trip was a series of happy accidents that began with free red wine
at the Snowbird Ski Resort in
. We were at a fund raising
event for the
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
a skier and cold weather person,
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
, things are fairly cheap, but getting there is not.
first objective was to climb Kilimanjaro via the Machame/Mweke route.
This is also know as the “
” 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.
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.
famous savanna grounds of
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.
last stage of our stay in
involved flying over to the
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
break up the 28 hour return flight, we extended our lay over in
by a few days and had a chance to check out this amazing city.
Quite a cultural change from
! The shipping museum, city
biking, art history and great food combined to make this stay seem far
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