Saturday, June 28, 2008

March 15 (Wed) 2006: Summit Day!

Barafu 4600m – Uhuru Summit 5895 – Mweka gate (45km/ 13hrs) – Arusha

I woke up at about 12:00hrs in the mid night and started preparing for summit push. I checked my gear and came out. As I walked out of the tent, I was greeted with the sky full of stars and all around the camp illuminated with moon light. I was very excited at the prospect of climbing in moon light. My porters were already awake and were preparing tea and soup for me. I had a few slices of bread before consuming soup and hot tea. My porters wished me and the guide “good luck” as we departed towards upper slopes beyond Barafu camp.

I noticed the string of lights progressing up the mountain indicating the presence of several climbers already up the mountain. Hosea and my self I started walking slowly up the mountain. Initially it was fine but soon we had to breath hard to walk up the mountain.. Hosea was with me and we both kept steady pace. After about an hour’s hike, we encountered the snow field. I was excited to walk on the snow. When I climbed in 2005, there was no snow at all. It was exciting to walk up the mountain in snow. I kept recollecting my previous year’s climb, when I took each step up the mountain with a heavy head due to poor acclimatization and vomited at some points. Climbing in the moon light felt like a perfect vacation. I was breathing hard but found my rhythm.

I kept climbing steadily and I consumed water and ate chocolates at regular intervals. It took nearly three hrs by the time I finished the steep ascent to the projection leading to the upper slopes just below the saddle that joins with Stella point. We took some rest here consuming tea and biscuits. I have joined with some of the climbers taking rest here. Weather have very good till now. I glanced at Mt. Mawanzi peak shining in distant illuminated by moon light. After greeting the climbers, we resumed our walk further up the mountain.
Each step that I was taking put me one step closer to the completion of 3rd continental summit in sequence taking me closer to accomplishment of mission 7 summits. With each step the Stella point saddle came closer, I was breathing hard. I kept attaining rhythm in my breathing. I continued the steady pace.

It just began to dawn when I was approaching the flanks of Stella saddle, I gazed at the view that surroundings offered; The view all around was a kin to ethereal with white clouds hanging below the mountain slopes. Mawanzi seemed to be hanging in the clouds. I took each step carefully walking in the snow. In another half an hours climb, I reached the saddle and by the time we arrived at Stella point it’s about 6 AM and the day hasn’t dawned yet. Weather has been perfectly good until we were short of the summit by fifty horizontal yards. And then it lashed heavy winds and snowing. Instantly the temperature dropped making it very difficult even to take out hands out of gloves an take the summit photo graph. I tried to hold the Indian flag, I was carrying but the winds wouldn’t allow. I could feel the initial signs of Hypothermia. Every one on the summit was having hard time taking summit picture. Hosea managed to click a picture amidst those heavy winds an snow fall while the visibility was getting almost negligible.

We clicked photographs for a few other summiteers before resuming our descent. The Rebmann glacier on the summit stood as testimony to our testing time in this inclement weather that seemed very innocuous until a few minutes to the summit. This made me remember the famous quote – “It’s not over until, it’s over!”

Soon, we were at Stella point and sun rays were trying hard to penetrate through the haze of the white out. We took a short break at Stella point taking shelter against the hard winds by the side of rock projections. We saw some climbers approaching towards the summit. We greeted them and proceeded to descend the mountain. I made a quick descent to the camp. My porters were waiting with tea and biscuits for me. It was a welcome sight. They congratulated for my summit.

I told the guide, that we push towards the Mweka gate the same day with out halting at Mweka camp. It’s a long descent; From Barafu camp, the descent follows the same route of ascent up to Karanga. As it gets closer to the Mweka camp, the vegetation appears. There were some beautiful flowers and birds as well. We came across an intermediate hut where we had to sign in the register. It was another hour’s descent to reach Mweka camp which is a very beautiful location amidst dense forest. From here the forest gets denser as we follow the route towards the park exit point. There were some beautiful species of monkeys. The ferns and other verdant plantation looming darkness with their dense vegetation was awe inspiring. Soon I came to end of the foot path and it was relief as well as a feeling of proud to walk out of the Kilimanjaro National park; while I smugly told myself that, three down 4 to go!

