September 25th, 2012
With the completion of this climb, my husband Stan and I have climbed the highest peaks on 5 out of the 7 continents. What follows is a journal type record of our climb in Africa. Hopefully our experiences will be helpful and guide others to a great trip such as ours. We went up the Machame route and descended on the Marangu route (the traditional tourist route).
August 12 Nairobi, Kenya
The flight to Nairobi from my hometown of Quincy, Illinois, took two days. We arrived at around 4 a.m, our driver was there with a sign so we found him right away. His name is Lazarus. He will be driving the Toyota Landcruiser that we hired from a skydiver friend of mine, who actually has a side business in Africa. Lazarus is driving us to Marangu, Tanzania to meet our climbing guide. The highway system in this part of Africa is not really too great. What looks like a decent road is really gravel with holes everywhere. We saw some animals along the highway such as giraffe, Thompson gazelles, impala and zebra. The Kenya border crossing was a breeze … the border for Tanzania is about 500 feet up the road. I am amazed at the difference 500 feet makes! Unbelievable! There are many Maasi at the Kenya border, but here in Tanzania it’s nothing but beggars and guys with machine guns. It cost $63 to get the Landcruiser into Tanzania and they keep the title so you don’t sell it. We didn’t really have much problems but it is obvious that nobody wants trouble.
As we approached the Kilimanjaro park gates a man came up to the truck. He had a letter and the two photos I had sent a month earlier. It was our guide, Wilson Mosha. I indicated in my letter we would try to be there today and he waited all day at the park gates for us. He jumped in the truck and went over the proposed climb. Doing the Machame route will now cost $550 each if we have our own food and driver, or $650 if they cook and drive. I thought it would be less expensive but the park charges $40 each person to camp. Can you believe that?! $80 a night in a tent you have to pitch yourself with no water or facilities. Park rules say you must hire a guide and porters and that’s included in the $550 fee. For Stan and I we will have 4 porters, an assistant guide and a guide. It’s an over-kill, be required to climb the mountain. I was really tired after 3 days on the road. Wilson said he knew of a good place that wasn’t as expensive as the Kilimanjaro Mountain Lodge. We drove the truck up this bumpy dirt road and came to the Ashanti Lodge. How anyone could really ever find it is beyond me. The road was so rutted and rocky I can’t believe anything other than a Landcruiser could have made it. Unbelievable. I would really hate to see this in wet season. We got the room and breakfast for $30. A room at the Kili Lodge is around $120.
Aug 13, Machame Route
We got up early, dressed and had breakfast by 6 a.m. The hotel allowed us to store our extra stuff in a back room for our return. While waiting for Wilson’s arrival we looked around the little village. Really looked like it was out of a National Geographic special. Finally Wilson and the other porters arrived. We loaded up the truck and were off. The mountainside has beautiful vegetation. The road there is nothing but dirt and corn shocks strewn everywhere. The little children are cute and intently watch the passerby’s, with their big, curious eyes. It is so desolate on this strip of road, we are amazed that people live out here.
We got to the trailhead and began the climb around 10 a.m. The porters packed up their sacks and balanced them on top of their heads. The surrounding jungle was truly the Africa that I always pictured.
Birds, monkeys and various other animal sounds announced our arrival. We slowly wound our way upwards through the dense jungle. We stopped a couple times to rest and snack but we kept a fairly good pace. The trail is well marked and easy to follow.