Pieter en Klara van der Walt (South Africa) – Successful summit on 29 June 2018
My daughter and I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro on the 24th -30th of June 2018. We did our booking through Climbing Kilimanjaro, Villieria, in Pretoria. They assisted us with all the important information in a very professional way. We knew we were in good hands, but it wasn’t until our actual hiking trail that we realized how good their preparations and assistance really were!
From the very first day we were treated as if we were a king and a queen!!! Lunch in the forest at a proper table with table cloth, chairs, cold meat, fruit and cold drinks. The royal treatment continued with every breakfast, lunch and dinner. The effort and dedication of the chef, waiters and butlers were just out of this world. After a long, dusty and tiring day’s walk, we arrived at our next camp to find it neatly prepared for us. We were welcomed with a dance on the beat of the local Kilimanjaro song “ Jumbo, Jumbo bwana!”(Hello, Hello sir….) Our shoes were dusted off, chairs were put in place for us to sit down (always with a view towards the mountain) and a cold glass of orange juice was awaiting us to quench our thirsts. A bowl of warm water was supplied to wash and prepare for dinner. After a wonderful three-course dinner, John, our hiking leader, performed a medical routine on each one of us. Our oxygen levels, heart rate and any other symptoms were recorded accurately in the evenings and in the mornings after breakfast. He kept these record cards updated for the duration of the trip.
Every morning we were awakened with the friendly call of our waiter, Emmanuel, with a steamy warm cup of ginger tea to give us a much needed kickstart for the new day. We kept moving closer to the mountain and slowly but surely, the possibility of summitting became a reality.
I have learned that trust was a key element in the success of our tour. We all fully and blindly trusted John in all he said and the way in which he walked and placed his feet between the lava rocks in the semi-desert, on our way to Lava Tower. Even the smallest detail was attended to and everything we did, strengthened our chances to summit the highest mountain in Africa. The supporting team worked in unity with John and each other all the time. Every team member did his part and worked together to make our trip an unforgettable experience, printed in our minds for life. Their joy and dedication were addictive and it helped to keep our spirits high! In time of need there was always a supportive hand ready to assist us and to prevent any injuries. Thank you for a well-trained and professional, supporting team who was by our side all the way.
On the long awaited night, we were sent to bed very early after our briefing of what was to come later that night. A few hours later we found ourselves moving extremely slowly up the steep hill, step by step in the snow or rather ice, on our way to Stella point (5752m). It was full moon and the reflection of the bright moonlight on the white snow was breath taking! We could even walk without turning our head lamps on. It was extremely tiring and we could feel the strain on our breathing as we moved closer to the final summit point. It was hard to control our emotions when we eventually reached Stella Point! We all spontaneously hugged each other, while wiping the tears from our eyes. The last 500m towards the Uhuru Peak was a reward we’ve been looking forward to for 4 days. We were blessed with the clearest of skies! We saw the sun rising in the east, while the full moon made it’s way down in the west…what an incredible experience that words cannot express!! This indescribable picture was worth it all! John gave us 15 minutes for photo’s and then we started the one and a half days’ downhill.
We want to thank “Climbing Kilimanjaro” for a well-organised hiking tour. You helped us achieve an unforgettable, safe summit of Mount Kilimanjaro – a definite life-changing experience!
Pieter and Klara van der Walt