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Africa.  The dark continent.  Familiar but loaded words: Serengeti, Wildebeest, Safari, Kilimanjaro. Strange and exotic beasts roaming acacia-dotted savannah. Or in music, like the group Toto sings in their song Africa, "...Kilimanjaro rising like Olympus above the Serengeti….".

The idea of climbing Kilimanjaro first germinated among us many years ago. I'd been climbing relatively easy peaks in the US and Canada with the likes of Andree and Brian. The comfortable, safe, familiarity of North America grows on you - but then so does your curiosity about other, more far away lands. More exotic, more interesting... and perhaps also more dangerous. Lands full of mystique by virtue of their histories, legends, and remoteness. Such was the case with the whisperings of climbing to the "roof of Africa".
As seems typical with large-minded trips like this one, it was tough to get rolling. Although first pondered maybe five years ago, it was only last year, in 2004, that things got serious. I think the procedure is for there to be two or three half-hearted attempts at organization (which invariably fail) before the realization that serious effort of will is going to be required before such a trip is going to happen. So, last January, I placed a stake in the sand and we (mainly Caroline, Brian, Shannon, and myself) convened a series of meetings, culminating in an actual set of times and objectives.

Throughout the course of the year participants came and went. I've noticed that when planning trips, there is always an abundance of enthusiasm, which, when tempered with various hard realities, distills out most people. In the end, fortune dealt us six participants: myself, Caroline, Pu, Peter, Markus, and Yi.

Now, six is actually quite a good number. A few noteworthy absentees, however, deserve mention. Both Shannon and Brian had their hearts absolutely set on going. In fact, Brian was one of the major proponents of this whole expedition. Shannon found that work commitments conspired against her, and Brian had a bit of unfortunate and ill-timed luck with his health that prevented him from going. Jenn had initially been unsure of her place on this type of expedition, but that changed as she got to know our group and got her trekking legs. Unfortunately, it was too close to the trip by that time. In any case, I resolved to make sure that I did not forget about them, and to me all three of them were there in spirit as we climbed the mountain.
Major stops on our Journey
Our trip planning was conducted over the course of many months. I won't repeat the details here. In summary, our itinerary consisted of: one day in Nairobi, 8 days of climbing on the mountain, 4 days on Safari, and 2 or 3 floater days (we thought that perhaps we might visit Zanzibar if we felt like it at the time).

If you are interested in the full details and record of the trip planning, please click here, and you will be directed to the page with all of the trip planning, in meticulous detail.
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[ Kilimanjaro trip home page | The main trip report | Real-time Trip Updates | Chombo & his men | Wildlife Extravaganza | Spotlight on the Maasai | Exotic Spice Islands of Zanzibar | Route Descriptions | Maps, Graphs & GPS Data | Audio & Video Repository | A Contrasting Tragedy | Markus' Report | Trip Preparations ]

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