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Kilimanjaro 2019

Day 2: Kisii

Sunday, September 22nd

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 had a lovely lunch at a farm

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.

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Kilimanjaro 2019

Day 1: Nairobi

Saturday, September 21st

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.

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Kilimanjaro 2019

Itinerary

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.

Image: Intrepid Travel

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.

The next stop is the Ngorongoro crater.

Image: Peakplanet.com

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.

Image: Ultimate Kilimanjaro

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.

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Spending a day at a Birmingham police station

Not often would I brag about spending almost the entire day in the company of the police. Lets face it, you usually have to deal with them if you have done something wrong or something wrong has been done to you and nobody I know really wants that.

But I think it was all for a common good today. A large group of mostly police volunteers organise workshops and observed ride-outs under the scheme called Bike Safe. You can read more about the initiative on their website. Many police forces in the country do it and this particular one was organised by the West Midlands police force.

BikeSafe – Police-led motorcycle safety initiative

We had a 8:30am meetup at the Halesowen police station and most of the talking was left to the charming and highly experienced retired police officer Marcus. It was very educational and quite entertaining.

Motorcycle riders account for about 1% of all vehicles on the UK roads so a normal everyday driver will naturally check for a car approaching him or her, not something like a bike. This accounts for many issues where bikers are just not seen by drivers. Also, it must be said that riders should also ensure their own safety by anticipating hazards and avoiding them in an appropriate manner.

After the theoretical bit and a quick coffee/tea break we went through document checks and then geared up and set of. We were in small groups of two with one observer to every two riders. The route took us down urban streets and country roads from Halesowen to Pershore.

It took me about an hour to get to Halesowen so that day I made loads of miles. 130 to be precise. Would highly recommend. At the end of the workshop they strongly encouraged us to continue improving our riding by going to one of the advanced schools like IAM, ROSPA and the DVSA Enhanced Rider Scheme (ERS).

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Kilimanjaro 2019 Trips and outings

Brecon beacons: Cribyn – Pen-y-fan – Corn Du

Modified the usual hike that goes straight up from the Cwm Gwdi carpark. Elevation gain 914 m.

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Kilimanjaro 2019

Travel vaccinations

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.

https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/ and https://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/

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.
  • Diphtheria
  • Hepatitis A
  • Yellow fever

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.

Martin McDowell, Kilimanjaro 2019
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Kilimanjaro 2019 Trips and outings

Mt. Viševnik, 2,050m

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.

View of Triglav, 2,863m, from the top of Viševnik

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.

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Trips and outings

Mt. Krim 1,107m

Perhaps not as prominent of a mountain as the other ones you could climb in the alps but a good training ground. Funny enough quite comparable to the Snowdon hike. Krim is 1,107 metres tall and you start the hike from Iški Vintgar at 420m so a height climb of about 750m. The climb from Pen-y-pass (559 m) to Snowdon (1,085 m) is about 526 metres or 817 metres if you start from Llyn Gwynant.

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Mt. Debela Peč, 1,014m

A great hike up a stunning mountain. The drive to the small carpark in the middle of nowhere is an experience in itself. Then you set off up a disused track and end up in a large open area called Klek plateau.
This is where the tricky part comes in, the most difficult part of the trip is the navigation. Trying to find the exit point to the path continuing towards the peaks of Debela Pec and Lipanca.
So if you are wandering it is exactly here: 46°23’41.5″N 13°57’33.8″E. Photo below is from that point.

Then you continue after a lovely forest trail going up and down and a bit around. Stunning scenery.

As you get higher the trees get less dense and you are met with views of the valleys below and the adjacent mountain peaks.

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Kilimanjaro 2019 Motorcycling Trips and outings

Puncture prevented further training

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.

The puncture location after being patched by the AA guy

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.