We are officially in Africa!
We landed at the Kilimanjaro Airport in Tanzania at 7:40pm (after an easy 8hr flight from Amsterdam) and immediately our African experiences began. Stepping off the plane onto the Tarmac the warm breeze of the “cool”evening hit us, smelling of both hot sand and green leaves, topped off with an amazing full moon with wisps of cloud cover in the distance. Complete with bats dancing under the few lights and the outline of jacaranda trees on the horizon. Wow!
After an hourlong line to get our Tanzania Visas for $50USD, completing a retina scan and finger prints for customs, we collected our bags and were met by Freddie our super friendly transport driver arranged by Climb Mount Kilimanjaro. He crawled up on the roof of our classic African Safari like van/truck and we tossed our packs up top and he expertly tied them down. Then we waited .. and waited and waited some more while he stood in a crazy long and slow line to pay for parking before we could go. Me thinks we should get used to slow and long lines while here in Africa.
Finally on our way from the airport to Arushu and the Outpost Lodge. Freddie told us it would be about an hour and wow what an entertaining hour it was. As expected their road habits are a little different than hours. Such as: when you pass a vehicle going in the other direction you ARE supposed to flash your brights, and when you want someone to pass you I guess you just turn on your ticker as if you are going in the lane they need to tell them it’s safe to pass, and do use the shoulder to pass slow moving vehicles. At one point going up a hill we were passing a big lorry in the oncoming traffic lane and another van was passing him on the shoulder, while a motorcycle was weaving between us, and a vehicle was oncoming and all with sad road kill as a speed bump. Welcome to Africa! So glad there are no roads on the Mountain!
Arriving at the Outpost Lodge was a treat, this place is amazing! We all have these little cabin like rooms, the landscaping is quintessential Africa plants and buildings complete with the beautiful purple Jacaranda trees! We arrived too late for any food so had a little Cliff bar party in one of the garden lounge areas before hitting the hay.
Waking up this morning, we met for a yummy breakfast of omelettes and crepes (they called them pancakes) and coffee with warm milk mmmmm. The highlight … three monkeys playing in the trees above the cafe! Seems they are always about the lodge and can actually be quite a pain in the butt if you leave your room windows open. They look to get in there and look for treats.
Mid morning, we headed into Arusha. It’s a bustling city and not a place any tourist should go alone. They have special Tourist Police even that make sure visitors have a guide, and are not getting into any bad situations. We had our guide Moses from the Outpost Lodge with us to keep the lovals selling stuff at bay and take us to the places we wanted to see and he suggested. Moses is from a local Massai village and works in town 6 days a week. He took us to this amazing cooperative market (I could have bought every painting in there) and Tanzanite Museum which was pretty cool.
Back at the hotel, after a yummy lunch with any kind of Fanta or Coke in a ‘God’s Must Be Crazy Bottle’ we are now spending a chill afternoon either reading, blogging, napping, prepping for Kili or all of the above.
Here are some random photo highlights:
We just finished our prebrief with our Team Kilimanjaro / Mount Kilimanjaro Guide Leonard (Leo the Lion he tells us). Wow this is happening. Now I am really excited and a little nervous but good nervous. We are off to have some dinner and then to our beds for the last time not in a tent.
PS we are actually climbing the highest peak in Africa tomorrow!