I would like to start this off by saying that this one is very special for me which is why it has taken so long for me to report on this trip . Mt. Kilimanjaro is something that I have been wanting to do since I was about 9 – 10 years old. I can remember learning about it in grade school and how it was the highest mountain in Africa. Back then, the idea of going to Africa, let alone another continent, seem like something out of this world. I never thought that I would be able to travel as much as I do now. So when the opportunity presented itself to me, I had to jump on it.
I wont focus too much time on my training for Kilimanjaro because that itself could be its own post. In summary, I began training about 4 months out from my trek start day by hiking 2-3 days a week. Luckily for me, I live in Salt Lake City, Utah which is home to the Wasatch Mountains. SLC is about 4200ft (1280m) above sea level, and depending on the local trail, you can add in another few thousand feet on top of that. On days that I wasn’t able to make it outdoors, I would just go to my gym and raise the incline about 30 degrees and have at it. I would shoot for anywhere between 5-8 hours each training day. Looking back that might have been a little excessive, but I rather be prepared that sorry.
I also did extensive research on the equipment/gear that I would be using on my trek. I did this by searching for blogs of individuals who already completed the hike as well as reviews of various types of equipment. Ideally, proper layering is key. Build from the ground up, start at the base layer and work your way out. If you can’t wick moisture and retain heat, you are in for a very bad (and cold) time.
With everything in check, I was ready to go on the day of my departure. But once I was on my way to the airport, some struck the inside of me that I never really felt before. FEAR…. And I didn’t know why.
Up to this point, I felt pretty confident and prepared for this journey I was about to embark on but for some reason I was experiencing a full-blown panic attack on SLC’s public light rail transit system to the airport. Sure, it didn’t help that there was a homeless man with serious mental issues babbling nonsense to himself. Or that American Airlines and its mechanics union were in the middle of a going legal battle due to accusations of purposely delaying flights (Which my flight DID get delayed *FACEPALM*). At this point, I have been on multiple trips outside the country by myself, why start freaking out now???? After some deep breathing and isolation from the public at the airport, I was able to center myself for the upcoming ~24 flights to Kilimanjaro, Tanzania.
On a quick side note, I experienced something rather odd (or out of the norm) on my flight from Washington DC to my connecting stop of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Apparently, Ethiopians do not like to sit down during flights. This was a 13hr nonstop flight in which people were just standing in the aisle and by the bathrooms. In other words, I got zero sleep.
Queue Simon & Garfunkels “The Sound of Silence” but switch the lyrics to:
“Hello anxiety, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again”
After what seemed to be eternity, I finally arrived in Tanzania! It was great to be able to just get on the ground and no longer be confined to a plane seat. Once everyone deplaned, we were sorted out by those who had their visas and those that need to get one on arrival. I needed to get one on arrival which turned out to be a headache of its own since the arrivals customs setup wasn’t even close to functional. They had individual windows for every task that needed to be completed instead of one person taking care of a traveler at a time. Handing over your passport? One window. Take a picture? Next window. Get a stamp? Next window. Fingerprint scan? Next window. Pay for your visa? Next window. All of which I needed to get in line for again and again. All-in-all, 2 hours later I got my Visa…
Take aways from this??? GET YOU E-VISA ONLINE BEFORE ARRIVAL.
Once I cleared all that mess, I exited the airport to find my transfer shuttle to take me to my joining hotel which was about an hour away. By that time I was beyond exhausted so I kept nodding off during the ride. I felt a little bad because my shuttle driver kept asking questions about where I was from but at this point, I was over 24 hours with little to no sleep. (Which is also why I don’t have many pictures on this post.
To my surprise, once I arrived at my hotel the staff was already outside to greet me with a glass of fresh fruit juice and a warm hug! It was a very warm welcoming to say the least, such great hospitality my your arrival. The staff was there for my every needs to help me with my bag and take me to my room.
My group welcoming meeting was at 7:00PM so I had a few hours to kill until then. Dying from exhaustion, I needed to take a nap before anything else. As you could imagine, I was lights out the moment I hit the bed. After the snooze, I meet my trek companions which consisted of 10 other travelers from all around the globe. During the meeting, our guide explained what was ahead of us and what to expect in the next couple days.
19,341 ft (5,895 m), 37 miles (62km), 4 different Climates, 7 days, 10 new friends, 1 JOURNEY OF A LIFETIME.