BootsnAll Travel Network



The End

February 28th, 2006

This is pretty much the end of this blog. My quest for beer was successful. I found some good beer to drink and some cool people to drink it with. The entire trip was absolutely amazing!  The people on the trip were very interesting and I think everyone made some lasting friendships.  Our lead guides Nickson and Freddy did an amazing job.  Nickson’s company (Masai Giraffe Safaris) is well run and I would recommend them to anyone.

Boots-n-All guide Donovan, the leader of our troop, also did an amazing job (along with help from his cohorts, Sean and Court). Tanzania is an incredible place. The wildlife and culture will leave you wanting more and climbing to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro is a challenge that (summit or not) you will remember for the rest of your life. If you’re thinking of a trip like this, please read my blog – it should give you a good idea of what you’re getting into (and be assured, the discomforts, the worries, the physical stress, are all worth it). So get off your butts and go!

Here is a link to the beginning of this blog. Remember, chronological order is from bottom to top as you scroll through the blog entries – enjoy!

Chuck

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Warm Hands 101

February 17th, 2006

Hiking up Kilimanjaro can be cold.  It can be windy.  It can be cold and windy.  You have a lot to worry about during your trek, so it’s always nice to try and eliminate as much of that worry as possible before setting out.  Staying warm and dry on the mountain is a must!  You will see people with the most advanced warm weather gear that exists!  This is good, however, one must remember that the only way to be completely confident with your gear is to test it out yourself.  Being from Minnesota, I have had the chance to test gear in some of the worst conditions possible.  Through trial and error (mostly error), I have come up with a pretty good system for staying warm and dry.  So, I thought I’d share some of this information with you. 

It gets cold here in Minnesota! Damn cold.  It gets so cold that sometimes we shouldn’t even think of going outside.  However, the urge to go fishing, skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, bow hunting, play hockey, working on a Saturday to replace a frozen watermain in -15 deg. F. temperatures, etc… cannot be ignored.  Thankfully, with the technological advances in cold weather gear, this has become a much warmer, if not safer, prospect.  While dressing from head to toe in proper gear is important, I am going to focus specifically on the hands.  You may think you need to pay $100 for a good pair of gloves or mittens to stay warm.  This is not necessarily true.  The system that works for me (though everyone is different) costs less than $20 and can be found at most hardware stores (at least up north) or at Menards, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Mills Fleet Farm, L&M Fleet Supply, etc…

First, start with a very thin pair of glove liners made of a synthetic material (cost about $5).

Glove Liner

These should fit snug to your hands.  This ensures the maximum skin contact which is key for wicking away moisture.  Also, when rubbed together, these liners produce a lot of friction and heat.  Another good thing about the snug fit is that it allows you to conduct tasks that require some dexterity, such as baiting a hook, zipping up/down various articles of clothing, opening a candy bar wrapper, etc…  They are also somewhat absorbent for that constant runny nose that usually comes along with cold weather. 

Second, wear mittens! Most extreme weather activities only require you to hold on to something (a trekking pole, ski pole, fishing pole, ice axe, handle bar, or beer bottle).  Mittens hold in your body heat much better than gloves.  You can wiggle your fingers together, thus creating friction and heat.  There is better heat transfer from your palms (which are usually warm) to the finger tips, and I think you can grip tighter with mittens than with gloves.  There are many styles and price ranges of mittens.  The pair that I have chosen are cheap (although not waterproof – but we’ll get to that in a minute), fleece lined, deer hide mittens that cost around $12 (some even have a patch of fleece on the back of the hand for wiping your nose).

Chopper

While not waterproof, the heat from your hands along with the absorbent fleece keeps things dry, and it usually isn’t going to be that wet in extreme cold.  The deer hide (or other animal or artificial leather material) is tough and allows the hands to breath, so as not to collect moisture inside the mitten.  (Snowboarding may require waterproof mittens due to the constant hand dragging, but then you run the risk of wetness due to sweating).  Another good thing about the fleece is that it holds heat well.  Therefore, you can take your mittens off for short periods of time to do whatever it is you have to do and they will still be warm when you put your hands back in.  If it gets really cold, you can drop in those chemical hand warmer packets.

