The Roof of Africa

3rd Feb 2017

The Mountain of Moon

Photo of The Roof of Africa by Nilavishek Mukherjee

"Life gives you few opportunities where you sleep over with a dream, only to realize you have achieved it in the morning". I slept over with a dream of standing on 'The Roof of Africa' and watching the full Moon setting down and the Sun rising above the horizon. The moment of truth was when I actually stood on top of Mt.Kilimanjaro, the Roof of Africa, and experienced my dream metalizing into reality.

Photo of The Roof of Africa 1/7 by Nilavishek Mukherjee
'The Roof of Africa', the moon settling down in the horizon and the sun rising up.

Mt.Kilimanjaro (5895m) is the highest mountain in the continent of Africa; also the highest Volcano in Africa and the highest free Standing Mountain in the World.

Photo of The Roof of Africa 2/7 by Nilavishek Mukherjee
A morning view of the beauty

My journey started from the little African town of Moshi where I got my logistics ready. Next day I started my journey, in an old depilated van with some amazing African songs, to reach the gates of the National park. After registering myself at the gates and paying the fees, I embarked my journey with my guide through the 'Machame Route'; it happens so many times in life we embark on a journey with an unknown person only to become friends for life at the end of the journey. The first few days were not that difficult as we were making steady progress with the altitude and weather. The key to success is not rushing through the journey in reaching 'The Summit' but to enjoy and acclimatize with the surroundings.

Photo of The Roof of Africa 3/7 by Nilavishek Mukherjee
Mawenzi, the oldest of the three volcanoes
Photo of The Roof of Africa 4/7 by Nilavishek Mukherjee
The fast depleting glaciers on the top.
Photo of The Roof of Africa 5/7 by Nilavishek Mukherjee

At 4000m things started getting tough with the thin air (low in oxygen), wind and cold. For those who must be wondering 'How cold in Africa?' There are two glaciers on top of Mt.Kilimanjaro, which are one of the oldest glaciers in the world other than the poles. According to research, the glaciers on the top started forming around 9700 B.C making them around 12000 years old. The glaciers on the top are depleting fast with rise in temperatures and it would vanish completely by 2050, so it's a good reason to pack up your bags and head towards Africa. The most remarkable feature, other than the glaciers throughout the entire trek, is the 'Lava Towers'; Tall and huge columnar structures of lava which solidified in motion though the annals of time when the volcano erupted. It gives us a vivid description of the world during those times. The climb to the summit on the final night was quite challenging as I was constantly gaining altitude and the wind factor made real feel temperature much lower. There was a moment when my fingers on the right hand froze as it was exposed to the wind. I gave another pair of gloves to a fellow trekker as his gloves weren't that effective. I stopped to lit a small fire behind a rock and literally put my fingers into it. But, all these pain and effort was worth when I stood on the summit; a 'tear of joy' rolled down my eyes when I saw the full moon setting down in the distant horizon and the Sun, which looked like a golden ball, rising up on the horizon to mark the start another day for people living in the cacophony of the cities. I felt a sense of gratitude towards Nature, people around me and the sensation of 'being fortunate' enough to 'live-up' to a dream.

Photo of The Roof of Africa 6/7 by Nilavishek Mukherjee

"The journey is more important than the Destination" which can't be truer if you haven't experienced 'The journey' of enjoying and trekking for days to reach the 'Destination' which is always a short spurt of Joy and exuberance. When you're at the top, you become more considerate and humble to mundane things that we don't pay much attention as we're 'rushing' through to reach our 'destinations' which makes the 'Journey' itself boring and monotonous. The Summit is not the place to show arrogance and 'look-down' on others but it's a sense of responsibility as the job is half-done until you're back to the base to inspire others to reach the summit.

Photo of The Roof of Africa 7/7 by Nilavishek Mukherjee
Mt.Meru in the distant horizon on a full moon night and the sleeping Moshi town.