Up on reaching the Mweka village, we were all very excited and elated. I signed in the park ranger and received the summit certificate. Our vehicle was ready to take us to Arusha. I looked forward for the hot bath and the warmth of a cosy bed for good sleep. As soon as I reached Arusha, I settled the payment to the guide and tips to porters.

After taking bath and feeling myself good, I visited one of the cyber cafes to check mails. I had mail from Mr. Dan Mazur, with whom I registered to climb Everest. There was mail from him, saying that if I don’t pay the remaining expedition fee immediately, I am out of the Expedition which meant that I would attempt Everest as well whole Fastest 7 summits project would take a back seat. It was March 15th and in another two weeks all my Everest expedition team would assemble in Kathmandu. According my fastest 7 summits plan, I wanted to complete Kosciusko, tallest peak of Australia for which I had to get Visa stamping.

Considering all of this and the intent of lack of time available for me, I flew out of Kilimanjaro on March 17 for Mumbai, little aware that there was a bottleneck waiting for me in Mumbai. I got down from the plane in the wee hours 2AM, collected my baggage and walked to the immigration desk. As I showed my passport and submitted the flight ticket, I was asked another document – Yellow fever certificate. I didn’t have! In another one hour I was escorted to the Airport Quarantine hospital, where I spent seven precious days under house arrest. I was released on March 24th; I flew to Delhi on 25th and March26th being Sunday, I couldn’t apply for Australian visa. Finally I gave the documents to Embassy on 27th and hoped that I would get the passport with stamping in one two days. I felt fortunate to receive the passport on 29th; but it was at 4PM, that I received and I had to catch a flight for Mumbai at 6:30 PM, and catch the international flight schedule in the night same day!. I prayed that I would make it Delhi airport and my prayers were heard, I felt in retrospect.

My next days unfurled a quick drama of events until Everest entry:
March 29, 4PM: Obtained Visa; 6:30 PM: flew from Delhi - Mumbai
March 29 night: Boarded flight from Mumbai – Sydney
March 30: Flew from Sydney – Canberra
March 31: Bus drive: Canberra – Thredbo
April 1st Saturday (Summit): started for summit at 11:30 AM and reached summit in about one hour and returned to the youth hostel in Thredbo before 3:00 PM.
April 2nd: Thredbo – Canberra
April 3rd: Canberra – Sydney
Aril 4: Sydney – Mumbai (April 5)

April 6th: Mumbai – Delhi
April 7th: Delhi – Kathmandu (Struck in Demonstrations) into the chaos of Curfew days!
April 11th: fly Kathmanu – Lukla;
I learnt that, Airlines have lost my gear, comprising all my climbing gear!
A wave of despair struck my face as I stood gazing at the azure sky of solu khumbu where the mountains rose into sky like citadels!

Everest Beacons!

Machame Camp 2980m – Summit Camp (Barafu 4600m)

March 12: Machame Camp 2980m – Shira Camp 3850m (9km/3hrs)

The walk from Machame camp to Shira sees the transition of physical features from big trees to smaller shrubs as we progress towards shira camp. Towards the Shira camp it becomes an alpine desert. This day’s hike is an easy walk with out much steep ascents or descents but gradually increases in slope.

Along this trail, it’s possible to enjoy the sight of Kilimanjaro peak at some point. Also several beautiful high alititude flowers bloom in this region. Exotic flowers like, “Lobelia Deckenii”, Senecio Kilimanjaro are seen here. In distance the Shira plateau touches the skyline and one can sight very interesting hues of brightness sparking between the clouds caused by the sun’s rays.

I noticed another fit climber from Spain. He along with another old man was walking fast. We later introduced each other. I learnt that he runs a travel company back in Spain and he is good at mountain biking. Kilimanjaro is a mountain which draws its tourists across the globe fitness ranging from excellent to very mild. This is not a technical mountain and can be walked all the way up to the summit. By preparing well for altitude gain, long hikes and cold weather condition both mentally and physically any body can climb Kilimanjaro on any route.

It took me three hours to hike from Machame camp to Shira camp. It gets windy at this camp as there isn’t much vegetation one starts feeling cold. It’s good to protect oneself for cold. I had my evening snacks and walked a little towards the cave camp as acclimatization stroll. I returned to the comfort my tent as it became dark. I had hot tea and went to bed. Though I was climbing Kilimnajro, My thoughts were preoccupied with Australia travel and Everest climb. I was worried that I may not get the Australian visa in time so as to attempt it before Everest. But there is nothing I could do being on the flanks of Kilimanajro where I can’t even communicate with anybody. I tried focussing on enjoying as much as the Uhuru climb can offer.

