My Kilimanjaro experience with Ian Taylor Trekking was awesome. It is hard to put into words how I feel about this experience. It was life changing for me. Firstly, Ian has the best team on the mountain by far. Secondly, we had the best tents, staff, service, food, equipment and 1 to 1 on the summit night. And finally, we had oxygen, excellent support and safety on the trip at all times. It was truly a great experience and best service I have received on a trekking adventure.
The Best Advice Online
The Ian Taylor Trekking experience was extraordinary and happy to write about my experiences on Kilimanjaro. I had read a lot of blog posts and information about climbing Kilimanjaro. One call with Ian and I was at ease. I watched all his video’s read every blog and top tips and training information and knew I was in good hands. Ian and team always got back to me answering all my questions and therefore, I highly recommend them for your Kilimanjaro climb.
60% of People Make it to the Summit
I found it hard to believe that only 60% of people make it to the summit of Kilimanjaro. However, it is true. This was one of my first questions to Ian, I needed to know more. Ian was able to explain why people are not making it to the summit. He explained how he had climbed Kilimanjaro in 5,6,7 & 8 days and the 8 day climb was the way to go.
I trusted Ian’s judgement and experience. The longer trip was more expensive but I made a great decision!! I followed the training over a 4 month period, gradually building up the time I spent hiking each weekend. Also gradually increasing the weight in my back pack from 10 lbs to 22 lbs. I also trained 4 days a week in the gym, building my endurance on the treadmill, stair master, cross trainer and doing some weight training. This proved to be vital in my success on the mountain.
Arriving in Tanzania
I arrived in Tanzania and was greeted by Athumani and Max. These guys were amazing and thus, I felt at ease straight away. Meeting Ian and listening to his stories helped me feel at ease and excited for the coming days. We did a gear check and the team sat around and chatted for hours. The hotel was perched up in the hills. It was a great location with clean and comfortable rooms. I left my travel cloths at the hotel and excited to get walking.
A Massive Operation
We were up early for the amazing for the 3/4 hour drive across the African plains towards the west side of Kilimanjaro. It all became very real as we drove into the Londrossi gate at 11:45am. It was time to sign into Kilimanjaro National Park, and we also had the opportunity to watch the process of how are duffel bags would be carried. This is a big operation, all our baggage, food and equipment being divided up among the 55 staff. This was far more people than I expected. I can tell you, we needed each and everyone of them for this adventure. We were served a hot 3 course meal, while others were eating from boxes and bags. I had no idea the amount of work that would go into helping us reach the summit and back down again.
The Lemosho Route was Amazing
What I loved about the Lemosho route was the slow rise to the low levels of oxygen. We spent our first night below 10,000 feet. We then spent one night at 11,500 feet and then a third nights around 12,800 feet. These three nights set me up nicely before moving higher. On day four we hiked up to 15,256 feet before dropping back down to 13,000 feet. This greatly helped our whole team. I had been to altitude before and struggled with the acclimatization program. This program was perfect. I could notice the lack of oxygen in the atmosphere but never to the extent that I was struggling. I appreciated the pace of the trip and how the team were meaning managed.
The Breakfast Wall
The team were excited to take on the Barranco wall and enjoyed the Barranco wall scramble. I am used to this type of scrambling from my trips to the Lake District in the UK. The scrambling only lasted for 30 minutes and the rest of the route was moderate trekking. Topping out on the top at 13,780 feet gave amazing views of Kilimanjaro and back down the Barranco valley. At this point of the trip, the group started to believe the summit was achievable. This day’s hike really boosted my confidence.
The Karanga Experience
The final hike to Karanga camp was amazing. We were walking on a lunar landscape and really enjoying the walk. The final drop down into the Karanga valley was steep about 400 feet down and about 330 feet up the other side. We had a steep hike up to Karanga camp and our tents were positioned at 13,156 feet. What a great days walking. The sunset in Karanga was supreme as we settled into another great meal with chicken and avocado salad. The evening briefing was all about how we would approach the summit night and the clothing we needed to prepare for the summit.
Kosovo Camp was our High Camp
We had a nice relaxed hike up to Barafu at 15,331 feet. We took a break at the sign in Barafu Camp and continued up a steep section to Kosovo camp at 16,076 feet. Kosovo Camp is where we made our summit attempt from. Because of this, I believe this gave us all a better chance at the summit. After another stunning lunch it was time to rest up. My goal was to try and sleep from 6pm to 11pm. In the afternoon, I got all my snacks sorted and prepared my clothing for the upcoming journey to the roof of Africa.
Preparing for the Summit
I woke up so excited for the summit night. I drank a liter of water in the tent as I prepared. At 11:45 pm I was in having breakfast filling up 2 Nalgene bottles with boiling water. At 12:30am we all lined up and I composed myself for the long slow journey up to the summit. It was quiet warm as we took off out camp and slowly got colder and colder.
Ian was amazing, motivating me and helping each person through the mental challenges of the night. After 5 hours of extremely slow walking I started to find the mental challenge very tough. Thankfully, Ian walked with me helping me breath properly and focus on each step. This helped me through the next 2 hours to the crater rim. Undoubtedly, this was by far the hardest 2 hours of the trip. Getting up to Stella point was amazing. We had amazing light in the sky and I could see how far I had come. Once we arrived at Stella point everyone was tired. We knew we were so close and that was enough for everyone to move slowly towards the summit. The sun was up and the walking was easier.
Ian was leading the way as we reached Stella Point. I could see the summit sign way off in the distance. There were a few groups coming up behind us so we kept pushing towards our goal. About 50 minutes later we were on the top. The view into the crater is magnificent. The scale of the volcano is impressive, however the glaciers were smaller than I thought they would be. While the group celebrated, I just said a quick prayer and looked off into the horizon. It was hard to believe I was stand on top of the highest free standing mountain in the world.
The Roof of Africa
We spent 25 minutes on the summit, before walking back down as a group. We had achieved our goal of standing on the summit. However, Ian kept pushing everyone to focus on each step and keep moving. Coming down is steep and challenging it should be noted, it took us 2 hours 30 minutes to arrive back into Kosovo camp. We all fell into our tents with Ian telling us to drink lots of water. After an hour of rest we had to pack up our sleeping bags, sleeping mat and duffel bag.
Keep Going Down
We had lunch and started walking further down the mountain. Our goal was to reach Mweka Camp. It was great moving further down the mountain, the air was rich with oxygen and the achievement began to sink in. After 3 hours of down hill walking we all reached Mweka camp at 10,170 feet. Without a doubt, coming down was the hardest part of the day. Dropping down from 19,341 feet to 10 to 10,170 feet is hard work. We left at midnight and arrived into Mweka camp at 3pm. Some tired people sat down for dinner that night. However, a few people opted to stay in bed. We were enjoying the summit success and talked about our experiences and the challenge. We all went to bed early and sleep hard.
Leaving the Dream Team
The final day arrived and more than a few tears were shed. Our team presented tips to the guides, porters and kitchen staff. Lead by Amani the team partied and danced for over 30 minutes. We said goodbye, before walking back through the rain forest back to the Mweka gate at 5,577 feet. We had a final lunch before the drive back to the Karama Lodge in Arusha.
In Conclusion, the summit day was one of the hardest things I have ever done. Without a doubt, the hard training prior to the trip really paid off for me. I know some of the group wished they had of done a little more. Thank you Ian and team for all your support and amazing experience. Your Kilimanjaro service is world class and loved every minute of the trip. Your guys are great and wish them all the very best as you develop your trips. Read some more REVIEWS.
Jim Collins, Kilimanjaro 2015