On December 20, 2011, the actual climb of the PinoyMountaineer Kilimanjaro Expedition commenced via the Rongai Route, also known as the Nalemuru Route very near the border between Southern Kenya and Northern Tanzania. Joining me in this grand adventure were medical doctors Mutya Bernardo and Jun Carnate, as well as my longtime hiking companions Del Bahena, Farah Pasamonte, and FR Hortelano.
We chose this particular route after a long consideration of weather patterns, acclimatization possibilities, scenic beauty, cost, trail difficulty, and most importantly, the fine details of the itinerary, especially prior to summit assault day. It was a tough choice between Rongai and Machame, but in the end, Rongai won over.
We registered in the Marangu Gate, because the Rongai Route’s descending route is Marangu, the most popular of all the trails, and easiest, with no less than cabins to accommodate climbers, whereas for the rest of the routes tents are used. From Marangu, we took the almost two-hour trip to the Rongai Gate, where we had lunch.
After lunch, we started trekking. along with several other groups using the same route. At first, we passed by pine trees, which reminded me and Swami Del of Langbiang Mountain in Vietnam, which we climbed last June (HM#181), as well, as of course, the beautiful mountains of our Cordilleras. Beyond the pine trees were mostly flat but scenic trails, with creeks alongside.
The hike took just four hours in a relaxed pace, and it would have been even easier if it did not rain. However, the sheer excitement of being on the trail of Kilimanjaro was an overpowering feeling, and I was really delighted that after the long journey, we were starting to trek. A restful, dreamy sleep was in order in First Campsite. End of Day 1!
Some pictures courtesy of the members of the Expedition Team.