Flying to Kilimanjaro (7/24-725)
I flew Northwest and KLM to Kilimanjaro. Here was my flight schedule.
Total Flight Time: 18 hours 13 min
On the RDU flight to Detroit I was able to change my seat to an exit row. Cool, more leg room. Unfortunately I got the seat kicking kid behind me. Good thing this was a short flight.
On the Detroit to Amsterdam leg we were on a newer plane that had individual video screens. You could pick from a nice list of movies. Initially, my system crashed 3 times. It seems each individual system is running embedded Linux. I think the system gets overloaded at the start of the flight. I watched Hell Boy and Hidalgo. This flight goes way up north and loops down. It was sunset forever. We then had a short period of darkness and then daylight again.
At the Amsterdam airport I tried to figure out who else was on my Kili team. There is only one major flight into Kilimanjaro, so my teammates had to be on this flight. So I spent a half hour or so staring at people and not finding anyone.
So we boarded the flight to Kilimanjaro and I sit down next to this guy. I asked him if he is climbing Kilimanjaro. Turns out he is. I then asked him who he was climbing with. He response, Alpine Ascents. Turns out I was sitting next to Jamie who is on my team. We ended up rooming/tenting together the rest of the trip. Jamie and talked for a little bit and then tried to get some rest. I actually slept a little. They seemed to be constantly serving food on this flight. We flew forever. The coolest sight was going over the Sahara Desert and seeing the Nile river. We finally landed in the dark at Kilimanjaro Airport around 8:15 pm.
At the Kilimanjaro Airport you have to walk down ramps and cross the tarmac. I then proceed to the long lines of people going through immigration. I already had my Visa, so I stood in one line while Jamie went to another line to get his Visa. The lines moved incredibly slow. The amount of paperwork and stamping the customs official does is amazing. Finally I get through. Jamie was only a couple of minutes behind me.
After grapping our bags we exited the baggage area and came upon a sea of sign carrying people looking to collect their clients. We were met by two drivers and Allen Carbert, our Alpine Ascents guide. We chatted with Allen while waiting for the others to emerge. Turns out there are 6 members of team on this flight. The guys from Germany (Mike, Shaun, Andy and Ryan) flew in the day before. On this flight were Jamie, Susan, Nancy, Mynan, Jason, and me. All our gear was carted outside and loaded into our trucks.
It took about 30 minutes to get to the Mountain Village Hotel near Arusha. Once out of the airport, there are no street lights. There were a good number of people walking along the road in the dark night. To get to the hotel, you turn off the main road at a corner with several bars and head down a dark and very bumpy road. About a mile down the road you turn into the hotel.
At the hotel we were greeted with hot towels and cold juice. We signed in and got our rooming assignments. I roomed with Jamie. The skeleton room keys are attached to this huge grenade shaped chunk of wood. You will not accidentally leave this in your pocket. A bevy of porters were waiting to take our bags to our rooms. So we get our gear loaded into our room and then head back to main building and have a bite with Allen. Also with Allen are two guys from the German family on our team. So we had some beers and food with Allen, Shaun, Andy, Jason, and Jamie.
We went to sleep around 11:00 pm. I took a sleeping pill to ensure I get at least 4 hours of good sleep.