Machame Gate to Machame Camp
Altitude 1930m to 2980m
The Machame gate was a hour drive from Moshi and it is the start of the trail up Kilimanjaro. Starting at just short of 2000m it isn’t too noticeable but the guides keep the group going at a slow pace. The terrain was mostly rainforest which just before camp transitioned to much shorter trees. In total we walked 10.4km in 6.5 hours. It only rained for a couple short spurts, but otherwise it was hot and humid in the rainforest. As we closed in at camp I could notice the thinner air. Once at camp it was hard to remember to walk slow. A simple walk to the bathroom at a normal pace would leave me out of breath. The motto of the mountain is ‘Pole Pole’ which means slowly.
Machame Camp to Shira Camp
Altitude 2980m to 3840m
We were told that this day would be uphill and it didn’t disappoint. The first half of the day felt like it was straight up. After breakfast the trail was steep leading up a ridge line for a while. When the clouds cleared the view was spectacular. As the day went on clouds rolled in and enveloped the trail. In the early afternoon it rained a little bit but otherwise was nice for hiking. There was one narrow part of the trail that was a bit of a challenge. After lunch on the trail it flattened out and was much easier the rest of the way to the second camp. I noticed a slight headache from the altitude. In total we hiked 5km in just under 8 hours. The rainforest transitioned fully into heather with shorter bushes and very few trees.
This day was a rest day to acclimatize to the altitude. My headache from the previous day was gone after waking up. I passed the day by playing cards and going on an acclimatization hike for just over an hour. When starting out on the hike I was surprised that my heart rate was at 65 bpm. This was good as it meant I was adjusting to the altitude. In the evening I setup my camera and took a few shots of the stars.