Ascensions worldwide and in Kazakhstan, accompanied by the skilled mountain guide, and subsequent tourist programs. For skilled and beginners. Individual approach to each client, constantly expanded geography of ascensions, plus reasonable prices.
The mountain guide from Kazakhstan, Andrey Gundarev
Unknown route TANZANIA
Traveling with my parents around the USSR in my childhood, I fell in love with adventures. At school geography class was my favorite, and the world atlas always lay on my desk. At the university I was engaged into alpinism as a member of the Kazakhstan sport team. So, at the present I possess a rare occupation called «worldwide mountaineering guide».
Recently I finally got acquainted with the highest peak of Africa — Kilimanjaro.
For the reason that rules of obtaining visa had been changed a week before my flight, my arrival in Tanzania was about to finish with my deportation back home. To tell the truth, I would strongly recommend giving no extra many to the border guards. I firstly really tried to, but then hardly found an appropriate excuse, saying they got me worng and I just wanted to pay for single entry visa as much as for multi visa. I was really lucky this time…
The tickets to Moshi — the nearest city to Kilimanjaro — you can buy in the airport of Dar es Salaam, in one of the numerous travel companies. You also can save extra 5-10 dollars if buying tickets at the interurban car station located not far away from the city center.
It is possible to visit main tourism attractions of Tanzania’s capital Dar es Salaam (or Dara as the locals call it) in a couple of hours, although the city is pretty large. On the other hand, there are much more churches and mosques concentrated in Zanzibar. The Christians and Muslims are rather friendly neighbors there. It was interesting to visit the National Museum where we were mostly impressed by a wooden bicycle made at the beginning of the last century. As well as ruined remains of the American Embassy dated to its end.
The bus trip across northeast Tanzania, from the capital to the gates of Kilimanjaro National Park, impressed us in two ways. From one hand, through the bus windows we saw green wall of tropical flora, faraway fields and gardens ending at the mountain’s feet. From the other hand, the people are very poor. As a matter of fact, Tanzania is among the 20 poorest countries of the world, with average salary of 25 dollars per month. And in times of draught the famine is a common thing for distant regions. However, despite of difficulties the locals put themselves together and try to do their best to develop tourism in their homeland at least.
In addition, the understanding of poverty in Europe and Africa are different. For the people living in droughty cities of Chad and Mali, for example, or Niger and Somali, the living conditions in Tanzania are rather attractive. For them it’s a country with nice equatorial climate, without troubles with the neighbors, as well as between diverse ethnic groups inside. But the Africans sometimes have specific attitude to their albino fellows. Being afraid, the former often kill the latter, which makes the government of Tanzania struggle against remnants of old times.
Last time the revolts happened at the beginning of the last century, when Tanzania was a German protectorate, and in 60s — when the authorities cruelly suppressed the student revolt. The last fighting occurred in 70s at the initiative of Idi Amin, a dictator of neighboring Uganda. Tanzania won this war, and Uganda has its leader replaced. Nowadays these two neighbors are members of the friendly East African Community.
The roads here are good but narrow, with only two lanes and left-side traffic. At first, I felt that we were moving in the opposite direction, with all of the local drivers trying to use both lanes at maximum, which sometimes cause accidents.
Our first night here we spent in a small bungalow hotel in the village of Machame. We were rather surprised with low prices and the high quality of service. The hotel’s owner asked where we were from and didn’t believe that I’m Russian. Apparently, in Tanzania they think that all Russians should be 2m tall blonde hunks.
There are many interesting things to tell about our ascent to Kili. But still the alpinism terminology, tactics and ascent strategies are quite specific and sometimes difficult for understanding. Please, remember that you should take guide and purchase a tour in order to enter the territory of the National Park. The commonly taken route to Maranga (6 days, 5 nights) costs 950 dollars. The tour can be booked in advance or bought on-site.
On the fifth day of trekking, we watched the sunrise above the cradle of humanity. In some areas the top is covered with ice. But ecologists predict it will vanish in about ten years due to the global warming. Therefore we were really lucky to see snow in Africa with own eyes! From my opinion, the sunrises in Tanzania are more beautiful that the sunsets. While ascending, we came across recently built helipads. It is said that they were built especially for Roman Abramovich and Guus Hiddink. I had a constant feeling that somewhere there was an asphalt road running parallel to the trekking path. But it’s certainly not true. The road ends at the height of 3,000 m. And the same distance is left till the mountain’s top.
After successful completion of our trip, we went to Arusha, the second largest city in Tanzania.
Comparing to chaotic Dar es Salaam, Arusha seemed very nice to me, although this word is not quite appropriate for poor Tanzania in general. From the city a traveler can go to the most remarkable national parks of the country to meet wild nature. Crowds of tourists and diplomats in the streets, annoying helpers, chaotic road traffic, plenty of souvenir shops and offices of travel agencies, street vendors of Indian clothes, fried corn and other stuff, mosques and Catholic churches, children walking to their school, sacks with coffee and heaps of bananas…That’s how the African Babylon looks like.
