You know that feeling when you arrive at a new destination. You are waiting in the arrival’s hall with all the other tired but excited travellers. One by one they collect their bags and head out through customs onto their adventures. Then the baggage carousel stops and your excitement turns to dread as you stand alone, empty-handed. So yes, my Kilimanjaro Safari did not get off to the perfect start. Upon arrival at the peaceful and comfy Outpost lodge I met up with the rest of our group who were excited, happy and clean. After a delicious meal and some great chats with a bunch of people I was looking forward to getting to know over the next 3 weeks, I went to bed with all fingers and toes crossed for my bags to arrive before we headed off to summit Mt Meru. Alas they did not. But never fear I had the most amazing, generous and well packed fellow trekkers who outfitted me for the journey ahead. I cannot thank them enough for their no-hesitation generosity.
Mt Meru is in Arusha national park approximately 1hr from Arusha and is a great trek to assist with acclimatisation before tackling Mt Kilimanjaro. At 4566mtrs it is no small feat and is said by many to be a somewhat harder summit than Kili. Walking through the jungle on these first two days was just magical. The sunlight sparkling through the ancient growth forest gave me plenty of energy to make it up to Little Meru at 3820mtrs. That night we embarked on the journey to the summit in the rain and cold. It was a long hard slog with way too many false peaks giving us false hope but eventually as the sun started to rise on a perfect clear morning the views back towards Mt Kilimanjaro and the caldera made it all worthwhile. We were elated to have ticked off the first mountain!
Back in Arusha with the help from my team in Brisbane and our crew in Arusha my bag was waiting for me. Woohoo! Surely nothing could stop me now.
Early the next day, we were on our way to the Machame Gate to enter Mt Kilimanjaro National Park and begin our 7 day trek. I felt invincible albeit a little bit achy. I was brought back down to Earth… well at least the bottom of the mountain… when the elements descended on us. The next couple of days were particularly challenging with the wind and the rain coming at us from all angles. Luckily enough, we had amazing crew who went on ahead to set up our camp so I could crawl straight into my tent at the end of the day with a hot tea/coffee/choc/ginger never too far away to warm me up and bring a smile to my face. As the weathered cleared we enjoyed some spectacular views of the majestic mountain peak we were yet to summit. It was stunning but oh so huge! Summit day came and after a bit of snow in the afternoon we started climbing on a perfect dry night. We felt so lucky for the clear skies for our slow and steady journey to Stella peak and onwards to the top, Uhuru peak at 5895mtrs. We were joyous and triumphant trekkers and made it to the snow covered top . That fantastic feeling of accomplishment and gratitude looking out at the white world beneath you is impossible to describe.
Down, down we came over the next two days. Sore and tired but jubilant. It was so wonderful to return to Arusha, a hot shower, a cold beverage and hugs of celebration before we began the next part of our adventure.
On safari we shall go! 5 days to check out 3 very different and exceptional, world-renowned National Parks – Serengeti, Ngorongoro and Tarangire. Our driver and guide Neric was superb in looking after our every need. How he can spot the game at such distance I have no idea, but thankfully we were lucky enough to see all the Big 5 with a great array of the smaller game too. So many lions, so close. The accommodation every night was superb and so comfy after camping on Kili. Such a great way to relax after our treks with fabulous food and such happy staff to make it just so easy. I felt so relaxed by the time it came to go home.
You know you’ve had a good holiday when you are heading home and you feel satisfied, sated, grateful and ready to head back to reality. From a wobbly start to a superb finish, and certainly a journey I’ll never forget.