My Kilimanjaro trip & Meningitis Research Foundation project

My Kilimanjaro trip happened more than 3 years ago and now I have a good reason to refresh my memories, share the  experience and to encourage everyone to climb this beautiful mountain in order to help Meningitis Research Foundation.

Please check info about their upcoming trip to Kilimanjaro at the end of my story and find out how you can be a part of a great adventure with a great cause.

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Yes, you can! 

I think the most popular questions are “Will I be able to do that?”,  “Am I fit and strong enough?” etc. And the answer is “Yes, you can do that!”. There are so many inspiring examples of people who are facing much more physical challenges than most of us and they were able to reach the peak. Including Meningitis Research Foundation ambassador and Paralympian Aaron Phipps, who has recently summited Kilimanjaro. Aaron is the first double amputee to climb Kilimanjaro unassisted climbing the last few kilometres on his hands and knees.

How to prepare

I’ve always been quite active but couple of months before the trip I’ve started to run more regularly (especially up the hill) and take the stairs whenever I could. I would say if you can take the stairs to the fifth floor without dying, you are good to go. 90% of the distance was enjoyable for me, the most difficult part was the summit to the last Uhuru peak when I started to feel attitude sickness, but this has nothing to do with the physical strength.

It was my first ever real camping and the biggest challenge was actually not being able to wash my hair for the whole week! 🙂

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Mount Kilimanjaro is a part of National Park and you can only climb it as a part of an organised group. You will have porters who will carry your supplies, tents, water and food. You will have to carry only your small backpack with water, snacks and things you need for the day. Which makes it absolutely doable for everyone. We were only two – me and my then boyfriend, and we had about 10 helpers with us – 2 guides, cook and porters.

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Weather

My trip took place in the beginning of September, the weather was perfect. No rain during the whole trip, clear sky, not too cold – I haven’t event used the warmest stuff I prepared for the trip. After watching all these YouTube videos when people say that they are freezing, it was a huge relieve to actually have a comfortable weather.

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Food

We have requested vegetarian meal and it was very delicious freshly cooked food plus some fruits, avocados, vegetables and even pancakes.

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Altitude illness

It’s very individual, even if you are very physically strong, you can suddenly feel very weak and not capable to do anything. The best cure is to increase the altitude slowly and let your body adjust for a longer period of time if needed. I started to experience slight symptoms on the forth-fifth day – a bit of headache, weakness and lost of appetite. It didn’t really affected me till the last couple of hours of the summit when I start to feel really weak but the excitement and songs of our guides gave me a good energy boost! 🙂

Route

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As many technicals details have already faded in my mind I’ll share with you our route and some of my favourite pictures.  Please feel free to ask me any questions!

We chose Lemosho route which by initial plan would take us 8 days but we did it in 7 days instead. There are a few options of the routs and I’m sure they are all equally exciting!

Day 1:  LONDOROSSI GATE to MTI MKUBWA 7,742’~2,360m ∙ 3 mi~4.8 km ∙ 3-4 hrs

After a restful night at the hotel, we begin our trek from western side checking in at the Londorossi gate with a starting altitude of 7,742’~2,360m.  The trail with gently ascend through the montane forest until you are welcomed into camp nestled in the Kilimanjaro rain forest at the Mti Mkubwa which in Swahili means Big Tree.

Day 2:     MTI MKUBWA to SHIRA CAMP

11,500’~3,505m ∙ 4.5 mi~7.3 km ∙ 6-8 hrs

Departing the rain forest, we enter the heath and moorland zone. In the afternoon we follow the Shira ridge the vast high altitude desert plateau where the first views of Mt Kilimanjaro open on the horizon and the landscape is a magnificent contrast from the departed rain forest.

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Day 3:   SHIRA CAMP to MOIR CAMP

13,650’~3,818m ∙ 6.3 mi~10.1 km ∙ 6-8 hrs

Full day exploration of the Shira plateau. Trek east toward Kibo’s

glaciated peak with the option to visit the ancient collapsed Shira

cone, the oldest of Kilimanjaro’s three volcanoes.  We arrive at Moir Camp situated in a huge gorge at the end of a dormant lava flow.

Day 4:   MOIR CAMP to BARRANCO CAMP

12,950’~3,916m ∙ 6.2 mi~10 km ∙ 5-7 hrs

We take an acclimatisation trek to the Lava Tower at 15,000’~4,500m.  Following our rest at the tower, we decent upon the enormous Senecio forest reaching waterfall prior to finishing at Barranco Camp.  Tonight’s camp is in the shadow of the massive Barranco wall with the breeze often carrying clouds from the Barranco Valley.

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Day 5:   BARRANCO to KARANGA CAMP

13,200’ 4,630m ∙ 2.2 mi~3.5 km ∙ 3-5 hrs

We conquer the great Barranco Valley and up the Barranco wall; continue the trek on the South Circuit path through the Karanga Valley.  We camp tonight at Karanga Camp.

