Friday, 25 November 2011

Kili - Day 3

Apart from the summit day, this was the highlight! Why?? Because of the flora and atmosphere of the amazing Barranco Valley. I am reliably informed by my bro-in-law, that Barranco means 'ravine' in spanish, so this is the Ravine Valley (which is apt). No other wild place I have stood in on earth, which admittedly isnt that many, has left such a memory.

We started off from Shira Cave camp at 8am. The first destination was Lava Tower at 4600m, then we would drop back down through the Baranco Valley to 3900m, just 100m higher than the starting altitude. This is an acclimatisation walk that will benefit trekkers on the Machame Route.

The intial walk was a gradual ascent over a rockscape that could pass for the surface of the moon.

As we ascended, we got teasing glimpses of Kibo amongst the clouds. The first real views we'd seen since leaving Moshi. There was a good dusting of snow between the Glaciers.

Soon we were walking across a light dusting of snow ourselves as we approached lava tower.

And then we got there. The highest point on the trek so far - 4600m ASL. Lava Tower is a large tower made of lava rock. There is a campsite there called Lava Tower campsite. Predictable this, aint it!

The next section of the walk was a real rugged path between two large buttresses of rock following a stream down. Quite a change from the gradual even slopes we'd encountered so far.

Then we started to descend into the Baranco Valley. Dave described it as Nirvana. PRetty good description in my book. Parts of it were only 'Foo Fighter' standard, but there were areas that were pure Lithium and Polly!
The main reason, if you're botanically inclined, are the Giant Groundsels and high alpine Lobelias. Dendrosenecio kilimanjari ssp cottonii and Lobelia Deckenii. Fantastic, alien looking plants that simply only grow in a few small nooks and crannies of this floral planet. They are something else to behold, even if you're not into plants, and add a certain mystique to the amazing scenery.

Some of the Dendrosenecios were incredibly large and incredibly old!

The Lobelias are pure symmetry - Mother Nature at her most...err, symmetrical!

I took literally hundreds more photos of these amazing plants....apologies for those of you yawning and yearning for more mountains, rocks, glaciers and vistas! Day 4 gets much less floral.

We finally reached the Baranco Valley camp beneath the towering Baranco Wall and spent an enjoyable hour or two exploring the surrounding groves of cabbage trees (an unflattering common name!). Long live the Baranco Valley! (and it probably will.....)

Day 4 (almost plant free) will be along soon!

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