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African Safari 2012

Went to Africa and did a 6 day safari and also spent a week in Zanzibar.

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Safari 2010

After climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro I went on a short 3 day safari. I visited Lake Manyara and the Ngorongoro Crater. I stayed two nights at the Rhotia Valley Tented Lodge.

African Safari – January 2010 from Kenric on Vimeo.

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Mt. Kilimanjaro 2010

kilimanjarotop

January 2010

Day 1

My trip began with a 30 hour total plane ride from Phoenix, AZ to Minnesota to Amsterdam and finally to Tanzania, Africa.  This was my first trip out of the country in over 10 years.  I decided not to get any of the recommended vaccinations, but I did bring pills for Malaria, some antibiotics and Diamox for altitude sickness.

I was doing the 8 day Shira Route.  8 days and 7 nights on the mountain would seem like a long time but we needed these days to help us acclimatized to the altitude.  Our hiking days would be relatively short and probably somewhat easy… if you didn’t get altitude sickness.

I stepped off the plane and immediately felt the hot humid African air.  The airport in Arusha is the smallest airport I’ve ever been to.  After waiting an hour to get my visa I found my ride along with 4 others who were making the same trek as me.  The roads in Tanzania are very dim.  Cars have no lights on and there are huge speed bumps everywhere.   We arrived at Iboru Safari Lodge around midnight and checked in.

Our lead guide and our guides.  They called themselves the Dream Team. I called them New Edition

Day 2

I spent the second day walking into Arusha from the lodge.  I had no agenda, there was nothing planned for the day so I just wandered about.  The locals came and talked to me and tried to get me to go to the market or offered to find items for me.  But I wasn’t in the buying mood today.  I figured I probably walked a good 5 miles that day just wandering about.

We had our orientation meeting at 4:30pm where we met our lead guide, Obote.  He told us what to expect during the next 8 days and also gave us our rental gear.  We also met almost everyone in our treking group.  There were 12 of us total and it was a very diverse group.  We had 5 from the USA, 3 from Australia, 2 from the Netherlands and 2 from Ireland.

Our first view of Kilimanjaro.  It looks far and would remain that way for the next 5 days.  We never seem to get closer to it.

Day 3

Today was our first day on the mountain.  We drove from Arusha to the entrance of the park.  We had to sign in at the gate.  I snapped a photo of Jessica Biel’s sig. as she and her group had climbed this route 7 days before us.  It was noon when we finally got to the beginning of the trailhead.  It was here that we met our entire support group.  There were 49 total people, 1 cook, 1 lead guide, 5 assistant guides, 33 porters and 9 helping porters.  After eating a box lunch we began our slow walk towards Kilimanjaro.  Pole Pole (pronounced po-le po-le) means slow slow in Swahili.  It was continous uttered throughout the climb.

We reached our first camp around 5pm.  Dinner was served in a mess tent.  Our first mountain meal consisted of fried talapia, potatoes, spinach and zucchini soup.  It was a pretty good meal.  We were at about 11,600 feet.

Atop of Shira Cathedral.  Reminded me of the floating islands in Avatar

Day 4

I didn’t get a good sleep my first night on the mountain.  I went to the bathroom 4 times.  Because of the altitude, we are all told to drink alot of water and stay hydrated.  Because of this, everyone is constantly waking up and going to the bathroom at night.  At 6am the assistant guide knocks on your tent and asks you how your night was, how you feel and what you would like to drink.  I tell him and he comes back a minute later with hot tea.  Then they bring you a pan of warm water so you can wash your face.  At 7am, it’s breakfast time which was eggs, bacon, tomatoes, porridge and bananas.

While we are eating, the porters pack up our tents and the rest of camp.  Once we are done with breakfast, we grab our daypacks and begin our day’s hike.  Today, we hiked to Shira Cathedral which is high into the clouds.  At the top I began to feel slight altitude sickness.  On the way down, we had some slight rain but luckily it was the only rain we came across during the entire trip.  We ended the day at Shira 2 at  about 12,500 feet.  This is the highest I’ve ever been in my life.  And I would be saying that every day for the next 5 days!

Early morning on Mt. Kilimanjaro.  It’s very cold and even our tents are frowning.

Day 5

I woke up with a headache and decided to begin taking Diamox for altitude sickness.  Today we hiked from Shira 2 to Moir Hut.  A side excursion took us to Lent Hills which is at 14,400 feet.  I was feeling pretty bad during this hike, but unlike regular sickness, resting doesn’t really help.  The only cure is to descend.  But I knew that I needed to go up if I was to have any chance to make the summit.  Basically, each of these days is all just altitude training for the final day.  A couple guys on the trip had paid for personal oxygen systems.  They each had 2 cannisters of oxygen for the trip.  They used one cannister today going up Lent Hills so that they could get used to how it worked.  We spent the night at Moir Hut, elevation 13,670 feet.

