This morning I opened my curtains at 7am to a view of the two peaks of Mount Kilimanjaro, the early morning sun reflecting off the snows of the higher Uhuru peak. It was a fitting welcome to this great continent, which I had only visited very briefly once before when stopping in Egypt on my Semester at Sea voyage ten years ago.
It was also a welcome sight after a long journey that began in the wind and rain in San Francisco, where I left my house of three years and took the train to the airport. Unfortunately due to the weather my flight to LA was delayed and I ended up having to rebook on a direct flight to Amsterdam, in hopes of catching my connection to Tanzania in only 25 minutes (IF my flight arrived on time). Luckily the two gates were right next to one another and I barely made it onto the jetway before the crew closed the door and the plane pulled away from the terminal (my luggage was not so lucky). After a quick de-icing of the plane’s wings, we were off to Africa.
Landing at Kilimanjaro airport (about halfway between the cities of Arusha and Moshi in northern Tanzania) was rather chaotic, with many European vacationers ready for safari disgruntled at having to wait to obtain a visa and go through passport control. Eventually I made it through (sans luggage), met Jennie from my Kilimanjaro guiding company outside and made the quick 45 minutes drive to my hotel in Moshi along the darkened highway, the only light coming from the oncoming headlights of the many trucks we passed.
Most of today was spent preparing for my upcoming climb of Kilimanjaro (I start on the trail tomorrow!), meeting my guide (who goes by the moniker “Commander White”) and renting some of the required gear for the six-day trek. I did have a chance to walk around Moshi for a bit and take in some of its busy atmosphere and interesting landmarks, including the local mosque and Hindu temple. I also met a local named KB who showed me to a small corner eatery for lunch, where I feasted on roast chicken and rice.
We start for the mountain in the morning with a drive to the Machame gate followed by 11 kilometers to the first camp at 2,850 meters (9,350 feet). I will be slowly acclimitizing for the next several days until attempting the summit on the 14th. Keep your eyes open for the next post!