I’m woken at 06:30 by a guide asking me if I would like a hot drink. Black coffee and sugar is promptly brought for me to enjoy in my sleeping bag. We enjoy our morning washy-washy bowl and a hot breakfast before starting the long day’s walking.
We continue along the path we took the night before. Breath deep. The clean scent of the herbs and flowers surrounds us. As we climb the plants become shorter and more shrub like and increasingly like the familiar moorland landscape of home. Across the path skits a chameleon and we gather round to take a closer look before putting him back on his way.
We stop for a snack at the first cave, a shelter for earlier explorers before heading on to our lunch stop: the second cave. A full campsite filled with walkers. Our mess tent has been set up close to the cave and we enjoy lazing on the rocks in the sunshine before a delicious hot lunch.
We spend the afternoon walking through the moorland to our campsite for the night. It’s a long way and some of the group are starting to feel the effects of the altitude. Although the sun is still bright it’s cooler and low in the sky when we spot the colourful tents of our campsite under the imposing Mawenzi, Kilimanjaro’s second peak.
Reaching camp we rest our tired legs at afternoon tea in the mess tent, followed by dinner and another early night. The moon is very bright and as I wake in the night I stand for a while gazing at the stars. Low on the horizon is the familiar sight of Polaris. Behind me rising in the sky is the Southern Cross. A new set of stars to remind me that while the moorland landscape may feel familiar I’m a long way from home.