Day 1, and 2, and 3 spent at the Planet Lodge in Arusha. No, that's not Kilimanjaro in the background, it's Mount Meru, at 14,977 feet it's higher than Mount Whitney. We should have been going for a warm-up hike on the lower slopes of the mountain on day 2, but we still had only the clothes that we were wearing when we got off the plane and those weren't meant for hiking. Note to self, on future hiking treks the hiking boots and minimal hiking gear will be either on my person or in my carry-on...
So here I am, sitting around the lodge writing in my journal about how Lufthansa, Ethiopian, and Emirates airlines lost and couldn't or wouldn't locate and forward our bags to us. The problem started in San Francisco where Lufthansa said that they could only check our bags through to Addis Ababa where we would have to claim them, go through customs, and then recheck them to Nairobi. All might have gone well if we had flown to Addis as intended, but our connecting flight from Munich to Frankfurt (where we would have boarded an Ethiopian flight to Addis) was cancelled. We were rerouted through Dubai and then on to Nairobi on Emirates, but our bags went to Addis Ababa and stayed there. Like I said, none of the airlines was at all helpful in locating our bags or getting them to us. It took the hard work, perseverance, and incredible generosity of Roseanne, the guest relations manager at the Tribe Hotel in Nairobi, who made many calls and visited the airport on our behalf even after we had checked out of the hotel and moved on to Arusha. Roseanne, you are a saint!
Dave started looking a bit scruffy because his razor was in the checked bags. After a number of ups and downs about locating bags - first the word was that they found only mine (the yellow bag) so Justin (our Kili guide) drove us around Arusha (day 2, the planned Meru warm-up day) so that we could rent some gear for Dave. That evening the word came back that no, it's not the yellow bag it's the black bag - Dave's gear. OK, so the next day (day 3 when we should have been starting the climb) we go out shopping to find gear for me. And as soon as I've bought new gear we get the message that - oh can you believe this - BOTH the yellow and black bags are arriving that afternoon. So just to make sure that the bags didn't get lost en route to the lodge we make the trip to the airport ourselves to claim the bags. Ah, but where's the green bag with all the safari gear? Who knows, but at least we can start the climb the next day.
The climb is truly finally starting, we've signed in at the Landorrossi gate.
Words of warning.
Our crew of 14 porters, 1 cook, and 1 assistant guide met us at the ranger station (18 guys and me).
There's some of the stuff that will be hauled up the mountain for us.
The area around the ranger station and the lower slopes of Kili are very rich farmland and managed forests.
The start point for the actual hiking is about an 8.5 mile drive from the ranger station, a good chunk of it on extremely rutted dirt roads that we would have had to hike if it had been too wet. We're starting at an elevation of about 7800 feet and will hike about 3.2 miles to an elevation of about 9200 feet. (Note about the elevation charts - the times are all 11 hours off because the time shown is Pacific Standard Time - I'm not sure why, the device was showing local time when I was hiking. Some of them also have what appear to be very steep initial climbs, but that's just because the device took a while to find the correct elevation after I turned it on, it always seems to start low.)
Day 1, Lemosho Glades to Big Tree Camp