“The darkest thing about Africa has always been our ignorance of it.”
- George Kimble ( Geographer, b.1912)
To me, Africa is not a continent or a place; it’s a state of mind. Amidst all the dust & fatigue, I could clearly see the elevated levels of plain & simple good human nature prevalent everywhere. Mind you, we spent only two weeks in Tanzania; but, that was time aplenty to plant profound images in my system.
See pictures here
Ever since I saw a documentary on TV many moons ago (I think I was 17 or so), I always wondered what it’d be like to climb one of the 7 summits. This thought turned into a dream soon after I climbed Mt. Shasta in June 2001. When my lovely wife decided to ‘give it a shot’ as well, I had no idea that THE BEST outdoor experience of our lives lay ahead of us.
We were delivered to the Moshi Springlands Hotel (in Moshi, TZ) in a Van that was proudly belting out Hindi Bollywood numbers, leaving us mildly bemused. The rest of the day called for relaxation, good food, and a great night’s sleep. Well, we got none of that. We embarked on the 5-day climb (4 1/2 days up, 1 1/2 days down) the next morning, passing through thick rain forests to reach Mandara Camp at 2700 m/8858 ft after 5 hours of hiking. Day 2 from Mandara to Horombo (3720 m/12205 ft) took us through the Moorlands; the views of snow capped Kilimanjaro were spectacular.
Path to Kibo hut
After another sleepless night, we started our hike towards Kibo Hut (4703 m/15430 ft). An hour into the hike, we stepped into the beautifully eerie Alpine desert environment where bitterly cold clouds swept through the lunar like landscape. My iPod just quit working at this altitude & the temperature dropped a good 30-40 F in under 15 mins. We reached Kibo after 7 hours of hiking. While I welcomed the hot tea, smelly porridge, and biscuits, Preeti had to run out of the hut after a spoonful of dinner to puke it all out. A classic sign of altitude sickness. My attempts to convince Preeti to abort the summit attempt (due to begin at 11 PM that very night) all failed. I was both saddened and impressed to see her courage and determination. And, she was doing this all for me! After 4 hours of tossing & turning in a crowded hut, we put on 6 layers of winter clothes and stepped out into this most gorgeous star-lit night we’ve ever seen. We could easily discern the milky way. Preeti was felling a little better and braved the cold, fatigue, and mild nauseating feeling; very frequently taking a break to catch her breath and sip some water. Approximately 3 hours into the climb, Preeti and I realized she wasn’t feeling good at all at which point (5200 m/17060 ft) we decided to turn around. No point taking chances, we figured. I was relieved until Preeti started begging me to go up to the summit with the assistant guide. I somehow managed to stay adamant (this never works here at home, BTW) and began the walk down to Kibo. Would you believe if I told you that we came back down in just 45 minutes?! It was around 4 AM and Mndeme, our guide, suggested that we rest for a few hours before heading back down to Horombo Hut. We enjoyed the great views even more on the way down. Two hours into the downhill walk, seeing a girl stricken with sickness that looked like signs of HAPE (High Altitude Pulmonary Edema) convinced me that we turned back around at the right time. We all helped the girl down the mountain to Horombo where a stretcher awaited her to take her all the way down to a hospital.
Back at Moshi Springlands hotel, over Kilimanjaro beer with friends we made during the climb, we exchanged great stories and e-mail addresses.
We now looked forward to the:
There are probably not too many moments in life where one wonders “Is this really happening”? We probably experienced a dozen such moments during the Safari – Buffaloes and Hyenas right next to our tent, a herd of Lions basking in the sun right next to our Safari Van, a Lioness hurt during a hunt,
Elephant @ Serengeti
Zebras and Giraffes silhouetted against majestic mountains, a lone two-horned Rhino on the lake shores, an Elephant charging you… I can go on & on. I don’t feel words do justice to what our eyes saw. So, go on and see the pictures.
BTW, Mambo is “Wassup” in Swahili. Jambo is the more formal “How are you?”.
See pictures here