Day 2 & 3: Sunday 29th & Monday 30th September 2019
6:15am/4:15am UK time – Aishi Hotel, Moshi, Tanzania.
What an eventful couple of days. This really has turned into a magical mystery tour. We boarded the flight on Saturday and this time it actually took off. It was a very pleasant flight. We were separated out – probably because they had to squeeze us on at the last minute. The food was really good and just kept coming. Up to now we have been fed so much that I for one won’t be losing any weight. We arrived in Doha on time and were met by a Qatar Airways rep holding up the name of a member of one of our group.
I spent a second night in a hotel paid for by Qatar Airways, The Century Inn Hotel, which was not actually at the airport but in Doha itself. We arrived at the airport at 12:15am, had to get through (very strict) security, obtain a visa and were then whisked off in a taxi.
It was very interesting being driven through a Middle Eastern city in the dark. The main thing was the heat. It was about 35C – like an oven as soon as you walked into it. At this hotel I set my alarm for 3 hours 9 mins of sleep as we had to leave at 6am. The room was pretty standard but had a washing machine, a freezer, a hob and pots and pans!
I actually had about 2 hours of quality sleep which was great. Breakfast was handed to us in a polystyrene container. It comprised of a hard boiled egg, 2 bread/cake things and a rotten apple. I ate the lot apart from the apple and then regretted eating the egg. We were handed our container in a strong plastic bag which I thought would be useful for keeping things dry in my rucksack on the mountain, not so, I later learned.
Another pleasant flight to Kilimanjaro International Airport. The flight then went on to Tanzania’s biggest city Dar es Salaam (which is not the Capital I now know). More food on the plane – a delicious banana and chocolate soufflé which was like a bread and butter pudding for “breakfast”, then within two hours a delicious veg lattice roll.
Kilimanjaro airport was somewhat of a contrast to Doha. Whereas Doha is all blitz and bling (Harrods, Aston Martins etc) Kili was very basic. It was a pleasant 28C, the heat was dry unlike the humidity of Doha. We were directed to use alcohol gel as soon as we were off the plane and we all had to fill in forms on arrival.
I had worried about the visa situation before setting off; I had managed to get a visa but it was very last minute. I now know I could have got a visa at the airport without any bother! The queues were long and the equipment basic (computers etc) but they still took our fingerprints and a photo. Immigration took ages; I was the last in the queue.
The wifi at the airport was good so I was able to wish my son Sam a happy 13th birthday. After a half hour wait and a group photo opp, we were collected by a driver from Ahsante Tours in a rather decrepit minibus.
The drive to the Aishi Hotel Machame took about half an hour. Even over that short drive the landscape changed from flat plains to lush green with lots of banana trees. On the plains there were quite a few people dressed in traditional Masai clothing. There were a lot of goats, some donkeys and cattle. The roads were all tarmacked and they drive on the left. I noticed how well dressed everyone was, then realised it is Sunday and people had probably been to church.
We arrived here about 4.45pm, to be met by very helpful porters who carried our bags. The room at the hotel is very comfortable, they even have 3 pin UK plugs – I didn’t need to bring an international plug after all!
The hotel has a pool; unfortunately we didn’t get time for a dip. On arrival we were presented with a really nice fruit drink called Hibiscus. I had more of these drinks over the course of the evening. I didn’t have any Kilimanjaro beer as I have been tee-total for 4 weeks.
Lee, the leader from the UK tour company met with Jimmy, the Tanzanian guide from Ahsante Tours. We were then given a briefing in which it was explained that one day of the trek would be cut out midweek as our total time had been reduced from 6 ½ to 5 ½ days. This was considered the best way to achieve the same level of acclimatisation to the altitude.
My main fear is the cold. I have been in touch with someone before I came who said that the only time she got cold was when they did a short walk and had lots of free time. It actually suits me not to have much free time and to keep moving as much as possible.
Dinner (yes food talk again) was fantastic. A delicious veg stew and rice, butternut squash soup, gorgeous salad and a “special” chocolate cake.
An early bed and hairwash (no hairwash for at least the next 5 days). I didn’t sleep too well but it is now 7:15am and I feel fine. We are setting off for Machame Gate at 8:15am. We need to get the permits, have our bags weighed and hopefully start walking at 11am.
I forgot to say earlier, plastic bags are banned in Tanzania. I had to bin the one from the hotel in Doha at the airport. I have loads in my rucksack to keep my stuff dry. I’ll keep these hidden as I don’t fancy being arrested for plastic bag violations!
Breakfast now, wonder what it will be…
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