Over a year in the making and we were finally on our way to the Rongai route trail head on the north side of Mt Kilimanjaro. We packed into two buses and made the journey from our lodge outside of Arusha towards the Kenyan border and our starting point. Nerves and butterflies were firing on all points.
When we arrived at the gate to the Rongai route, the only northern route for ascending Mt Kilimanjaro, it was abuzz with activity. Lunch boxes were distributed and our gear was assembled, and the necessary pre-climb business had begun. The Rongai route begins at a mere 6,397 ft.
For a group of 24 climbers there is a support system of 84 guides and porters. That's a lot of people making their way up the mountain, especially considering we are not the only group making this ascent. Each climber has their own porter to carry their extra gear up to 15 kg. Our gear bags are weighed at the first check-in point, because there are strict laws governing the weight a porter can carry, as well as the number of support staff per climber. Our guide company has a porter pool of about 600 men and women waiting for a job.
Day 1 will take us from the Rongai Gate to the Simba Camp at 8,858 ft over 4 miles of trail. The northern side of the mountain is the dry side, we wouldn't really appreciate this fact until hearing from other groups at the lodge after our climb.