Facing Mount Kilimanjaro
The name alone conjures up the exotic, a sense of challenge and excitement. It is a place that is becoming a popular addition to many Empty Nester’s ‘Bucket List’, including yours truly, a place to see before you reach those pearly gates.
The east African country of Tanzania, is fascinating and there are two great features of this part of the world that are an integral part of the country. Kilimanjaro and the island of Zanzibar. although I have visited the latter, I have yet to conquer the mountain. Kilimanjaro is increasingly popular and is scalable and is within the capabilities of most levels of fitness.
Being a dormant volcanic mountain, Mt. Kilimanjaro is not likely to blow its top anytime soon. At an impressive height of 19,341′ (5,895 m), Africa’s highest point is a snow-capped edifice surrounded by a verdant valley. This area is now a popular tourist venue, a far cry from Ernest Hemingway’s expat ruminations on life and love in his book, Snows of Kilimanjaro.
The photos are provided by my friend, Nelson Mushi, who I have interviewed in the past. He is an expert on the mountain, having climbed it for many years as owner and head guide of Summit Odyssey. Here is what he has to say about his life:
“My name is Nelson Mushi, I was born in Arusha, the northern part of Tanzania.
I like to do what I am doing now as a tour trekking guide. I have a child, handsome boy his name Roger, four years old.
I would like to see my children becoming prosperous in a righteous way built on respect, be humble and have quality of education.
I was a classroom monitor and a school brass band drummer leader, I have always been interested in leadership.
Trust in God, hard working, respect, humble, trustworthy, and loving people are vital traits predisposing me for a successful life.
My hobbies are very wide and include: geography, economy, travel health, economy, sports and tourism business.
Chris Warner, the owner of international outdoor company, Earth Treks, has taught me how to be inspired by life through succeeding, to be accountable, trustworthy, respectful, have patience and be humble.
I do believe in Jesus and Christianity, hard work and being trustworthy.
My first Kilimanjaro climb was in 2001 through Machame route and I made it to the summit.
I had not experienced snow before Kilimanjaro; I saw rain and sleet in Arusha when I was a little boy.
I most enjoy seeing my clients being happy climbing and reaching the summit through my support, and descending the mountain safely.
The most interesting experience I have had on Mount Kilimanjaro is whereby me and Chris Warner took 26 hours during a rescue process from crater rim to exit gate without rest. It usually takes 12 hours summiting and descending back to the nearest camp.
There are so many Kilimanjaro local stories to share with you, but let us share a small one, amongst the skillful primitive stone bowls and underground hidden caves I saw in Machame They are the most interesting. The Chagga and Maasai tribes who live there have been fighting and stealing each others cattle for centuries. The caves in Machame are still used and active. They are made up of well-arranged rooms for parents, kitchen, livestock and front balcony for the securities, and most of the caves are made up into the precipice sides of rocks towards to the river flows which mutes the voices of children or the livestock noises when the water flows down.
The difference between me and other tour operators is that I do offer a minimum package to my customers which is just the same to the maximum climbing and safari packages offered by other companies. We have quality sleeping tents, mess tent, thick mattresses, and quality trekking guides who I know are competent and l knowledgeable in customer care, my parents are from Machame.
There are so many questions from the clients, most clients ask about general safety, climbing physical fitness, how much the climbing package on route chosen, and possibilities of seeing the rhinos in Ngorongoro crater.
The best time to climb the mountain are January, February, mid March, June, July, August, September, October, November and mid December, all that mentioned months are the best but January, February, July and August is extremely stunning best time as the mountain scenery is out of the clouds most of the time.
Kilimanjaro is amongst the seven summits easiest mountain to climb. People with diabetes, different disabled persons they can conquer it without any doubt, but those who have some heart defects or sickle cell are not allowed without special care and advice from their physician, ”pole pole” (slowly, slowly), is the most common word to getting clients to work slowly to getting well acclimatized.
Kilimanjaro sunset it is possibly amongst the greatest stunning show off events in the world!. Especially if you are at Shira camps through Machame route or Lemosho route are really enchanting events, the yellowish sunset rays colour the mountain, and the mountain looks awesome in inexplicable beauty.”
Lodgings for Climbers
If you are looking for a place to stay while you contemplate the mountain, fellow Empty Bester, Martha Musaya, offers a warm welcome. Mama Martha, is wonderful woman. A Canadian by birth, and a Tanzanian through love. She makes her home in Tanzania for six months of the year, where she runs a Guest House called the Tulip Loft, during that time.
She has opened up her home to travellers, and is a gracious host who will be able to guide travellers through her knowledge and contacts in the area. Martha has a penchant for scrabble, and has some great stories to tell. She will capture your imagination with tales about her life in Tanzania. Here is one of them:
Our driver Steve, told us this when he drove us out of Tarangire into Kibaoni on Feb 25th 2013. Steve drives fast but careful, and can talk at the same time above the noise of the Land Rover, the dust and the bumps.
He was driving back to the pilot house alone – it was 7 p.m,. and got a darn flat tire!! He was only 10 minutes in from the main Tarangire gate, where baobab trees are situated close to the road. He stopped, and got out to look at the flat – then promptly got back in again. There were 8 lovely Lions laying all together with their heads on the road, looking tired and lazy. Mama’s, Papa’s, teens and young ones.
What to do? It’s getting dark, and no help. Steve called from his cell phone to another driver to come and help him – – but no avail – that vehicle was busy bringing the ‘wageni’ (tourists) into the park from their long busy day of game drive etc and the wageni come first as everyone knows! They must be handed a hot washcloth and a little glass of passion juice, then shown to their resting place, the dining room, and welcomed graciously to one of the most popular National Parks in Tanzania.
Steve sat in the Rover and was prepared to make it his bed for the night. Many thoughts raced through his head. After approx. 15 minutes – he said to himself – maybe I could change the tire – – so he kept the engine running and opened all the four doors – – to easily jump in if one of the Lions got hungry. He remembered that Lions line themselves up in a triangle if they’re planning to attack. He also remembered they don’t like the smell from engines. The eight of them were still staring at him though. He remembered his wife and 2 little kids – the second baby was a boy – just born last week.
Daring Steve took down the spare slowly and placed it next to the flat. Stood up straight to count the Lions – yup there were still 8. Jacked the rover up and began to loosen the bolts on the flat, and after each bolt, he stood to count: Moja, mbili, tatu, nne, tano, sita, saba and nane! So far he counted 8 each time. Whee !! If he counted one less Lion – he would stop quickly, shut the doors and go to sleep.
He prayed as he lifted the spare onto the shaft, screwed the first bolt on, stood up to count the Lions and they just stared at him as usual. Each bolt tightened and set – each Lion counted for – each time. Thank the Lord! The Lions were close enough to the Rover to smell the engine running and were thinking “heh we hate that fuel smell and how soon can you get that darn tire changed and be off ??” “Most folks take pictures of us and we try to smile nicely at them – – not you! You just peek at us over the hood all the time! What’s with you???
Slam the last door shut, heart beating fast and drive back to camp !!
*(‘Simba’ means Lions, and ‘nane’ means eight in Swahili)
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