Scenery from the one hour train ride between Bangkok and Ayutthaya, Thailand.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Ayutthaya, Thailand.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Khao Yai National Park, Thailand on December 13th.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Kilimanjaro Day 1 - Machame Gate to Machame Camp 9,300' altitude

Day 1 started at 7:00am in Arusha. We then had a two hour drive from Arusha to Moshi, and we stopped at several places to pick up either people or gear. There is a lot of logistics involved with getting two people to the top of Africa... and we had a total of 11 people helping us get there!

We had our two guides, Kobby and Shalali, our cook Martin, and eight porters carrying the gear and supplies needed for seven days and six nights on the mountain!

Our tour company, Rwalinda Tours, decided that we would not have the same guides or crew that we had on our Mt Meru hike, despite the fact that we were happy with them. And we agreed with their thinking. A lot of people in the business are hurting right now and it made sense to share the wealth.

So we had met Kobby and Shalali the day before. Both of them are 25 years old, and Kobby has been to the top of the mountain 48 times. I think Shalali has lost count. Smart guys, and enjoyable to have around. They are both graduates of the Wildlife Management program at the local college, and Kobby is an avid basketball player and fan. He says that Mount Kilimanjaro is his office!

Arriving at Machame Gate at 11:00am with all of our gear.

At Machame Gate.

The elevation at our Machame Gate starting point is 1,800 meters (5,900 feet). 

Our first day hike is from there to the Machame Camp at 2,835 meters (9,300 feet), an elevation gain of 1,035 meters (3,400 feet) over 10 kms (6.2 miles).

We had some more time to wait while permits and paperwork was completed. We sat in an outdoor covered lunch area and we were given box lunches to eat. We snacked on a few items, and left some for the hike itself.

While we were waiting, we got to talking to some others who were following the same route and schedule as we were. There was a single (late 20's?) Polish girl who lives in London, and a brother and sister couple (also late 20's?) from Russia.

We would see these people regularly along the route and at the camps over the next few days.

While we were snacking, this blue monkey kept trying to steal our food!

He was pretty bold!

Cute though!

Part of what we were waiting for was the porters to have all the gear weighed. Each porter is allowed to carry a maximum of 20 kgs (44 lbs) of gear. Interestingly, we noticed that once inside the park they spread the weight around because some guys can carry more. It's absolutely mind boggling how the porters do the same route that we do while carrying all this weight. And, they do it much faster than we do!

Kobby and Shalali finally came round to say we were ready to go.

Kobby, Ruth, and Kevin at the starting point at 12:30pm.

Shalali, Ruth, and Kevin.

The four of us.
We would be spending a lot of time together over the next week!

Some of the porters.

The elephant trunk flower.

This flower grows wild only on Kilimanjaro!

We are in the rain forest, and yes... it rained!

Taking a break.

Heading higher!

We arrived at Machame camp at 5:40pm. It took us five hours and ten minutes.

One of the bathroom buildings.

We were surprised by the facilities. Each camp has a park ranger station, and several different bathroom facilities. Normally, these camps would be full of people and tents. We learned as the days passed that we would not have wanted to do this hike when there would normally have been so many people also doing the same thing.

I have more bathroom photos for you in a future post! Not that you really want that much detail. 

Made it to the first camp!

Dusky Turtle Dove.

The porters already had our tent set up.

Wow... even chairs and a table.

Already on the table was hot water in a thermos, and instant tea, coffee, and hot chocolate. And a plate of fresh popcorn!

Our campsite.
When we arrive they bring bowls of hot water for washing up.

View from our campsite.

Dinner was served at 7:15pm
Soup for starters.

Dinner was fish and chips!

And vegetables.

There was always too much food. We tried our best to finish it all. They really stress to you to eat a lot, and drink a lot of water. Drinking a lot of water is one of the things you have to do to help your system get used to the altitude.

Of course the problem with drinking lots of water is that you have to pee more! Which is not fun when you are sleeping in a tent and the bathroom facilities aren't close by. And no, the park rangers are not happy if you just step outside your tent to pee. You need to use the facilities as provided, unless of course you are on the trail.

