Saturday, May 26, 2007

Kilimanjaro - The Top of Africa

I’m currently writing from Abu Dhabi in the Middle East, the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). I arrived here last Monday to visit my parents as they were transferred out here for my Dad’s career.

Part of the reason for making my journey out this way was to travel to Tanzania in Africa and climb Mount Kilimanjaro with my Dad. It’s interesting, as my dad rarely gets out and attempts this sort of undertaking. When he was younger, he climbed Mount Whitney in a day (as anyone knows who is familiar with Whitney, this can be one very long day), but in the recent years, nothing has lead him towards mountains.

My Dad is very fit, especially considering his age of 56. Also, his knowledge for international travel is very impressive considering this is he and my Mom’s sixth overseas assignment after 30 years of working internationally in the oil industry.

The understanding was that I would handle the planning of our trip once in Africa, and he would handle all the airplane ticket booking and entry visa requirements for the two of us.

As a Mountain Guide working in the US, I found it easier and less expensive to link directly with a local Tanzanian guiding service. The Tanzanian government requires that to climb Kilimanjaro, you must hire a minimum of one local guide for the climbing group and porters for each climber. Even other guide services such as the many American services, follow this guideline. Typically, when a booking is made with an American guide service, they have a partnership with a local Tanzanian service and send one of their guides to work along side with a local guide and their porters. I decided to go directly to the local service. I linked with Destination African Tours.

There are many routes to choose from when considering a climb up Kilimanjaro. The well traveled standard routes include the Machame and Marangu. These tend to be the most popular as they are usually shorter in their distance, and better equipment with a comfortable hut system at almost every camp. The less attempted Rongai route approaches from the Northeastern sides near the Tanzanian – Kenyan border. This route is much more secluded and not as readily traveled. There is opportunity for combining this route with others to allow better adjustments while on the mountain. This is the route we chose.

Our plan is to spend 7 days on the mountain. This is extended from the standard 5 to 6 days that most will take to climb this route. By adding additional days, we will combine parts of the Machame and Marangu routes with our climb. This will allow for a more diverse climb and ability to experience the different environmental zones that Kilimanjaro offers. Our goal is to summit by day 6.

We fly out from Dubai, another emirate in the UAE tonight at 2:00 A.M. Via Kenyan Airways, we will fly to Nairobi and then to Kilimanjaro International Airport. The local guide service will then pick us up and transfer us to our hotel in Arusha, the Tanzanian safari town. We will overnight and transfer to the Rongai trailhead Tuesday morning. If all goes as planned, we should be on the mountain at camp 1 Tuesday night.

I’m excited to experience this area of the world, the mountain, the people, and spend some quality time with my Dad. Since coming to college in Fall of 2004, we haven’t been able to take a trip, just the two of us. I was very excited when my Dad mentioned this idea a few months ago. It combines my love for the mountains with his love for travel and geology (he works as an international geologist for an oil company).

I’m excited to make a post either while in Tanzania (if there is an internet connection available), or once back in Abu Dhabi. It will be a great journey and experience. I look forward to sharing my story and pictures once I return.



Blogger said...

Hi there

Just a quick post to say that I am enjoying your blog and am looking forward to seeing how you get on with your climb. I've climbed all the routes on Kilimanjaro, and think you've done the right thing in choosing Rongai. It's quieter, and thanks to Kenya's Amboseli Park lying just across the border, there's a better chance of seeing some wildlife over there too. The only problem with the Rongai Route is that it is uphill all the way, in other words there is no place where the path descends, making it difficult to follow the old climber's maxim of climb high, sleep low - a useful way of avoiding altitude sickness. So your idea of building in extra or 'rest' days on your trek a damn fine one!

If you need any help with your climb don't hesitate ot send me an email, or look at my website ( to see all the latest news on the mountain. And do let us know how you get on!

Good luck,

Henry Stedman

6/18/2007 12:51 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is a Chinese cilmber needing your help! He was missing when climbing Kolimanjaro on July this year.

8/13/2008 2:27 AM


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