Thursday, December 31, 2015

Ngorongoro Crater - New Years Eve

The alarm to wake Emy and Eric didn’t go off so we got a slightly later start closer to 7am with Shange.  Getting down to the crater floor early was the best bet to see the most animals before they bedded down or went to shade in the warmer afternoon.  We made sure to pay our bar tab before leaving the lodge (Eric even got tracked down by someone who thought he was dining and dashing!).  After a great breakfast we were on the crater rim road and then headed down into the ancient caldera, with just a quick sign in at the entrance gate.  

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Ndutu to Ngorongoro Crater

After packing up and another great breakfast we were back with Shange on Safari checking out tawny eagles, kites, wildebeest, elephants, and a lot of giraffes.  We were on our last morning game drive around Chaka camp before a long drive to Rhino Lodge and the Ngorongoro Crater.  We spent a lot of time in the morning off-roading looking for leopards to no avail.  What we did find was a mother cheetah with two of the cutest kittens we’d ever seen.   We pulled up with several other vehicles and watched them playing with each other and tackling their mom’s tail playfully for over half an hour before moving on.  Simply adorable. 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Full Game Drive in Ndutu

Today we awoke to staff politely waking us up saying “your showers are ready”.  After warm showers I grabbed my GoPro outside which thankfully wasn’t stolen by a monkey thief.  We grabbed all the batteries we had been charging overnight and headed to breakfast to meet up with Eric and Emy, passing by two big giraffe grazing on nearby trees.  We also saw a couple big hot air balloons sailing by in the distance headed towards the Serengeti. 

Monday, December 28, 2015

Tarangire to Ndutu and the Serengeti

We awoke early to a beautiful sunrise over the park and to small miniature deer-like critters called Dik Dik milling around outside our tent.  They sure are curious looking little guys!  We had just enough time to pack up and have a wonderful breakfast of beef, bacon, omelettes and of course wonderful fresh fruit juices before Shange picked us up at 7:30am for our morning game drive.  

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Tarangire National Park

After a nice breakfast we were picked up from the Arusha Hotel at around 9am by Duma.  We were expecting to see Raymond but instead an older man named Shange showed up.  We really liked Raymond from our experience with him from Mama Anna’s and Shange said he was asked to take us even though he had literally just come off a safari with other clients so I we were worried he was angry and it wouldn’t be a happy experience with us.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Kilimanjaro - Mweka Camp to Gate and then back to Arusha

Today was our last day on the mountain.  We were awoken around 7am with hot water and tea as usual and of course had a wonderful breakfast delivered to us by Humphrey whom I gave my tent lantern to as a gift for being so good to us (there’s wasn’t very good).  After breakfast we had a group photo with the entire expedition and conducted the tipping ceremony.  

Friday, December 25, 2015

Kilimanjaro - Summit Day - Christmas Morning

Today was one of the toughest days of my life.  We awoke at 11pm after about 3 hours of restless sleep and began to get ready for our summit bid.  It was incredibly cold out and much breezier than it had been when we went to bed.  The plus side was that there was definitely a full moon right above us and it was crystal clear without a cloud in the sky!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Kilimanjaro - Karanga Valley to Barafu (Basecamp for Summit Day) - Christmas Eve

Today was another very short day.  We got an early start from camp around 8:30am and began heading up towards our summit Basecamp at Barafu where we would eat lunch.  All morning we were hiking under the hulking mass of the Uhuru Peak above us with glaciers spilling down its sides towards us.  

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Kilimanjaro - Barranco Camp to Karanga Valley

Today was one of our shorter days thankfully.  I think we were all pretty spent from the climb and altitude of the previous day so this was a welcome change for us.  Although, it was a shorter day and we would actually eat our lunch at the next camp it was the day with the steepest climb for us… mainly Eric, who doesn’t do well with heights.  

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Kilimanjaro - Shira Camp to Barranco Camp

Today was an extremely long day starting with a very early start and a beautiful sunrise.  As usual Mike checked both our O2 blood content as well as our heart rates to see how we were doing after a night at 12,500 feet.  We were all fine except Emy was a little concerned about her high heart rate.  As we left camp we had amazing views of Kilimanjaro above us but within an hour the clouds had once again engulfed the peak.  

Monday, December 21, 2015

Kilimanjaro - Machame Camp to Shira Camp

Today was considered a very steep but short day of climbing up from Machame Camp to Shira Caves Camp.  Emily and I have had weird sleep patterns since we arrived in Tanzania, often waking up super early at 5am and not being able to get back to sleep.  Oddly, we've also been dead-tired at around 8 or 9pm every night so we are sleeping ok but our schedule hasn't adjusted yet.  

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Kilimanjaro - Machame Gate to Machame Camp

On Saturday night we had a pre-climb meeting with Emanuelle, one of our guides (Mike was the other) at the African Tulip.  He described to us that the climb would be easy if we had the right gear, ate well, and drank enough water.  The rest of the night we spent packing.  I also got the most sincere and loving email of thanks from Shukuru that I'd ever received.  I hope to possibly help her visit America in the future.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Mamma Anna's Cultural Tour

Today we were picked up by Raymond again at 9am from the African Tulip after we enjoyed one of the biggest complimentary hotel breakfasts I'd ever seen.  We drove a quick 45 minutes out of town to the Ndatu Village, picking up our guide Shukuru along the way.  This was to be our cultural day in Tanzania and we honestly expected it to be sort of a "show" for tourists like us so we kept our expectations low.  We couldn't have been more wrong.  Read on by clicking the title.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Flight to Tanzania

36 hours after leaving our house in Portland we arrived at the African Tulip in Arusha, Tanzania.  The trip involved a 2.5 hour drive to Seattle, and nearly 20 hours of flying time through Washington DC, Adis Ababa, Ethiopia, and Mombassa, Kenya, then an hour drive from the Kilimanjaro Airport to Arusha.  Read on.... 

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Cynthia Visiting

My mom had been wanting to visit all fall but the only time we could work it out was the first week of December before we scrambled to get ready for Africa.  It was just a quick visit from Thursday to Tuesday and we didn't plan anything elaborate.  Picking her up from the airport we were surprised to see that she had actually taken my advice for once and went natural grey instead of dying her hair.... We almost missed her at the airport!