A 10-day adventure by Rishi Duggal
  • Day4

    Kilimanjaro - Pre Meeting

    February 8, 2017 in Tanzania ⋅ ☀️ 29 °C

    Today we set off to the Stella Maris hotel which was our meeting point with the rest of the G Adventures group. When our taxi arrived we were greeted by two women that each gave us a very warm embracing hug. At the time we had no idea who they were. They either worked here or were very friendly hotel guests. When we entered the hotel we were given a fresh glass of Mango juice that was so flavoursome and exactly what was needed after sitting in a stuffy taxi.

    Once settled we met up with the other members of our group for an induction meeting. We sat in what looked like a board room and I scanned the room to see who I would be sharing this adventure with. Earlier in the day the four of us were discussing what our group would be like. I think we were hoping that there would be eight girls but the reality was we would be sharing this adventure with six other guys and someone’s girlfriend. Oh well.

    After some introductions and meeting our guides we headed off for dinner. This was going to be our last good meal for a week! Livingstone was our waiter for the day. He was a proper cheeky chappy. I had spoken to him earlier in the day and he was telling me that climbing Kilimanjaro was easy even though he had never climbed it himself.

    Speaking to the rest of the group over dinner it was apparent no one knew what to expect over the next coming days. But we seemed to have a solid group and everyone was quite social which we all needed to be if we was going to get through this.
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  • Day2


    February 6, 2017 in Tanzania ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

    Day 1:

    So after consuming a lot of gin I touched down in the tiny airport that is Kilimanjaro. Immigration was a breeze even though you have to go through four different people which I’m sure could have all been done by one person.

    I had a lovely taxi driver that took me to my hostel. We found common ground by talking about football to which he mentioned that his brother played for the national team and was lucky enough to play against Brazil when they were over for the South African world cup which is pretty cool. I eventually dozed off in the back until we arrived at the hostel.

    I had booked a dorm but the place was so quiet they offered me a private room for the same price which was a great start to the trip. I was ready to crash but I was also starving so I ordered lunch. As expected it took an age for the food to arrive but it was worth the wait. The veg curry I had ordered was just like mum’s cooking.

    After eating I went to bed for a much needed nap. I woke up again at 4pm and had the urge to explore. I took a stroll into town which was a 30 minute walk. As soon as I got into town I was approached by two guys. I read that it was rude not to exchange pleasantries when someone speaks to you so I ended up having a very long conversation which eventually resulted them trying to sell me some paintings. I should have seen this coming but I hadn’t travelled in two years so I was a little rusty. I tried to fob them off by saying I was in town to get money as I had just arrived. Big mistake. They then wanted to show me the nearest ATM which was across the road. So I went with them but I lied that my card wasn’t working and that I needed to head back to the hostel to ring the bank as they have blocked it. This didn’t work the persistent buggers, they insisted that I try the Barclays ATM as this always works with the foreigners. We walked at least a mile and as I didn’t know the town I had no idea where I was being led and if I was going to be mugged. Luckily I saw the blue sign and went in and pulled the same trick. This time I insisted that I needed to get back and sort this issue out with my bank. They looked visibly pissed but such is life. I then walked away and went a different way to avoid them following me. I’m glad this happened as I was still green from not backpacking in such a long time and this was the wakeup call I needed to not be so naive.

    I actually needed money so I found another bank and proceeded to explore the town. Moshi was tiny and I had seen everything in a couple hours and had my bearings. On my way back to the hostel I bumped into the two guys again with a bottle of water in one hand and a packet of biscuits sticking out of my pocket so obviously I had some money to buy this stuff. They asked if I had any money to give them as they were not able to sell anything due to the low season and they needed the cash to get home. I apologised and said I still hadn’t got back to the hostel to speak to the bank and parted ways, phew.

    That evening I ended up eating at this vegetarian Indian restaurant that was highly recommended on Tripadvisor. The food was exactly like mum’s cooking, from the filo pastry samosas to the roti’s. I had eaten a lot in India but the food was never quite like home but my mum was born and raised in Tanzania so it started to make sense that her cooking had a different twist to it.

    Back at the hostel I met one of the guests who was from South Korea. He ended up being an NFL fan and even better a Patriots fan so we instantly hit it off. He was a really interesting guy that was studying Farsi and had spent some time living in Iran. We spent a long time talking about languages and he taught me some basic Swahili words to get by which I am very thankful for.