March 13: Shira Camp (3800m) – Barranco 3850m via Lava Tower 4630m (13 km)

I could see my self walking fast and covering camps much earlier than average time so, I decided to take it easy from now on as well this would help me acclimatize better. The trail from Shira to Lava tower is devoid of vegetation. One could identify the rocky debris as emanated from volcanic eruptions.

The trail takes eastern turn along the alpine desert feature and then keeps going up and down but not very steep any where. I arrived at Lava tower soon. As I went close and examined it from behind I could see a route leading to the top. It required a little bit of rock climbing but was not difficult. It took me about a few minutes to reach the top. I sat on the top enjoying the view on all sides. I ate biscuits on the top. My guide “Hosea” also followed me.
As I started descending I saw the Spanish climber preparing to come up the lava tower.

Later I resumed my walk towards Barranco camp. The lead went through rocky terrain, and from between two protruding faces the trail descends into a valley leading to Barranco. I kept the direction and started descending fast into Barranco valley. The trail follows through a sandy terrain coupled with some rocks, to the left the view of Kilimanjaro and the western breach glaciers appears imposing sight. Approaching closer to the Barranco camp there’s a water stream flowing towards Barranco camp. Follow the trail on its right side. Camp is visible prominently from here and the Secenico trees are present in large numbers. There’s steep wall on the right side leaving which we descend into the valley where Barranco camp space located. Those not acclimatised well will start feeling the initial symptoms of altitude sickness. The rangers once again made rounds with the register to take entry of the climbers into the book.

My porters were a little bit behind me, so I chose to walk around the area. I saw the huge Barranco “breakfast” wall which invoked a little bit of fear in me when I stood watching it from Barranco camp in 2005. Until here I was following a trail that was not known to me.

Machame and Umbwe routes both join at Barranco and proceed to Barafu via Kangra valley. Marangu route is further east. Climbers following “Barafu”, stella point and those taking “Marangu” Kibo hut and Gillman point will join together only at stella point.

I walked towards the waterfall beneath “Barranco Wall” and then walked around the camp. One finds lot of birds similar to that of sparrow, crows approaching the camps for food. I also saw rodents with out tail.

The prolific “exotic” secenic plantation is awe inspiring. The leaves, branching out from the stem all invoke a kind of admiration for this alpine vegetation. Though it’s almost 13,000ft these plants are as big as trees. They are much bigger than shrubs.

I sauntered around so as to feel satisfied of acclimatization. My porters have arrived and served me with hot tea and pop corn. I observed several climbers busy with their chores. Some are tensed as its getting closer to the summit camp. The weather has been very good and while the moon light lit the higher slopes of Uhuru peak it glowed in silver hues!
Here I met a lone woman who has come through the “Umbwe route”. She was from England and was enjoying her adventure on Kilimanjaro. Though she was in her late thirties, she looked very healthy and fit. I chatted for a while and then proceeded towards my camp. By now I established my rep as fast walker on the mountain, so people started enquiring about my mountaineering experience. So, I shared about my 7 summits quest.

As I started getting closer to the summit camp, my thoughts started preoccupying with the next mountain to be climbed. I went to bed by 9pm, though couldn’t sleep very well thinking of a long walk to Barafu camp next day. It’s cold at this camp and so wearing down jacket not a bad idea.
Barranco 3850m – Barafu 4600m (15km)

I woke up leisurely and waited for the sun rise before I got out of the tent. I had my tea inside the tent and let my self lie inside relaxing. After having breakfast 8 AM, I started walking towards “Barranco breakfast wall”. I noticed the Umbwe lady climbing well on the upper slopes of the wall. I reached top a little later and drank water ate biscuits. Later I started descending into the valley leading to “Karanga camp”. The descent initially follows easy rock sections and then enters alpine desert kind of physical feature. Kilimanjaro looks very impressive from here. The separation of between the land masses here is attributed to “Rift Valley Theory”, where the creek is created in the land mass due to “Constructive margin” phenomenon.

