Arrival in Africa – August 5

Note – our blog posts from Africa were written on paper and transcribed (when we finally got wifi!) at a later date. Thanks to Brad’s wonderful sister for making us an incredible journal to use along the way! The most thoughtful gift ever.

We made it to Africa! After a marathon of travel that included a bus ride to Chicago, a 13 hour flight to Doha, Qatar, a 9 hour layover in Qatar (in a swanky airport lounge without alcohol because of Ramadan), and 8 hour flight to the Kilimanjaro airport, and 2 ambiens each, we are here! We got our visas at JRO customs, then our hotel shuttle picked us up for the 1.5 hour right to Marangu Hotel. Along our drive, we saw lots of stuff, including:
– HUGE turkeys

– Goats
– Cows
– Pubs
Not the animals we were expecting in Africa, but I’m sure we’ll see more as time progresses.
Lots of folks have asked about the really long flight from Chicago to Doha. It went very well. Qatar is really a stand out airline – great food, comfy seats, lighting that’s subdued and wakes you up gradually, very nice employees, care packages with pillow/blanket/sleeping mask/ear plugs/socks/toothbrush, and some interesting television/movie choices :). I would fly them again in a second – it was really great. And the Doha airport was equally impressive. We were very happy that we went with them; I would take this route again in a second. Doha was hot as hades though – you stepped off the plane and felt like someone was suffocating you with a hot, wet blanket. Luckily, we were outside for about 15 seconds total.
Back to Africa. We arrived at Marangu hotel, and were immediately welcomed with open arms. After a lunch of fish and chips and bottled water (that was $11 total), we started packing our day packs and bags for our climb. Dora, who works at the hotel, came by our room to inspect our stuff for the climb and to fill in anything we might have forgotten. Very nice. Then, Nick showed up! The party officially began…
Around 5PM, we had our briefing session with the hotel owner, Desmond. He was very reassuring- talked about what we would experience with altitude, what to expect, and was just very matter of fact but encouraging. At this point, everyone has terrified us by telling us that doing the climb in 5 days is risky, so hearing from him was helpful! We are doing the Marangu route, which has huts to stay in along the way, and sounds like most folks use 6 days to do this due to altitude acclimation. Brad and I are taking altitude medicine (diamox) which makes your hands and feet SUPER tingly, but will hopefully help. Desmond agrees with using diamox, and he knows what’s up
Off to bed – we start our climb tomorrow morning with an easy day. Only 3 hours through the rainforest and we end up at 9,000 feet. Low compared to Kili’s peak (Uhuru peak)!

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