodge has been great but I am looking forward to the adventure ahead. Today we take a van to Londrossi gate for lunch then to Lemosho gate to begin our climb to Mkubwa Camp.
“I am looking forward to the adventure ahead”
The first hike 7 km uphill, pouring rain, muddy and leg cramps, yikes. Yet after it was done, sitting with my new Swiss friends, enjoying a coffee, popcorn, biscuits and some laughs – it didn’t seem that bad. Even the colony of ants that invaded the mess tent in the rain forest couldn’t dampen the excitement. It was a great day!
Day 2 – Mkubwa Camp to Shira Camp 2
Today is going to be the longest covered on the trek. A two-parter. The excitement of traversing through a rainforest into moorlands is palpable.
“Am I stubborn, yep. Quitting is not an option”
Today was hard. Slugging up rock and boulder-riddled trails. A really hard day. Hard enough to push you to the point of quitting. Which in a macabre way is what I was hoping for. It’s those moments where you figure out what you are made of. Am I stubborn, yep. Quitting is not an option.
My Swiss friends, guides and random texts of encouragement that made it to my phone have been great. The views today have been lovely. The foliage and plant life that adapts to their surroundings are quite interesting. Everything seems to find its place and survives. Not unlike us humans, I suppose. Made it to camp. Food and sleep.
Day 3 – Shira Camp 2 to Barranco Camp
Today we trek up to Lava Tower then down to Barranco Camp. The goal being acclimatisation. Hike high, sleep low. Give yourself a chance to adjust to the altitude, which I’m definitely feeling now. Today we hiked through an alpine desert to Lava Tower, which is a massive structure created by the last eruption. The alpine desert has been my favourite so far. For a short time today I was completely alone, it was completely silent, walking through clouds that were rolling in, on a mountain, in Africa.
“For a short time today I was completely alone, it was completely silent, walking through clouds that were rolling in, on a mountain, in Africa”
It was quite surreal, almost dream-like. I saw this fascinating little mouse. I believe it is called a four-striped mouse. It is said they will eat literally anything. This little thing is the definition of a survivor. Lots of rain at Lava Tower, not so great for pics but definitely adds to the adventure.
Day 4 – Barranco Camp to Karanga Camp
The scenery was great today. I’m going to share two posts. Today we climb the Barranco Wall, which is substantially bigger than I envisioned. Today was crazy difficult. We climbed a rock wall like mountain goats. The distance was shorter than previous days as we let off the throttle a bit in preparation for the summit day. I am definitely feeling the altitude now, not dramatically but breathing has changed and my legs are definitely complaining.
“Today was crazy difficult. We climbed a rock wall like mountain goats.”
The end goal is now visible and achievable. It’s amazing how the mind can override some physical discomfort, onward and upward, literally. The scenery at this altitude is outstanding!! Being above the clouds gives a whole different perspective. The cloud formations are very cool. Truly amazing. It’s making me realise how small we really are in relation to the magnitude of this big spinning rock we call home.
Day 5 – Karanga Camp to Barafu Camp
Today is a split day. A short hike from Karanga Camp to Barafu Camp in the morning, a sleep, then summit begins in the night. The morning hike has definitely been a challenge. Desire and drive is there, but breathing is getting harder. Fatigue is most noticeable in my legs. The gas tank feels empty.
“The morning hike has definitely been a challenge. Desire and drive is there, but breathing is getting harder. Fatigue is most noticeable in my legs. The gas tank feels empty.”
I have seen a few folks throwing up on the trail today, a side effect of the altitude, and several folks turning back. Due to altitude or exhaustion, I’m not sure. The weather definitely got colder. More snow and freezing rain rather than just rain. Made it to Barafu Camp soaking wet from head to toe. Time to eat and sleep. I am more determined than ever. After a bite to eat, some great convo with my Swiss friends and a nap. It’s just about game time. The summit begins …
Day 6 – Barafu Camp to SUMMIT to Mweka Camp
Today was a big day. Today is summit day!! The day actually began yesterday, as the climb began at night. Today’s goal is to summit Uhuru Peak and descend. Snowy day today, wet clothes and cold. The trail to Stella Point has been interesting.
“Today is summit day!!”
I am not moving very fast. One step at a time. Dealing with the snow and cold alone isn’t an issue, being Canadian, but adding gassed legs and the altitude change gave me reason to pause.
Pole pole is Swahili for ‘slowly slowly’. You hear that a lot on the mountain.”
Pole pole is Swahili for ‘slowly slowly’. You hear that a lot on the mountain. The thought is move slowly but don’t stop and you cover a lot of ground. We made it to Stella Point, the last stop before Uhuru Peak. My guide, Cyprian, reminded me that Stella Point is a great accomplishment and there is no shame in finishing there. It must have been apparent that I was struggling. My resolve wouldn’t let me finish this close to the top. The last leg of the summit to Uhuru Peak was amazing!! Snow-covered and unbelievable views. Walking past glaciers with the end goal in sight. At one point there was a rainbow meeting a glacier, spectacular. The ultimate was reaching Uhuru Peak. Visually amazing and emotional. Goal achieved!! Because of the altitude it isn’t advisable to stay at the peak for too long. Though not painful, the pressure in my head was quite strong.
What goes up must come down. Descent was very challenging. It snowed a lot. Slushy and slippery. It was safer to trek down the scree as opposed to the hardened path. It was like walking downhill in deep soft sand that happened to be snow-covered. Though I’m still riding the high of summiting, it is becoming very clear that the descent requires caution and focus. My guide Cyprian and porter Godbless are close and very helpful. They both played a major role in my success. I’m not sure I can sufficiently show my gratitude. I have felt a family type bond to both of them. Amazing people. Together we made it back to Barafu Camp.
Day 7 – Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate
Today started with a tipping ceremony, then we finished our descent. The tipping ceremony is a time for us travellers to honour those who helped make our journey happen. Some carry bags, some cook and some serve food, among many other tasks. Tipping isn’t mandatory, but when you see the level of work these fine people put in you understand it is well deserved.
The final descent took several hours, the terrain is manageable. It was a good time to reflect on the journey. My question to myself is were there any life lessons to take from this wonderful experience? These are some of the things that came to mind: Goal setting – I am a fan of setting goals. Goals are necessary. If you only focus on the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro you risk injury or worse. You need to focus on your steps. One foot in front of the other. This reminded me that it’s not just about the end goal but the journey. Sometimes the path was clear and easy, other times it was difficult. If my eyes were only on the summit and not the path in front of me, the outcome may not have been pleasant.
“Short-term, attainable goals are equally as important as the long-term ones”
We are all the same – on the mountain I was with folks from all walks of life. Citizens of different countries, different races, different religions, different ages and different genders. Yet we were all focused on the same goals, equal, encouraging and helping each other. Friendships and bonds were formed even though we had really only known each other for a short amount of time. Great stuff!!! Merino wool – if you have never experienced merino wool socks, go get some! Wet feet, wet boots. The socks didn’t care. Warm and comfy, with no blisters. All in all Mt Kilimanjaro was an amazing experience. I will forever appreciate the kind and giving nature of the people of Tanzania. Hopefully you have enjoyed these posts. Hakuna matata!!
The guides and porters that work for Follow Alice were a huge part of the success. I also made some great new friends. All round a great experience, taking my body to its physical limits. Mind over matter and sheer determination regardless of how I felt was nearly a daily thing. I heard a fella say the pain is only temporary and so it was. Back at the lodge now, enjoy a drink, home tomorrow!
I hope you enjoyed my Lemosho Route Kilimanjaro journal! Want to climb Kilimanjaro?