After an easy desert walk, the trail approaches a section, which requires diligence as it’s gradient is little steep coupled with damp conditions. At some sections the trail squeezes narrowly between the rocks. This is neither dangerous nor difficult but requires diligence.
After this the trail descends into the bottom of the valley. At this point all the teams collects water as it’s not available at Karanga camp or any where up until one reaches “Barafu” camp. Water point is not very close; one has to walk about two hundred meters to fetch water from the stream coming from Kilimanjaro slopes in the north east direction.

One finds very good variety of flowers here as well. White paper like flowers, yellow flowers and secenio are more in number though. It’s again a steep ascent of nearly two hundred meters taking approximately 30-40mts with out breaks.
Just at the top of it is “Karanga” camp. Weather was perfectly good and I kept praising my luck. I was feeling very well physically too as I allowed my self an extra day on mountain than I did in 2005. We took break here to have our mid day meal. Soon I resumed walk along the slopes leading towards Barafu camp. It’s another 2-3hrs from here. I started walking up with out much botheration as I was no where near exhaustion or having any kind of problems. I knew it was only a matter of time before I reached the summit. I kept telling myself not to invoke summit fever and enjoy the beautiful environment around. There’s absolutely no vegetation up the mountain now. It’s all through desert like arid terrain that the trail led. It’s not difficult but seemed a little long one. The route climbed the slope in the east and then took a turn to the west further rising in another bump. After a few such series of bumps, at the corner of the last raise it revealed the “Barafu” camp. There’s a good ranger’s hut here. I saw a few wooden huts.
I felt well acclimatized and there weren’t any signs of altitude sickness. Weather had been excellent and snow line appeared a hour’c climb above Barafu camp. It was close to full moon day. I kept telling myself that it’s going to be a perfect holiday climb for me, hiking up the snow slopes of Kilimanjaro in moon lit light! One enjoys splendid sunset views from Barafu camp. In the west, one sees Mt.Meru protruding out of clouds and in east Mt.Mawanzi casts beautiful citadel like raise into the sky. Kilimanajro will be looming in front of the eyes.

I walked around for acclimatization. Soon the rangers have approached to take entry into registration. I guess, with all the diligence of record making, they will have very appropriate statistics of number of climbers present on the mountain and making it to the summit.

I had tea and pop corn in the evening. I preserved some fruits as summit ration. Later I discussed with the guide to decided on the starting time towards summit. My observation in 2005 climb was that it’s better to avoid the cold conditions as much as possible during the climb. And in the night it gets really cold on the mountain. Considering my fast climbing pace I decided to start at 1 AM in the night and reach the summit around 7 AM. Once decided on the schedule, I quickly had my dinner and went to bed trying to sleep. Though I knew I would be too preoccupied with summit push. One more step towards Seven Summits journey.

Friday, June 27, 2008

March 9: Karibu Kilimanjaro

March 9: Mumbai – KIA (Kilimanjaro International Airport)

I flew from Mumbai to Kilimanjaro by Kenya Airlines. I didn’t take my yellow fever certificate. I kept wondering whether I would be stopped to enter into Tanzania. My friends CK and Sidhu bade me adieu from Mumbai at 12:00 night. I checked in my baggage and proceeded for emigration procedure.

As I kept waiting to board the flight my thoughts switched back and forth with what was over and what was forthcoming. I wanted to relish the joy of Antarctica and Aconcagua climbs, but had to keep going for the big peaks ahead to be climbed. I returned to India from these climbs only in the last week of February and soon got busy with obtaining Tanzania visa and flight tickets booking. I haven’t paid for my Everest climb and it is only three week’s time go for it. Amidst my reflections, I heard the announcement of Kenya Airways to board the flight and so I began to walk towards the queue comprising travellers returning to Africa with their business booty. I was the only one to board with a mission to climb the peak, a crazy mountaineer. As the flight took off into the lightless clouds I slipped myself into sleep above 30,000ft paying little attention to Airhostess’s routine listless pre-flight instructions.

I got down at Nairobi, (Kenya) and was welcomed by pleasant breeze. It’s only 45mt flight from Nairobi to KIA (Kilimanjaro International Airport). But I had to wait for 4hrs. I had walked around the shops window shopping. I bough a banana fruit for fifty rupees (Equivalent Indian) wondering the merchandise of foreign exchange. As I strolled in the airport, I could see the similar souls like me with backpacks some aspiring for Kilimanjaro and some for Safari tour. Eventually the wait time was over and I proceeded towards the flight. Before boarding the flight, I was asked to identify my baggage which was an excellent way of keeping track of baggage for such short flights. Had Everest flights flying from Kathmandu to Lukla followed this procedure I would have been spared from a bitter experience that waited for me in Lukla exactly a month later.

