Kilimanjaro

Elaine, Pat, and I climbed Kilimanjaro, reaching the summit on 1/11/11. We climbed the Rongai Route, so our ascent was from the north of the mountain and our descent was to the south. The diversity of landscapes and habitats on different parts of the mountain was impressive.

I created a map of the route and added some of our photos to it. If you have Google Earth installed, download this file. Otherwise, you can view the map in your browser here. Click on each of the icons to see pictures of our climb.

Sights of Northern Tanzania

Pat and Elaine decided to visit me in Northern Tanzania, where our main destinations were Ngorongoro Crater and Kilimanjaro. We were also able to visit the towns of Arusha, Moshi, and Mto-wa-Mbu (Mosquito Village). Mto-wa-Mbu was especially enjoyable. We had the opportunity to learn about the wood carving of Mozambican immigrants and try the traditional banana beer of the Chagga people (it tasted kind of like beef jerky to me).

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Lions of Ngorongoro Crater (Graphic Pictures)

The best part of our time in Ngorongoro Crater was getting up close and personal with two brother lions. They had killed a wildebeest right next to the road, providing a rare opportunity to view their feeding. Our excellent guide, Justin, who has helped coordinate National Geographic shoots in the Serengeti, was so impressed that even he took some pictures with his phone. Though we didn’t see the kill happen, it was fascinating to watch the resulting drama unfold throughout the day.

The power of the lions tearing apart the wildebeest carcass was awe-inspiring. They were lucky enough to get two meals in one, since the wildebeest was pregnant. As the lions fell into food-induced naps, the circling hyenas would slowly close in. Sometimes the lions would stir, leading the hyenas to initiate a charade of walking by with no interest in the carcass. On two instances, the hyenas were able to get up to the carcass and start feeding, only to be chased off again by one of the brother lions. We were hoping to stay long enough to watch the circling vultures land, but the lions were too reluctant to leave their prey.

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Ngorongoro Crater

Ngorongoro Crater

Ngorongoro Crater

We spent two nights at the Simba campsite in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The number, variety, and accessibility of animals inside the crater was astounding. Within twenty four hours, we saw baboons, ostriches, hyenas, warthogs, jackals, zebras, wildebeest, elephants, a black rhino, flamingos, hippos, a leopard, and two amazing lions. The looming crater walls were an amazing backdrop, especially with rainclouds and a rainbow. When we returned to the campsite, a couple of elephants joined us and started drinking from the water cistern.

Special thanks go to Krisha African Safaris for arranging the amazing trip to the Crater, our Kilimanjaro climb, and our tour of Mto-wa-Mbu.  It seems that many other tour operators do either safaris or climbs, and it would have been inconvenient for us to have to deal with separate companies.  Krisha Safaris took care of it all, using their professional contacts across the industry to design a customized trip for us.  We appreciated the personalized service (airport pickups at the different airports we arrived at, briefings, and debriefings, all by the CEO) and look forward to trying one of their Serengeti hot air balloon safaris on our next visit.

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