September 10, 2012
The trek was such an incredible experience… It’s difficult to put it into words, but I think the term journey describes it best. Each day was unique, with ever-changing views, climate zones, different terrain and difficulty, and, of course, the altitude made things even more interesting.
The Western Approach Route provided the most gorgeous views, from dense rainforest with Colobus monkeys and the rolling grasslands of the Shira Plateau, to the barren, moon-like landscapes of the alpine desert and the glaciers near the summit. My favorite site on the mountain was definitely Crater Camp. It felt so remote and untouched, and I could literally walk out of my tent, cross the soft black sands and touch a glacier… I’ve never been anywhere like that before!
But there is no way our group would have made it to the summit without our extraordinary team of guides, porters, and camp crew. I was blown away by all the support we received from them… our guides kept us on schedule and performed daily medical checks; our chef kept us well-fed with the most amazing meals (pumpkin soup, grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches, lasagna, etc); and our porters picked out the best camps sites, set up our tents (directly in front of Lava Tower and with views of Mawenzi from Barafu), helped carry our bags, and even welcomed us into camp with a song. You could tell they were proud to work for Thomson and that they loved their new all-weather climbing uniforms (the only ones on the mountain).
Looking back, picking the longer route and properly training were two of the best decisions I made. Even on this longer climb the altitude made simple things so much more difficult (like getting out of breath while packing your sleeping bag away or even the slower hiking pace), so at least being in good shape meant that I could focus on getting to the summit and enjoying the journey along the way!
Me with resident giraffe during a game walk at Ndarakwai
Trekking through the rain forest
As we gain altitude, and the vegetation thins, we`re rewarded with stunning views
Enjoying Shira 2 Camp
Cairns marked the trail on the Shira Plateau
Giant groundsels in the Barranco Valley
Our dining tent on the way to Karanga - great food and a great view!
A light snow fell through the night at Lava Tower Camp
Feeling good after scaling the Barranco Wall!
Headed to the summit with Mawenzi Peak in the background
I made it to the summit!
Lamik, my personal porter, overlooking the crater in his stylish Thomson gear
A view of glaciers from my tent in Crater Camp. This was my favorite campsite on the mountain, I`ve never seen anything like this before!
Last glimpses of the summit from our descent through the rainforest
My first animal sighting on safari - zebras in Tarangire National Park
I saw so many elephants in Tarangire
A visit to a Maasai boma
A hippo pool in the Serengeti - they`re a noisy bunch!
Soaring above the plains of the Serengeti in a hot-air balloon at dawn
Giraffe in Serengeti National Park
After the climb, I celebrated my summit success with a spectacular wildlife safari to Tarangire, the Ngorongoro Crater, and the Serengeti, staying in our Nyumba campsites and the beautiful Gibb’s Farm. As with the trek, the guides, camp crew and food were fabulous, and I was completely stunned with just how much wildlife I saw… elephants, lions, wildebeest, zebra, flamingo, buffalo, hippo, ostrich, etc. I got to see the sunrise over the Serengeti from the hot air balloon, and even I walked up to a group of giraffe at Ndarakwai Ranch – how cool is that??
The list goes on and on, and there’s so much more I could say about my trip! I’d love to share more of my experience with you, answer your questions, and help you plan your own once-in-a-lifetime journey, so do feel free email me or call 800-235-0289.
|Post 4: Kilimanjaro Packing Tips|
September 4, 2012
The Great Migration is one of nature’s greatest spectacles – thousands of hoofed animals driven by instinct and weather patterns make an annual circuit around the Serengeti in search of food. Nothing stops them, not even the perils of the Mara River with its powerful currents and hungry crocodiles hidden stealthily beneath the water’s surface plotting their attacks.
If you are lucky to witness a river crossing, you will expect to see usual players: wildebeests, zebras and crocodiles. What about another resident of the river, the hippo? Although they don’t have top billing in the grand river crossing production, don’t discount these giant vegetarians; they are considered one of the most deadly animals in Africa and could prove to be a formidable opponent of the crocodile. If they wanted to make a splash, they certainly could!
Hippos are known as one of the most aggressive mammals. You wouldn’t expect these massive creatures, with their razor sharp tusks, to perform random acts of kindness but in a few, rare documented occasions; hippos have acted as river crossing guards during the Great Migration. One hippo was sighted nudging a zebra foal across the strong currents to the safety of the river bank, another tried to revive a young impala after being attacked by a crocodile, and one of our guests, Keeley Kennahan, witnessed a hippo make several attempts to interfere with a crocodile who had a wildebeest in its jaws.
No one is certain as to why hippos have these benevolent tendencies but when they do, they certainly take steal the show!