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Machame to Uhuru

A month ago, Cameron reached the summit of Kilimanjaro alongside his teammates. After reflecting on his challenge, he has put together an overview of his journey from Machame Gate to Uhuru Peak. See just what his five-day journey was like...


Day 1: Machame Gate - Machame Camp


After a week of recovering from my unfortunate illness on my first attempt at the climb, I was lucky enough to join the nicest new group anyone could ask for. Upon arriving at Machame Gate, we got checked in, had some lunch, and then began the trek through the rainforest. We arrived at the Machame Camp just before sunset and got our first taste of the cold mountain nights. Thankfully my sleeping bag kept me nice and toasty and I got a good night's sleep, waking up the next morning feeling refreshed.

Day 2 part 1: Machame Camp - Shira Camp


On day 2 we emerged from the rainforest and made our way along a steep, rocky ridge. The scenery started to open up here, but it wasn't long before we were walking through the clouds. The spectacular views revealed themselves again as we approached Shira Camp which was one of the biggest camps on the route. We walked over to the Shira Caves which, up until 2010, would be where up to 60 porters would squeeze into sleep. Thankfully there are now laws that all climb crew must sleep in tents.


Day 2 part 2: Shira Cave Camp


The sunset at Shira Camp was just spectacular! We also got to meet all the porters and they sang some songs to us, one of which was the insanely catchy "Jambo Bwana". Then they asked us to sing a song to them, so me being the only Scot on the team, I piped up with the Proclaimers classic "I'm Gonna Be (500 miles)".


Each evening we ate in our beloved Mess Tent. Even though we were on a mountain, we had three meals a day served on tables with cutlery! The chefs did an amazing job as all of the food was "kitamu sana" (very tasty).

Day 3: Shira Camp - Lava Tower - Barranco Camp


The first half of day 3 saw us trekking to the Lava Tower, a 300ft tall rock formation created from lava when Kilimanjaro was still an active volcano. This spectacle sits at an elevation of 4600m, the same height as the Barafu base camp we'd be trekking to the next day, thus allowing us to acclimatise. After having lunch at Lava Tower Camp, we made our way down to Barranco Camp.


Our lead guide Geoffrey was the best guide anyone could ask for. At the time of my group's climb, he had conquered Kilimanjaro a total of 517 times which is absolutely insane!


Day 4: Baranco Camp - Barafu Camp


Day 4 featured one of my favourite parts of the climb - The Barranco Wall. While no ropes or harnesses were required, we had to use our hands and knees (and sometimes arse) to scale the wall. One section, in particular, had a rock that stuck out from the pathway which was called "The Kissing Stone" as you would give it a kiss as you shimmied around it.


We got some incredible views at the top of the wall before continuing our ascent to the Barafu Camp at 4673m, roughly the same height as Lava Tower Camp which we reached the day before. We got some scran into us and then tried to get a couple of hours of sleep before our 12 am wake-up for the infamous Summit Night.


Day 5: Barafu Camp - Uhuru Peak


This is it - Summit Night! After a few hours of sleep, we got up at 12 am and started the final stretch of the climb through the night with our head torches and as many layers as possible on. Thankfully, I didn't suffer from much altitude sickness but this final stretch was still one of the hardest things I've ever done. However, seeing the sunrise and making it to the summit was simply euphoric! Once again, I have to give a shout-out to the guides and porters who were kind enough to carry our day-packs for us and sing songs to keep our spirits up.


If you would like to read more about Cam's experience then head over to his dedicated Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/cameron_kilimanjaro2022/


Or if you think you have what it takes to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro in 2023 just like Cam and his team, then join one of our upcoming information sessions: https://www.facebook.com/digdeepafrica/events



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