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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.

Thursday, 6 September 2007

Nearly there

Except – I'm behind schedule and last-minute panic is not far away.

Less than a week to go and I'm still trying to work out how much money to take with me, in what currencies, form and denominations. I'm heading for Hereford tomorrow to find the cheapest US $, which are apparently universally accepted throughout East Africa. Cash or travellers' cheques is the main dilemma; travellers' cheques aren't always easy to cash in small out of the way places, and ATM machines are sometimes unwilling to accept overseas cards, as well as being few and far between in Tanzania. Cash, though always acceptable, is risky and bulky to carry, especially in the small denominations I'll need for tips and drinks etc. I've heard it can be difficult to change $50 and $100 notes.

At least I think I now have all the clothing and equipment I'll need. Everything on my packing list has been ticked, except for the chemical handwarmers, which should arrive courtesy of ebay within the next day or so. I intended to buy them from a local outdoor shop, but they've all sold out of last winter's supply and haven't yet stocked up for next winter, so there's been some minor last minute panic buying on line. I've had to order ten for the same price I'd have paid for six in the shop, so I can afford to share them with a fellow frozen climber.

I'm booked into the Hotel Boulevard in Nairobi, which looks overpriced and not particularly enticing, but the shuttle to Marangu will pick me up at the door next morning and the hotel will send a car to meet me at the airport for only a couple of pounds more than the price of a taxi. As I'll be arriving quite late in the evening, I think it's worth the extra peace of mind to know I won't have to run the gauntlet of taxi touts and con artists that prey on unwary new arrivals. I'll only be spending a few hours in the hotel before grabbing an early breakfast, so I'm not too concerned about the facilities or service as long as the room is clean and comfortable.

So, I'm now fully booked, door to door and all the way to the top of Kilimanjaro and down again to the village. Things get a bit hazy after that, for my final three days in Tanzania, but I'll probably decide where to go after taking advice from other climbers and people I meet during the journey. I'm wary of tourist traps, and much as I would love to visit Ngorongoro crater, I have no desire to chase around in a convoy of minibuses, following harassed lions and cheetahs. I like my wilderness experiences to be wild and well away from hordes of chattering fellow tourists.

1 comment:

Abbey said...

Hey, good luck! Be sure to give us a full report when you get home.