Hand Warmers

These things cost less than a $1 and will last for at least a few hours (even at high altitudes). 

Again, it is best to test out your own gear before relying on it to stay warm, but I think this system is a great start in keeping your hands warm on the most extreme adventures.  Enjoy!

Chuck

 

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Recap – More Photos 3

February 12th, 2006

Here are a couple of scenes from the landrover.

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Here we are piling in the Landrovers at the start of our safari!

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Recap – More Photos 2

February 12th, 2006

Hello, here are some more photos from the trip.  This was dinner at Barranco Camp.

Dinner at Barranco Camp

Hiking up Barranco Wall

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Somewhere near the top of Barranco Wall

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This was along the hike to Karanga Camp

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Morning at Karanga Camp

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Court (BootsnAll  employee from Apple Valley!) with Deanna and porter taking care of some morning chores.

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Hike to Barafu Camp – looking back towards Mt. Meru (about 45 miles away).

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Almost to Barafu Camp – see the profiles along the ridge?

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Mt. Mawenzi

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Barafu Camp

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This was Mt. Mawenzi from near Stella Point (photo taking conditions were not that good).

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Here we are at the last breakfast on Kilimanjaro – all are very happy.

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This is what you look like after climbing Kilimanjaro.

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Recap – More Photos 1

February 7th, 2006

Here are some more photos of mine (I don’t have many good ones left to show you).

This is day 2 on the mountain.

This was called a black and white raven.

Sometimes the weather looked like this.

This was Shira camp (night 2).

and sometimes the weather looked like this.

This was an intimidating view.

So was this…

Getting ready to hike up Barranco wall.

this was the view of Kili much of the third and fourth days.

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Homeward Bound

February 5th, 2006

Ok, getting back to the trip home. The next few days were a blur… There was one last stretch of bumpy, hot, dusty road until we reached the park entrance as we were leaving Ngorongoro Crater. My first thought was to write that the ride back to Moshi was uneventful, but then my memory kicked in and, oh ya, it was yet another adventure. Just riding through the countryside and seeing people everywhere was so interesting.


(Photo from Cindy)


(Photo from Cindy)

There were huge markets going on in some of the small towns we passed through. Lots of Masai in town for these dressed in bright colors – it’s quite the site.


(Photo from Marisa)

Also, all the businesses lining the streets had funny names in english, The House of Lubricants (for an oil change place), Mighty Meaty (for a butcher), etc… I can’t remember them all, but they were funny.


(Photo from Marisa)

Here was a typical street scene.


(Photo from Marisa)

This is a good shot of Kilimanjaro and Moshi.


(Photo from Daisy)

There was some miscommunication on the way back to Moshi. We had planned on stopping at a market to shop along the way. We were in the lead vehicle, so we stopped at a market thinking everyone else would show up soon. So, Mark, Mary, Dillon, Alexa, Brian, and I shopped around for a while, but non of the other vehicles showed up. Then Dillon said he saw our other vehicles go by. We finally convinced our driver that we had the wrong place. So, we go driving back towards town and here is one of our vehicles pulled along side the road – broken down. Luckily another of our vehicles happened by, so we all piled in the two landrovers (very cozy) and finally made it back to town to the market where the rest of our group was. Anyway, we shopped and haggled and then Nickson lined up a bus (not sure how he did that so quickly) for the rest of the ride back to Moshi (so we didn’t all have to pile in 3 landrovers).

Finally, we got back to the Keys Hotel Annex and had showers and cold beer. Some of the group was staying there, some at the Buffalo, some at other places. We all met up that night at Pub Alberto (a disco bar) and ate cheeseburgers and fries and listened to american disco music all night. Most everyone said their good-byes here. We toasted Jonathan’s birthday at midnight with rounds of tequilla shots. Had a very confusing taxi ride back to the hotel – non of us knew for sure where we were heading, but we finally saw some familiar landmarks.

