I have been researching Aconcagua Climbing Companies recently, and was surprised to find that, while many companies offer a good service, many climbers complain that they are not getting enough food during their 18-day trek!
With food being one of ‘the’ most important factors of any expedition, I cannot believe that some companies would cut corners on something so important, but I suppose it’s like everything in this world – you get what you pay for – and if you go with the ‘cheaper’ options out there, cuts have to be made somewhere.
We witnessed something similar when climbing the 7-Day Machame Route on Mount Kilimanjaro back in September/October 2012…
After signing in at the Machame Gate at around 09:30am and handing our luggage over to our mountain crew, we were given a ‘snack pack’ which consisted of a cheese and salad roll, a chicken drumstick, two muffins, two bananas and two chocolate bars.
We assumed that this snack pack would have to last us until the evening, and as we are not huge eaters, this was fine with us, but by the time 11:00am had arrived and we hadn’t eaten all of our snacks, our Mountain guide made us sit down and eat as much as we could!
Why, well, our 3-course hot lunch was due to be served on-route at around 1.30pm, so we needed to get through the snacks so that we had space for round two!
When we arrived at the lunch camp, the stove was on, the chef was busy cooking and our table and chairs, complete with tablecloth, silk flowers, and a stereo, was set up and ready for us to relax. After a quick dance and sing-a-long with our mountain crew, we sat down to a delicious bowl of fresh vegetable soup, followed by chicken stir-fry with rice and vegetables, and a fruit salad for desert – this all on the side of Mount Kilimanjaro.
Having never climbed Kilimanjaro before, we assumed this was ‘normal’, but it was only when other climbers with other climbing companies arrived, that we noticed the huge difference! They had to carry their own lunch boxes, and their lunch break involved sitting on the floor or perching on rocks eating soggy sandwiches that they had carried since the morning!
So obvious was our set up, that several climbers actually came over to us to ask if we were on honeymoon or if we had requested ‘special treatment’, but we hadn’t, it was simply the difference between a good Kilimanjaro climbing company and the not-so-good companies!
Our snack pack was ‘topped up’ for the afternoon, and by the time we reached base camp on day one, we had probably consumed more food than we normally would in two days, but dinner was just around the corner, and it was time to eat!
Our Dinners on Mount Kilimanjaro were different every single night, but they always consisted of a freshly made soup (day one was Carrot and Ginger), a meat or fish dish, rice or noodles, a vegetable dish, and a desert which ranged from banana fritters and honey to a beautifully baked cake on our final night.
Breakfast was a similar affair, with porridge, honey and fruit to start, Bacon, Eggs and Toast to follow, pancakes, and copious amounts of tea, coffee and hot chocolate!
This was our typical menu every day throughout our 7-Day Machame Route Tour, a hot breakfast, a hot lunch and a 3-course dinner with plenty of snack-packs in between.
So, if you are thinking of climbing Kilimanjaro, or indeed Aconcagua this year, check out your climbing company, and make sure they are going to provide you with the necessary nutrition to reach the peak!