Whilst the summer's in full swing in the alps I am spending time slightly further a field this season. Earlier this month I met a group in the UK who traveled with me to Tanzania where we are spending a month on an expedition/holiday!
We flew via Nairobi and then took an internal flight to Kilimanjaro Airport - the heart of the National Park. From the plane the views of Kili and Mt Meru are stunning. Following a few days in Moshi to get organised, have an acclimitisation walk and meet our team of local guides/porters we set off for the mountain. Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest free standing mountain in the world which certainly adds to the appeal of climbing it. Kili, as it's known, is a volcano that last made any movements back in 1700 so the locals say.
We walked the Rongai Route, the north side, where the views look across to the mountains in Kenya. This route not only allows a reasonable amount of time to acclimatise but also enables you to see a lot of the mountain. You begin trekking at 1990m in the lush rain forests where colobus and blue monkeys can be spotted. Over the next 5 days before making your climb to the summit the journey takes you through many different vegetation changes from heath and moorland, alpine then sub-alpine zones. To the south the flat lands of Rift Valley go on as far as the eye can see. After a lovely relaxing night at Mawenzi Tarn camp we walked to Kibo Hut at 4703m to start our ascent. Our climb began at midnight - our team of 14 plus summit porters all with head torches made their way up the zig-zag trail towards Gilmans Point 5681m, which is the edge of the crater rim. We took plenty of rests and lots of water! The porters are your lifeline here - they carry the bags for those that are struggling with the altitude. Our team were lucky to acclimatise well for the whole trip. Only 4 needed to turn back after 5000m due to increasing headaches and fatigue. At 6.30am we made it to Gilman's for sunrise and drank the tea the porters took up for us. A further 2 hours walking along the crater rim is amazing, the views of Mt Meru, the clouds below in the Rift Valley and Kili's glaciers are amazing. Our now team of 10 reached Uhuru Peak, the Roof of Africa at 5895m!
Following a well earned rest after our climb and walk out we came back to the town of Moshi to rest by the pool and prepare for the next phase of our trip. Today we leave for Lambo village to a school. Where we are working as volunteers there for 10 days. The group have raised funds and will be working on a building project and teaching the children. Phase 3 of our trip is a safari and time to relax on the beach before a final stop in Dar es Salaam.
In my absence Lindsay's holding the fort and busy taking last minute bookings as we still have a few places left on summer trips. Soon you will have our full winter schedule online. You may have seen that we already have our new 'Jura Highlights' nordic ski weekends and will soon have online a Haute Savoie discovery week and pure Skate Ski weekends in Cogne, Italy. So plenty more to come!