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My Kilimanjaro Diary ...

This is the diary I kept while in Tanzania climbing Kilimanjaro in June 2016. I kept a diary to share my experience with my family and friends, as well as for a personal record for years to come. I found this trip to be a great personal achievement. I came home feeling that I had gained knowledge, mental strength and lifelong friendship.
Before leaving on this trip I had previously met most of our group at a training weekend we had in the peak district back in April, and I had met up with MT to get to know her. So I was going into this already knowing Rhian (who ends up being my tent buddy), Andi, Ollie, Dave, Dan, Amish, and MT, so there were only 4 members of the group I hadn’t met. This made me feel a lot more comfortable than I would have felt if I had never met the group before.

A massive thank you to Dave for some of the photos below, without his photography I wouldn't have made it into many photos.

June 16th:
This morning I said goodbye to my Mum, Sean and Phil at Newcastle Airport, a bit of a different goodbye than just leaving on a normal holiday, as much as this is a planned trip I still have a little bit of fear about the whole thing. I met with Marie-Therese (MT) at the airport ready for our first flight to London Heathrow, this was the first of three flight that got us to Tanzania. When we got to Heathrow we met up with the rest of the team, as we’d all travelled from different areas, this was a chance to meet the other 4 members of our team that I didn’t yet know, these were Isla, Thusan, Dilsan and Simon, We also met our Global adventure team leader Justin, he would travel with us and lead our group up the mountain.
So the journey begins from here, safe to say it's a pretty scary feeling, at the end of these two flights I'll be in Tanzania ready to climb the largest stand alone mountain in the world. Not sure why I was crazy enough to sign up for this but I'm pretty sure it's going to be one of the best experiences of my life!
What a great way to start our trip, flights delayed due to a thunder storm in London, bloody typical, especially as anyone who knows me knows I'm terrified of thunder and lightening. 
We flew from London to Ethiopia with Ethiopian Airlines, basically the long haul version of ryanair. The aeroplane was very basic but as long as it gets us there in one piece that's all that matters. I'm currently writing this at 2am on the morning of the 17th, looking around the aeroplane where everyone seems to be sound asleep apart from myself and Isla. I just can't get comfortable and the nerves seem to be kicking in, so I've spent the whole journey watching films on the in-flight entertainment.

June 17th:
Just landed in Tanzania, after flying from Ethiopia to Kilimanjaro with Ethiopian airlines again. Yet again not a wink of sleep, safe to say I'm exhausted. We have arrived at Weru Weru lodge, the lodge is absolutely stunning. This was a shock to me as I seem to have missed this part of the itinerary, I thought we were setting off walking after we landed which is why I had got myself so worked up about not sleeping. Our rooms are lovely, such a great way to start our trip, outside of our rooms we found the lodge homed 4 camels and a tortoise, we all got far too excited getting selfies with them all. In our group there are so many different personalities, but we all seem to get on so well, I feel so lucky to be taking this challenge with such a great group of people. We are going to spend our last few hours of luxury chilling out for the night in the bar getting to know eachother abit better before we set off tomorrow and making the most of our last hot shower and our last night in a proper bed.

June 18th: 
Day One. Today was the first day of walk starting at the machame gate. Everyone seems to be really excited, with just a few nerves. At machame gate we met our Tanzanian team leaders, here we are walking with Ahsante Tours. Our group leaders are Bryson, Alex, JT, Laurian and Professor.  Setting off the weather was lovely and warm however the day ended with a few showers. We walked 9km today up to 2850m to our first camp which is Machame Camp, 9km doesn't sound far but we have to walk at a 'Poley Poley' slow pace to help us acclimatise. It seems a little strange at first walking so slow, but I can see it being beneficial later on in the trip, it did give us chance to have a chat amongst ourselves and get to know our team leaders abit. Today the porters set us up dinner at the side of the pathway about 3 hours into our walk, the porters had prepared us fried chicken, vegetable samosas and some chocolate snacks. We didn't know what to expect food wise on this trip so anything tasty is a plus.
So we've got to our first camp, we've had a bowl of hot water each to have a wash in. This is something we are going to have to get used to, which is going to be pretty difficult. You get quite a small amount of hot water, as the water they collect has to wash us morning and night, aswell as being distilled for us to drink. We’ve had a couple of hours to get our beds set up and get to know our camp alittle, we’ve had some absolutely hilarious experiences with the toilets but we’ll keep them stories between friends.
Tonight for tea the chef had prepared us some sweet and salty popcorn, pumpkin soup & spaghetti bolognaise. We were pretty shocked at how good the food was, hopefully it'll be just as good the whole trip. As much as it was pretty warm during the day today, the sunset at about 6:30pm and the temperature has dropped quite abit, so Andi has had the great idea of making hot water bottles out of our metal water bottles, its making my sleeping bag a lot cosier. Absolutely shattered tonight, never thought I would look forward to sleeping in a tent. Feeling a little unwell today but think its just nerves and being away from home.

