Kerala man stands tall atop Mount Kilimanjaro

Safwan, a native of Nilambur on top of Kilimanjaro Peak.
Safwan, a native of Nilambur on top of Kilimanjaro Peak.

Summiting the challenging Mount Kilimanjaro is a dream of mountaineers across the globe and now Safwan, a Keralite, has remarkably conquered this highest mountain on the African continent in style. 

Safwan, 28, hailing from Nilambur in Malappuram district, was on cloud nine as he set foot on the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro, which is hard to climb and known for numerous volcanic cones. Safwan is working as an operations manager in ABC Group-owned tile-making company in Tanzania, scaled the 19,341ft (5,895m) summit as part of a seven-member group. 

Four-day trek 

The group made the arduous trek overcoming extreme weather conditions as the mercury dipped to minus 17 degrees. The seven-member team’s goal was to climb 5,895m in four days but five trekkers backed off halfway through due to health issues and adverse climate. Finally, Safwan and teammate Dikshit made it to the top. 

The climbers started their long journey from the city of Moshi in Tanzania eyeing the Uhuru peak. Though there are six different routes to reach the Uhuru peak, Safwan and other group members decided to take the course through the Marangu gateway. A 90-minute bus ride from Moshi city took the seven mountaineers to the Marangu gateway. 

The tour agent concerned arranged the requite papers for mountaineering and the whole expedition costs 1,000 to 2,000 dollars per person. The package includes climbing shoes, trekking sticks, jacket, warm hat, raincoat, food and medicines in case of any emergency. A person who knows local topography thoroughly would also be part of the trekking group. 

Stay in a tent 

The trek to Uhuru peak started from Marangu and the climbers ended the first day of mountaineering at Mandara Hut, which is 2,700m above sea level, after walking 7km through a dense rain forest. The trekkers reached the hut by 5 pm and stayed overnight in a tent. The guides were all geared up to cook food at Mandara Hut and the dinner menu included vegetable soup and some African dishes. 

On the second day, the trekking began at 8.45 am and ended after traversing 11km at Horobo Hut. One can reach Horobo Hut, which is 3,700m above sea level, after walking through a tough terrain dotted with small trees and rock formations. The target for the third day was to reach Kibo Hut, which is 4,700m high, after a 9 km trek. The mountaineers experienced snowfall while walking towards Kibo Hut through the terrain on the way was desert-like. 

Two unfulfilled dreams 

Uhuru peak, the final destination, is 6 km away from Kobo Hut. Three people, who were part of the mountaineering group, decided not to trek further from Kibo Hut due to health reasons. The mountaineers started climbing the final stretch at 1 am as it had an ‘S’-shaped ascent with a 70-degree acclivity. Extreme cold conditions prevailed in the region and drinking water started to freeze. Two more people called it quits after trekking 1km from Kobo Hut. 

But Safwan and Dikshit, along with two guides, decided to move forward to the top of the peak. Safwan had physical discomfort as he was vomiting frequently and this resulted in difficulty in breathing. And the only way out was to drink water and take rest. The team used to take rest for two minutes after taking five or six steps. 

After much hardship, the duo finally reached Gilman’s Point, which is situated at 5,681m, at 8.40 am and Safwan had the golden opportunity to enjoy the most beautiful sunrise of his life standing above white clouds. After taking a breather for 10 minutes at Gilman’s Point, Safwan and others trekked another 2km through a snow-covered path to reach Uhuru Peak. While standing atop the peak, Safwan, son of Musaba and Afzath, had held the tricolour close to his heart. 

“My family members, including wife Shaha Jumana, and colleagues backed me a lot in completing this high-risk expedition,” says Safwan.

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