The Kilimanjaro Diary: Day 1 – Machame Gate (1500m) to Machame Camp (3000m) (11 March 2013)


Now I have the benefit of some of the notes I took on my iPhone, so it’s easy to recall how I felt and what was going on inside my head 🙂


Off to a great start – Hotel and Machame Gate

We start the morning with weighing our duffel bag that the porter will carry. The total weight of the bag can’t exceed 15kg because in addition to carrying our bag, the porters bring along everything else we need. My bag comes in a 13.2kg which makes me happy. Christina’s bag comes in well under the limit too. And then we go to store our luggage, take care of the formalities at the hotel, and eventually we are off to Machame gate! So far so good! We get to the gate, unload our kit, make sure we have what we need in our day packs, and then complete the formalities. We also meet our Assistant Guide Abraham, he is 55 years old and cool as hell.

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After the formalities we get into place and begin the trek!

From Okay to Not So Okay in 4 Hours

We start off well enough from the entry point of Machame. It’s planned to be around a 5-7 hour climb from 1800m to 3000m, covering about 10km.

If I had to summarise this first day in one word, it would be “adjustment”. Not only was I poorly dressed (jean shorts, only a t-shirt, no rain jacket, no gaiters), but my endurance level was way too low. The first 600 meters to around 2400m was manageable, but I felt myself getting extremely winded after 2400m. It’s hard to explain. I looked tired but I wasn’t. It felt more like I wasn’t getting enough air. Like in some way I was suffocating whilst walking. Getting rained on didn’t help much as I was going up the mountain in wet clothes. I pulled out the poncho (big help), but was so wet that I decided that I wouldn’t put on my rain jacket because clothes don’t really dry up on the mountain and I couldn’t afford to have my outer layers get too wet.

I also decided to go for a long as possible without using my hiking poles because I wanted to get used to navigating without the use of them for a day or so, but I had to give up that idea when I got a sharp pain in my left hip. Already the last in the group of travelers, I had to slow down even more. It felt bad inside to not sprint up the mountain like all of the others. As if somehow I wasn’t as good as the others.

I was grateful that Christina likes to take pictures (virtually all of the pics you’ll see in the first few days are from her), because basically after the first day I was so exhausted, had a headache, and was completely wiped out that I could barely make it into my tent. Above all of that, my left hip started to hurt like hell, which further slowed us down. Our guide Ashard tried not to give a look of worry, but it was easy to sense that he was worried. Here was this guy who, if this kept up, would be descending back down by the end of Day 2 or Day 3.

We eventually arrived, being the last group to get there.

We arrived to Machame camp to hot water for washing (a purple bowl would be my sink for the next 6 days), some hot tea and popcorn in our mess tent (gratefully received), and our tents already set up. Christina was rather social with the other people part of the Zara trek (they don’t combine people very often, so there were actually 5 separate groups who travelling together…I hope that made sense…), but I was feeling so hurt, injured, and dazed that after our evening briefing, I took a pain killer, some diamox (for the altitude adjustment), and then went to bed around 20.30 (08.30pm).

It’s clear to me that I have to re-think my trekking approach. Sheer force of will got me up to 3000m, but I have another 2900m to go, and if I don’t want to end this trek early, I seriously need to think about how the rest of this trek should work 🙁

Christina took some amazing pictures though and I wanted to share them with you. Despite my feeling like complete crap, the scenery was beautiful

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The Chief Guide Ashard and the Assistant Guide Abraham …thanks Christina for the correction 😉

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I am not feeling particularly good about myself or my chances at the moment. Some rest and reflection will hopefully bring about a new attitude and perspective…

3 thoughts on “The Kilimanjaro Diary: Day 1 – Machame Gate (1500m) to Machame Camp (3000m) (11 March 2013)

  1. by issac, you mean abraham right? maybe you should’ve taken the sheet of paper with all the names Lol

    and that first day was like the third day for me – lord knows we’ve all felt that way at some point on the mountain…

  2. Hahaha! Indeed I should have had the list with names 🙂

    But luckily with blog posts I can edit 🙂

    I like how we can refer to it now as “The Mountain” and instantly know we mean Kili \o/

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