Kilimanjaro Journal: Pre-Trip

Kili: Pre-Trip Planning – Jan 23, 2015

Well, this part should be a short entry! Before we even left for this round the world trip, people kept mentioning Kilimanjaro and how we should totally climb it. Like a strange number of people, and as we were on the trip it kept coming up. So Rick and I had talked about it long and hard, and researched it. We learned that it’s mandatory that you have a professional guide and porters, required by the government no way around it. And the park fees about $50 per person per day!! We decided it was just WAAAAAAY WAY too expensive, and we wouldn’t really have time to do it, and after much debate, agreed that it was stricken from the list of possibilities.

…..Yeeeeaahhhh… so, you can see how well that went. P1120097After a day in Arusha, we decided that town wasn’t for us. It was a town of two extremes, either you were in the really rough African town part with nothing to do, or you were a VERY wealthy Westerner getting ready to leave on your luxury safari with your 5 butlers and caravan – we did not fit in. So on a whim we went to Moshi, the town at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro. We figured it was smaller, would have better scenery, and mostly, well “why not?” and “let’s just get the heck out of dodge”. So after a few hours in a dala-dala we were there and wandering the dusty streets in search of a place to stay.

Our first lead from AirBNB was Hibiscus Guest House, but after we walked over there, there was no room in the inn… which turned out to be a good thing, because the price was crazy high and out of our budget! Plus the atmosphere was not so friendly. We were pointed to Karibu Hostel, and the moment we arrived we knew we were home! It’s a hostel that benefits a non-profit school Born to Learn, run by Spaniards. Not only were they incredibly welcoming, friendly and transparent about costs/prices (rare to find, we’ve learned), they spoke Spanish!! Sam, the owner, mentioned she had a connection with a guide service that was honest, gave a low price for her guests and gave some proceeds to her non-profit.We blew it off, since we had already made out decision not to go.

….but as it got to be evening, and after catching astounding glimpses of Kili’s summit, and after, perhaps more importantly, after a lovely bottle of South African Sauvignon Blanc, we looked at each other with the look we’ve come to know well, the “so, I’ve got a crazy idea” look…. What if we could, what if it was affordable, what if we cut our trip a little short to make it work, when else are we going to be in Tanzania…? And off we went to get more details from Sam about hiking Kili, but saying to each other, we won’t decide tonight, we’ll just get some information.

P1110838As soon as we mentioned it, Sam looked at our timing (flying to Argentina on the 2nd and hoping to go to Zanzibar before that), and pronounced that if we were going to go it had to be TOMORROW! She was on the phone with her guy before we could get another word out, and he was on his way to meet us “just to give us more information”…. It was 9:30 at night. Things moved quickly from there and around 10:30pm we were booked on a trek to summit Mount Kilimanjaro… that started the next morning.

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We went in for dinner at the hostel (Spaniards eat quite late) and announced our plan to our new friends. We were, un-shockingly, met with shock. “You go MANANA?!” Another of the volunteers, from Canada, told us that she had been training for months in British Colombia, she had booked her trip months in advance, she had gotten all her gear already and asked quite concerned if we had gaiters, a light rain suit, a heavy downpour rain suit, alpine sleeping bags, our summit jackets, etc. Clearly we did not. She was flabbergasted – “WHAAAAA?!? But how can you….!? I mean, you can’t…. But you need…. I just can’t believe” let’s just say that didn’t exactly put me at ease.

Fortunately, from my quick post to Facebook that night, you guys gave me great encouragement! A HUGE Thank You to Anne J-Roberts, Patrick O’Neil, Gavin Davis, Esteban Delgado and Jimmy Abrams for the much needed encouragement! I’ll admit, on some of the tough moments of the summit I repeated “Always excited, never nervous” and “Crush it, Liz!” to myself. And of course, Dad, your email was awesome…Rick and I repeated it often during the trek “Sounds like a bunny climb. Bernard Goosen made it in a wheelchair… Twice! Just sayin’” 🙂

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So around midnight we finished packing our trek pack and hoped for the best!