After a night in the hotel (35 dollars per room), we took three day safari around the national parks of Manyara, Ngorongoro and Tarangire. I think there is no any other place in the world where you can see so many wild animals per one square kilometer. The famous African Big Five includes an elephant, a hippopotamus, a rhino, a giraffe and a buffalo. We also saw a lot of types of antelopes, zebras, lions, hyenas, monkeys and birds. It’s a pity we didn’t see a cheetah, a leopard and a crocodile.
Ngorongoro is a huge crater at the edge of Serengeti savannah. It appeared in the result of explosion of large volcano 2.5 million years ago. The crater’s bottom lies 2,380 m above sea level, and its edges — 3,000 m. The diameter is between 17 and 21 km, and the carter is home for near 25,000 different animals. This place also has the highest density of predators throughout Africa.
Unfortunately, we had no time to watch the Great Migration of Animals along the great African plains. It’s one of the most spectacular views in the world of wild nature, with participation of over two million antelopes and zebras. Antelopes move from the Serengeti National Park to Masai Mara (Kenya) from July to September, searching for new pastures. They come back from December to January, although it’s hard to define exact time as it varies in regard to the season of rains. Many of antelopes are killed by lions, cheetahs, hyenas, wild dogs and crocodiles that closely chase the herds. Such migration cycles has been repeating for many thousands of years.
On a safari (from 70 dollars per person per day) you will go by a jeeps with a folding top. While staying in the national parks, you are not allowed to leave the cars unless it is a special designated area. A lion can hide in any bushes. Don’t forget about precautions unless you want increase the number of tourists who had become somebody’s lunch. In the national parks there are camps for tourists who want to spend night there. Shower and souvenir shops are provided. And in the evenings the camps host performances by the local ethnic bands. The team of our jeep consisted of a Russian speaking driver guide (here it is the heritage of friendship between USSR and Tanzania) and a chef who, despite of his addiction to alcohol, cooked pretty well. However, safari menu doesn’t include any culinary oddities except tropical vegetables and fruits, fried bananas and potatoes, and chicken. We were impressed by the local beer «Kilimanjaro» and strong «konyagi» — brown color drink resembling mixture of gin and vodka. By the way, the latter was an alcohol our cook was so addicted to. Those who like exotics can try the local banana beer.
Anyway, the impression from wild nature of Africa was above all our expectations. During the first day of safari, I didn’t stop taking pictures. «Hey, look! There is a giraffe in those bushes. And this is an elephant. It is huge! Please, be quiet, it has good ears!» On the third and fourth day, I became too lazy, but still didn’t feel boring. «Hmmmm…Thompson’s Gazelles…How many? Five? Hmmm…Nice…» I think two days for safari are enough. It depends.
But I strongly recommend to all tourists to visit the crater of Ngorongoro.
After three day ride in savannah, we spent two days at the coast of Indian Ocean. We also planned to visit a mysterious island of Zanzibar. But the guide said that somebody had stolen a huge piece of cable stretching along the ocean bottom from the mainland to the island. Thus the latter was cut of the electricity supply, which meant the lack of drinking water, absence of city night life and etc.
However, we spent good time 60 km from the capital, in a rather expensive (for Africa) hotel for 120 dollars per room. The hotel was built in Arab design right at the coast. Among the provided facilities were guarded beach, good restaurant and bar, disco and swimming pool. There were not many tourists, probably because of the hotel prices.
I particularly remembered the departure from Tanzania. In hotels and shops, on the beach and in the airport — everywhere stood Christmas trees. Of course we knew that December 25 and January 1 are the national holidays of Tanzania. So, the people were preparing to celebrate Catholic Christmas and New Year. But still it was rather strange to see Christmas trees in Africa even at the end of December. The African Santa Claus is said to look like everywhere. We didn’t meet him, though…
Take all necessary medicines at home (especially activated charcoal and antibiotics);
Vaccinate against Hepatitis A and B in advance, and one week before the trip start taking medicines that prevent from malaria;
You will need to show a certificate vaccination against yellow fever. Although this disease is rare in Tanzania, there is opportunity that you will need to pay extra money to the police if you don’t have it;
Don’t forget to take sunscreen cream and diethyl phthalate repellent against mosquitoes and tse-tse flies;
The best gift from Tanzania is the tanzanite stone. It’s better to buy it in jewelry stores where you can get the international certificate. You can decrease the price twice if bargaining. For some reason, in neighboring Kenya this stone costs cheaper.
Kilimanjaro Volcano is the highest freestanding mountain in the world. It is situated in north-eastern Tanzania. The volcano rises above the Masai plateau, located 900 m above sea level. From 1902 to 1918 the volcano was called Kaiser Wilhelm Peak. Uhuru, the peak of Kibo volcano (5,895 m) is the highest point of Kilimanjaro. Other two peaks are extinct volcanoes — Mawenzi (5,149 m) and Shira (3,962 m).
These snow-covered mountains were firstly mentioned in II A.D., in the geography map of Ptholemeu.
Any health man can take trekking routes to Maranga, Rongai and Machame, even without special trainings.
Near 15,000 people try to conquer Kilimanjaro annually. 40 % of them succeed.