It’s a small 15 people carrying flight. I picked up a few candies that Airhostess offered. I was eager to catch the glimpse of “Kilimanjaro peaks” – Kibo, Shira and Mawanzi during the flight. When I climbed in 2005, there was no snow at all on the mountain all the way from Barafu camp4600m to summit 5895m. I was a little disappointed with the absence of snow. But as the flight approached the roof of Africa, Pilot made the announcement, “You can see mount Kilimanjaro on your left side and Mt. Meru on your right side”. What a wonderful sight it was to see the mountain from above the clouds and wishfully think that in a couple of days I will be standing on its summit. Next it was time to fasten the seat belts. The flight was filled mostly with the tourists and Africa was an exotic travel to everybody. I was consumed by the thoughts of climb. I haven’t booked with any travel company for my climb at Moshi or Arusha. Since last time even after booking upon arrival in Kilimanjaro, the booking was not confirmed and I had to plan and arrange everything in Moshi. So, I thought as well I would land up in KIA (Kilimanjaro International Airport) and look for my guides and porters. As I collected my baggage and walked out of the Immigration box towards the exit, a "masai" greeted me – “Karibu Kilimanjaro!” (Welcome to Kilimanjaro). Answering the Greeting, with “asante sana” (Thank you very much), I walked out of the door to breathe the air where the African Simba roared in distanant Serengeti .

March 10: Planning the Kili Climb

As I walked out of the exit, I found a few taxi drivers accosting to drive to Moshi/Arusha. It wasn’t as painful as that Delhi, Mumbai ilk. With the experience of my earlier visit I was able to bargain for a good price. I wanted to visit Arusha as I had already visited Moshi in 2005. I wanted to understand how things worked in Arusha. I chatted with the driver and conveyed that I am looking for climb support with minimum people and budget climb option. He knew a friend who is a guide. It was an hour and half drive to Arusha from KIA. I put up myself in one of the Hotels close to Market, and Telephone exchange.

The Driver went on to look for the Guide and support staff as well as purchase plans for my climb. I spent walking around the place; Life in Tanzania is hard for the natives. Local markets sprang at every opportunity of merchandizing One Dollar worth good! It reminded me of some of the remote and backward areas of India and I wondered if India’s condition is worse than this or better or no better than this. I purchased a few fruits, ate some local food (they also have rice for main course).
I visited the upcoming cyber cafes and sent mails to my friends who were following my journeys. I specially had to check up with My Everest Climb Company – Summit Climb. I saw a mail from “Summit Climb”, the Company with which I registered for Everest Ascent. I was told to pay the money as early as possible, if I intend to be on the permit list. I spoke with Mr. Venkat Devarapalli, Mr. Satyam Bheemarasetty and Verma Nadimpalli who were helping to raise funds for the 7 Summits mission.

I figured that they were a couple of Indian restaurants; I had met dinner at one of these places and returned to my hotel. By then my guide Hosea has come to the hotel. We discussed our plan for the next day. We decided to start at 5 AM for the park entrance and start the trek as early as possible. With this, I returned to the warmth of my cosy bed considering that I wouldn’t get good sleep for another five days ahead.

March 11: Pole Pole Kilimanjaro
Machame Gate 1490m– Machame Camp 2980m (18km/5hrs)

It took about an hour and half to drive to the entrance of Machame gate. There were lot of expeditions already with lot of action. Guides were organizing their porters to weigh the bags they are carrying. My guide kept walking back and forth; I didn’t understand what was happening. And there were lot of locals selling the Rain coats as well as covers for the back packs. The prices would fall fifty percent of what was quoted with the time, as the sellers become desperate with the climbers walking towards the forest. I felt excited watching all the commotion. Later Hosea informed me that he has completed the formalities and I finish signing in the register so that we can walk into the forest. After all the admin work, I was eager to proceed into the rain dense forest vegetation.