Most of the group either flew home the next day or continued on to Zanzibar. Myself and a few others (Sherry, Daisy, and Francesca) weren’t flying out until the next day, so Nickson and Freddy drove us up to their village where they grew up.

We stopped to get some groceries for Nickson’s family along the way. This was the local beer truck. Hope that guy has good balance. Yes, those are crates full of beer.


(Photo from Francesca)

It’s up on Kilimanjaro near the gate to the “coca cola” route. We met their parents, hung out on Nickson’s porch and had a beer, saw Freddy’s bachelor pad (both Nickson and Freddy have nice houses there and they have houses in town).


(Photo from Francesca)


(Photo from Francesca)

When we drove up through the village in the landrover, all the kids came running out saying “pee pee”. Huh? I guess pee pee means “candy” in Swahili, so Nickson passed out candy to all the kids – they must like it when he comes around. The village was very beautiful. Lots of coffee plants, bananas, corn, and other crops. I couldn’t imaging growing up there.

That night, those that were left met up for pizza at the indoitaliano place. Said more goodbyes there. The next day I went into Moshi and walked around and got hassled by all the shop keepers trying to get me to buy their stuff. Found an internet cafe and sent some emails. I then found the Porter Assistance Project office and met with Zamo (he was an assistant guide on our trip). He lined up a taxi for me to go out to the airport later that evening (saved me about $30). I then hung out with Sherry and Nickson at the hotel courtyard and relaxed until 6pm. It was an hour ride to the airport and my flight was supposed to leave at 9:30pm. The flight was delayed, so we didn’t get out of there until almost midnight! Had a 45 min. layover (stayed on the plane) in Dar eSalaam and then continued on to Amsterdam. With the delay, I only had about 45 minutes there before my flight to Chicago. Then Chicago to Minneapolis and just like that I was back home (whew!). More to come…

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More Great Photos

February 4th, 2006

I see that Jonathan has added many new photos to his flickr site.

This was a view of one of the glaciers near the summit of Kilimanjaro.

This was a view from somewhere near the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Here is a good group photo at the summit.


Yes, I’m holding a Summit Extra Pale Ale

This was Barafu camp on the way back down from the summit. This was the first time I actually got a full view of that camp. My tent was on the very far right about 15 feet from the edge of that 500 foot cliff – glad I don’t sleepwalk.

Jonathan has some amazing photos from Safari (the following photos are all from his set).


Cape Buffalo with a Yellow Billed Ox Pecker

Simba (Swahili for lion)

These things could move faster than you thought by the looks of them.


Warthogs

Here was the last breakfast on the mountain.


(Photo from Madhu)

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Leopard Kill!!

February 2nd, 2006

This photo is so cool! Check out the carcass of the little gazelle hanging about 30 feet up in a tree! Hmmm, wonder how it got there?

Thanks, Marisa, for another great photo. Seriously, check out her photos, she’s got some good ones.

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Safari Day 5 – Ngorongoro Crater to Moshi

January 29th, 2006

5:00am came around really early! Somehow we all managed to get up, grab some breakfast, and pile in the landrovers for one last game drive. Getting up early was worth it! This beautiful sunrise photo also came from Cindy!

Although there were many facinating birds of all sizes, shapes, and colors, they took second fiddle behind the big animals when it came to stopping for photos. This was a sacred ibis I believe. We also saw some flamingos in the crater, but they were far away.

Here were some other birds we encountered along the way, some even ate out of my hand at the wayside stop. These photos are courtesy of Marisa (check out her photos if you haven’t already done so, she’s added some new ones!).

Here was a group of hyenas. We thought we were going to be in for some action, but nothing happened.

The inside of the crater is 11 miles in diameter and the height from the floor to the rim is about 2000′.

There are normally about 25,000 animals in the crater at any one time (mostly zebras and wildebeest).

and more wildebeests….

