Manx Flag Waved at The Top of Kilimanjaro Summit

Leanne Venables
November 10, 2023
Company News

After saying our Goodbyes to the children and staff at the Orphanage, a few of us (Werner Alberts, Jamie Wade, Karen Le Moal, Leanne and John Venables) decided it would be a good idea to climb Kilimanjaro!

We also had Mike, a family friend of Werner’s join us for the Trek. Mike and his Mum had always dreamt of climbing Kilimanjaro together but sadly she passed away following a short illness a few months earlier.  When Mike heard about our trip, he asked if he could join us and of course we were more than happy to help him follow a dream in his Mum’s memory.

Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa and the highest free-standing mountain above sea level in the world, standing at 5895m (19,340ft).

With high expectations, Werner enrolled us all on the shorter 5-day Marangu Route (Coca Cola route) which had the lowest success rate of them all at just 50%. On the plus side though, this route unlike the others, had wooden style dormitory huts to sleep in rather than camping.

Day 1 - We were picked up from the hotel on Monday morning where we were greeted by our guides and a bus full of porters. The Porters would be carrying our bags, all the food, water, cooking equipment and their own items all the way to the top base camp.

We had a 2-hour journey to Marangu Gate and it was amazing to see how the landscape changed from dry dusty roads and fields to lush green tropical plants and farms.

On arrival at the gate we were gifted with a delightful lunch box (we were now sick of these things) and once all the paperwork was sorted by our guide, we began our accent. We were walking approximately 5 miles heading for Mandara Hut which sits at 2700m high.

The walk was beautiful and we all felt it was like walking through Ballaglass Glen but with the addition of Monkeys.

Day 2 - Todays walk was around 7 miles and we were headed for the Horombo Hut which sat at 3720m. The landscape changed quite quickly once we set off from Rainforest to Moorland.

They even had fibre broadband all the way to Kibo Hut!

Day 3 - Today we walked around 6 miles to Kibo Hut at an altitude of 4700 meters.

The landscape was now alpine desert and it started to feel colder. Our guides would often quote the words “Pole Pole” which translates to ‘Slowly Slowly’. Going slowly allows your body more time to acclimatize to the higher altitude and lack of oxygen.

We arrived at Kibo in time for a late lunch and tried to get some sleep before leaving for the summit at midnight.

Day 4 - After trying unsuccessfully to get some sleep (excluding Karen who seemed to be able to sleep at any given point), we ate (excluding Leanne who didn’t seem to be able to eat at any given point) and set off at midnight to the summit.

We began walking very, very slowly in the pitch black with only our headtorches to light up the feet of the person in font. Altitude sickness had now set in with us all feeling some or all of the affects such as headaches, sickness, dizziness and low energy. Oxygen levels at this altitude are down to around 40% of that found at sea level making it feel like you are only working on one lung. You have no choice but to shuffle along, pole pole!  

Hours passed by and every time you looked up you could just see lights from other walkers that appeared to be directly above you.

Eventually we finished climbing the worst of it and began to make our way around the volcanoes crater. Watching the sunrise from above the clouds at this altitude with the curvature of the earth was just amazing! We continued walking around the crater, past the ice glaciers and eventually, after 6.5 hours of climbing we reached Uhuru Peak, the summit!

Reaching the top was very emotional for some of us. Mike scattered some of his mother’s ashes and we all took a moment to appreciate what we had done.

The altitude was tough up here though, so we got a quick photo and began our descent back down to Kibo. We stopped at Kibo for a couple of hours, had some food and set off again to get down to our accommodation for the night at Horombo Huts.

Absolutely exhausted, we had some tea and got our heads down for the night! Refreshed and ready to the final leg.

Day 5 - We had a laugh on our way back down the mountain. Relieved it was done and shouting Good Luck to all the poor people just setting off. Werner even caught a lift in the mountain ambulance!

Once we arrived at the gate, we had a lovely lunch with all the porters and team who sang songs to us and presented us with our certificates. In total we had walked over 43 miles, climbing to a height of 5,895metres (19,340 ft).

There were so many funny moments on the trip, a strong team bond was formed and so many memories were made that we will all share forever.

The joy of a clean toilet will never be underestimated again.

Disclaimer: The views, thoughts and opinions expressed within this article are those of the authors and not those of any company within the Capital International Group (CIG) and as such are neither given nor endorsed by CIG. Information in this article does not constitute investment advice or an offer or an invitation by or on behalf of any company within the Capital International Group of companies to buy or sell any product or security or to make a bank deposit

Continue reading