I have finished my eight day trek up Mount Kilimanjaro and have had a much needed couple of days to recover. It truly was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life and makes the marathon look like a walk in the park! We started off at about 2250m and spent some time walking across the Shira plateau (looks quite similar to Highlands with lots of heather). On the second day, I stupidly had not listened properly to how much water to take and got really dehydrated that gave me a pounding headache at the Shira camp(not great at 3840m). On the third day, I started to really suffer with the altitude and felt dizzy, with a headache and constantly nauseous. This night we stayed at Moir camp at 4200m and was really starting to get cold and windy. On the fourth day I was still really suffering and ended up being sick. I could hardly eat anything and that made walking difficult as I had hardly any energy. I was really starting to wonder why on earth I had ever thought this was a good idea. We stayed at Lava Tower camp at 4550m and was unbelievably cold with freezing fog and wind that just blew though you. Finally on the fifth day, the guide Restus suggested that people try some altitude sickness pills and they worked a treat for me. It was the first day I actually felt human again and was able to enjoy the walk. On this day we trekked across the Barranco valley and then had to climb up the Barranco wall. This is a huge rock face and meant actually rock climbing (only without any of the gear - am sure you would not be allowed to do this in England). Anyway, I really enjoyed it and had a great day at last. That night we stayed at Karanga camp at 4000m as we came around the outside of the mountain. On the sixth day we had to trek to Barafu camp at 4600m - the last camp before the top. Then we set off at midnight towards the summit(or at least a little bit afterwards as the guides had fallen asleep and forgotten to wake us up). It was obviously pitch black, it started to snow and the wind was blowing really hard. This made it absolutely freezing to walk in. The climb started off gently, but then turned into some rock climbing, then steeper and steeper and steeper. The surfaces we were trying to walk on was either scree (which just slips under your feet), rocks (which are exhausting to climb) or occasionally you got some respite with something in between. The climb took about eight hours to do and was so tiring. The altitude means that you are panting the whole time and feel like you are not taking in any oxygen. The guides were great and really helped to keep you going when you felt like giving up by singing and chatting to you. We had lots of stops for water, chocolate, energy biscuits etc... basically anything that would help you get to the top. A couple of the group members turned back and also our main guide Restus was not well so he went down too. The main thing that kept me going was knowing how cold I was (no feeling in either my hands or feet) and that at least if I got to the top, then I would be walking down in the light when it would hopefully be warmer. I ended up getting seperated from the main group as I needed to eat some food. This left me with a couple of others and they were really struggling. Instead the guide told me to set off on my own. I was feeling so tired and in such a daze that I did not recognise when I joined the back of my group again. When a guide spoke to me I said that I was with another group and had lost them. The guide Frances kept repeating my name and asking me if I was sure I was alright as he obviously thought I was delusional. The last part was horrendous as you could see the others near the top, but you just could not move fast and the scree was terrible to walk on, so you had to ram your poles into the ground to get some grip. Anyway, I finally made it to Stella Point at 5735m and the guides had carried up some hot sweet tea. It was absolutely wonderful and I started to thaw out a bit. They gave us a few minutes there and then asked who wanted to go the last mile and make it to the top. I had already decided that if I made it this far, then I would keep going no matter how tired I was. Therefore, I joined the group of seven who made it all the way up to Uhuru Peak 5896m. It was definately worth it and the scenery took your mind off your tired legs as you could see all the glaciers on top. I was shattered when I arrived at Uhuru Peak and felt physically and emotionally exhausted. However, it was worth it for the sense of achievement and to get my gold certificate to say I made it to the top. Coming down was a manic affair and involved skiing down the sand with the poles, tripping over rocks and further down sliding around in mud. It's all a bit of a blur as I was so tired at the time. Anyway, am very pleased I made it and survived to tell the tale. Am now off to Nairobi where I will be taking a tour to hopefully see the Mountain Gorillas.