Monday, September 12, 2011

Kilimanjaro - The Origins

Climbing Mt Kilimanjaro is something I've been thinking of doing for a while, but for the longest time I've always found an excuse not to do it (mostly revolving around money). This all changed one winter day last year. I was having some fine cigars with a friend of mine, let's call him Nigel, in a swanky cigar bar in New York City. After a few beers and more than enough cigar smoke later one of us utter the infamous words: "We should climb Mt Kilimanjaro!!". What started as kind of tongue in cheek comment ended up taking us halfway across the world to Tanzania.

To climb Kilimanjaro you are required to be assisted by a licensed guide, so after we realized that climbing Kili is something we will be doing for real, we contacted an awesome guide. This guide was our first choice because of a prior trek he did with Nigel's friend a couple years earlier.  Since that friend was highly satisfied with the treatment he received we thought going with the same guide might serve as well.  Over sixty emails and couple bank transfers later we had everything set up.  We booked a six day trek up Machame Route (one of the more popular routes up Kilimanjaro), with a couple days to explore Tanzania before and after the trek.  

Our original itinerary had us travel to Africa on September 2nd, 2011 and come back to the USA on September 13, 2011.  After some discussion around the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 events (some of us being more worried than others) we decided to alter our trip so that we would be back in the USA on September 6th instead.  With that our final dates were set:  we were to fly to Africa on August 25th and leave Tanzania on September 5th.  Our Guide was extremely helpful and flexible with our ever changing dates and requirements and after a month of back and forth emails all details have been set.  This was February.

Next couple months were very uneventful - we had little contact with our Guide, trip was so far away it was hard to get excited about it.  We made our final payments towards the end of April and a month later we finally booked our flights.  Since we live in different cities, Nigel and I decided to meet up in DC (where our flight to Africa was leaving from).  Our itinerary called for us flying Ethiopian Airlines from DC to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia (a 13 hour flight) and then from there directly to Kilimanjaro International Airport (short 2 hour flight to about 40 miles from our final destination of Arusha, Tanzania).

Agonizing three months had to pass before date of departure finally arrived.  Despite having months to prepare I ended up waiting to the last minute to pack.  Thankfully Nigel had put together a handy checklist of all the clothing and equipment I needed for the trip.  Four hours later my two bags were packed and I was ready to finally leave for the airport.  Had I known what the next 24 hours would bring I might have just stayed home a little longer...


geronymous September 22, 2011 at 2:25 AM  

Hi Marek...Jerry here....climbed kili back in 1968.think it was called tanzanika..have a me whten you get back...

ps it was a very short runway out of Mombasa back then...looking to the right was a shear cliff as the british pilot on air africa didn't get off the ground..third try was sucessful..i had a blast in back then..Kenya was calmer,a lot calmer.J

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