Happy Birthday to Us! We were finally able to celebrate our 10th birthday (about 8 months too late) with all Maasai Wanderings team members that were in town on Friday. We had some great speeches indicating our highs and lows over the years; there was laughter and tears. We also had a small presentation for Godwin Nughway and Hans Teete for their ten years of service, and we know there are many more who will join their ranks soon.
We finished the evening by sharing a meal, the wine flowed for some and the music had everyone's feet tapping.
Thank you to all our team, families, friends, travel partners and clients for making this past ten years an incredible journey for us.
Naseeb & Donna
Well, it has been around 10 years since my least Kilimanjaro trek - yes, that long! And boy, it felt like it. Two babies later and (unfortunately) a few extra kilos, here I was again heading to the Roof of Africa. I started the arm up with a three day trek up Mt Meru in July. It hurt, but it was stunning, as stunning as I remember it.
We started our six day Machame trek on the last Saturday in September, an ideal time to trek. The weather was clear and although Machame gate was busy, we set off with our guides headed to Machame Camp. It was a day in the shade, looking at various fauna species enroute. There was chatter early on but in the final hours of the day, it became steeper so conversation came to a stand still. We were warned of tomorrow's route. It was going to be steep, and it was. But I enjoyed this day. The steepness allowed for quick ascent - we scrambled across volcanic rocks and boulders and finally came to Shira Cave Camp. A beautiful vista in front of us as we slumped into our camping chairs ready to wash our feet to freshen up for dinner. We enjoyed an afternoon wander across to Shira 2, across and past the caves and onto and area overlooking the Shira Plateau. You can feel the 'heaviness' there - by this I mean that you can almost feel that something big had occurred there. And something big had happened - Shira was a higher peak than Kibo before Kibo's eruption was so huge that the devastation wiped out most of the Shira crater. I can only imagine that the skies were dark for days (even weeks!) with ash in the atmosphere.
From Shira Caves, we went straight up to Lava Tower (4900m), weaving through volcanic boulders and debris again. We settled in for our packed lunch, but our bodies cooled down so fast that we promptly finished the snacks and needed to move on to keep warm. It was a steep and rocky descent, and then a gradual gradient all the way down into Barranco. The walk on this day from Lana Tower to Barranco was breathtaking - it felt like I was walking stepping back into the Jurassic period. The age of the landscape and fauna species seem to be from another world - and then mix that in with the odd waterfall with pristine waters flowing from the glaciers above.
But then I saw what was coming tomorrow morning - 'breakfast'. The wall of Barranco, is straight up. It is approximately one hour of steep, rocky outcrops and places where you literally scramble your way to the top. But the feeling at the top (with Kibo glaciers in the background), was incredible! Phew, we have made it so far.
We zig-zagged down the other side, across a small saddle and then up AGAIN! But it was just up again, we went up and then there was a harsh descent down into Karanga Valley before the final thirty minute up to Karanga Camp and the hot lunch that was waiting. I was happy to sit down on that day - we had done all of this before midday! After lunch, there was another four hours for us to arrive at Barafu.
Barafu in Kiswahili means 'ICE' or 'SNOW' and this an excellent name for the camp - it started sleeting as soon as we entered camp to register at the ranger's post.
We had arrived in great time each day. We had arrived before most of the other trekkers, and with enough time to rest our weary bodies before evening meals. We were doing well, but tonight was the assault on the summit.
In my heart, I was indifferent about how I felt about reaching Uhuru Peak. It wasn't my first time on Kili and it wasn't my first summit attempt. I have climbed Kili, and summited before - but this was before babies, before thyroid issues and more than ten years ago! Things were very different.
Enroute to Stellar Point, the soles of my feet had been burning non-stop for two hours. While this had occurred every day of the trek, this burning was much more intense for whatever reason. I was over it, and I had nothing to prove (except to myself!) and so I turned back. My trekking partner, kept going and summited in the early morning hours - she did great.
I returned to Barafu, laid down until sunrise - and then stepped out of the tent into a snowstorm and so I started to descend down to Mweka Camp. Another stunning hike - you literally feel on top of the world. My feet burned all the way down, as expected but at that point I was just excited to see my husband and children the following day. I think I would have walked on hot coals and in bare feet at that stage, if I had to. Not to mention, I was also keen for a shower and desperate to wash my hair. There is only so much that a cap can hide.
All the way up Kili, I was thinking - oh my gosh, never again! Why am I here? However the ancient landscape, the fabulous trekking team and the feeling of accomplishment made it all worth it. I really don't plan on doing again soon, if at all, but I am glad that I went again. It reminded of our beautiful Kilimanjaro is and how fresh air can feel in the lungs!
In Tanzania, the great migration of massive wildebeest herds continues to be a highlight for game viewing while on a northern circuit safari. At Nasikia Mobile Migration Camp from 1st July-31st October each year, our clients have been able to explore the northern areas of the Serengeti from Bologonja to Kogatende, Nyamalumbwa, Mara River and more. Our guide team has shared some incredible stories with us in the office; wild dog, rhino and calf, pangolin and so much more. Highest on the list has of course been the Great Wildebeest Migration demonstrating an incredible display, especially from late August to early October this year. Lou & Irene from Canada were two of many safari-goers who witnessed this natural phenomenon. Not only to witness the crossing itself, but also the obstacles that haunt the herds as they run the gauntlet of life and death. For giant Nile crocodiles, it is the feast before the famine.