In 1999, I spent my vacation in Tanzania in Africa. The goal of the trip was a mixture of mountaineering, safari and scuba diving. Kilimanjaro is a volcano in the North of Tanzania, close to the border with Kenya.
Not far from Kilimanjaro is Meru, a 4566 m high volcano. Climbing Meru allows you to acclimatize to the altitude and therefore, it is the ideal preparation for Kilimanjaro. I reached the summit of Meru in 3 days.
Meru is not quite as popular as Kilimanjaro. This meant that I was alone on the summit, except for the park ranger that acts as a mandatory guide on all Meru climbs. From the summit of Meru, you get a fantastic view of the sun rising behind Kilimanjaro.
Immediately after Meru, I started the 5-day climb of Kilimanjaro. Normally, this climb takes 6 days, but because of the preparation on Meru, I could skip the rest and acclimatization day on Kilimanjaro. Many climbers skip this extra day without the necessary preparation and because of that suffer form severe symptoms of altitude sickness.
During the climb, I also met Douglas Beall. Douglas is a radiologist from Oklahoma that worked temporarily in the hospital of Moshi as a volunteer. Since then, Douglas and me are a fixed climbing team.
The first 3 days of the climb – up until Kibo hut – are an easy stroll on a wide trail. During the night of the 3rd day we left from Kibo hut to the summit. The last part is pretty steep, but after 6 hours we reached the summit. Apparently, we walked a bit too fast because it was still dark when we got there.