Mandara, the first shelter. By Roberto Pierobon

September 21st, 2012.

Wake at 7am, breakfast and introduction meeting with the guides and the porters; guide Remid Muassy, vice-guide Joseph Igombre, chef Tito Kimario, porters Enock Loti, Honest Valeriani, Ashiley, Molely, Athumanu Juma an Gadiel Emanuel.

Once they loaded the van with our luggage and let people take their seat (seven people van and we were twelve!), we finally leave to reach the Kilimanjaro National Park not too far from the Marangu Gate, entrance door to the way to Uhuru peak, “Freedom” in Swahili, four thousand meter high. According to statistics, only one in five persons amongst the thousand whom every year tries to climb the mountain, are able to closely admire Ngai’s ice throne, the mountain’s god.

As soon as we get to Marangu, after filling out the necessary permits and taken the proper pictures, we start our trekking. While going from Marangu Gate to our first shelter, we cross a pluvial forest populated by monkeys and several bird species. The path that in four hours walk will leads us the shelter, marked by the off-road vehicles, crosses the heart of the jungles and after few kilometers we find ourselves under the forest vault. On the way up we meet several groups coming from the opposite direction. At the first we were puzzled by their kindness, as not only they warmly salute us but also wish us good luck. Only later we realized they were being facetious, as they knew a lot of people on the first climb have no clue about how tiring this is. We need to stop for lunch, as we will do every day on the way up and every day on the way down: right on top of a grassy clearing, flooded by the blinding sunlight, there is the Mandara.

Here ends the first leg of our adventure, where we find a lovely haven made of wooden mountain huts, like the ones one can see on the Alps and so unusual here in the Equator. It’s still early in the evening so we decide to look for a crater near by: the Maundi Crater. A warm dinner is waiting for us when we get back to the camp.



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