Climbing Kilimanjaro (Not Quite)

Tanzania Pt 1
Leaving Kenya was difficult in ways, but the idea of going to Tanzania was a good consolation. If you do not know, Mount Kilimanjaro and the Serengeti are both in Tanzania. My plan was to go to Moshi on the edge of Kilimanjaro and hike up the mountain for a day or two. The bus ride across the border was pretty easy and we got out to walk across the border for passport checks. The only downside was that the bus company promises power outlets and wifi, but neither of them really work, so if you count on those being there, the sixteen hour trip gets that much longer. Since the trip was done mostly at night, there was not a whole lot to look out at through the windows either. That made arriving in Moshi all the more exciting. After I got some food in the stomach and a quick look at a map, I walked over to Rafiki Backpacker’s. Nobody else was there except me and the staff, so even though my reservation was for the wrong day I was able to get in without a problem. Kilimanjaro is right behind the hostel, looming in the distance. The weather was not cooperating, though, so the peak was hidden from that close.The building had been experiencing power outages for the last two days, too. Which meant the whole place was running on a generator and back-up generator that ran out of power right around sunset. I was thinking, “This is gonna be interesting.”
After I peeled the humidity and sweat soaked clothes off, another guest showed up, even less announced than I had. He was a guy from Pennsylvania who works at gold mines in Burkina Faso. The gig seems pretty good with 26 days of work followed by 30 days off and enough money to travel around.
He got straight into negotiating for a day tour to Kilimanjaro, which was what I came to do anyways, so I joined in. The prices were ridiculous if you ask me. Over USD 200 to get a ride, guide, and some food for an eight hour hike! We got them down to USD 150, but that still hurt a lot for me.
We scheduled the hike for a couple days later since I had to wash all my clothes. Not having a washer is no big deal, but the lack of dryers in Kenya, and now Tanzania, was making life a little difficult. Hoping that it does not rain while waiting for a day or two for clothes to hang dry is painfully slow when backpacking. I literally only had a swimsuit and tank top clean, not exactly hiking wear. I also wanted to take some time and shop around for a safari trip in the Serengetti and decide whether or not I could afford to go to Madagascar.
The other guy and I ended up going shopping together and getting some food to cook for the time we were in town. My plan was to gain some of the weight I had lost in Kenya between the diet and the stomach-bacterial infection. We blew through all the food, I was able to get my clothes washed and dried, find a safari, and decide to go to Zanzibar instead of Madagascar to save money in a day. All this despite power outages randomly throughout the day. Also had some interesting conversations with a woman from Germany who had also lived in numerous African nations, from Sierra Leone, to DRC, to Zimbabwe, and Tanzania.
The day of the hike we set out with the hope that the weather would clear up around the mountain and allow for a nice day. Unfortunately, that did not happen. We also found out that the whole paid tour thing was a giant waste, because the paths are all clearly marked and maintained, the gate price was lower than we were told, and the guide gets paid almost nothing. Needless to say, we took that up with the guy we signed up with once we got back to the hostel and got some of our money back, which was only six hours later since the hike did not take long at all. Overall, we were frustrated and disappointed by the whole experience. The other guy still wanted to get another tour in nonetheless, but I was heading out to Arusha the next morning to go on a safari. The staff, a new guest from England who had lived in Moshi before, my new friend and I all hung out in the hostel talking late into the evening to put a positive cap on the day. The next morning I was off to Arusha.


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