African Safari, Day 1, Serengeti

We lucked out and got to see the start of the Great Migration in the Serengeti. It was well within the rainy season and the grasses looked vibrant and green. The areas we traveled through were some of the most idyllic and gorgeous landscapes I’ve ever seen. This is truly paradise on earth.

Last stop before we hit the four wheel tracks heading up to the national parks, Serengeti being the first stop.

We pass a few Masai villages along the way.

In the distance you can see a few Masai men herding their cattle by a lake that appears only part of the year, on google maps the ground can be seen as brown with no lake present.

Innumerable quantities of wildebeest, zebra, gazelle and others stretch to the horizon. It’s hard to describe the surreal vastness of it all.

Here is a pride of lions complete with lil simbas.

I’d like to imagine this as pride rock from the movie The Lion King.

We made it to our camp by dusk, had a nice dinner and a bit of restless knowing there were predators roaming around us.

 

 

Trek up Kilimanjaro, Day 6, Mweka Camp back down

We got a perfectly good view of Kilimanjaro without a hint of cloud cover, looks like those summitting today will have the great view.

While walking through these easy paths, we got to see a few types of monkeys, and truly enjoyed the leisurely walk back to civilization.

Mitsy officially signing us out at the ranger station.

Some soda to celebrate, below we are at the True View Tanzania office (our guiding company) and ended up buying some Tanzanite while we were there, for a special occasion coming up :)

We paid the local taxi (a motorcycle guy) to take us to Union Cafe for a victory coffee, and ended up booking a safari with our buddy Griff to leave the following day. Below is a model of the mountain in the Union Cafe front porch.

Trek up Kilimanjaro, Day 5, Summit day

I’m thankful for Matty, our guide, for taking these photos. Mitsy and I were far too preoccupied with putting one foot in front of the other to bother with picture taking. While it was tough, we reached the summit, Uhuru Peak, and got down safe and sound. We had an opportunity to take the summit a day earlier than expected, and we went for it. Unfortunately, luck put the snowstorm on our summit day.

Pictured below is the remaining glaciers atop Kilimanjaro. One day, these glaciers will have melted away due to the warming climate, some say as soon as 2030. I’m glad to have seen them in my lifetime.

And here we are, at the roof of Africa. Mitsy and I summitted just after 8 AM on 3/29/2018. As soon as we got there, we started back down. No time to waste when the temp is well below freezing. What an amazing experience.

We hiked back down to Barafu Camp, slept a few hours, and then continued on to our camp for the night, a 4 hour walk back into the jungle to Mweka Camp.

These are the gurneys used to take down the sick from Mount Kilimanjaro, usually due to broken bones or altitude sickness. It actually takes 8 people to safely take someone down using the gurney.

Alpine desert, to moorland, back to the jungle. It took us 5 days to make it to the top, and just a day to get down…

Trek up Kilimanjaro, Day 4, Baranco Camp to Barafu Camp

Beautiful morning and smiles going into day 4, we eat a hearty breakfast and are off up the most ‘technical’ section of Kilimanjaro, the Baranco Wall.

Matty showing us the route up the Baranco wall, below you see it’s steep and jagged face, climbing it was no big deal though we soon came to find out.

Slow and steady, or “pole pole”. Below, an 86 year old man from Colorado was attempting to summit Kilimanjaro, he ended up making it as far as Barafu Camp but ended up turning around, good on him for getting this far.

Mitsy and I at the famed “kissing” rock, a spot where you have to hug the rock to pass it given the narrow footing.

Karanga Camp in the distance, down a valley and back up for a lunch break.

David and his fresh ingredients hooking us up with the best thing a tired hiker could ask for, french fries!

A friendly sign reminding us that our lives are more important than the glory of the summit. At this point going forward, you start to really see who can tolerate altitude, and who cannot. So far we are ok, but we’re definitely feeling it as we leave Karanga Camp and continue onward.

Taking in some of the more striking views as we near Barafu Camp, by this point we are well above the height of any mountain in the lower 48.

We made it to the last camp before our summit attempt, Barafu Camp. We spend the rest of the day relaxing, eating, and mentally prepping ourselves for the thin air above.

Talking story with Griff. Below, Mitsy trying to stay hydrated while battling with thin air and breathing difficulty. We spend time to focus on breathing, eventually realizing that while the air is thin, there’s plenty of oxygen for us. Unfortunately though, we struggled a bit with some of the unsavory symptoms of high altitude, headache, nausea, and lack of appetite.

Before heading in for the night, I took some time lapse photos of the full moon-ed night, below you can see Mawenzi peak, one of the three dormant volcanic lumps on this mountain.

Trek up Kilimanjaro, Day 3, Shira Cave Camp to Baranco Camp

The morning time showed us Mount Kilimanjaro without clouds, a sight we hadn’t seen yet. I remember how excited we were to finally see it like that. The sun was rising beneath it and lit up the sky to a brilliant hue.

This is our buddy Griff, he was the fastest hiker in the many groups trekking up the Machame route during our stay and an all around great guy to become friends with.

Making friends has its benefits, we got an epic shot of him, and he got one of us in return!

Taking a breather in the middle of the hike, this is the first day where the elevation started to affect us, and you could see it was affecting the vegetation too. We were now in the alpine desert.

Just like before when we were hiking on the Milford Track in New Zealand, little ‘guardians’ of the trail would come and visit with us.

Above we see snow for the first time, and below we see the Lava Tower, which marks Lava Tower Camp. This is the basecamp for one of the more difficult routes up Kilimanjaro, known as the Western Breach route. We didn’t know at the time, but reports later said that a cook recently met his demise not far from our lunch spot.

Tents from the Lava Tower Camp, we eat quickly and scramble down to the Baranco camp. While we were heading down from our acclimatization at Lava Tower Camp, we got absolutely dumped on and were nearly soaked to the core by the time we made it down. Definitely a morale buster.

Mitsy smiling in the heavy rain as we descend to Baranco camp, what a trooper.

Glad to make it!

Trek up Kilimanjaro, Day 2, Machame Camp to Shira Cave Camp

We wake up in Machame camp to beautiful views across the Arusha valley to Mount Meru, and finally we can plainly see the snow capped peak of Mount Kilimanjaro.

The trek takes us beyond the jungle into the moorland, where the canopy starts to disappear and it’s all moss & shrubs.

Our guide Matty giving us a bit of information about the surroundings. Hot poker plant below.

It was a welcome sight to get to the misty Shira Cave Camp. The hiking wasn’t too arduous and we were starting to enjoy camp life. It was also great to meet up with our Kilimanjaro friends, hikers who are all traveling in the same direction with the same goals. At the end of the day we got together to talk story.

The porters tent looking down the mountain.

Mitsy taking in the sights, and the crew from another trekking company breaking into song and dance at the Shira Cave Camp.

Porters of the past would sleep in this small overhanging cave, it’s said that up to 70 porters used to sleep inside. It’s good to see that it has since been outlawed since it looks damp and was probably terribly unhygienic.

We hiked up to a small hill nearby where we could get a nice overview of the camp and also ‘acclimatize’ a bit. Below, we were finally introduced to the crew helping us up Mount Kilimanjaro.

Sun setting on the Shira Cave Camp.