Having arrived at our hotel for the night, I’ve finally been able to steal the pen and notepad back from Sean. I can see that this is going to be an ongoing problem.
The flight from Manchester to Doha was comfortable and we watched a couple of films. We had dinner and a glass of wine and, before we knew it, we were only 2 hours away from Doha. I then made the error of taking Doxy (Doxycycline as an antimalarial) without food. I have learnt from numerous previous trips to high risk Malaria areas that, unless I take Doxy with food (and I mean literally half way through a meal) I feel very sick. I have no idea why I chose to take it without food but I spent the last hour and a half feeling like I was going to be sick. Not at all pleasant.
We arrived in Doha just before midnight but despite this, we were still hit by a wave of humid heat as we stepped off the plane and bundled into the sweaty airport transfer bus. Airport security was painless and, after taking a quick photo a Sean with a dinosaur, we found some seats to set up camp for the night as our next flight wasn’t until 7 a.m. Needless to say, neither of s slept very well. Why is it that, even though you have an alarm on, your body won’t let you sleep when you have something important to wake up for in the morning? I managed to have an hour’s sleep on the floor underneath the chairs with a scarf over my head.
Our next flight was from Doha to Dar es Salaam. The flight went really quickly but, unfortunately, I was sat next to a guy who didn’t smell great and who kept elbowing me throughout the six hours we were on that flight. On the other side of me was Sean – what’s that saying again?…oh yeah, stuck between a rock and a hard place! After watching another film and sleeping for a little bit, we were soon landing in Dar es Salaam.
Quite a lot of people got off the plane here but nobody else got on so we had plenty of space to spread out once we set off for Kilimanjaro Airport. Looking around the plane, it was apparent that most of the people who were flying to Kilimanjaro Airport were here to climb the mountain with lots of whispers about walking boots being worn in (or not, as two men were discussing!) and altitude sickness. Listening in to everyone else’s conversations and sensing the excitement in the air made me realise that we are actually about to do this – we are here to climb the highest mountain in Africa! The flight to Kilimanjaro Airport was 45 minutes but it only felt like 5 minutes with fantastic views along the way.
When we stepped of the plane at Kilimanjaro Airport, the heat hit us like a wall – it was so hot! I knew immediately that Sean and his unnaturally pale skin are going to struggle here. Luckily, we had both printed out and completed our visa forms before we left the UK (something I would recommend doing to save time once you arrive in Tanzania, although not essential) so we got through immigration quickly and with minimal fuss, the only difficulty being me trying to stand in the right sport for my photo to be taken at the passport desk. An epic fail on my part in identifying my left and right.
Kilimanjaro Airport is tiny so it didn’t take long at all for our bags to come off the plane and into the luggage collection area. You could actually see the guy picking the bags off the trolley and putting them on to the conveyor belt – the reminds of something that happened in Doha Airport that I forgot to write about earlier. When we got on the plane to Doha I was sat by the window when I saw my bag fall off the trolley as they were putting the bags into the hold. I genuinely thought it was going to get left there so went to tell the air hostess who just looked at me slightly strangely and reassured me that they knew how to do their jobs! (Upon reflection, that probably wasn’t interesting enough to have written down…sorry)
Anyway, back to our arrival at Kili Airport…all of our bags arrived and we were greeted by Fitael (who, admittedly, we called Fritelli for the first three days. He’s even referred to as Fritelli in my handwritten diary but I feel it would be disrespectful to call him by a made up name given that I now know what his name is. Well that, and I don’t want to look like an idiot do I?!) After a quick change of clothes in the back of the huge Land Rover we were ready to set off for Arusha. I was really surprised by how similar Ghana and Tanzania look (I appreciate that it’s quite a generalisation and it may be more accurate to say that Arusha and Accra look similar)
It took the best part of an hour to get to our destination for the night, L’Oasis Lodge, where we have a massive self-contained double room. For some unknown reason we have three beds in the room but I’m not going to complain about that. I’m very impressed with the fact that we have hot water in the bathroom as this is the thing I always miss the most when in Ghana.
We dropped our bags off in our room and headed to the bar to meet Achmed who was already there talking to two guys from Canada who are also here to climb Kili with the same organisation as us (If you’re interested, we organised our trip with Base Camp Tanzania and they were absolutely brilliant)
Achmed bought us all a few beers which was an excellent welcome. We tried Serengeti as well as Safari, the latter being my favourite so far. The food at the Lodge was really good and, on Achmed’s recommendation, we all had some sort of curry. Talking to the other guys who are here to climb Kili has really started the excitement but first we have four days of safari ahead of us.
Climbing into bed after 36 hours of travelling feels like bliss but we have to be up early tomorrow as Fitael is coming to pick us up at 8 a.m. and we need to sort out what we are taking with us and what is being left here. Time to call it a day I think – good night!