Seems like I can’t sit still even if I try. I’ve got some down time in Moshi until my Kilimanjaro climb, and again before I leave on my overland trip to Capetown. Even though the beard is coming along nicely, it doesn’t require a lot of effort on my part, and I’ve done enough sightseeing tours for the time being. So I’ve decided to put my time to good use and volunteer with the Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project. The main focus of the project is to improve the working conditions of the porters working on Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro requires that you hire a licensed quide, and these guides hire porters to carry the equipment and gear needed on the trip. This also includes carrying the gear for the climbers as well. As a climber on Kili, all I will carry is a daypack with enough water, food, and clothing for that day’s hiking. The porters carry all the rest of my gear and clothing. They also carry the food, cooking equipment, tents, sleeping bags, etc. A typical climb up Kili has 3 crew members for every one climber, and a climb up Kili now resembles a catered camping trip more that a week of backcountry mountaineering. But the climb is not an easy one, so I don’t really mind paying a crew to take the load off my back and contribute to the local economy at the same time.
Unfortunately, many of the porters working on Kili carry excessively heavy loads, get paid low wages, and don’t have the proper clothing and equipment. This is where the Porter’s Assistance Project comes in. They advocate on behalf of the porters to educate the public about proper wages and working conditions, they provide clothing and gear to porters working on the mountain, and in the low season they teach English and first-aid classes to the porters. They are a great organization, and a partner of the International Mountain Explorer’s Connection with branches in Africa, Nepal, and Peru.
My work with the Kilimanjaro Porter’s Assistance Project (KPAP) will involve helping them compile and analyze some survey data they have collected from both porters and climbers, and also helping with outreach by talking to other tourists and climbers and telling them about KPAP. Yesterday I got to go up to Marangu Gate with Zamoyoni, one of the staff members at KPAP. Marangu gate is the starting point for many of the climbs. I got to observe a couple of groups setting off on their trek, saw some porters in action, and also listened in while Zamo talked to many of the porters and distributed surveys to them. Since my knowledge of Swahili is limited to only about a half dozen words, I couldn’t understand anything that was being said, but it was a neat experience anyway.
Next week I’m going to do a day trip with one of the porters where we’ll do some light hiking around the base of Kili, and then join him in his village for lunch. It should be fun, and I’ll get to see some of what village life is like. The rest of my climbing group should all arrive next weekend, and we’ll set of on Monday the 24th for our clilmb. We’ll be on the mountain for 7 days, and if all goes well we’ll attempt the summit on the morning of the 29th.Tags: Africa, Kilimanjaro, Travel, Volunteering, Tag Index