This is one of those posts, that was in draft and should have been published a long time ago, but it’s too precious not to post now. A recap of my time in Moshi before starting Mount Kilimanjaro trek.
Day T – 3 Dubai – Kilimanjaro via Nairobi
Arriving at Dubai airport’s T2 at midnight, I was pleased that I had paid for access to one of the business lounges where I was able to wait for my 2.30 am departure in the relative comfort of the lounge whilst sipping a glass of champagne which is always my traditional start to any holiday. The flight to Nairobi was a short 5 hours and relatively uneventful and I managed to grab some sleep. I was pleased to find that Nairobi airport whilst busy and crowded, also had free Wifi and a great little coffee shop selling superb coffee when I arrived. With less than an hour and a half wait I had time to grab a coffee and tweet for a while and do some serious people watching before boarding a Precision Air flight to Kilimanjaro.
The flight is about an hour long and here I managed to get my first views of Kilimanjaro peeking above the clouds as we flew in at about 19,000 feet – just a few feet below summit height. The mountain looked awesome and magical and I guess this is when it began to sink in, I was here to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and it was tall – in fact so tall that it was above the height that we were flying in at – simply amazing and breathtaking.
After a slightly confusing wait outside of the arrivals hall I was eventually met by a driver from Zara tours who drove me to Moshi along the main highway to Moshi. Moshi stands at the foot of Kilimanjaro and I was treated to some stunning views of the mountain in the background.
I was staying at Springlands hotel which is owned by Zara tours and is a short drive outside of Moshi town centre. After a quick check in I crashed in my room for some well deserved sleep before hitting the hotel garden for a cold Kilimanjaro beer and a dip in the pool followed by some sunbathing (aka another nap !).
Dinner that evening was buffet style and I got the opportunity to chat with quite a few different people who had recently returned from Kilimanjaro. I was slightly concerned, that of all the people I spoke to nobody had reached the summit, they had all turned back for illness or altitude sickness reasons. I began to wonder just what I had signed up for and whether I had signed up for something which I wouldn’t be able to achieve.
Day T – 2 – Exploring Moshi
After a buffet breakfast and more encounters with people who hadn’t reached the summit of Kilimanjaro (which was now beginning to concern me), I decided to explore Moshi and took one of the guides from the hotel shopping with me (bless him – he had no idea what was in store!). Though Moshi is safe, the hotel advise you to take a guide with you especially if you are a lone female traveller. First stop of the day was to a supermarket to stock up on snacks for the trip (difficult as the shop was no bigger than a medium size 7/11 and was the biggest supermarket in town!) followed by a trip to a souvenir shop for a few bits and pieces including a woven friendship type bracelet with Kilimanjaro written across it – my reminder of why I was there. Second stop was a great coffee shop where I watched the world go by for a few hours or so whilst sipping the most beautiful Kilimanjaro coffee which was roasted and ground in the coffee shop. People watching proved interesting, particularly when a Masai warrier walked past carrying a shotgun over his shoulder (eek !! – glad I took the guide now !) Later I managed to sign up for a few local SIM cards for my iPhone and Blackberry and eventually after a good 2 hours in the small shop we managed to get everything working. My first experience of Pole Pole – slowly, slowly !!
That afternoon I managed to sample more cold beer, this time Serengeti whilst relaxing by the pool and topping up my tan.
Day T- 1 – Coffee Plantation, Londorossi Gate and lunch in Moshi
After another breakfast where nobody seemed to have reached the summit (can you see the pattern here ?), I arranged a trip with a guide to visit a local coffee plantation. Whilst this could be arranged as part of an organised day trip I decided that I wanted to do the trip to the plantation alone and so eventually the guide and I set off to hire a taxi (aka his friend!) to take us to the plantation. On the way, the guide said we could visit Londorossi Gate which is the final gate that you walk down to at the end of the trek. We arrived at the Gate at about 1 pm and were surrounded by tired, exhausted and filthy trekkers who had all completed and reached the summit Kilimanjaro – here I got some inspiration that people had indeed reached the summit (wohoo!!!) – though I have to admit I was shocked at how tired and exhausted everyone looked. This was hopefully going to be me in 9 days time 🙂 After a quick chat to the guys on the gate, we made our way back towards a coffee plantation at the foot of Kilimanjaro where the guide then somewhat embarrassed told me that he hadn’t been able to get clearance to visit so we were reduced to having to talk to the security guard about the plantation and I was only able to see what went on from here – aaargh -maybe I should have gone on the organised tour after all !!
Returning back to Moshi Town Centre I had lunch in a cafe which I’d found in my guidebook – promising tasty Indian food. It was located near a square so there was plenty of people watching (no guys with guns today!) and I spent a peaceful hour trying some great indian curry and breads for a very reasonable 3USD whilst my guide sat at a side table and read my kindle – absolutely enthralled by a book I was reading written by a friend here in Dubai.
Returning to Springlands later that afternoon, I started to try and guess who in the hotel was going to be part of my group for the climb, and to do a final kit check/inspection and write some blog posts before getting ready to meet my group for our Kilimanjaro briefing – nerves were beginning to hit me now – this was it ! No more planning and dreaming, time for action and of course a last beer or two in the pub garden before the hard work and adventure began ….
See my next post for details of the briefing that evening in which we meet Bruce our leader and Guide and are briefed about our climb being about Attitude and not Altitude – a valuable lesson 🙂