5 days in Dar Es Salaam and Zanzibar, 9 days around and on Kilimanjaro, 2 days on the road south into Malawi. It's been a wild trip already and I've got weeks to come. I've already taken a dip in the Indian Ocean, watched sunrise from over 19,000 feet above sea level, and spent over 35 hours on various buses. In keeping with my usual format, there are some musings of the Kilimanjaro expedition and subsequent adventures below.
- The Lion King is actually useful research before coming to East Africa. People honestly say "Hakuna Matata" (no worries) and "rafiki" is Swahili for "friend."
- Our Kili trip employed 35 porters, cooks, and guides for 10 hikers. We could hardly believe it took that many, but after our first meal of epic proportions we understood a little better. Especially on day 3 when we lunched at 4300 meters above sea level and they fed us fried chicken. It wasn't the best fried chicken I've ever had, but it was still fried chicken...at 14,000 feet above sea level.
- Our hiking group eventually used the law of averages to get any sort of understanding on what we were doing/where we were going/how long it'd take to get there. We had two guides, each with a different answer each time you'd ask. English isn't their first language and you can tell.
- We went on a pretty basic trip - luxurious for backpacker standards but cheaper than many other outfits. At first we wondered what that extra $1,000 got you, and then we realized at the second campsite that it gets you your own group outhouse instead of sharing with all the other hikers and porters. Nice I suppose, but really a grand for an outhouse??
- I am sure that all the trekking companies summit Kili at sunrise so you don't know what you're getting yourself into as you walk up. Coming down in the daylight it seemed far steeper than I remembered staggering up in the dark...
- Everyone knows the word "yes" but not necessarily the words in your question. I have learned it best to not ask yes/no questions because you'll get an answer, but not necessarily the truthful one.