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Review of the route "Climbing Kilimanjaro

Author: Oleg Stepanenko, Chernihiv
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It was a wonderful time when no one believed in Covid, the exchange rate dropped to 23.50 hryvnia per U.S. dollar and everyone was waiting for our next transcontinental flight.

I was to visit Zanzibar for FREE, to make sure that we, in Ukraine, are far from bad and to climb the highest point in Africa!

Happy with the fact that I chose Kuluar

1. The island of Zanzibar
2. Moshi city
3. Climbing

4. Conclusion

5. Am I happy with my choice of the Kuluar?

Two months later. Part 1. The Island.

Already on board the Kenya Airways plane, their music and people with national features in their appearance or clothing give you a sense of this wonderful atmosphere. We flew to Neurobi, on a layover, in soft comfortable seats all night.

At 05:50, in the air, we greeted the sunrise with a view of, most likely, Mount Kenya, a beautiful and symbolic sight. All I remember about the connection is that our plane landed after our next one was due to take off and how I (and the others), sleepy, had some sort of laser “gun” put to my forehead at the airport entrance..

Practical Recommendation 1. Usually the main goal is Kilimanjaro volcano, and accordingly initially most fly to the airport of the same name, closer to the mountain, usually planning to fly after the continent, for an additional fee, to the famous island of Zanzibar, to rest after the mountains and before returning home. Fly to the island right away! The fact is that both for the end of 2019, and today, October 2021, the price of tickets Kiev-Zanzibar + Zanzibar-Kili and back is the same, if not cheaper (today cheaper by $35) than just Kiev-Kili and back. And for Kili – Zanzibar – Kili you will need to add another $ 150-200. I hope this is understandable, and if it helps to save a hundred or two USD, write me a “Thank you” on Instagram @oleh.stepanenko, I will know that the idea came in handy. Plus, I see that now there are direct flights to Zanzibar from Kiev, which is very convenient.
Practical Recommendation 2. On the island itself is a convenient option: manager Kuluar, Marina, gave the contact of a local proven driver, who met at the airport, drove around the island, kept my luggage while I walked around town, showed the house of Freddie Mercury and drove back to the airport. My advice. By the way, there are plenty of police on the roads, and if you’re just laying on the beach for a few days and don’t plan to go around the island, it will be more profitable than taking a car.
Our plane to Zanzibar was dutifully waiting for its passengers. Of course, half, if not more, of the passengers on this flight were from the previous airship. As for the gun, I couldn’t figure out what it was for a long time, but later I saw the back of it. There were numbers on it that looked a lot like a temperature. It was the usual screening with a remote thermometer. Something new. No one suspected that the whole world would close its borders in two weeks.

Вкратце об острове.

In short, about the island. It is definitely worth to visit, at least once in a lifetime. Because of the proximity to the Equator, the greatest tides here that I’ve seen (although it’s more of a minus), it’s amazingly white and fine sand, very warm water. Holiday by the ocean is usually in villages in the north of the island. Recommend to stay 2-3 days in the north and move to another part of the island, change the environment, because longer there is nothing to do. The infrastructure in the village of Nungwi, where I was, is approximately as follows: an asphalt road reaches the stop in the center of the village, that’s all. The first greeting from a local girl was “Jambo. One dollar.” which actually meant “Hey, give me a dollar,” in a begging tone. The local guys love soccer, the team plays an unlimited number of players, somewhere around 20 on 20, with bare feet. In the evening on a public beach rest predominantly locals, there you can easily be offered drugs. As for fruit, there is a choice, but relatively poor. The best choice I have seen in the market in Stone Town, although they say that on the continent there is usually more of them. Despite the minuses, I repeat – I recommend a visit.
P.S. not an expert on Zanzibar, was there, saw something.

Part 2. Moshi.

The driver picked me up on time, a small plane from Air Tanzania took me to the mainland, to Kilimanjaro International Airport, where we met the main group. We were met by a shuttle that was supposed to take us to the town of Moshi. On the way there we had already seen our main target – there she is, a beauty.

What is Moshi like? 200 thousand people, a pretty big town. There are stores, fruit stands, hotels. Here we bought up at the store and the next morning we drove out to the mountain. And there are a couple of other facts that are interesting to talk about..

