Thursday, December 13, 2007

Leaving for Tanzania

The blog is back!


But don’t get too excited….


This trip is only a couple of weeks, and most of that is either on a mountain (8 days) or on a plane (3 days), so I don’t think you have many blog entries coming your way.  I’ll take many photos, of course, and perhaps I’ll be able to post a few from the road.  But perhaps not.  We’ll all find out together!


To start building a bit of expection, here is the itinerary:


December 14 – Depart LAX at 6:45 am.  To get us to the airport three hours before my flight – please exit row, please – a yellow cab is arriving at my driveway at the charming hour of 3:15 am.  Yeay!!!  (Us, by the way, refers to myself, and my friend Mark Guirguis, who is joining me on the entire venture.  Unless we are chased by an angry crash of rhinoceros, in which case I will take advantage of my longer legs and leave him behind.  But I’ll feel bad about it.)


December 15 – Having endured 30 hours of plane flights and layovers – NYC, Zurich, Nairobi – and a serious time zone change I will be in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania as of 9:05 pm.  I’ve been assured I can get a visa at the airport (cross your fingers) and I suspect I can find a place to stay that night without too much trouble (cross your other fingers.)


December 16 – Mark and I need to travel to Moshi.  We have no solution to this problem yet, but we believe we can find a short plane flight of about an hour, or perhaps a bus ride for 6 hours through Tanzania, or maybe a “cab?”  I’ll fill you in later.  If our luggage is lost en route to Tanzania, we’ll wait a day in Dar Es Salaam, in hopes it catches up.


December 17 & 18 – Rest in Moshi, acclimate to this tiny bit of altitude, and sort out final details with our guide company, which has already been booked.  I need to buy a Balaclava here in Moshi, because how can you climb Kili without a Balaclava?


December 19 – A 3 hour drive in a jeep is required to get us to the starting point of the trek, because some gangly over-achiever has selected a ludicrous starting point.  And then the hike begins:

Elevation Change + 650 M

Final Elevation 2650 M  

At the gate, we pick up our game ranger who will accompany us, as we might encounter elephants and buffaloes during our trek. We drive to the trailhead at Lemosho Glades and start our trek through the rain forest. In places, the vegetation is so untouched that it grows right across the narrow track. Our trek today will be along a little used track known as Chamber's Route. In about 3-4 hours, we reach our camp in the rain forest at Mti Mkubwa (Big Tree).


December 20 –


Elevation change + 950 M

Final Elevation 3,610 M

After breakfast, we start the climb cross the remaining rain forest towards the giant moorland zone. Today is a full day trek with an altitude gain of 2,000 ft. A great lunch stop is One, a beautiful valley just outside the Shira Crater at around 10,000 ft. After lunch, we cross into the Shira Caldera, a high altitude desert plateau that is rarely visited. Shira is the third of Kilimanjaro volcanic cones, and is filled with lava flow from Kibo Peak. The crater rim has been decimated by weather and volcanic action. Today you will get your first close views of Kibo - the dramatic summit of Kilimanjaro.


December 21 –


Elevation change: + 240 M

Final elevation: 3,850
After breakfast continue hike east across the Shira Plateau past the Shira Cathedral towards Shira Two camp. We only gain 700 feet in elevation – this allows us to acclimatize slowly to the altitude. The views of the plateau are nothing less than spectacular.


December 22 –


Elevation change: +100 M
Final elevation: 3950 M

Today is the last of the "easy days". It is about a 7-hour superb hike. We pass the Lava Tower, around the southern flank of Kibo, and slowly descend into the spectacular Barranco Valley, interspersed with giant lobelia and senecia plants. After arriving at our most spectacular campsite, everyone stands in awe at the foot of Kibo Peak, looming high above, on our left. Our camp is only 465 feet higher than where we were last night, but during the day,  we will have climbed to just over 14,000 feet. This is one of our most valuable days for acclimatization.


December 23 –


Elevation change: +240 M (787 ft)
Maximum elevation: 4190 M
Final elevation: 4000 M

On the eastern side of the valley, across the stream is the Barranco Wall - a 950 ft. barrier of volcanic rock.  Although it is tall and looks steep, it is very easy to climb.  This is our first challenge of the day. The views from the wall are nothing less than magnificent.  The rest of the day is spent skirting the base of Kibo peak over our left shoulder. We descend down into the Karanga Valley, where we rest up for the night before the tough climb up to Barafu hut.


December 24 –

BARAFU CAMP (15,088 ft.)

Elevation changes: +410 M (1,345 ft)
Final elevation: 4600 M

First thing, we will be making a steep hike out of the valley. The air starts getting quite thin, and we will be running short of breath. It is a tough, but rewarding uphill to the rocky, craggy slopes at the camp.  Barafu means, ice in Swahili, and it is extremely cold at this altitude. So, we will go to bed early because we will be waking at midnight for the final leg to Uhuru Peak.


December 25 –

BARAFU to UHURU PEAK (19,340 ft.) to Mweka CAMP (9,550 ft.)


Summit time: 7 hrs, Elevation change: +1300 M
Final elevation: 5896 M
Descent time: 5 hrs, Elevation change: -2800M
Final elevation: 3100 M
We dress warmly, because we start climbing around midnight, on the steepest and most demanding part of the mountain. The moon, if out, will provide enough light, and we will reach the Crater rim by sunrise, after a 7 hour hike, and welcome a new dawn.  From the Crater rim, rugged Mawenzi Peak is a thrilling sight, with the Kibo saddle still in darkness beneath you, and the crater's ice-walls looming ahead. We now continue to Uhuru Peak (1-2 hrs.) This is the highest point in Africa, and the world's highest solitary peak (19,340 ft). It is the best view in Africa!

The descent is invigorating. It is a good idea to have a little rest once in awhile as you continue down back to Barafu Camp (4 hours), and then down the Mweka route to Mweka camp (5 hours). This is where we spend our last night on the mountain.


December 26 –


Elevation change: -1250M
Final elevation: 1828 M

In the morning we walk down to the road head. After a welcome lunch, it is time to say "kwaheri" to the guide. We then get a lift back to the town of Moshi.  We are not at the same trail head as where we started, so it is a much shorter jeep ride….


December 27 –  Rest in Moshi.  Or, perhaps, get down off the mountain if we experienced delays.


December 28 – Now we need to reverse our travels to Dar Es Salaam, whatever they were….


December 29 – Back on a plane to Nairobi, and then Zurich, and then London, and finally LA.


December 30 – Back in Los Angeles!!!  But you’ll here from me again before then….


And since I have no photos of the trip to post yet, here is my nephew Carter – isn’t he awesome:




Blogger Ghislaine said...

Enjoy your trip! (Although I cannot fathom how that would be done... But I'm sure you will.)
Looking forward to the pictures and stories when you get back. Love, G.

10:32 PM  
Blogger Joey said...

WOW... sounds amazing, Craig. Have a blast and see you at Sharky's when you return... LOL! - Joey

1:22 AM  
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