Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Kilimanjaro: Arrival in Tanzania

Ray, Diane and I arrived in Tanzania via Amsterdam. We flew direct to Kilimanjaro airport which is near the city of Arushu. It was dark when we got off the plane, so we really couldn’t see a lot but the warmth and the smells told us that we were on the equator. Customs and immigration was the usual except there was only the one planeload to deal with. The whole airport was about the size of a small public school. We got our bag and went out to find our driver holding up a sign with our names. His name was Alex. We piled our gear into a large Toyota land cruiser and set off for the Springlands Hotel in Moshi. It was pitch black out so we really saw very little of the countryside on our hour drive to the Hotel. At the hotel we checked in and went to our rooms. It definitely wasn’t the Hilton, but not bad for a third world hotel.

The next morning we got up and went down to breakfast. The gardens in the hotel made it plain we were on the equator.
The first birds we saw were Pied Crows and Red Headed Weavers. We were definitely not in Kansas anymore!
Just about at that time one of us looked up and realized that what we were thinking was clouds wasn’t. Looming way up in the sky was our mountain. It was massive!!! We debated who’s silly idea this whole thing was, while we took in the shear magnitude of the task ahead. The fact that we still had a safari ahead of us before climbing the mountain allowed us to eat our breakfast. The food was an odd mix of eggs, European sausages, fruit and African style cereals and toast. It isn’t on your Gourmets list of places to go but we weren’t going to starve either. After breakfast we piled our stuff into the Land cruiser and set off for a couple of nights on Safari. I won’t go into that on this post other than to say if you ever have the chance to do a safari in Africa, do it!! You won’t be disappointed.
A couple of days later we returned to the Springland to prepare for our climb. That evening we met our guides who spelled out exactly what we should take and gave us our weight limits. They have a scale in the courtyard and your bag doesn't leave the hotel until it meets the limit!
They gave us the evening to pack and repack our bags. All evening small groups were carrying their bags to the scales, and then tossing a couple of pairs of underwear and/or bags of candy bars, whatever to make the weight. Eventually we were all satisfied that they would let us and our bags board the van for the drive to the mountain. We retired to the bar for a well deserved Kilimanjaro beer. It would be a while til the next one!!

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