Machame camp at 2980m is 18km away from Machame gate. Knowing that it’s a long walk I started walking slowly into the forest chatting with the porters how they spent their lives when not working on the mountain. I got engrossed in the forest taking pictures of the flowers that I passed by. The verdant vegetation was awe inspiring. I didn’t feel any difficulty in walking; I was enjoying the pace and the surroundings. I had a small snacks break after 2hrs of walk. No where along the trail is it possible to see Kilimanjaro peak. Along the trail I photographed “Impatiens Kilimanjari’ (Elephant trunk flower), Gladiolus watsonioides, Impatiens pseudoviola, and a few more exotic little flowers.

After about three hours of walking I saw the dense forest giving way and the vegetation started to thin out hinting the approach towards alpine zone. It starts getting steep rise as we climb out of the forest. Towards the end of the forest Red hot poker ( Knipophia thomsonii) flowers would be visible. Machame hut suddenly comes into vicinity as we trudge out the forest. The vegetation begins to diminish its size from large woods to smaller trees. As I waited to make entry in the register at Machame camp, the clouds cleared and I had the first view of Uhuru peak. It was exciting to watch the mountain looming in clouds though I would summit in a couple of days!

Later, we proceeded a bit further towards Shira trail and looked for an isolated patch to pitch my tent. It was closer to the full moon time; I could enjoy the view of Uhuru peak for quite a long period which was very unusual at Machame camp. My cook had prepared hot tea, and snacks. I relished them sitting on a chair which is possible only on Kilimanjaro climb. Later I sauntered around the camp environs. At about 7 PM it was dinner time and I had a good meal along with fresh fruits. I informed the guide that I would like to start by 7:30 and accordingly bed tea and break fast be prepared. I enjoyed the sight of numerous stars shining in the clear sky devoid of any kind of city pollution wondering about the theories behind declining glaciers on Kilimanjaro. Mission 7 summits was running in the back of my mind which I forcefully put aside so as to gain good sleep.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Flowers of Kilimanjaro

Alpine flowers of Kilimanjaro

History of Tanzania

History of Tanzania

Tanzania's first mainland inhabitants had established themselves as early as 3000 to 5000 years ago. It's safe to assume that the inhabitants were there prior to the above dates, since knowledge of the inhabitants comes mainly from remnants of ancient Stone Age sites that have been researched. What researchers do know is that these early settlers were hunters and gatherers who spoke Khoisan. Around 1000 B.C. people speaking the Cushitic language began to settle from Ethiopia and Somalia. These people brought cattle and knowledge of stone tools and settled in the Northern Regions.

Bantu speaking people began migrating into Tanzania around 500 AD, possibly from West Africa. These people were farmers of vegetables, millet and sorghum and brought with them iron implements. New arrivals such as the Maasai possibly took place around the 12th and 18th centuries.

During the early 1500's the Portuguese established settlements in the area but were later forced out. The first Europeans to enter into mainland Tanzania were Germans Johann Krapf and Johannes Rebmann. The town of Tabora in central Tanzania became an important centre for the early European traders and entrepreneurs. The German Colonization Society, represented by Dr Karl Peters made treaties in 1884 with African chiefs for their lands. Many chiefs were made to believe they were signing for German protection. The treaties were approved by Bismark, who headed up the German government, and who at the time considered these Tanzanian territories as German protectorates. In 1885 British and German delegates met to divide up Tanzania as follows. The Sultan of Zanzibar Seyyid Said was given the islands of Zanzibar, Pemba, Mafia and Lamu in Kenya as well as a strip of coast which extended from Mozambique in the south to certain towns in Somalia, (Islam in Tanzania). Germany took control of a major portion of what is now known as Tanzania. Britain took over what is now Kenya.

One of the more powerful tribes at the time were the Hehe. Chief Mkwawa was instrumental in controlling the ivory trade and as the Hehe began to expand their territory they raided people who were under German protection. Germany felt that Chief Mkwawa would have to be dealt with. In 1891 Hehe warriors attacked the German unit killing the commander and many others but at a great cost. This led to many retaliatory attacks by the Germans when in 1894 a surprise attack by the Germans decimated the Hehe. Legend has it that in June 1898, on the run, Chief Mkwawa built a fire and shot himself above it. Supposedly he left one of his men to report his location to the Germans who later brought his skull back to Germany. Another major rebellion was the Maji Maji rebellion which ended in 1907. The rebellion consisted of many local tribes uniting. These people believed by drinking a sacred water, (maji) they would have the strength to repel bullets. Their loses to the German artillery were tremendous but the rebellion was significant because it showed the strength which African unity could achieve.

