Climbing Kilimanjaro are Laura, Beth and Beth's cousin Bob O'Brien. Please see our Kilimanjaro album in the photo gallery for more pictures.
Our guides and porters singing to us at the end of the climb
Back from Safari in Tanzania
For more photos from Tanzania's game parks check out our "Safari in Tanzania" album in photo gallery.
Laura, Beth and Beth's cousin Bob O'Brien had a seven-day expedition unlike anything any of them could have dreamed up, or, after the fact, imagined they had done. If not for our remarkable support crew of some of the strongest, kindest, and most resourceful men we've ever come across, we wouldn't have gotten very far. We also wouldn't have gotten to experience the generosity of spirit and consideration of Tanzanians. Our Masai warrior camp manager brought hot chocolate to our tent each morning to warm us up for a day that could range from five to eight hours on the trail and some 2,000 feet or so of elevation gain. When we were tired, these young men would carry our packs, encourage us to drink and eat, tell us stories of past climbs and raise our hopes. As a result we got to see this incredibly beautiful landscape of the largest free-standing mountain in the world, the result of three volcanic erruptions over 46 million years ago. They were part of the "Rift Valley" creation, which extend from the Red Sea through much of Africa and where the earliest remains of human life have been discovered. Seeing Kilimanjaro it is really hard to imagine how tremendous this geological event really was. Enroute to Kibo Camp, our base, we met people from all over the world (though Germans seem to lead the way), saw remarkable plant life and walked through many botanical zones from rain forests into increasingly sparse landscape until as we crunch through the red volcanic rock it felt as though we might as well have been on Mars. While we were sweating at the beginning of the hike, by the time we were at our second to last camp we awake to an ice shell that had formed on our tent. Needless to say, we tried to get to our nearby chemical toilet, dubbed by our crew as the "Internet Cafe" as quickly as possible. We were led all the way by the incomparable Ayubu, a young man of remarkable endurance, patience and an understanding of the human psyche. He tended to us both by challenging us when needed, and being tender when we needed solace. At the end of the day, those were the things we will all take away from our adventure as the most value. As to the final day, Laura had a bad bout of altitude sickness, and so with her great common sense, descended with our assistant guide as well as a cook to a lower camp where she could recover. Beth and Bob headed up the steep scree slope that seemed to ascend to heaven, though at times it felt like hell. As the sun began to rise over Africa, the three guides broke into Amazing Grace in Swahili. We inched our way to the rim of the crater, some 18,600 feet.. Bob and I looked into the snow packed crater in a sublime moment shared by cousins. Bob was running a little low on oxygen, and began his descent. Beth followed Ayubu for another hour and a half or so up to the summit, Freedom Peak in English, where the Tanzanian soldiers carried the flag of their new nation in 1961. As we arrived, I certainly felt free (and very tired).
We are now enjoying a far more relaxing safari - marvelous animals!
Arusha National Park
A mother baboon grooms her baby in Arusha National Park. From our Land Cruiser we saw wild animals eating, grooming, sleeping and otherwise going about their daily lives in the grasslands and jungles of the park.
For more photos look at the Mt. Kilimanjaro album in the photo gallery.