June19th :
Day two. Today we walked from  Machame camp to Shira camp. Only 6km in total reaching up to 3850m, we are starting to get prepared for altitude sickness to kick in, this is why we are covering short distances over 5-6 hours. We arrived at camp to beautiful sun, so I took full advantage and found a nice rock to have a little sunbath on. When we got to camp we welcomed to fried chicken and chips for lunch, we couldn't believe our eyes. I am actually so shocked with the food we are being served. We had an hour nap to rest ourselves before we walked up to the Shira caves, to try and get ourselves used to the altitude, and see some fantastic views. We were then greeted by all of our team of porters and leaders, I’ve never met such cheery people. These guys work so hard during the day yet they still had the energy to spend time with us singing and dancing together. This was quite an emotional moment, it really made you realise how much the porters do for us and how much we take for granted at home. The guys introduced us to some Swahili songs, we had a right laugh, it really picked me up. We then had tea which was beetroot salad, cucumber soup and then beef sauce with pineapple rice, again such a good meal. At this stage myself and Rhian are so happy to have a baby wipe body wash and clean our feet, and apply a bit of moisturiser, it’s the little things. Its such a shame we are all so tired on an evening we don’t get much time to hang out as a group, however some of the guys have brought packs of cards so hopefully we’ll get chance to play a few games.

June 20th:
Day Three. Didn’t sleep well at all last night, managed to set my sleeping bag on top of a very uncomfortable rock. Today we travelled from Shira camp to lava tower which reached up to 4800km, today was super draining mentally and the whole team found it a struggle, headaches definitely kicked in for me today. Good job I'm climbing with a fantastic group of people as we work fantastically as a team and don't let anyone drop behind out of their comfort zones. The walk itself wasn’t that difficult I think it was just the fact it was such a warm day and it was our first real run in with altitude, also it didn’t help that there wasn’t much to see it was almost like walking on mars.
When we got to lava tower we stopped for some lunch, here the chef had made us vegetable soup and cheese toasties, its amazing how much the home comforts boost your spirit.
We then walked back down to 4000km to Barranco camp to sleep, this is to help us adjust to the altitude. We had a few hours to spare so half the group played games of cards to occupy our time, while some of the others had an afternoon nap. Tonight it was great to speak to my mum and Sean, made me remember why I was doing it and made me feel settled. I think this will be the last time I get to speak to them till after summit day, not sure if I’ll have any signal after today. For tea tonight we had leek soup and chicken pasta, amazing yet again! An early night ready for Barranco wall in the morning, this is gonna be quite a tough day that I’m quite looking forward to.

June 21st:
Today we walked Barranco wall, more scrambling than walking, my legs are covered in bruises already. It got the adrenaline going though, I found today so fun. We climbed up what I would describe as a cliff face for around 3 hours. This was then followed with a zig zag walk to Karanga camp, in total 5.5 hours walk. Yet again the weather hasn’t been brilliant, Im not too bothered what the weather is like now just as long as its clear for summit night. When we got to camp we were served dinner of tuna and chips. Half of us then got together to play cards while the others napped again, unfortunately I can’t nap during the day else I wont sleep tonight. Dinner tonight was mushroom soup & chicken curry and vegetable rice. An early night is needed before tomorrow, tomorrow is the beginning of the start of summit night can’t believe how fast the time is going.

