Kilimanjaro: MTB expedition
Note: Clearly, this blog post is been written before my departure to Kilimanjaro. AlterNative Photo is going to publish it when I’ll reach the peak as they will be able to follow our track on my GPS. A we will be without internet connection in a remote area of Africa, hopefully I’ll be able to add some more details and photos about my great adventure after returning home… So, stay tuned!
Today my friends and I have reached the pick of Mount Kilimanjaro, the roof of Africa, in the north of Tanzania, by mountain bike!
But first, let me introduce myself.
Who am I? I’m the one that wants to do it “AlterNative”!
My name is Federico and I am an italian mtb rider with a thing for nature and outdoors.
The reason why I cycle is basically just the fact that it makes me happy. It gives me the chance of being outdoor, close by the beauty of nature and exploring hard trails in the mountains. I see working out as a way to challenge myself and push my limits further.
One day, coming back from a mountain cycling trip, I’ve expressed my idea of reaching the roof of Africa by bike. The answer that cames from my mates was absolutely enthusiastic. Days go by and the thought of climbing the Mt. Kilimanjaro was turning into my mind over and over again. I’ve started researching and the idea of reaching the peak with my bicycle became more and more reality. Finally I spoke to Mauro, my fellow-rider and started to plan the expedition.
The complex logistic strategy made us questioning about group, training, physical and mental preparation, equipment, porters, local guides… as well as how to make this trip appealing. Luckily the expedition to Morocco we’ve ran last year is been a great school for these purposes.
In the past 365 days I’ve been training and planning about the smallest details we might face during our journey. First thing first: how many people? Few, very few and well trained. So we’ve put together a crew of 6 and for the past months we’ve been training together up in the italian alps in the Piemonte region.
In this region there are several peaks above 3000 for a better acclimatization training to certain altitude where the concentration of oxygen is reduced.
The concentration of oxygen at sea level is about 21% and the barometric pressure averages 760 mm-Hg. As altitude increases, the concentration remains the same but the number of oxygen molecules per breath is reduced. At 12,000 feet (3,658 meters) the barometric pressure is only 483 mm-hg, so there are roughly 40% fewer oxygen molecules per breath.
In order to properly oxygenate the body, your breathing rate (even while at rest) has to increase. This extra ventilation increases the oxygen content in the blood, but not to sea level concentrations. Since the amount of oxygen required for the activity is the same, the body must adjust to having less oxygen. In addition high altitude and lower air pressure causes fluid to leak from the capillaries which can cause fluid build-up in both the lungs and the brain. Clearly continuing to higher altitudes without proper acclimatization can lead to potentially serious, even life-threatening illnesses.
In particular in the last 3 weeks I had to face practical issues, such as:
- Carefully choose the stuff for the 12 kg of luggage only I have the right to carry
- Same thing for my daily backpack.
- Packing the bike for the flight and assembling
Our trip started at midnight on september the 22nd 2019 and finally today we made it!
We’ve reached the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro, 5895 mt above the sea level!
Our trip planning includes 2 tented camps: one over 3500 m above the sea level and another one over 4500 m. An experience to do in 5 days only plus one for the downhill.
Thanks to “Viaggia con Carlo” travel agency we’ve build an interesting, yet
intense and concentrate program of our MTB expedition to Kilimanjaro:
September the 24th 2019
Kilimanjaro airport – Arusha for the overnight in town.
September the 25th 2019
Leaving the hotel at 7.00 am and driving to Marangu Gate for registering and getting the permission to enter in the Kilimanjaro national park. Reaching the Kilema Gate (1800 m.a.s.l.) and starting our riding up to Horombo Huts (3720 m.a.s.l.). Sleeping in tented camp.
September the 26th 2019
Riding through the alpin desert landscapes, riding on small stones up to Mawenzi Hut and then back to Horombo for acclimatization.
Sleeping in tented camp.
September the 27th 2019
reaching the Kibo Hut (4703 m.a.s.l.) and sleeping in tented camp.
September the 28th 2019
Leaving the camp at 4 am to start the zig-zag trek up to a long screen slop, after 2 hours reaching Hans Meyer’s Cave where the gradient gets steeper. Climbing approximately other 3 hours to Gilman’s Point and then riding up to Uhuru peak for finally reaching the icecup Summit (5895 m.a.s.l.). Downhill to Stella Point and Horombo Hut for the last tented camp sleeping.
September the 29th 2019
The final riding down to Kilema Gate and transfer to Arusha town.
After this great success we’re going to have some rest, spending a couple of days in the natural parks before flying back home, in Italy. So we are now looking forward to start our downhill to reach then the lake Manyara and the spectacular Ngorongoro crater, in the northern circuit of Tanzania where we will have the chance of exploring the african landscapes and wildlife.
Thanks for reading,
Federico “Becco” Scotto
To know more about what I do while I’m not on the road, visit https://www.hotelresidencesereno.it/
Photo credits: Federico S., Mauro F., Matteo C., Matteo F.