Day 3 and when we opened up the tent, we found a scary vulture-raptor staring at us. Despite being told they were only big white-necked ravens, these were quite intimidating with their massive beaks. Later on in the day, when we had a snack break, Taryn managed to coo one of the ravens over, and had a 10 minute conversation of crowing and hooting, much to the amusement of our guides, who by now thought we already a rather strange group of people.
Our walk today was to Barranco camp at 3950m. Although this is only 150m higher than were we were at Shira camp, we went via the Lava tower at 4620m. This is an excellent way to acclimatize – higher during the day, and sleep lower at night. Lava tower was very impressive, a massive tower made from lava which has now turned to black stone. The moorland was no more (haha!), and the higher we went up to the Lava tower, the rockier it got. The rocks were surprisingly varied – lots of black lava rocks, massive boulders that had been moved by previous glaciers, and shale. I started getting altitude headaches at about 4200m, but painkillers helped and once we got to the Lava tower it was just a dull ache rather than feeling like my brain was in a vice and being slowly squeezed.
When descending from the Lava tower it snowed very lightly and briefly, and the landscape changed again to incredibly weird trees, Senecio kilimanjari – named so as they are totally unique to the mountain. They looked like pineapples that had their main part turned into the trunk of a tree. We also got a lot of streams and mini waterfalls. The headache never really went away fully until after dinner, but despite being told that high altitude affects your sleep, I slept like a baby every night. The only problem was the huge amounts of water I drunk. Water is very good to help with altitude sickness, so we were advised to drink as much as possible. This of course meant we stopped for a toilet break every 30minutes. This was especially awkward at night time, as it got much colder than at Machame camp – probably down to -5°. Getting out of your comfortable and warm sleeping bag to go outside and pee was one of the worst parts of the trip. Luckily I had a female urination device (basically a funnel so you can pee standing up like a man) so didn’t need to expose my arse to the freezing conditions.