The Roof of Africa.

Kilimanjaro Travel Blog

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Hello to everyone back home. Just completed my four days of safari in the Serengeti, Lake Manyara, and the Gnorongoro crater...traveling and bouncing around in a Toyota Land Cruiser...camping, spotting animals, and taking photos. After, 6 days on Kilimanjaro and 4 days of safari, I have enough sand and dust in my hair and clothes to create a small island off the coast.

I wish I brought my own laptop! It would be nice to sit down and give a nice complete report rather than a Cliff Note summary, but I know how many of you do enjoy the shorter versions. So what happened after Cairo, Egypt?

I landed at Nairobi, Kenya at 4am and had a strange and not so good feel for the city. Asking an airport attendant for direction to Kenyan airport to purchase a ticket to Tanzania, the guy was trying to work loose the zipper on my daypack on the airport cart. Immediately went into a defensive mode, snatched the pack to my arm, flared my chest, narrowed my eyes down to a predator's glare, flexed my forearms and the guy gave a stupid smile and gave my most unpleasant, "thanks for your help bud..." Welcome to Kenya!

Flying into Kilimanjaro International, the pilot on happy pills, flew 360 around Kili summit. Spectacular view of the summit and the crater was very visible and beautiful. Met couple Coca cola rep from Atlanta and Nairobi on business to Moshi, where I had to go, and gave me a lift to my hotel, Key's Hotel, and saved me $50. Great guys and made sure everything was kosher with the hotel before taking off.

The cities in Tanzania are 3rd worldish, dirty, and full of opportunists. Initially, you smile at the guys peddling for money...which only invites more talking and in their view, a window of opportunity; very annoying. So, put on my baseball cap, narrow the eyes, look somewhat "don't bother me, I'm pisst attitude", and say no thank you in Swahili "assante appana" and they think you've been in town few days so they'll leave you alone. Brilliant. Really rather be friendly, but the assholes trying to rip you off is everywhere. I hold all my valuables near and close.

Climbing Kili is well...costly...$1300: $600 for park fees, $36 for porters' permit, $8 per day per porter for 6 days, and $12 per day for guide for 6 days and the rest is pocketed by the company. It is also recommended to tip 10% to the porters after the climb.
They bring everything! My personal tent, dining tent, and porters' tent/kitchen/living space. It's your typical British style of having comforts of home on the mountains. It's too much and when asked to leave the kitchen tent and other stuff, they said it was company policy and I think they just don't want to be embarrassed because every other outfitter does the same!

We went through several zones from the Amazon to the no air in the summit..actually 50% of oxygen at the summit compared to that of sea-level. The porters were awesome, always upbeat after a long climb, and I really enjoyed the daily climb. With each day, the scenery got better and better. First day, it rained and got soaked! This is the dry season.
Met some wonderful lads from Ireland, Australia, Denmark. Danish guy got the wind knocked out of him when he landed his chest onto a rock trying to catch a frisbee at 12,500ft. I brought the frisbee and it was the first and the last time we would play on the mountains. I later donated the frisbee to a local were happy to play with my glow in the dark frisbee in the twilight.

Summit day: All went according to plan until the summit day when my guide told me that he didn't have batteries for his headlamp. In lieu of the headlamp, he carried a flashlight with dying batteries. I was not impressed and very concerned. He was weak from 15,000 ft to the summit. He carried no med. kit, so happy I had mine and he looked like he was going to fall over. It only added stress to a very windy summit attempt.

We started at midnight and it would take 6 hours to coincide summiting with the sunrise. I found my new friend, Ulrik and his guide passing by so attached myself to his party for safety and peace of mind. It's not technical, but steep. A lot like climbing the chute up Mt. Williamson in the Sierras but 5 times longer...a full vertical mile up.
On top of that, my 7 year old Asolo boots decided to crack...literally at the soles. I think the age, and incredible temperature differences from day and night...with soaked seam and water freezing and expanding (too much science?) worked the soles loose. Great! Not summiting because of sickness but gear problems? I would have never forgiven myself.

So, I always carry my duct tape and had enough for a quick fix prior to summit day, then I found my thermarest repair kit glue, thank God, and it worked!  I'll be writing to the guys at thermarest pads.

Summiting prior to sunrise was an emotional and physical drain.  The wind really makes a huge difference adding to the cold. At top, I had few precious time to really enjoy the moment...nor did others as it was too miserable and cold. Took what photos I can and climbed down. Not before being rushed by my guide to which I told him, I want to enjoy this for a little longer...I worked hard for it.

Back near the camp, Sadiky, the youngest of porter was on lookout and when he spotted us, he waved and started to run down the rock he was standing watch on. After 3 hours of trek down to the base camp, I felt like Sir Hillary with porters clapping for me and each giving me an embrace of happiness. Daniel, one of the porters, brought out, on tray, drinks for me and my "guide."

Returned to my hotel and took the longest shower of my life and downed few beers, Kilimanjaro brew, and sat down to enjoy the surreal moment. It really didn't hit me until walking to the town as one of my American friend JustOne (that's his name) pointed out Kilimanjaro behind us with a whisp of cloud about 1/4 way below it passing by. Wow! It's all I can say. It's huge! It dominates the big open sky and all I can think of is, "was I just there?"

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photo by: sarahsan