This Page will grow over the next coming months as I try and take you to the summits of the two highest mountains in Tanzania.
THE BIGGEST FREE STANDING MOUNTAIN IN THE WORLD KILIMANJARO AND ITS CRUEL SISTER MT MERU
Flight departed Heathrow on Time at 7.55pm with Kenyan Airways, I would recommend them, the service, food and entertainment was first class, arrived Nairobi at around 6am, we had about 1 hour wait before the short flight (40 mins) to Kilimanjaro airport, it was a beautiful clear day and we hoped for a clear first glimpse of the mountains. We were not disappointed, they towered majestically above the clouds. Had we taken on too much?
We were met at the airport with a nice big African smile by Joel, an employee of Moon Travel. He was to take us to a guest house of our choice, as we had not booked any accommodation.
On the way we were introduced to Grace the Boss, who then accompanied us to a guest House called La Oasis www.loasislodge.com
It was a little out of Town down a dusty bumpy road.
It was quite a large place with small African huts placed around attractive grounds, with two restaurants, Large garden and a swimming pool.
We arranged to meet at the Moon Travel office the following day and immediately settled in, we had opted for a two bed unit with a communal sitting area, $75 a room including Breakfast.
We decided to have a quick bite to eat, steak and potato wedges and couple of beers all for 6,500 shillings (about £2.50) then we had a little rest until 5.30pm. It's suprising what a little sleep can do! We felt much better now, but we had come across our first hurdle, Carl,s very loud snoring, thankfully we had a good supply of earplugs. Poor Rob how was he going to cope with this, he was the one sharing a tent on the mountain?
Later that night we went to an Italian/Indian Restaraunt called Pepe's, again the food was superb - a little more expensive, but entertainment was provided by an acrobatic team.
|Flight from Nairobi to Kili
||L-Oasis Guest House
Slept well, had a fantastic breakfast, picked up by Joel and taken to the office of Moon Travel, small but adequate.
We met our Guide Neru, signed the contract, paid the rest of the money owing for the treks, and as they say in Africa "Accuna Matata - No Worries" slow slow slow, two hours later we were finished, life should be at this pace !!!!.
Had a look around Arusha, it had changed dramatically in 10 years ago, which was the last time I visited.
We were hassled by touts and hawkers trying to sell us everything from fruit to fluffy toys.
On the way back had a look at the Jacaranda Guest House, www.chez.com we had tried to book this guest house in the UK, but there were no vacancies.
We booked a couple of nights in advance, it was cheaper at $45 a room, had a better feel and was closer to town, the one drawback was that it did not have a pool
Rob could not wait to get his new baby out "The Video Recorder" it was glued to his hand for nearly the whole trip, on this occasion he was too slow to film the monkey stealing some food from one of the outside tables.
That night we sorted out all our gear needed for the next days adventure, had another superb meal again $24 for all of us including a couple of beers each (Kilimanjaro beer the favourite so far)
||L-Oasis at Breakfast
||L-Oasis wildlife, large crane
Overslept this morning, dressed washed and out for breakfast in 10 minutes, Moon Travel arrived on time and we set off for our first mountain, little did we know the fun we were about to have.
We had only been on the road 5 minutes when Rob decided he could not find his wallet, he had one of those fishing short sleeve jackets that have about 20 pockets, we all laughed but did not worry to much, unlike Rob who was perspiring and in a flap "I am serious he shouted", that got our attention.
The jeep rolled to a halt and we began to watch, trying not to giggle as he began to frantically search each of his plethora of pockets, when that failed, he got out the jeep and almost knocked this poor guy off his bike, by this time we were hysterical which made Rob even more agitated.
We eventually turned around and headed back to the guest house, a quick search of the room, no wallet, things were looking grim.
Rob was still franticly searching his pockets, just when all hope was gone, he found it in another secret pocket.
I have to say, we have never let him forget this episode, over the coming weeks it gave the rest of us enjoyment at Robs expense .
Picked up the cook and porters and arrived at the Park Gate around 11am, we then were introduced to a park ranger who was to accompany us on the whole trek.
This was mandatory due to Meru being in Arusha National Park, which had a large wildlife population some friendly and some not.
We were asked could a lady from Germany join our little group, she was on her own due to her friend breaking a leg at the last minute.
After a few introductions, Annette settled in and we all headed off.
It was a beautiful day and we slowly meandered through tree lined Savanna, the first animals that came into view, was a large herd of buffalo, luckily for us they were quite some distance, away and did not take any notice at all.
The next person to get ridiculed was Carl, we noticed he was wearing a pair of thin nylon shorts and they were inside out, also to make matters worse he had no undies on, do I need to say anymore, this was very amusing as he kept trying to pull his T shirt down over his shorts.
After a couple of hours we noticed a family of Giraffe on the ridge, the ranger headed off the track to get a close up, after some quite uneven ground, we stood only metres from a this beautiful animal.