Here was a group of lionesses. All the animals seemed fatter in the crater – maybe the vegetation is more lush and nutritious this time of year as opposed to the serengeti.

Dusty Roads. About the only big animal we did not see was the black rhino. We thought there would be a good chance to see one in the crater, but no such luck.

Here is a good group shot with the landrovers (thanks again, Marisa).

At the oasis bathroom break in the crater. Maybe we should feed the animals.

Ok, we probably shouldn’t feed the animals. We had a monkey jump into the landrover as we were parked there.

This was the largest elephant we saw! The thing was huge! Look at the size of its tusks. Estimated at around 60 years old. It was kind of scary watching it walk our way.

The group seemed pretty tired out by this point, so we headed back to camp to pack up. We then drove on back to Moshi.

My camera’s memory cards filled up at this point, so I have no more photos. I will try to get photos from other people to post here. Once back in Moshi, we had the iciest, coldest beers ever at the Keys Hotel! Showered up and then hit the disco bar (Pub Alberto) for a cheese burger, fries, and some cheesy american disco music. This was our last night together. We toasted Jonathan at midnight for his birthday (shots of tequila), some people danced until 3am, others said their good-byes earlier and went on our ways. Kind of sad. It’s amazing how attached you get to people when you spend day in and out with them for over 2 weeks. Don’t worry, this isn’t the end of the blog. I will fill you in on the next couple of days including the trip home, and give a recap. I’ll need to track down some more photos, though, to keep it interesting, so stay tuned….

Chuck

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Safari Day 4 – Serengeti to Ngorongoro

January 29th, 2006

Ok, I’m back. Sorry about the delay in the blog updates (just been taking care of some housekeeping).

I think we got to sleep in a bit this morning. Breakfast was in no rush. Breakfasts usually consisted of toast, peanut butter, jam, honey, porridge, breakfast sausage (hotdogs), and eggs. David, pictured holding the big pot, was our cook for the entire trip! Cooking for 28 people, breakfast, lunch, and dinner for 2 weeks is no easy task – he was awesome! The dinners with goat and/or beef were always a huge hit, and it was amazing at how many soups he came up with.

This was a little gem, it seemed everyone thought it was a shower (there was another shower close by and the tarps looked the same – and there were other, not so clean, toilets with a different style tarp – thus the confusion). That’s too much information, I know, but here’s some more. I got to be the first to use it!

Ok, on to the drive. Another long, hot, dusty day in the landrover. We are heading back to Ngorongoro Crater, which meant driving back across the Serengeti. This elephant was out for a morning stroll.

We got very lucky and our driver spotted this leopard up in a tree. You can barely see its paw hanging down.

There were many Masai villages close to Ngorongoro, but it was hard to take photos of them from the landrover, and if you stop to take photos, they run up to you and ask for money. I snuck this photo in, though, although he did come over and tried to sell Mark his spear.

We got to camp around 4pm or so. For some reason we had to set up our own tents tonight – that was a challenge. We played some frisbee for a while and then got interrupted by this guy. He walked about 10 feet from our dinner tables and then proceeded to hang out near the bathroom stalls.

This photo is courtesy of Cindy (check ‘em out, she has some great photos!)

This was the last campsite – one more night of tenting it. Firewood was scarce and after seeing the elephant, we didn’t venture too far away to look for it. Sean H. and I walked about 10 feet past the toilets and he shined his headlamp into 3 sets of glowing eyes that belonged to these huge water buffalos – we made a quick exit and went back to the fire with no wood. Needless to say we partied again that night – it took a while for the fire to get going, but we managed a nice one with what little fuel there was.


(photo from Cindy)

The plan was to get up a 5am so we could be heading down into the crater at 6am (then out by noon – they only allow so many groups for a certain period of time in the crater). I lost a bet to Madhu about the fire being hot enough to melt glass – it actually did melt it, but did not disappear completely.

Jonathan, Adie, Brad, Jen, and Teresa hanging out at the dinner tables after the elephant went by.

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