Germany finally lost control of German East Africa in 1917 to the British forces and under British rule the country was renamed Tanganyika. in July 1922 it was declared a mandated territory under the League of Nations. All Germans were expelled from the country. In 1925 Germans were allowed to return and along with Greeks they made up the largest numbers of European immigrants. In 1931 Asian immigrants from India became a large group also. After World War II Tanganyika focused more on it's strengths in food production and sought to become more self-sufficient independence was finally granted on December 9, 1961.

Tanzania - People
The population of Tanzania consists of about 120 ethnic groups, primarily of Bantu speaking origin. Approximately twelve of these groups make up half of the population of 26 million. Unlike some African countries no single ethnic group dominates in terms of size or political influence and therefore conflict between cultures is low. The majority of Tanzania's people are made up of two general indigenous groups, which consist of those speaking Bantu and those speaking Nilotic. Bantu speaking people tend to be involved in agriculture and food production. The Nilotic speaking people whom originate from the Nile Valley tend to be involved mainly in cattle raising. The remaining 2% of the population is made up of Europeans, Asians and Arabs who generally live in the urban centers.

The country's main spoken language is Kiswahili, which comes from Bantu origin but has been influenced by Arabic, Portuguese and English. Over 95% of the population speaks Kiswahili and this is another contributing factor to the regions unity.

Some of the major ethnic groups within Tanzania are:

Sukuma - Largest group speak Bantu

Makonde - Bantu Speaking

Chagga - Bantu Speaking

Haya - Bantu Speaking

Nyamwezi - Bantu Speaking

Ha - Bantu speaking

Hehe - Bantu Speaking

Maasai - Nilotic Speaking

Iraqw - Cushitic Speaking

Sandawe & Hadzapi - Khoisan Speaking

Flora & Fauna

The lower slopes of the mountain are heavily cultivated, in particular those to the south which receive plenty of rainfall. Elsewhere lower rainfall coupled with the porosity of the lava soils makes the conditions less suitable for cultivation. The forest belt which completely encircles the mountain and extends from about 1800m. to 2900m. provides the best conditions for plant life. Above the forest belt the porous soils and lower rainfall result in much sparser vegetation with semi-desert conditions prevailing above 4000m.The cultivated belt contains small holdings (shambas) where bananas and various vegetables are grown. The area is also suitable for coffee and there are several major plantations.The southern, wetter forests contain camphor, podocarpus, fig and other trees; lush undergrowth contains many giant ferns and Unseal (old man's beard) drapes everything. Vines, mimilopsis and a multitude of flowers can be found in the valley and in clearer areas. The northern, drier forests contain podocarpus, junipers and olives. In contrast to Mount Kenya few large animals are found in this zone, though Colobus and blue monkeys are very shy. Many colorful birds are found here, the most noticeable being the Hornbill and the Turaco with its dark red wing markings.The forests end abruptly without a bamboo zone as found on most other East African mountains. Above, the rapidly thinning giant heather zone leads to the upper moorlands; here the giant groundsles and lobelias peculiar to high altitude tropical mountain zones can be found. There are few animals other than rodents though leopard spoor can often be seen. Eagles and buzzards soar high above and smaller birds such as the alpine chat and streaky seed eater can also be seen. In the higher moorland and alpine zones only few tufts of grass, mosses and lichen are found, together with occasional flowers such as the everlasting helichrysums and senecios.

Origin of Kilimanjaro

Birth of Kilimanjaro

The formation of Kilimanjaro started 750,000 years ago, when it consisted of three large vents: Shira, Kibo and Mawenzi. Over thousands of years Shira eventually collapsed, becoming extinct; Mawenzi remained active a while longer but eventually also became extinct and began to erode; Kibo continued with massive eruptions around 360,000 years ago that released black lava over the Shira caldera, creating the area known today as the Saddle, at the base of Mawenzi. Kibo finally reached a height of 5,900 m and erosion helped create the tall jagged peaks of Mawenzi and Shira's plateau. Kibo meanwhile leveled out and was covered during the ages with ice and glaciers. Around 100,000 years ago a huge landslide created the Kibo barranco (a steep- walled ravine). Kibo's final eruption created the Ash Pit, the Inner Crater and the perfectly formed caldera.