There were a lot of gnats in the rooms in the morning. Some in particular had a lot. It’s not scary or disgusting, it’s just impressive the amount of them collected from one room by the janitor.

The second, even more surprising fact related to stray dogs. It is better not to show it to children. This is just one single story, it may be different than you might think. And it’s worth taking into account that it’s not just another country, it’s Africa, it’s different people, it’s a different life. Just the following developments, in 2020, impressed me, a city dweller in Ukraine.
On the morning of our departure day, as we were leaving the hotel, we heard a clap. As we walked out of the hotel we had to wonder if it was firecrackers or gunfire. Here in the middle of the city with 200,000 people. What they saw was shocking! Several soldiers with rifles, some kind of patrolmen, were moving away from our hotel. Last night I met some of them, and at first glance they were just keeping order. Now there were 3 dead dogs lying in front of our hotel, with bullet marks. It is a mystery who then cleaned them up, but the soldiers left them and went away, and passers-by did not pay much attention to these dogs. Welcome to Africa! It happens here, that’s all.

Part 3. Ascent

Day 1. Umbwe gate.

Our group was brought by bus to the entrance of the national park. The same, if not more, bus with the porters was following us. Only it broke down on the way, and something was going on, like an overload of porters and stuff on our bus, while we waited for ourselves without hurrying. Once the guys arrived, the process of weighing the cargo, what they were carrying and other paperwork began. It was a day of getting to know those who would accompany us to the summit and back, carrying their stuff, general stuff, and ours as well. This is another amazing, for the picture of the world, observation of what difficulties people go to, earning very little physical labor.

Our route that day was through the jungle, a measured walk, a little rain was replaced by a good climb. We walked lightly (with light backpacks), as we did all the following days, and I don’t know if I overestimated my strength, rushed too fast or what else, but by the end of the day the level of oxygen in the blood dropped, and the headache and general weakness made a difference. I recall that just going to bed was all I wanted to do. And I also recall the attentiveness and concern of the local guides (who also accompanied us). One of them brought food to the tent, it was how unexpected. In my head to ask for it, wanted to eat – went out to the common table, eating. Didn’t come out – not that hungry, that’s all. It is not customary to be weak, and here somehow so. I was grateful, for sure.

We spent the night there, in the jungle, with one instruction – do not leave anything on the street, because monkeys quickly “will do all the legs. They probably didn’t shut up all night either.

Day 2.
In the morning I was relieved, which is actually what I expected. We can go further, now paying more attention to the setting of the guides: “Pole pole”, which means – slower-slower, relative to the pace. The main thing is to walk slowly gaining altitude and gradually acclimatizing.

We came out of the jungle, the vegetation was becoming less and less tall, passing as if different climatic belts. Some plants, fields of these plants, amazing shapes that only here we saw, they are now associated with Kili.

As a rule, when we arrived at the next camp, our tents were already set up and things had been delivered. We ate in a separate tent, at a large communal table with full-fledged folding chairs. Food was prepared by the cook, taking into account the interests of each participant if such a request arose, e.g. if you are a vegetarian.

Day 3.

Just yesterday we came out of the forest, there was nothing higher than the bushes, and when we left the camp, there were only rocks ahead. We had to take out our goggles, because there was no more shade and the weather was clear. Today we climbed the famous “wall” and it was our main aim for the day.

Day 4.

The day of transfer to the assault camp, acclimatization session “above” and to sleep earlier, because tomorrow is the storm! It was not so easy to sleep. The headache that came on the first day strangely gave me peace of mind throughout the day, and returned as soon as I took a horizontal position in the tent. It was a race between being patient and trying to sleep. All of us in the mountains don’t feel as good as we do below, some better, some worse. We all know what we are going for, what awaits us, and again we all can not answer the question, what draws us here again.

Day 5. Assault.