The view from the top of Lent Hill looking down at our campsite and the yellow tents

Day 6

Today we went from Moir Hut to Lava Tower which was 15,200 feet. It was about a 3 hour hike and we were camping right below Lava Tower.  I was feeling a little better today and decided to climb up Lava Tower, which was optional.  After Lava Tower, we all did the hike to Arrow Glacier.  I wasn’t feeling that great going up this hike and wanted to turn around many times, but the voice inside my head kept saying, “this is good for you.”  I knew it was right.

To add insult to injury, my stomach decided that it didn’t like the food anymore.  After 4 days of the same mountain food, I couldn’t blame it.  At this point I was on way too many pills.  I was taking the Malaria pill, diamox for altitude sickness and an antibiotic for my stomach.  Who knew which one might have been causing it.

The hike back down from Arrow Glacier.  Lava Tower is the big rock in front of us.  You can see our tents to the right of it.

My video of my Mt. Kilimanjaro Climb

Day 7

This was going to be our toughest day yet.  I woke up feeling pretty good.  I was worried that I wouldn’t have the energy to do this hike, but my headache seemed to have faded.  My stomach still wasn’t feeling great and I had a small breakfast.  I decided to stop all pills except the diamox too.

The hike from Lava Tower to Karanga would take us down and up two valleys and the Barranca Wall.  This wall looks very intimidating from far away and doesn’t look much better when you are under it.  Many of the people in our group who had not shown any signs of altitude sickness had trouble today.  Luckily, I had a pretty good day.  Climbing the Barranca Wall wasn’t that bad.  It was probably because in Phoenix we do tougher scrambles on almost every hike we go on.

We arrived at Karanga after a real long day of hiking.  The camp at Karanga is sloped and nobody’s tent was level.  It was probably the worse campsite we had so far.  This didn’t matter much to me as I was not getting much sleep anyway.  By now, everyone is tired of hiking and anxious to get to the summit.

This is the start of the Barranca Wall.  It’s gonna be a long day.

Day 8

Karanga to Barafu, our final campsite before the summit hike.  I don’t remember much from this hike except that I couldn’t wait to get there.  We arrived at Barafu at noon and signed in.  There were selling cans of Coke there so i bought for $4.00.  I expected it to be the best Coke I’ve ever had but was greatly disappointed.  It had to be the altitude.  Barafu is at 15,200 feet and it felt like all the fizz escaped the Coke real fast.

I took a nap at 2pm and woke up to eat dinner at 6pm.  Then we all tried to sleep again before our 1am summit attempt.  Our summit hike begins at 1am and if everything goes right, we should get to the top at about 7-8am.  The next day was going to be a real long day.

Snow starts to fall the day before our summit hike

Day 9

At 1am we woke up and started our hike to the top.  It was very slow going in the dark.  You basically looked at the feet of the person in front of you.  About 1 hour into it I was feeling real tired and had to rest a few times.  They tell you not to look up, because you don’t want to know how much further you have to go.  This last day you are going from 15,200 to 19,340 feet, a 4,000 feet elevation change!

At around 4am I almost kept falling asleep on my trekking poles.  It was a very tough hike.  I wasn’t feeling any altitude sickness symptoms, I was just tired.  But I just kept trudging along, staring at the feet in front of me.  What was interesting was that most of the younger hikers had issues on this day and the older ones did not.  Younger meaning under 40 years old!  The sun came up around 6am and it definitely changed my mood.  I was no longer sleepy but I was still tired.

At about 7am I had to give my backpack to one of the guides to carry.  I probably could have made it up with it, but why take the chance when he’s there to help you?  I made it to Stella Point at 7:30am.  We gave each other a bunch of high fives and took a 10 minute rest.  We were lucky because it was sunny and clear and probably around 20 degrees.  20 degrees on top of Kilimanjaro is really warm!

Stella Point isn’t the top top, we had another hour to go to reach the Uhuru Peak.  At 8:30am I finally made it there, 19,340 feet, probably the highest point I’ll ever be in my life.  It was suprising desolate, usually there are tons of people all trying to take a picture of the sign, but there I was by myself at the top for a good 20 minutes.  The rest of my group had already started to head down.

Hiking back down towards basecamp.  Time to sleep and then hike another 4 hours down.

Too bad the day isn’t over.  We all still had to hike down to camp.  Once I got to camp a few of us talked for a bit, but most of the people just crashed in their tents.  I had a great 4 hour nap.  Our day still wasn’t over.  We had to hike another 4 hours further down to Millenium Camp at 12,600 feet.

So in one day I went from 15,200 to 19,340 and down to 12,600, a total elevation change of almost 11,000 feet.  Did I mention that my feet were killing me!  Also, it felt odd that at 12,600 feet we all thought that there was sooo much oxygen in the air.

Next up was a nice relaxing safari.

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