Tanzania 2004
August / Sept

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Mountain Hardwear   

Waterfall - Arusha

This trip was a series of happy accidents that began with free red wine at the Snowbird Ski Resort in Utah .  We were at a fund raising event for the Utah Avalanche Center where the top auction item was a deluxe trip up Kilimanjaro, the highest point of the African continent.  As there is a lot involved with taking a trip like this, nobody was bidding on the item and the price was rapidly dropping.  By the time it reached one third of its starting value with no bids, an awkward silence had filled the room.  After someone finally placed the first bid, it looked like the auction might be over, until suddenly Polly piped up with a marginally higher bid in hopes of getting the auction back on track.  It didn’t work.  Moments later, the auction was called to a close, with Polly being the winner. It looked like we were going to go to Africa

As a skier and cold weather person, Africa was not high on my list of places to go, but the more I learned about it, the more excited I got.  Polly’s mom, Judy, provided frequent flyer miles which took the bite out of the airfare and made the trip seem much more feasible.  Once you get to Africa , things are fairly cheap, but getting there is not.

Our first objective was to climb Kilimanjaro via the Machame/Mweke route.  This is also know as the “ Whiskey Route ” due to its premium location, verses the “Coca Cola” route, which is the most direct, but less aesthetic.  As Kili is a national park, guides and a support staff are required for all climbers. Having always carried my own food, tent, supplies and gear up mountains, it was a new experience to just walk with a light backpack and be served fresh watermelon at 15,000’, but one I could get use to.

The climb itself was more of a botanical hike, but a very good one at that.  It’s completely non technical, with the crux being the thin air of the 19,340’ summit.  We threw in an extra day to acclimatize, which brought our roundtrip total up to seven days.  Arriving at the summit at 5:20am, we waited a half hour or so until the sun rose over East Africa in a magnificent orange fireball that cast deep purple, blue and pink light over the entire upper flanks of the peak.  Inspired by the moment, I proposed to Polly and we began the hike back down as a newly engaged couple.

The famous savanna grounds of Tanzania lie near the base of Kilimanjaro, so our next venture was to head out on a seven day safari.  These animal preserves are all in close proximity to each other, so we were able to visit five of them in a short period.  Each is slightly different, but equally impressive.  The animals are all very accustomed to sight seeing Land Cruisers and we were able to drive to within easy viewing distance of over 50 species, including cheetahs, leopards, lions, zebras and many warthogs.

The last stage of our stay in Tanzania involved flying over to the island of Zanzibar on the east coast.  This island has a rich multicultural history and is known for its spices as well as being a holding area during the slave trade.  Nowadays, it is more of a holding area for the tourist trade, with perfect white beaches, warm weather, seafood and a relaxing atmosphere.

To break up the 28 hour return flight, we extended our lay over in Amsterdam by a few days and had a chance to check out this amazing city.  Quite a cultural change from Tanzania !  The shipping museum, city biking, art history and great food combined to make this stay seem far too short.

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Maasi Giraffe

Arusha Nat Park

Cheetah - Serengeti

Coffee beans

Market - coffee

Lion pride



Dhow - Zanzibar