No. 6 Camping – don’t do it

I can’t get away from it. The fact that there are no hotels on Mount Kilimanjaro. The best that some trekkers achieve is to sleep overnight in huts. However, the route we are taking does not come with this level of luxury. So camping it will have to be.

Although not in the same league as some, I would describe myself as an out-doors sort of person. Having grown up playing cricket in the summer and playing football in the winter, I got used to adverse weather conditions. I also enjoyed my time playing American Football and well remember the effort we had to put in to clear the pitch of snow in the hours before my first match. When playing we took the attitude of loving the rain. It seemed to give us an advantage over other teams, so when the rain came down, the shout went up – “Panthers’ winning weather!”

When it comes to travel though, our usual option these days is the 3 star hotel. That little bit of comfort with a good location, preferably near a city centre in some country where I can make myself understood in English. (I am sure that my order of ‘small fries and a milk shake’ in French, at a fine Parisian dining establishment {McDonalds} didn’t really sound like ‘six chicken McNuggets’ that I was served!).

Alas, no 3 star hotels on the mountain, nor, I fear, even a McDonalds. So, as part of my preparation for the trip I thought that at least one night in a tent was called for.

With Jonathan, my travel companion, I ventured as far as the Peak District on a weekend in September. Jonathan is much more familiar with holidays under canvass than I, so it was no big deal for him. But for me, at my tender middle age, this was to be my first night sleeping outdoors.

Having pitched our two-man tent, which will be the style for our Kilimanjaro trip, we did what any self-respecting campers do and found ourselves a pub. A good meal was had and we returned to the campsite. Fortunately the weather was good, with a clear sky. Some other campers were having a much more outdoorsy experience, having barbequed their meal. There was even singing and the obligatory guitar! However, soon it was time for bed.

The clear sky, although giving a fine view of the stars, also heralded a chilly night. I did sleep, but it was pretty uncomfortable. Cold and sleeping on a hard surface. And getting up and getting dressed is not quite the same experience in a cold tent as in a warm bedroom. Not the best preparation for walking. But I had done it. And the climb up to Kinder Scout was a pleasure. Hard work, but a pleasure.

So, Lesson No. Six. If you have to do it, be prepared for the hardship of camping, but if you don’t have to, don’t do it! Work hard, save your money and use good quality hotels on your travels!


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