This is a portrait showing one of the many amazing porters and guides who helped me to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro. The photo is taken from my tent, I’m still wrapped in my sleeping bag with virtually all my clothes on. It’s cold and daylight has only just started to show itself. We are above the clouds at high altitude and have two more days to go until we start our summit to the top of Kilimanjaro, often described as the Roof Africa.
Every day, come rain, come shine, the porters and guides are happy and cheerful. They help us with everything we can think of and anticipate our every need. This isn’t a luxury holiday by any means, but they go out of their way to make it as comfortable as they can within the limits of what they have available. They get up before us to fetch drinking water and start their day early and cold. They start cooking big bowls of hearty porridge to sustain us until lunch and make us copious amounts of hot drinks. They bring flasks of hot water to our tent to make our first drink of the day which we enjoy from the comfort of our tent giving us a great start to the day. They break camp after we start walking, overtake us as we trek, set up and cook a hot lunch before we reach them and wash up when we are done. We start to trek after lunch and sure enough, the nimble footed speedy guys overtake us again and reach camp before us. By the time we get there, weary and exhausted they’ve ensure our tents are up, our bags are inside and a bowl of hot water is waiting for us for a quick camp wash. This is followed by a bowl of hot steaming popcorn, biscuits and tea galore.
Later as we rest, or perhaps take a quick nap, they cook and serve dinner to our mess tent. As an added bonus they bring hot bedtime drinks to our tents before we sleep and I often went to sleep hearing the guys singing as they ate their dinner late into the night.
The guides and porters are not paid huge salaries, they wear clothes which is not as substantial as ours, they do this trip at least twice a month if not more and the toil on their body is immense. They leave their families and their friends to help us achieve our dream.
They are more than guides and porters, they become our friends, our support system, and often the provide the final push to get many of us to the top. They encourage and help us, they carry our packs when we can’t (hello sprained knee), they look out for our health and safety, they make us walk slower than slow to help us acclimatise and literally push us along on the steeper parts of summit night. They prove to you that you are capable of more than you know, on Summit night when you think that the top is never going to come and you think you can’t go on any more. They are everything we need and then some and my words barely do justice to the job they do.
This is a portrait and tribute to the fantastic team who helped me reach the summit of Kilimanjaro.
Hakuna Matata team Di Moja, I salute you.
(Di Moja was the name of our team, all of us reached the summit without incident).