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Day 6:   KARANGA CAMP to BARAFU CAMP

15,200’~4,630m ∙ 3.4 mi~5.4 km ∙ 3-5 hrs

Slowly trek to Barafu Camp. from Barafu you will have excellent views of Kibo and Mawenzi peaks. Barufu Camp is situated on an exposed ridge providing majestic sunsets ushering in the summit night.  We acclimatise and make necessary preparation for the summit day ahead.

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Day 7:   BARAFU to SUMMIT to MWEKA CAMP

19,340’~5,895m ∙  13 mi~21 km ∙ 12-14 hrs

Tonight is the night!  A midnight start to conquer the highest point in Africa.  This section of the route is considered one of the steepest on the non-technical paths of Kilimanjaro. It is a 6-7 hour hike to Stella Point in order to see the sunrise. From Stella Point it is a 1 hour to Uhuru Peak and the rooftop of Africa.  We then descend down to Mweka Camp for dinner and celebration.

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Day 8:   MWEKA CAMP to Exit

Mweka Gate 5,400’~1,620m ∙  3.7 mi~5.9 km ∙ 3-4 hrs

An morning walking to Mweka gate reflecting of the past weeks experience.

It was an amazing experience and if you are thinking about doing something different for your next holiday have a look at the Kilimanjaro Trip organised Meningitis Research Foundation.

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Meningitis Research Foundation –  Kilimanjaro Trip :

http://www.meningitis.org/event/mrfkili

Meningitis Research Foundation’s ambassador and Paralympian Aaron Phipps, has recently summited Kilimanjaro. Aaron is the first double amputee to climb Kilimanjaro unassisted, climbing the last few kilometres on his hands and knees. Aaron’s incredible achievement has inspired us to get together a team of members, supporters, and those from our science community to climb Kilimanjaro in October 2017.

Dates: 21-31 October 2017
Cost of the trip:
Meningitis Research Foundation takes over 200 students up Kilimanjaro every year, and has done for the past 6 years, so we have a wealth of experience in supporting Kilimanjaro participants reach their fundraising targets. We will also have members of staff signed up so we can all share our fundraising plans.

• Registration Fee: £395.00 (you can split this into 2 instalments)
• Fundraise: £4,350 for Meningitis Research Foundation by 25th August 2017

Fundraising targets can be reduced by selecting the ‘Flexi-Funded’ option.  This will reduce your target by £1000.00 and you will pay Really Wild Challenges £500 directly instead.

 The portal to sign up: https://regonline.activeeurope.com/Register/Checkin.aspx?EventID=1876384

How Meningitis Research Foundation will support you:
• You will receive a fundraising pack guiding you towards your target.

• Dedicated staff member who will assist you throughout the year, including personalised fundraising plans and event attendance.

• There will be a Facebook group for the team to share their fundraising tips. This also gives you the opportunity to organise joint fundraising events.

• Kilimanjaro fundraising newsletters and support sent on a monthly basis.

• Sending out resources to the fundraisers, their families and friends – hundreds of buckets, tins, t-shirts, balloons, banners and lots more are readily available.

• Opportunity to go on a weekend trek in the UK will ensure that the team get to know one another.

• Personal and ongoing support from our tour operator, Really Wild Challenges, to prepare you for the trip.

Meningitis Research Foundation:

Meningitis is the inflammation of the lining around the brain and spinal cord. It’s estimated that 1,000 people die from meningitis and septicaemia every day. As many as one in ten of those affected will sadly lose their lives and a third of survivors will be left with after-effects, some as serious as brain damage, amputations, blindness and hearing loss. Meningitis Research Foundation is a charity which was set up by a group of bereaved parents in 1989. Our vision is a world free from meningitis and septicaemia.

The work which we do can be divided into three parts; research, awareness, and support.

Research – As the symptoms of meningitis are so difficult to detect, developing vaccinations is extremely important. Over the past 27 years, we have invested a huge amount of money into research, awarding 156 research grants which investigate the prevention, detection, and treatment of meningitis.

Awareness – As not all strains of meningitis are currently covered by existing vaccines, promoting symptoms awareness is so important. We send symptoms information to individuals, schools, universities, doctors surgeries and hospitals around the UK. If symptoms are recognised as meningitis and treatment is given early, then there is a higher chance of preventing both death and long-term disability.

Support – We provide direct support to people and families affected. This is achieved by our telephone helpline, our befriending programme, which brings together people who have been affected by meningitis, so that they are able to help and support one another, our home visits, and members’ days. The staff on our helpline are trained in bereavement support and offer ongoing support to recently bereaved families.

Meningitis Research Foundation also does really amazing work in Malawi and ‘The Meningitis Belt’ across Africa, developing a unique and innovative project which identifies and fast-tracks acutely sick children.

Working towards a world free from meningitis and septicaemia

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