Started the day really early. I think I set my alarm to 4:15am. Which is basically 2:15am on my internal British clock. We had some breakfast in the hotel and packed our stuff in the bus, which is actually a modified truck.
We headed out of Nairobi and towards Kisii. It’s a long drive. About 8 to 9h as the itinerary warned but we did stop a few times which helped break up the otherwise arduous journey quite a bit. The highlight was a stopover for lunch on this small farm in a very green part of Kenya. We were greeted by a very friendly lady. The food was delicious but I still couldn’t avoid the dreaded capsicums aka peppers in some of the dishes. There was also a very interesting side dish she made that consisted of beetroot, cucumber and chilli.
We continued towards Kisii and passing through some towns on the way only to end up in this beautiful resort about 20km out of Kisii. We were divided into 4 groups and then each group had a different task each night from loading/unloading the truck, cleaning the truck, cooking and cleaning the dishes.
Tomorrow we head towards Isebania, the border town where we cross over to Tanzania.
There is also quite a bit of debate about currencies. Most of us came to Kenya with USD but then some shops will accept them, some only Kenyan shilling. Then in Tanzania it gets complicated as the might not accept Kenyan currency and vice versa as there are some bilateral arguments going on between the two countries. Then there is an added complication with cards as some need to get USD from ATMs but you need a Visa card for that, some ATMs here won’t even accept MasterCard. Very complicated.
Started the day in the skies above Africa. A long 8.5h flight to Nairobi from London. Not a wink of sleep.
Clearing immigration was actually a breeze with the E-Visa which is basically a visa you get online before you travel. However it’s still quite weird they take your photo and fingerprints from BOTH hands. I had a private transfer from the airport to the hotel courtesy of the company that is organising the trip – Intrepid. The car we were in had suspension so buggered we scraped the bottom on several humps on the way to the hotel. The driver wasn’t phased one little bit.
Spend the rest of the morning catching up on sleep then met up with a friend I haven’t seen in years and she used to live in Pembrokeshire when we worked at Fenton Vets.
At 6pm we had the Serengeti group meeting. Some of them were already on Kilimanjaro and a few, like myself, were to go after. Some would continue to Zanzibar and some would go home. Varied group indeed. And also I was not just the only Brit in our group but all the other groups as well. There were mostly Australians and Americans and some Canadians.
So the plan is to go by car to Heathrow T4, catch a light to Nairobi, Kenya. I am supposed to get a shuttle from the airport from the airport to a hotel in downtown Nairobi. The group I am travelling with have a meeting the following day in the same hotel.
The day after we get on a private bus aka “safari truck” and go towards Kisii. We are supposed to arrive there about 9h later!!
After Kisii we cross the border to Tanzania and arrive at Lake Victoria. The next two days we are in the Serengeti national park. Now the fun thing in Serengeti will be the overnight camping as apparently there will no barrier between us and the wildlife. Yep. Okidoki. In the past it has not been uncommon for buffalo and hyenas wandering into the campsite.
Then comes the hard bit as we approach the foot of Mt Kilimanjaro in a town called Marangu. This is the last time we see any degree of creature comforts in a form of a hotel and wifi.
Its a 5 day hike up to Uhuru peak stopping overnight at various huts. Not sure what to expect but my only experience of mountain huts have been on my 2001 hike up Mt Triglav in Slovenia where I staid in Dom Planika and Koča pri Triglavskih sedmerih jezerih.
The route above is from another company but I think our plan is the same.
The last day we return back in one big downward 20 kilometre hike to Marangu and and a well deserved hot shower.
Early the next morning I have to be back on the orad as I have a 6am flight from Kilimanjaro int’l airport to Nairobi and then 2 hours later a flight back to London, Heathrow. It will be weird waking up next to Mt Kilimanjaro and being back in Bromyard that evening.
One of the matters you need to address when traveling to many countries in Africa are health orientated. The company Intrepid who I am using for the trip does mention this n their travel advice and probably the best place to go for more advice is your GP or a travel vaccination centre. There are a couple of very good websites that will help with that.
There are quite a few diseases that are mentioned for my trip that includes two countries: Kenya and Tanzania so I need to be covered for both. Luckily a lot of mosquito related problems aren’t applicable on higher altitudes of Kilimanjaro.
The diseases turns out I should focus on and to the ones I got protected against is
malaria: tablets that need to be taken two days before the trip, every day during the trip and another 7 days after
rabies: might not be on tops of other people’s list but I might get close to animals and thought it might be good to get a booster. Had my initial three jabs before my Carriacou trip.
The diphtheria and Hepatitis A are actually covered by the NHS but I did have to pay for the rabies jab. I had a discussion with the GP nurse about Hepatitis B but decided against it. It is not that widespread in Kenya and Tanzania and would only be a concern if I got injured. It is is also sexually transmitted but don’t think I’ll be up to those kind of things while I’m there.
An old favourite. Have been up it only twice before as far as I can remember. The last time it was a scorching hot summers day and this is also when I learned about dogs and how peculiar they can be be.
