Weekend Travel Challenge: Day trek up Shira peak, Mt. Kilimanjaro

I was overjoyed with Tanzania National Park’s promo to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro for Tshs 5000/- for all nationals in an effort to raise awareness for national/local tourism. I was overjoyed because promotion of national tourism is my new cause and budget travel is my ultimate goal. I had been to the Marangu gate and the Kilimanjaro park reserve but never to the other gates.

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Strange customs

To get to Shira peak we would drive up the LondorrosI (Landros) gate. In the last minute parking I forgot everything that would keep me warm, had a 1.5 liters juice box and a pack of biscuits. Apart from wanting to see what was up there and my spirit for adventure, I had no further reason to climb Kili; no social cause, no goal. I wasn’t climbing for anyone or for myself. I was hoping for a surprise and perharps I was interested to see what attracts thousands of climbers each year!

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It was a group climb and for the first time in my group traveling experience we started off on time. The guide gave us all sort of warning on what we might experience, I almost got off the bus to head back home becausebit sounded very scary.
We had a diverse group from pre-teens to post menopausals. Everyone was excited, mostly because it was the cheapest way to climb the Africa’s most popular natural wonder.

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When the climb got tough at more than halfway up, I battled with my will power. I was physically exhausted and had no mental motivation to keep going. I wasn’t enjoying the climb mostly because I had to keep up with the group, I was feelint faint and there wasn’t really much to ewe me; it was foggy, dump and cold. There were a couple of plants that took my breath away but it mostly felt dead. Had it not been for the stories told by the guides and the complaints of the climbers it would’ve been the most mundane adventure I have been to. That is how I felt until I came across a dung beetle making it’s way up and the clouds lifted to reveal the most breath taking view at “the cathedral”.

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When I finally got to the peak and silenced my inner thoughts, I realised just how calming it is to experience nature at it’s best and the silent sound of triumph after achieving something you didn’t give up on is most exhilarating.

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Youngest climbers in the group.

Unfortunately, the government has recently raised the prices of entering the park, the day fee is now Tshs 10,000/- per day. The effort to raise local participation will probably be challenged by the cost. As it is, there is little willingness to undertake such a physical challenge in presumed adverse conditions; the high cost is going to reinforce the unwillingness to climb.

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