When my friends told me to take lots of photos during my Summer holidays, I’m not sure what they expected but plenty of photos did I take during my climb of Mt Kilimanjaro the past week. Most of the 200+ photos that I took were of various plants, rocks, clouds, the sky and naturally, the mountain.
It was a tough journey, unsurprisingly. It didn’t help that I barely trained for it, but at least I knew what to expect. We walked for an average of 7-8 hours everyday, and summit day was 11 hours’ worth of walking on 2+ hours of sleep. But when I wasn’t too exhausted just concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other (not bringing walking poles is a bad idea), I was trying my best to remember various flora and fauna along the way.
Various flowers whose names I’m not entirely sure of (most ID I guessed from here)
Most ubiquitous fauna were the White Necked Ravens. Huge scavenging birds, they looked scary and intimidating but didn’t attack us (or our belongings/lunch) at all.
And then the rocks! Geology does this to people. I kept trying to identify the rocks: Volcanic ash, volcanic breccia, pumice… After a while though, the altitude and exhaustion got to me and I gave up trying to figure how the rocks were formed. It started off being mostly mud rock, I think, then became basalt and volcanic igneous rocks.
The whole climb has been amazing, the scenery breath-taking (literally, from lack of oxygen). I wish there were biologists and geologists with me to tell me about everything, instead of me just making it up in my head.
I’m glad to have been able to get up there to see the view before all the glaciers have retreated. The lead guide said he and the other guides have seen how the glaciers have retreated over the year. Slowly, but surely. Not in the next few years perhaps, but definitely over the next few hundreds of years.
He also shared about how prior to 2005 (or something like that), the companies didn’t provide gas fuel for cooking, and the cooks would chop down trees (mostly Erica arborea) for firewood. But since the authorities have made it illegal to do that, the trees could grow again (:
All the way up and down, as I stared down at the path, I kept thinking of soil erosion and path impact. The paths are like scars on the mountains, and the lack of vegetation just means the dust and dirt gets to your nose. But tourism and climbers are their main form of income, and the guides were saying they were glad to have us visit, because it means that they can put food on the table for their children. There’s always a need to balance development with conservation.
As a National Park though, it was quite well taken care of, and there was relatively little trash around the mountain. There was one sweet wrapper that I kept seeing up and down the mountain though, which thoroughly annoyed me.
Anyway, it’s been an amazing experience, for a more personal account of the trip, check out my personal blog (: