Kent Scouts Kilimanjaro Expedition 2012
Back in August this year 21 Scouts from across the County travelled to Tanzania to undertake an experience of a life time!
Following months and months of preparation, including several training activities at Lower Grange Farm, trips to the Brecon Beacons, Snowdonia and Dartmoor plus several local day walks to build a team spirit…the actual expedition finally got underway, upon landing the team immediately got a taste of the local culture in the town of Dar Es Salaam before an 8 hour coach journey up country to where we were to be based whilst we were in Country, the town of Moshi.
From after just one night based at the Mountain Inn in Moshi we began our acclimatisation hike which was a 3 day expedition up the rugged features that was Mount Meru, a neighbour of Kilimanjaro and the perfect way to prep for what was to come as it took us to the lofty heights of 4,565m and gave us a taste of altitude.
Meru took us 3 days to conquer, staying in mountain huts along the way and enjoying the fabulous cuisine cooked by our porters and guides along the way. The push for the summit was the biggest challenge as following a full days’ walk and only a couple of hours’ sleep we then walked over night to the summit!
Prep complete…now for the ‘big one’. (Although we did take a days break in between to have a look round Moshi itself!) Mount Kilimanjaro…5895m…6 days…AMAZING!
What an experience…over the 6 days it took to climb to the summit and back we experienced so much variety in what we saw and felt as individuals from walking in the rain forests and the base of the mountain to start with, to the rocky and dusty terrain as we ascended, all before reaching the pure awe and sense of achievement from reaching the top.
The route we took was called the Macheme Route or ‘Whiskey Route’ as it is quite hard going but full of flavour and ultimately well worth it! Its hard to explain all that we saw and felt as each individual had their own taken on it all.
The final push was almighty, we had already done 7 full days walking and again we were to be walking over night following only a few hours sleep. Everybody was running on pure adrenaline when we began the final push as we were all physically knackered, but we went for it.
We followed the trail of weaving head torches that lit the path before us and slowly climbed to the top drawing on every ounce of energy we could. Pure darkness…we had no idea how far we had gone as we simply could not see, we just knew we were progressing. Then the sunrise happened…WOW! It was stunning, so beautiful and almost over whelming as we all began to realise what we achieving together.
Sadly altitude claimed a few of us on the way up and they had to go back down to the previous nights camp despite how hard they had worked and all they had achieved the summit was not to be, 17 of us proudly made it to Stella Point on the crater rim…at which point 4 more decided this was where their journey was to end but they were immensely proud of their achievements.
However, at 7.15 local time of August 25th 2012 I can proudly say I stood on top of the tallest free standing mountain in the world! Getting there at that time made us the second group to reach the summit out of our team as we had splintered into two groups in the night and the other group was on the summit about and hour prior to us. 14 Kent Scouts stood at Uhuru Peak that morning full of pride and joy!
After descending back to the foot of the mountain as a team we returned to the Mountain Inn for a night of celebratory drinks, food and entertaining from Masi Warriors before another 8 hour coach journey back to Dar Es Saleem the next day, prior to our return to back home on August the 29th.
Since returning home everyone has told their stories of their experience but one thing I believe the world and his dog should know is that collectively this group of 21 scouts that had bonded as a team not only achieved all that I have wrote above but also raised, on top of their own costs for the expedition, well over £20,000 for a handful of charities personal to them! Now that is AMAZING!