About Mt. Kilimanjaro
Mt. Kilimanjaro is located in Tanzania and is the highest mountain on African continent. It is also the world's highest free standing mountain which means it is not part of any mountain range. It is a huge dormant volcano and also one of the biggest volcanoes on the planet. Its summit stands at 5895m/19340ft making it a mountain to be taken seriously.
This is the only place in the world where you can experience all the textbook vegetation zones within a week which includes rainforest, moorland, heath, alpine desert and arctic/glacier zone. This mountain is so huge that it creates its own weather system ranging from over 30 degree Celsius at start point to under -20 degree Celsius at the summit. It is located 300kms below equator which makes it hot and humid in day and due to its height it becomes freezing and wet during night.
Because of above mentioned facts Kilimanjaro becomes a well sought after international hiking destination. Crowds are usually high during the 2 climbing seasons (Jan-Feb and June-Sept) and for rest of the year it is raining heavily on the mountain.
The planning and preparation
The idea of climbing this mountain got stuck in my head since May 2017 and I had to do it. I was then short of cash and trekking experience so I headed to Stok Kangri peak (6153m) in August 2017 and gained experience of high altitude trekking. Within 15 days of coming back from Stok Kangri I got determined for Kilimanjaro and booked a return flight ticket to Kilimanjaro and there was no looking back. I booked myself on a group climb with a very renowned travel company in Tanzania named as ZARA tours and this was my best decision. I planned my trip in such a way that it would take me to summit on 26th Jan 2018 also celebrated as Indian Republic day.
I started training regularly which included trail running, hiking, cycling, staircase repeats and core strengthening. With the variable mountain weather (humid, rainy, cold, freezing) keeping in mind I shopped for all the right gear needed for it. Weather on Kilimanjaro changes rapidly with having sun to snow storm within minutes therefore having right gear is must.
There is Yellow Fever vaccine requirement for Visa in numerous African countries which needs to be taken at least 10 days prior to arrival and the vaccine is available in only select hospitals across India.
With training, gear, tickets, currency sorted I was set to start my trip. I was feeling mentally and physically very strong and roaring to go on my biggest adventure trip so far. But as the departure day was coming closer I could feel butterflies in my stomach. Having never stepped out of India, I was on a solo journey to Africa with an aim to scale world's highest free standing mountain. On 19th Jan I spent a very nervous day at work, picked my bags from home in evening and stepped out of the door of my comfort zone. This was all the courage that I needed and my adventure began! I took flight from Mumbai to Kilimanjaro International Airport with a layover at Addis Ababa in Ethiopia.