    Day 2:

    I woke up a little late in the morning and had missed the time for breakfast which was something like 8am. So I thought I’d head to a coffee shop however on my way out the receptionist stopped me and said that they would bring out breakfast for me which was incredibly nice of them. The staff were fairly quiet because I don’t think their English was great but they were lovely and very helpful. I ended up sitting with two American’s called Dave who were planning to climb Kilimanjaro too. One of the Dave’s had a tour company in Tanzania and had been selling Kilimanjaro holiday’s but has never done it himself. We spoke about what we were getting ourselves into but no one had any idea what was in store for us. One of their guides arrived to give them a briefing but I had a chance to chat with him to get some advice. He had climbed up Kilimanjaro for the last ten years so this guy knew what he was doing. The key thing he said was it’s all in the head which is what the guy in the pub said too. I had no idea what this meant but he used the phrase, “love the mountain and the mountain will love you back. If you think of the mountain as torture then the mountain will make you struggle.” So what I got from that was, positive thinking, even if your leg is falling off.

    Whilst chatting to the Dave’s, Rik’s friend Raj arrived. We had spoken a bit on WhatsApp in our Kilimanjaro group but I had no idea how he knew Rik. He had got the same flight as me but a day later so like me he pretty much crashed as soon as he dumped his bag. I thought I’d head back into Moshi and get my caffeine fix. I headed to Café Union and my word this was one of the best coffees I have ever had. It was so unexpected to get a perfectly brewed coffee in Tanzania. They roasted the beans on site so I should have assumed they knew what they were doing.

    Raj ended up meeting me in town and we walked around a bit getting to know each other. He actually knew Rik from his time in Malawi. He went out there to volunteer as an accountant and met Rik at his lodge which was a part of the same company.

    When we got back to the hostel, Rik and his cousin Hiten had arrived. We caught up over dinner then it was time for bed. No one was keen to drink with Kilimanjaro fast approaching.
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  • Day1

    Heathrow Terminal 4

    February 5, 2017 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 5 °C

    So this trip first came about back in August 2016 when my friend Rik messaged me whilst he was in Malawi managing a lodge. I first met Rik at uni but we have only recently become good friends through our mutual love for travelling and hate towards our finance careers. After catching up about his life in Malawi he mentioned that he really wanted to tick another thing off his long bucket list by climbing Kilimanjaro before turning 30 in February. I’m always up for an adventure but I must admit Africa is pretty low down on my list of places to visit as there are so many other places I want to see first. So I asked Rik to keep me posted and I would think about it. Kilimanjaro was mentioned again a few times in our conversations over the next few months but nothing had been booked and I was still being indecisive about where I wanted to travel before I headed to Canada indefinitely in May.

    It’s now December and Rik and a couple of his friends have booked their trip. I was still undecided and annoying myself with my own indecisiveness. But in the end I thought sod it, count me in! I have enjoyed travelling solo for a long time and even though you make some amazing friends along the way it would be nice to go on a trip with someone I know and share the experience. So the idea was to climb Kilimanjaro on a G Adventures tour and then celebrate Rik turning into an old man in Zanzibar. Rik said if I was going to go all that way I may as well spend a few weeks in Malawi to see how he’s been living the last few months so again I thought, why not? I didn’t have anything better to do.

    I didn’t want to read too much into trip as I always prefer to have no expectations and be surprised. But in my head I thought it was fairly easy as all sorts of people have made it to the top (come on Chris Moyles made it). However someone I served in the pub had climbed the mountain many years ago and we spoke for hours about his experience. The main things I took away was, being super fit doesn’t help, walk slowly, altitude is a bitch and most importantly you have to be strong mentally. At the time I had no idea what he meant and I was now nervous as this didn’t sound like a stroll in the park.

    So now I found myself sitting in Heathrow not knowing what I was getting myself into or whether I had the ability to make it to the top.

    On a positive note, Kenyan Airways must of known I was a big gin fan, check out the photo, that's all gin and no mixer! It definitely helped with my nerves.

    As the plane was decending into Kilimanjaro airport, my nose was sticking out of the window to get a glimpse of what I was about to climb. The problem was I didn't know which was the mountain I was going to climb. Every time I saw a mountain another one would appear which would be bigger. I felt so under prepared about this trip.
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