Fortunately, someone had told us before the hike started that we need to have a pee jug in the tent, and we had bought one before hand. This made a big difference, and when we mentioned it to some of the others, they wished they had one too.

Playing a few games of cribbage before bed.

So, we slept our first night at 2,835 meters (9,300 feet). We had a good day, and we were feeling good! The hike was an uphill climb all the way, but we have done this type of day before. What we had NOT done before was this type of hike 6 days in row, with ever increasing altitude.

Stay tuned for day 2!


And in Canada...


  1. Wow, looks like you are well-taken care of. Nice accommodations.

    1. We are being well taken care of but you also have to remember that it all comes with the price of the trek which certainly isn't cheap. Our tent was comfortable as long as the weather was good! :-)

  2. Glad to hear from you! Missed you : it was a long long week! Hope to read and see all of your Kilimandjaro adventures in the coming days! Thanks for sharing!

    1. We will now give you lots of reading material over the next few days as we catch up on the missed blog posts. We hope that you will enjoy them. :-)

  3. Replies
    1. We hope you enjoy our pictures and posts! :-)

  4. So organized, can’t wait to hear the rest of the story!!!!

    1. Once you are actually on the trail itself everything is well organized and everyone knows what their tasks are and everything gets done. We had a great crew, they were all so friendly and helpful. :-)

  5. Beyond awesome!! I was thinking they should do a tipping fund in a reputable bank so porters can go there with their porter slips to get their tip. This would spread the tips evenly to each porter. Seems maybe some get generous tips while others don't as I've seen on documentary....they had a porter and even Sherpa strikes because they are compensated poorly. It is grueling work to carry that much load. In my young years I kept my gear to 25 lbs besides water and that was even heavy. Love the detail narrating about the trip.

    1. Personally we think that they should just up the price of the trek itself to include the tips, or just pay each porter more for the work that they do and do away with the tipping. That way you know what you are paying for upfront and that the porters, waiters, cook and guides get living wage and that everyone gets paid the same, rather then some not getting tipped as much as others for the same amount of work.

  6. You both look so happy and content-- and so you should be. How lucky to go now when noone is there!

    1. Thank you, and yes we were happy and content at least during that part of the trek we were. :-)

      It was so nice to feel like we had the mountain all to ourselves. We just can't even begin to imagine what it must be like during normally times. They have told us that it is sometimes hard to find a place to pitch a tent!

  7. So excited to have you back. I love all the details.

    1. We are so happy to share all the details of the trek with you, we hope that you will enjoy the pictures and the posts. :-)

  8. Amazing first day narrative. That elephant trunk flower was so dainty and pretty; so was the dove and the blue monkey. What a pleasant surprise to see nice camp facilities! Your tent set up is indeed glamping and very wise of you to bring a portable potty! Looks like you’ll be well fed, watered and looked after.....I assume your guides speak English well but perhaps not so with the porters? They sure put a lot of stress on their skinny frames! They have my respect and admiration.

    1. So glad that you enjoyed our blog post from our first day!

      Yes, that flower was really pretty and very dainty. Kobby was very good about pointing out plants and flowers along the trail and giving us stories about them or about the birds and other wildlife, he was definitely very knowledgeable about the nature here in Tanzania.

      We were so happy to have brought along our "portable" potty for our nighttime bathroom breaks, we didn't do that on Mt. Meru and with all the water/liquid that we had it made our nights a bit better compared to having to get up and walk to the toilets at camp.

      Yes, our guides spoke English and I think that most of the porters also spoke English, some better than others.

      We cannot for the life of us figure out how these porters do what they do! We would never have been able to do this trek without them, they had our respect and admiration as well!

  9. So....what's the current cribbage score??

  10. A really excellent post and photos. I look forward to the next.

    1. Thank you! The whole hike is now posted, Day 2 can be found here at the end of each post just click the "Newer Post" button and it will take you to the next post. :-)


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