The Journey to plant the International Year of Co-operatives flag on the top of Africa, August 25 – September 1, 2012.Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest point in Africa, often called the “Top of Africa”. One of the most interesting things about climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is the unique ecosystems. At the lower elevations, there is a belt of forests and as we proceeded up the mountain, there was less and less vegetation.
Here’s our journey:
For those who haven’t been following the blog, we had a great team.: Three of us are career co-operators who work together at Canadian Co-operative Association International Development division: Ingrid Fischer, Africa Region Director, and a Canadian who resides in Uganda, Lydia Phillips, Asia/Americas Region Director and Jo-Anne Ferguson Senior Director. Lydia and Jo-Anne work in the Ottawa office. We were joined by two friends: Monnie Biety, international consultant for credit unions, who resides in Colorado and her niece Gabrielle Markel, who just finished high school and lives in Alaska. (Gabrielle brought the average age of the team down.)
|Our first glimpse of the mountain|
This was our first glance of Kilimanjaro as the plane landed. We started to sense the reality of our challenge even though the mountain still seemed a long way away.
|Our guide, Raymond, and his MEC gaiters|
There are several routes to the top. We chose the Lemoshe 8-day route as it offered the best chance of success giving us time to adapt to the altitude. Ultimate Kilimanjaro was our guiding company and we were pleased with their competence and supportive approach. We had two Guides, one Assistant Guide, a Cook and 16 Porters carrying camping and cooking equipment. We found a co-op connection -- our Guide Raymond wore gaiters from Mountain Equipment Co-op!
It is NOT a wilderness hike – you may get tired but you won’t get lost! At any time there are hundreds of trekkers on the mountain lead by qualified guides and porters. We shared a camp each night with about 200 hikers. Here’s one of the camps:
All trekkers proceed “pole pole” (pronounced polĕ - polĕ) which means “slowly, slowly” in Swahili and is the best advice for anyone who wants to make it to the top. After carefully reading the instructions (better late than never) we were ready to go.
We spent our first day and part of the second day in the forest. It’s very lush dense vegetation with heavy rainfall. This is from about 1,800 to 2,800 meters. It was breathtakingly beautiful.
|Entering the forest zone|
|View of the forest zone|
The heather zone is a transition from the forest to the moorland. We found mist and fog close to the forest and low-growing shrubs growing in dense masses.
MOORLAND:This is an open area with peaty soil covered with heather and bracken and moss. It’s very cool and clear climate and it’s where we really started to feel the elevation changes. We had frost on our tents in the morning and the sun was very intense during the day.
|Jo-Anne showing off the frosty tent|
|Ingrid in the alpine zone|
|and more climbing....|
|(L-R) Ingrid, Lydia and Jo-Anne|
|Lydia with a snow/ice ball|
|Remember we said that we weren’t alone on the mountain? Well, here’s the rush hour on a narrow pass that all hikers and porters must go through.|
|Our guide, Wilson, looking for a merge lane.|