We just got back from almost 3 weeks abroad. First, we spent 3 days in Amsterdam. We did a lot of time walking around the city. We toured the Van Gogh Museum, took a boat ride through the canals, and the highlight was Preston got to play poker in the casino.
We then flew to Kilimanjaro airport to start our trek in Tanzania. We met half of our group at the airport and drove an hour to the hotel in Moshi.
We spent the following day getting gear ready and then left for the Kilimanjaro National Park the next morning. The picture below is our full group that would do the climb and a map of the route we took (Machame).
The first day we climbed through a rain forest almost 4000 feet over 7 miles to the first camp at Machame Hut.
The 2nd day we climbed 5 miles and 2500 feet to Shira Hut. Most of the climb was a steep rocky trail that put us on a plateau above the clouds. I led a short yoga session to relief the aches in the joints.
The next day, we only had a 3 mile hike but the goal was to get us acclimatized. To do this, we climbed to over 15,000 feet elevation and then dropped back down to 13,500 feet at Barranco Hut. We passed by a stone feature called the Lava Tower. Preston couldn’t resist climbing it. I started up with him only to be caught by a guide that took him all the way up while I rested in the sun on a rock.
When we arrived at Barranco Hut, it was beautiful. We got a quick yoga session in and then Preston and I played frisbee. The next day was a short 3 miles to the Karanga Valley. The trail was rolling with a total climb of 1000 feet and a decent of the same.
Three of us separated from the main group and arrived in the valley in a dense fog. After about 30 minutes of wandering around, we found our camp site. The next morning we had the task of climbing the Barranco Wall. The wall is a rock face that the trail winds up. It’s basically class 3 scrambling for 1000 vertical feet. We needed to climb 2300 feet in total, but the distance was only 3 miles to the next camp at Barufu Hut.
We arrived at high camp, Barufu Hut, after climbing 2300 feet over 3 miles. The camp is on a steep slope so the tents had to be placed right next to each over. The following day we were leaving around 1am to try and reach the crater rim by sunrise.
The climb through the night went well. It wasn’t as cold as I expected and we moved well until about 17000 feet. We started to slow then so I put on my parka since I was cold. We arrived at Stella Point (rim) around 7:30am. Preston did great but he was a little light headed due to the altitude. We took the short walk around the rim to the high point of 19341 feet.
12 years ago I took a rock from the summit and gave it to Preston. His job was to put it back.
Because we slowed down, there were 2 members of our group that left earlier that were already on their way down and absent from this picture.
We hiked down to camp, had lunch, packed up, and hiked a few miles to the last camp. Preston and I played frisbee.
The last view of the mountain. Preston and I separated from the group and shuffled the 8 miles down to the gate. It took us a little over 3 hours to drop 7000 feet.
We tipped the 40+ people that carried our stuff, showed us where to go, and cooked our food. The next day we flew to the Serengeti for a safari.
After landing, we drove around for an hour or so and saw many animals. We then went to a temporary lodge that was comprised of several communal tents and then a tent for each of the guests. While it sounds rustic, every tent had running water, a toilet, and shower. The first night, I woke Preston up around 5am since there was a herd of zebra right outside our tent.
After spending two nights in the tents, we drove to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area which is a large crater that many animals flock to.
We saw an amazing amount of animals and birds. The great thing was one of the people in our group was an amateur photographer and with Preston’s young eyes spotting, we didn’t miss much. I added a gallery of the best animal shots below. The last night was spent in a 5 star resort halfway to the airport. The following day we left around 9pm for our long journey back to the US.