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Kilimanjaro Factfile

At 19,340 feet, Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa and the only one of the seven summits (highest mountain on each continent) that is accessible without mountaineering equipment and experience.

It's the highest freestanding mountain in the world and one of the largest volcanoes, dormant rather than extinct.

On the summit, the lungs can only absorb half the amount of oxygen compared to sea-level.

The summit at Uhuru Peak is more than 1,600 feet higher than Everest base camp.

Estimates vary, but around 20,000 people attempt to climb Kilimanjaro each year. Almost half fail to reach the summit.

Friday, 17 August 2007


My trip has been in jeopardy for the past two weeks. It's been a deeply depressing time, during which I've been unable to continue with my final travel arrangements in case I'm forced to cancel the whole thing because of the recent outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease in Surrey. There's no way I could leave the farm if the country were to succumb to a repetition of the terrible epidemic of 2001. Apart from the unfairness of delegating responsibility for overseeing the stock to non-farming family members, the movement restrictions cause huge difficulties and extra work when we can't use grazing fields across the road. The work of carting fodder and feed would be comparable to mid-winter, a time of year I wouldn't consider leaving for my trip.

It's now been ten days since the last confirmed case, and I'm allowing myself to be cautiously optimistic enough to book another date for my Yellow Fever vaccination (I cancelled last week because of a heavy cold). If all goes according to plan, I'll be in Tanzania four weeks from tonight.

I've decided to stay overnight with a friend in London, then take the daytime British Airways flight from Heathrow to Nairobi; get a decent night's sleep in a hotel there before taking a shuttle bus to Marangu the following day. The return flight home will be overnight, but that's OK – I need as much rest and sleep as possible before the climb, but it's not so important for the return journey. I considered flying from Nairobi to Kilimajaro airport, but I'd like to travel through Kenya by road again; see how much it's changed since my teenage years. I've never been to Tanzania before, so that part of the journey will be completely new to me. Travelling by road also means no flight transfers, so less excuse for the airlines to lose my precious luggage. I've read too many horror stories of lost trekking kit to risk having to make the climb in borrowed gear. I have no faith in BA's ability to deliver my luggage at the end of the flight, but minimising the risk loads the dice in my favour.

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