By the time we had reached the Miriakamba huts 2,514m we were starving, our last meal was breakfast at 7.30, it was now 5pm and we had walked for 5 hours with no lunch stop.
Our little dorm was much comfier than expected, the food dished out that night was superb, Soup, pasta, fish stew, roast potatoes, with banana fritters and fruit to finish.
we were tucked up in bed by 8.30pm.
|Arusha National Park Gate
||Giraffe on the ridge
Up at 7am had breakfast, packed purified our water and started walking around 9am. We had been supplied with a lunch box today. Again the walking was hard, but immensely enjoyable due to the beautiful surroundings.
Stopped for lunch at Mgongo Wa Tembo (Elephants Back) 3200m great views south over crater Plain.
The next stage was a bit relentless and not so scenic, we arrived at the next hut 3570m had a quick rest a cup of tea and then headed up little Meru 3820m for a bit of altitude training, by 6pm we were back down and ready for tea.
After a great meal and plenty of hot chocolate it was time for bed, later that night we would be heading for the top at 12.30 am.
Did not sleep that well, so I was already awake when we got our knock on the door at midnight.
We started on time at 12.30am it was a clear cold night (2 degrees) and totally black, no moon or any light pollution. We moved along at a easy pace we reached Rhino Point, this was going to be easy I thought to myself, little did I know.
We did not realize how barren and forbidding this mountain looked until daybreak, I would describe this mountain as cruel, hardous, baron and reminded me of a science fiction movie, all that was missing was our space suits.
Walking was long and unrelenting, we all thought we would never get there, it was always over the next peak, so when the summit flag came into view we were elated, this was around 7.45am, 10 mins later we had done it.
We did not stay long the weather had deteriorated, it was cold cloudy and we were all felling the effects of a fast accent to this height, so it was a couple of pictures and down as quick as our legs could carry us.
The trudge down was painstakingly slow, we had not eaten for 12 hours, feeling quite weak and now stephen was suffering quite bad from the effects of altitude, eventually we arrived back at the huts at about 12 noon, I don't think I ever been so glad to see a couple of buildings.
We had a couple of hours rest and then it was time to head back down to the next hut and on to the Park gate we were not looking forward to the rest of the walk we were very tired by now, arrived back at Miriakamba huts at 4.30pm it was too late to carry on walking, walking in the dark, would not be a good idea, with wild animals around, so the guide had organised a national park jeep to drive us to the park entrance, . We were glad really as we were all totally knackered.
On the last stages of the trek we had walked for 29 hours out of 36. I would advise anyone attempting this mountain to add a few extra days, the way the trekking companies organise the trek on this mountain is too high to fast.
|Little Meru Summit
||Mt Meru Ridge
||Mt Meru Ridge
|Approach to the Summit
||Mt Meru Summit 4562m
||Mt Meru Summit 4562m
Rest Day, Now at the Jacaranda, another great little lodge had a great breakfast and just relaxed and enjoyed the warm sunshine.
Meru had definitely taken its toll, over breakfast there was talk about scrapping Killi and going on a safari !!!!!!
A few hours after breakfast, Killi was back on again, but we had decided to increase our trek by one day, therefore making the day before summit shorter.
That afternoon we started to gather all our gear and pack it once again, tomorrow we head for Kilimanjaro.
APPROX 6 - 7 HOURS (1000m height gained)
We were picked up in a small coach, could not believe how many people were needed in taking us to the top 20 Porters, 1 cook, 1 waiter, two Guides
Arrived Machame Gates 1900m at 11am, loads of Europeans all getting paperwork checked and sorting gear. For some reason we could not get to the bottom off, our paperwork was not correct, so had to give the guide 100$ to sort it out, eventually got started around 1.30pm. The walk was very pleasant through beautiful dense forest, we stopped for lunch around 3pm, and eventually arrived at our first campsite Machame Camp2980m at around 6pm ,it was almost dark, so we headed straight into the mess tent for evening meal, the food served up was absolutely fantastic.
we were in bed by about 9pm.
|Porters Guides and cooks
||Sign approx Times/Distance
|Good Camp Food
APPROX 5 - 6 HOURS (840m height gained)
Awoken at 7am the weather this morning is very misty, but not too cold, after a quick wash we packed and had another great breakfast. Started walking around 8.30am, the forest now was changing, the canopy was gone it was much more open scrub land, large heather bushes abound, the sort of heather you see in Scotland except much larger, the trek today was harder and steeper than yesterday.
Stopped for lunch at around 12.30pm, arrived Shira Camp 3840m at about 2.45pm, it was still very misty, but now there was a definite chill to the air.
Had time to mingle and talk, we used one of the portaloo's, today, I would not recommend it, I would disappear into the bushes and tread carefully rather than use that one.
Again a great dinner was had by all,and once agin we where tucked up in bed by 9pm.
APPROX 6 - 7 HOURS (50m height gained)but you actually climb up to 4630m then back down
Further info on the trip will be available shortly, watch this space!!!!!!!!!