June 22nd:
Today started with a reasonably small walk, around 4km that takes us up to 4600km, to base camp. We've spent a couple of hours playing cards in the mess tent, and filled up on pasta. We now need to sleep till 9:30pm, then we wake up, eat again and get ready to start our summit attempt. We set off at 11pm on what will be a 6-7 hour walk to hopefully reach Uhara peak which is the highest peak of Kilimanjaro, temperatures are meant to be as low as -10 degrees.
Next time I write here I will hopefully have made it to the top successfully.
Now its time to get some rest, fingers crossed.

June 23rd:
Summit Day! We bloody did it, I can’t believe it! Its all still so crazy, I can’t get my head around it. Every single one of us made it to the top after possibly the hardest seven hours ever. We set off at 11pm last night with only our  head torches to light our path, walking in pitch black is so draining. I honestly thought my legs were going to give up on me, a massive thank you to Dan for keeping me going the whole way, it was nice to have someone to chat to when your close to giving up. By the time we reached Stella point, 150m from summit, I had no feeling in my fingers or toes, temperatures were around -10 degrees and emotions were pretty low. We stopped for a quick drink at Stella point before setting off to the summit, a hot chocolate was just what I needed. It was such a relief to of reached Stella point, even though it wasn’t the summit I felt overcome with emotions. As a team we worked so hard to get to this point,  I really couldn’t of asked for a better team to do it with. At 6:30am we finally reached the summit, what an achievement, I never realised how emotional this experience would be. The views from summit were astonishing, I don’t feel any of the photos do it justice. After days of rubbish weather and cloudy skies, this morning the sky couldn't have been clearer. We were so lucky. The most amazing part is that every single one of us made it to the top, I am so proud of everyone.
Once we got back to camp we had just over an hour to rest before we headed off on a two hour walk to our camp for the evening. Walking down hill is so much easier. We are now currently in millennium camp ready to chill for the evening and get something to eat. I cant believe this is our last night on the mountain, but so happy it’s the last night I have to sleep in the tent. At this point you don’t really have much concept of date or time all we’ve been counting is the days its taken us.
Tomorrow we have around a 5 hour walk then we will be at the end of our journey, scary as the days have gone so fast.

June 24th:
Last day on the mountain, and it’s all over. I feel a little bit sad.
Today we walked for around 5 hours to get to the bottom of the mountain, I’ve never known 5 hours drag so much, my knees aches and my toes feel bruised. But such an amazing feeling being stood at the bottom of the mountain with a nice Kilimanjaro beer, and it was so good that we were all together to celebrate. We are off now for a nice lunch and then back to the lodge to get a lovely hot shower and to start celebrating, whoop!! I’ll leave this entry here as tonight is probably going to get quite messy.

June 25th:
Our last day in Tanzania, time for abit of reflection. I’m currently laid on my bed in the lodge thinking about how crazy the last 7 days have been, while Rhian snores away next to me sound asleep, think someone had abit too much to drink last night.
By the end of today we will be on our way back to the UK. It’s sad thinking I have spent the last year getting ready for this trip, fundraising, buying equipment and getting to know the people I was travelling with. And now we’ve done it.
I am so glad that I decided to sign up to this challenge, I feel like I have achieved a lot physically and mentally over the last 7 days. I know that probably sounds daft to some people but parts of this trip have been bloody hard and I’ve always managed to pick myself up and get on with it.
I can’t wait to get home and share my adventure with my family and friends, the photos wont ever show how amazing the views and experiences were but I will always have them memories.
I’m going to end this diary now, everybody knows the travelling home part is nowhere near as fun as the way here so I wouldn’t want to bore you with them details. I know for some this diary may not interest them, but I hope with sharing my experience it may encourage at least one person to cross something off their bucket list.

Now to get planning for Machu Picchu in 2 years time. What are you going to tick off your bucket list?

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