I Climbed Kilimanjaro !!! 

Suffolk make up artist climbs Kilimanjaro

This blog post is a little different, it’s a personal one, I just felt I needed to record what I’d achieved (and, if you’ve set yourself a huge challenge for the future, you may find my experience helpful). 


This was my biggest challenge yet! I climbed Kilimanjaro (I still can’t believe I can say that)!   


I do like to challenge myself, but this was by far the hardest thing I think I’ve ever done. 


It took every bit of mental strength to reach ‘summit’, I just kept telling myself to put one foot in front of the other. 


My aim was to raise money for the MS Society and all the people that could never do that trek. My friend’s daughter passed away, sadly a few years ago and loved to travel, I carried her picture in my pocket the whole way up.  I wanted to get that picture of us together at Summit. That kept me going when I didn’t think I could carry on.  




Monday 29th of January 


I set out with 2 of my good travel friends and 3 others (who are half my age, so I nicknamed them ‘the kids’) to reach the peak of Kilimanjaro. Starting at an elevation of 2100 m in the rainforest at Lemosho Gate, it was hot and humid. 


The first camp was called Mkubwa At and was at an elevation of 2650 m. Our party of 6 grew, with a chef and his assistant, 3 guides and 12 porters, who carry lots of stuff up the mountain on their heads, necks, backs and do it in record times!  


I quickly learnt my biggest problem was going to be breathing at altitude. It’s extremely tough, especially if you pick up speed.  


Side note – the toilets are hideous! But I’m focusing on the positive,  having always wanted to do Glastonbury, but never thought I could cope with camping, I now feel I’m well prepped, nothing can be as bad as those toilets. 


Tuesday 30th January  


We left camp early and trekked for 12 hours over 20 km, heading for Shira ll Camp. 


As we climbed, forests changed into moorlands, beautiful rolling hills became rocky paths,, dusty roads and lots of rocks paved the way. 


Elevation was 3850 m. The big takeaway from this day was not to believe the times and distances we had been told – everything took longer!  

Wednesday 31st January  


For me, it was the toughest day yet. We left Shira ll For lava tower, where we had lunch at an elevation of 4650 m.  


I could feel the altitude kicking in. I had a bit of a headache, but I wasn’t really sure if it was altitude or dehydration at this point. It’s hard to drink, walk and breathe all at the same time.  


After lunch we made our way down to Barranco Camp, ending the day at the same elevation, we started, which felt frustrating,  but necessary to help with the acclimatisation.  


Thursday 1st February  


Sadly, we said goodbye to my friend Sarah, who was very poorly (later diagnosed with pneumonia). I’m not sure how she even made it through Wednesday,  she’s a strong girl and her achievement will always amaze me and stay with me.  


The camps are busier now.  


We are now heading for  Katanga Camp and apart from Sarah’s sad goodbye, today was  the most fun day of the trip.  


We climb Barranco Wall, using our hands at times to pull ourselves up, trying not to look down at where  we’ve come from!  I remember thinking, ‘if my mum could see me now she would probably have a second heart attack!. 


Finally, after a long walk, we caught sight of camp, it was however, a vigorous journey to reach it at end the day. 


Feeling so tired by now, at an elevation of 4050 m. We’re now in Alpine desert. The campsite was much steeper and more rocky. It felt quite disorientating, we are above the clouds, which I loved, there is something very surreal about looking down on clouds.  



Friday 2nd February  


Another goodbye today,  Jane fell on Thursday and couldn’t continue with the trek. So now it’s just me and the ‘kids’ and I have to try and keep up with them, which isn’t easy.  


Making our way to Barafu Camp at the base of the summit, taking in the most beautiful sunset.  We can now clearly see what is ahead of us, we’re looking straight at  the peak of Kilimanjaro 


A short walk today so that we could rest this afternoon as a wake up time of 11:30 pm was looming to start the summit. Our camp is very rocky! At night it feels as though I am slipping down to the end of my tent! 


Elevation of 4700 m in the Alpine Desert. This part of the trek is extremely hard going.  I’m exhausted, having not slept properly since the first night. (I found out afterwards there’s such a thing as altitude insomnia, and I definitely had that). And on top of this, my legs feel like they don’t really want to wake up.  


Saturday 2nd February  


We left camp at around 12:30 am,  we saw rows of head torches snaking their way up the mountain. 


At this point the exhaustion was overwhelming. My legs felt dead, the only thing I could do was to tell myself to put one foot in front of the other. 


It was a long, slow walk, grabbing the odd sips of water, and a mouthful of cereal bar, just for the energy.  


The wind was vicious and cold. Extreme tiredness is taking over now.  Our guide, Matthew, announced it was less than two hours to Stella Point, at which point I honestly didn’t know how I was going to carry on. 2 more hours of walking up the mountain followed by  at least 40 minutes to the summit, this stage took all of the mental strength I had in me. Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is, without a doubt, a mental challenge more than anything!    


I will never really know how I made it up that mountain, but something in me was not giving up! 


At Stella point, we could see the sign for the top of Kilimanjaro.  It looked so near, but felt so far.  


The sun was so bright but still so cold.  


We trekked through a small path in the snow. I felt like I was tripping over my feet, finally, after what seemed like forever we reached Uhuru Peak, The highest point on Mount Kilimanjaro and the continent of Africa!  

We spent very little time taking pictures. We had to get down quickly, because of the altitude.  I felt well, but some of the group were really suffering.  


By now my legs just don’t want to do anything so my guide literally dragged me back down that mountain.  



Sunday 4th of February 


The  last day of our  trek, we  leave Mweka Camp To the Mweka gate. The trail is in the rainforest and the mud and wet paths are very slippery, leading to a dirt road. It also seems to go on for miles. I hated this part of the walk the most, I was so tired it felt so long, my body was ready for some sleep. 


My knees and hips hurt and, my toes hit the front of my boot constantly on the way down. Today was mentally tough again. But knowing I’d down the hard part and just needed to get down kept me going.  


 I climbed Kilimanjaro!!  I’m not sure I have ever been more proud of myself than this.   



Coming back down to earth! 


I was lucky enough to take some time to explore and recover with my travel buddies.  


It was so lovely to be back with the girls, we spent some time relaxing and three days on Safari, which was just incredible.  I loved seeing the animals in their natural surroundings. Just going about their day doing what they want. Something else ticked off my bucket list.  


I’m so glad I did this and I definitely learnt a lot about myself and my determination. 


 Now, I’ve just got to think up some new trips! I’ve run out of ideas and, maybe I’ll give my mum a break for a little while of worrying about me.