The idea of trekking in Kilimanjaro (5895m Elevation) was conceived 5 years ago after we completed the Kota Kinabalu trek (4095m Elevation). After my failed attempt to reach Kala Patthar (5600+m) along the Everest Base Camp Trek due to Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), I told myself that I would not trek at this kind of elevation again.
But the allure of trekking with great friends, summit-ting the highest peak in Africa (and also the highest free-standing mountain in the world), and challenging myself to do such a trek (>5000m) again, is too great.
Our group of 14 consists of 6 nationalities flying in from America, Europe & Asia and meeting in Africa. And thanks to modern technology, we planned the trip by co-ordinating via email/whatsapp/facebook, wiring money across continents and updating spreadsheet on google drive.
7 of us flying from Singapore.
Prior to this trip, we had been training hard. We went for 2 climbs (Mt Ophir in Johor Malaysia & Mt Sinabung in Medan Indonesia), and every Saturday we would trek for 4 hours with 7kg of load in our little Bt Timah Hill. Everybody has invested considerable amount of money, time & energy for this once-in-a-lifetime trip.
Emirates Flight (Singapore to Dubai)
I have Wifi connection in the sky (uploading photos to facebook/Whatsapp-ing/checking emails) - modern technology is amazing!
Kenya Airline Network.
I am fortunate to have set foot on 6 continents (last one will be the Antarctica), and the continent that I have the least knowledge is Africa.
On the flight, I realized there were many Christian missionaries (Australian & Korean). An Aussie dude sat besides me and shared with me his missionary experiences in East Africa. My impression was that the governments in those countries are dysfunctional.
Nairobi (Capital of Kenya) Airport
My first reaction was:
"Wow! I am really in Africa."
Interior of Nairobi Airport (the biggest airport in East Africa).
It is old and basic, as though it was frozen in time.
Flight from Nairobi (Kenya) to Kilimanjaro (Tanzania)
Colobus Mt. Lodge (provided by the tour operator)
A basic lodge which is far away from the Arusha town & no wifi connection!
I would prefer to stay in the town.
Taking a local transport from the lodge to the town.
It was quite an interesting experience.
Meeting PY (who flew in from Amsterdam) in Arusha town, Tanzania
I like the feeling of meeting good friends in a foreign land. =)
Previously, we also met up in Shanghai in China in 2007, Lombok in Indonesia in 2009 and Cusco in Peru in 2011.
We took 1+ hour to buy and activate a sim card.
It was inefficient and a waste of time.
My first few impressions of Tanzania.
First night dinner in the lodge.
And it was quite cold at night (not our usual impression of Africa)
Lunch in a restaurant with Wifi connection.
Day 2 - We booked a transport to Arusha City (arrived at 1pm instead of 12noon). It was a bit frustrating, but I learn to accept that it is part of the experience and that's how things work in Tanzania. At least, they are consistent (being inefficient).
When we found a restaurant with Wifi connection, there was no communication among us instantly. Everybody was stuck to their mobile phones - Whatsapp-ing, facebook-ing, emailing etc...
Everybody was busy checking their rental gears, trying out & requesting for more gears. At the back of our minds, we were concerned about the freezing weather in the mountain. That weekend, the temperature at the summit was around -25 degrees Celsius.
Clarifying & negotiating with the operator on the total expenses (deposit paid/additional night in the lodge/additional transports/rental gears etc...). Collecting money & counting worth US$18,000 cash.
The lady boss walked away with a smile on her face.