That day, or rather night, the exit, somehow not so much stuck in my memory. I realized it only now. In order, what happened: we got out and went. Long monotonous way one after another, sleepiness, and at the end of it the weather has spoiled. Snow, wind. We moved our feet as best we could, step by step. At one point it became light, but generally no visibility. We are in the “milk.” Experienced guides know where to go, so it seems difficult to get lost here. Consciousness returned when we came to “almost the top”, almost the highest point, which is often enough and finish the route, as I understand it, because part of our group decided not to further torment themselves and fixing this altitude – turned around. The second part has decided to go up to the end.

There was nothing interesting there, except for an internal checkmark “made, for myself” and a photo in front of the appropriate boards at 06:35. I was overwhelmed with emotion. The release of some substances in the blood, probably contributed so much to the joy and great feeling of well-being, that I don’t think I had felt better for a few days! Before this wonderful condition deprived me, one of the attendants and I hurried downstairs.

Half an hour later, we had a great view, but not from the summit, we were below. It’s a shame. At the bottom, the guys surprised us again. At 4000+ meters, on our return from the ascent, they all had passion fruit smoothies and some other fresh fruit. By the way, it was not uncommon to have watermelon on the table as well! Porters even brought that with them.

By lunch, after returning from the summit, we had a long descent down to the last overnight stay in the national park.

Day 6. Going out in public

In the morning of the 6th day, already at a relatively low altitude, in a forested area full of oxygen, everyone slept well and felt good. Ahead of us was the finish line, the exit from the national park, where a bus was waiting for us, a store with beer, which was in great demand, and Wi-Fi.

Finally, the porters all unanimously sang a national song, there was something about the mountains, it was soulful, pleasant, and the mood – LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL.

The bus took us to Moshi, where a closing dinner was planned in one of the local cafes. Memorable photos with local guides, stopped at the hotel, where we took the extra things that were left in storage.

Next the journey, by the same bus followed to Arusha. This point, from which tomorrow started a two-day jeep safari, already in other national parks – now to see the animals in their usual habitat. On the way to Arusha, we were taken to a river where the locals were resting. This place is memorable for two reasons. First, the locals, who live far from the ocean, do not know how to swim. Every one of the campers was in the water with a car tire camera, and there were more than a dozen people there. The second delightful fact, this was the first almost full “shower” or rather “bath” since Tuesday morning, which was Sunday. What a delight it was. The river itself is inhabited by fish, similar to the ones that do peeling, only here they bite not just my feet, but everything in the water. You didn’t have to stand, you had to move, because they were biting (or pinching) quite unpleasantly. In remote corners of the river one could swim up to the bushes where bats were resting upside down. We managed to see and take some pictures of them. In Arusha itself, we managed to get to the market and buy fruit and souvenirs.

Day 7. Return.

I hadn’t planned a safari trip, so I hired a private transfer (cab) to take me to the airport early in the morning. I returned to Zanzibar, from where I flew home in the evening. Spent the free 6 hours between flights in the island’s capital. The aforementioned driver met me at the airport, drove me into town and met me at the specified time to take me back. He kept my stuff in his car, which added to the ease of exploring the city on foot.

Part 4. Conclusion.
At the moment it is one of the most vivid journeys of my life. It can’t be told in text or seen in a video. It is definitely worth the money that was spent on this trip compared to the alternative trips. The budget was $ 3000, including Zanzibar and all of the above, not including Safari, actually where I was not.

Part 5. Am I satisfied with my choice of Kuluar? To begin with, I really wanted to go to Kili. That was the starting point. In the process of searching for who to go with, it turned out that everyone I could go with did not want to go here or this particular spring. The fact that I had gone to Mont Blanc with Couloir before, it was a huge advantage to know who I was going to. As it turned out, the formation of groups had already begun, which I only had to “join”, and everything else would be arranged “turnkey”, and you would be told where and when to be. This solved two issues at once, I had a group and didn’t need to spend time organizing absolutely everything.

Additional financial incentives of course are discounts to regular customers, in the form of 10% and here’s such reviews, for which “pay” $ 100. Definitely, it is more pleasant to pay less for the same thing, but if a person was not satisfied with something, go on such a vacation again, though for half the price – would not.

Thank you for organizing the tour and saving my time. Thank you for the motivation to relive this hike again, putting memories in print. I hope you, the reader, were pleased that you took the time and attention to this story. Thank you for that as well, have a great trip!

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