I took our family dog with me and to make sure we were both hydrated I took a bottle of water for her and a bottle of flavoured water for me. I think mine had a hint of grapefruit in it, all natural, zero calories, sterile and all that. Any way, turns out the dog, her name is Neža, felt quite thirsty. It was very warm on that day and the side of the hill you have to climb is south facing so had the full force of the sun. I think I ran out of the dog’s water water even before we reached the top and of course I offered her some of my lovely flavoured water. The mountain dew, filtered a gazillion times though lime rock or so I remember. Anyway, she declined it. Completely. Even when I saw she was really thirsty she would not touch the stuff. Made me think how good WAS this water. I mean, she has been known to eat dead animals and dog poo but she would not have the purest water available to man or beats far around – of course, with a hint of grapefruit – which is probably why she declined it.
Anyway, we did manage to find some suitably dirty muddy puddles at the the bottom of the hill that satisfied her need for food indiscretion.
Today she didn’t come with me. Bless her she is getting on a bit and a hike up this mountain could just about finish her off. The day was almost as bad as the last time – at first. Very warm but with some clouds at the top which did not worry me. There was a forecast for some showers but not until later that day. I pressed on, of course.
I reached about half way up the incline and started to see some dark clouds but they quickly passed over and we were back to sunshine so happy days. On I wen, but not for long. The next cloud looked much more ominous. And then it started to thunder which got be shit worried. You don’t want to be up a mountain, especially on exposed parts when lightning could strike any minute. I waited. Then as it looked like nothing more was going to happened I carried on until it started to rain. And then with more thunder. It seems the thunder was much closer than before so I hid next to a large rock formation and tried to wait it out. Good idea as the rain got worse and then it changed to hale. Then back to rain and then it eased off. I had to make a decision whether to press on or turn around. I knew I was sort of close to the summit but not exactly sure where. I almost stubbornly decided to carry on but knowing the risk I was really shittting myself. And guess what, I actually met some people coming the other way, a german couple as it turns out. They took shelter from the lightning just under the peak but I was very surprised to see anyone still above the level I was at.
As my suspicions were correct the top of Viševnik was not far away, only about 10 min hike from where I was taking shelter earlier. And just as I got there the rain eased off ad there was a gorgeous view of the surrounding peaks, I took out my phone and took this photo.
I think I must have been on the top of Viševnik for about 30 seconds before the heavens opened up again, this time it went straight to hale. – I must have ran down that hill as I not only caught up with the two Germans, I overtook them and to my surprise saw another group of three german-speaking hikers going up!!?? WTF!
Came down to Rudno Polje where I had parked my car completely drenched but felt great. A day up a mountain is almost always a winner.
I had a bit of an eventful day today. Set of to hike up Pen y fan, had to find a way out of town as there were was a road closure and ended up going a way I don’t usually use. Somewhere on that trip I must have ridden over something sharp. By the time I got to Leominster about 20 minutes away I felt the bike being unstable. Turns out I had a rear tyre puncture.
Didn’t dare to ride it back home, so called the roadside assistance. While I waited the tyre must have slowly deflated even more and this made the bike quite unstable but I noticed that to late as it ended up falling over without me even being on it at the time!
Managed to collect quite a few scuffs on the fairings, smashed the hand guard and broke off the brake lever about mid shaft. Luckily the engine started fine and the brake lever was still usable. The AA guy managed to patch the puncture really well, he then followed me for an hour as we drove to Gloucester to the main Honda dealer. I could have gone somewhere else but these guys do the service on my bike and they actually had a tyre in stock so it could be fixed the same day.
Anyway, not only did the get the tyre sorted, they had a spare brake lever in stock so replaced that as well. The hand guards are on order but I might have to change them myself. Just all this cost me about £260. Got home about 6 hours later.
I had to bite the bullet and try finding some good boots that will last me for the training I have to do plus be suitable for the Kilimanjaro trip, so hot savannah and ice cold Uhuru peak.
I knew I was going to need some help and I was dreading having to go to one of the big corps and one of their outlets. I needed some proper help. I found a little store in Hereford called Trekitt. This isn’t just another corporate. Quite the opposite. Quite refreshingly it is a single store run by the family business.
After some thorough measurements of my feet and a discussion with the assistant I decided to go for these babies:
I finally made it. Hiked all the way up the Malverns and then back again. A total of about 30 km in 6 hours, 45 minutes. Doing these distances does help build up the stamina for the uphill parts of the Kilimanjaro route. However should not neglect the final day when we will descend the mountain where we will do about 20 km which should take us 5-6 hours.
However am taking quite a beating on my feet, something not completely right with my old hiking boots, a pair of Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX. Keep getting nasty shooting pain in toes and foot. I’ll be seeing a shop in Hereford that should help me out as I think I might have to get a new pair of hiking boots for the rest of my training and the Kilimanjaro.
A glorious sunny Saturday on the May Bank holiday weekend. This time I started at the southern end at Chase End and worked my way north. Was able to reach Upper Wyche. Still have not reached the goal of doing the whole Malvern Hills up and down (or the other way for that matter).
The hills especially round the southern part of the Malverns were covered in violet, all down to the abundance of bluebells. At one point as I was walking on a path near Hollybush the whole one side of the path was covered with white from wild garlic and the other violet from bluebells.