Saturday, July 28, 2012

Hey ho, hey ho, it's off to climb we go ...

Andre and I left home at 08:00 and arrived at the Gautrain station just in time to see the Gautrain depart so we had to wait for 30 minutes for the next train. Grrr, trains aren't as frequent as they are during the week.  Andre had never been on the Gautrain so I think it was a pleasant surprise for him.  We arrived at ORT, wrapped out bags with clingwrap and then met some of the other members of the party.  There was Simon, a friend of  Andre's from the UAE, Arthur from Johannesburg and Shirley and Cronje from the Freestate.  Andre obviously does this travel thing a lot because he somehow forged ahead and was through immigration way before me and ended up waiting on the other side for me to catch up.  Immigration wanted to see my yellow fever card which was a bit unusual, they normally only want to see it on entry into the country and not on exit.  I think they just wanted to make sure that I actually had one in preparation for re-entry after the holiday.

Boarding of the flight was uneventful as was the flight and before we knew it, we had arrived at Nairobi airport which I have been to several times so we whiled away the time at the java cafe and chugged back a few tusker beers which I rather enjoyed.  There was one guy at the bar that kept trying to catch my eye, who knows what for so we moved down to the gate and sat down next to a french family who were nattering away in french unaware that both Andre and Simon can speak it.

We boarded Precision Air bound for Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) after a few more tuskers, most of them consumed by Simon.  We flew past Kilimanjaro on the right as the sun set behind it which was rather picturesque.  As we were looking out at the mountain, Andre said "There's Kili" to which I replied "Nah, can't be" but it was and it is a rather impressive chunk of rock.

On landing we had to apply for a visa, get the visa issued and then have the visa checked.  That would be three separate queues which was very time consuming especially with the visa issuing official typing with two thumbs and the power failure obviously didn't help but it all worked in the end.  It was comical from my point of view looking at Andre getting more and more exasperated with the inept official but he managed to keep it in and we emerged from the arrivals with our baggage which was a relief to meet the rest of the party.  Marita and her son Petrie who had just graduated as a qualified doctor.  Lots of joking around about Arthur and Simon spooning in their hiking tent which was very amusing since Arthur is 6'7" and Simon is 5'7".

We found the bus and driver and a bumpy hour later and a few close shaves with death, we arrived at Springlands hotel which is obviously a hot spot for Trekking.   Arthur had to tell the driver to cool it at one point when we had just missed a head-on collision.  Arriving at Springlands we had a short welcome introduction before we were off to unpack before supper.  Most people didn't eat the chicken and prawns on offer because everyone was a little worried about getting sick.  Arthur dispensed Travelan which is an anti-diarrhoea pill to everyone; I think he brought enough of it for it to be his primary food source for the entire trip.

Good to have arrived at last and the temperature is great, nice and cool.  I had a bit of a headache which I think was caffeine withdrawal and once we had redone all the packing ready for walking the next day it was sleep time.

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