Theory of Rift Valley

In order to understand the main forces that have helped build Mount Kilimanjaro we must first have an understanding of Plate Tectonics. This theory says that the Earth's crust is divided into a series of vast, plate like parts that move or drift as distinct land masses.

Destructive Margins
These Plates can be colliding, which is called a Destructive Margin or moving apart, known as Constructive Margins. Sideways movements can be found along the San Andreas Fault in California. Where they collide one plate moves under the other. This is similar to having two sheets of paper on a flat surface and slowly moving the edges closer together at first they buckle and then one slides under the other.

Constructive Margins
Where the Plates spread apart we get rifts or cracks in the Earth. The Mid Atlantic has a very old Constructive Margin which has created the Atlantic Ocean and which continues to spread today. Around 25 million years ago another Constructive Margin was created in East Africa we know it today as the Great Rift Valley. Just before that time East Africa was a great plain and it is believed that collision of the African and the Eurasian plate resulted in the rupture. As the plates "rebounded" the resulting rift caused weaknesses in side the Earth which led to the formation of many volcanoes in the region.

One such volcano is Mount Kilimanjaro. Mount Kenya is also a volcano and at one time it was higher than Mount Kilimanjaro. Since Mount Kenya is older it has been eroded by the elements and now Mt. Kenya is the second highest mountain in Africa, it sits on the equator at an elevation of 5199m (17,058ft.).

"The formation of the Rift Valley is in geological phenomenon which is still continuing. It is, surprisingly, slowly widening and eastern Africa may, in millions of year’s time, split off to form a new continent. The original violent crack that caused the Rift naturally weakened the earth's crust most where the valley was deepest. It is, therefore, in this area and radiating from this main valley that other major volcanic activity produced numerous volcanic formations." The greatest of these volcanoes is Mount Kilimanjaro.

Early Explorers & First Ascent

1846 - 1860s: Era of Johann Robenn & Dr. Ludwig Krapf

As early as 1846, London based Church Missionary Society representatives Johann Rebmann and Dr. Ludwig Krapf were the first Europeans to venture into the forests of Kilimanjaro to attempt its summit. In May they sighetd the mountain, a day's travel from Taveta. On their 2nd Expedition, in Novemebr they reached "Majame" and were able to describe the shape of the enormous mountain.

“There are two main peaks which arise from a common base measuring some twenty five miles by as many broad. They are separated by a saddle shaped depression, running east and west for a distance of about eight or ten miles. The eastern peak is the lower of the two, and is conical shape. Western and higher represents the magnificent dome, and is covered with snow through out the year, unlike its eastern neighbour which loses its snowy mantle during the hot season. By the swahilii at the coast call it “Kilimanjaro – mountain of greatness”. But the wa-jagga call it Kibo, from the snow with which it’s perpetually capped.

Great Debate:
The reality of snow on these twin equatorial mountains Kilimanjaro and Kenya was not at first accepted in London, and learned discussions took place on the subject took place before the royal geographic society, wrote Halford John Mackinder, the explorer to make the first ascent of Mt. Kenya. The argument was not over weather snow existed on these peaks but were these peaks tall enough to have snow.

In August 1861, German explorer Baron Karl Von der Decken and English geologist R.Thornten attempted to climb Kilimanajro and spent three days trying to penetrate the forest zone on the mountains lower slopes. They were eventually forced back by bad weather, having reached only 2500m. In 1862 Von der Decken returned with Dr. Otto Kersten. Starting from Moji (Moshi), in December the two became the first white men to climb beyond the forest zone having reached a height of 4300. “During the night it snowed heavily” Von der Decken recorded in his journal, and the next morning all lay white around us.” Von der Decken and Kersten estimated the height of Kibo at 5700m, its snow line at 4998m and its vegetation line at 3657m. They estimated Mawanzi at a height of 4953m. Their findings ended, for most part, the intense debate. By the late 1880s ascenst to the saddle between Kibo and Mawenzi were common place, and the village of Marangu was generally accepted as the best starting place for attempts on Kilimanjaro, as it’s highest point on mountain that could easily be reached.

First Ascent
Hans Meyer made the first ascent in Oct 1899 with porters and two more companions