Tomorrow is the day I head to the airport – after nearly a year of planning I feel like the last few months have gone by in a blink and suddenly it’s here!
I started a new job a few weeks ago so it’s been a bit of a whirlwind between learning the ropes there and getting everything ready for Kilimanjaro. Luckily, the office is on the fifth floor so I’ve had plenty of stair climbing practice – I think I might be the only one in the office who was a bit glad that the lift has been broken for the past few weeks!
As to be expected I guess, I still have a few errands to run today, buying or sorting out a few last minute bits and pieces. Even with nearly a year of planning I’ve still managed to leave a lot until the last week…
But I’ve triple checked the kit list and between the many lists I have going it seems improbable I could have forgotten something important (fingers crossed).
Guess I’ll find out soon enough!
I had to renew my passport last year (getting old!) and I was a bit sad as my last one contained two Working Holiday visas, something I imagine is not likely to happen again. But fear not, I’ve embarked on the exciting task of filling up my new passport, starting with a Tanzanian visa.
You can get a Tanzanian visa on entry at the airport, but as I work not far from the embassy (it’s actually a High Commission, I’m not sure what the difference is) I decided I may as well get it in advance. So I popped over there on my lunch break to drop off my passport – which took about 15 minutes including a 14.5 minute wait. Then 3 days later I popped back to get it, which took about 90 seconds. I was quite surprised how fast the process was, but that is maybe because I compare every embassy experience with the horror of the American Embassy a few years ago.
I will also need to get a Kenyan visa as I’ll be there for longer than 12 hours. Apparently you can no longer get a Kenyan visa on entry as they have switched to an e-visa system. I’m halfway through filling in the online form, and I think it’s then a case of taking a print out of the email confirmation to show at the airport. To me that’s not actually an e-visa, but a great way to cut down on printing costs at the Kenyan embassy by having everyone print their own visa!
I’m working my way through my list of Kilimanjaro-related tasks so visa is definitely a good one to tick off. Up next – jabs & medications, and to finalise my packing & shopping lists!
I’m aware that I start every blog post in the same way, but really time is going so fast! The countdown is now down to one month which is really very scary…
On the training front, I am trying to walk or hike at weekends as much as possible, though as I mentioned before it’s quite difficult in West London! I’m also having to be quite careful with my long suffering left knee who’s a bit weak thanks to an old netball injury, and who didn’t really enjoy the descent of Ben Nevis very much. So I have stopped running and playing netball, which means my exercise is currently limited to walking and my trusty Jillian Michaels 30 day shred DVD…
Fundraising has slowed down a bit recently, although I have had a lot of promises of sponsorship which I think will appear closer to the time. I may try and fit in another cake sale or something in the next few weeks.
And in terms of preparation for the climb, I’m in the process working my way through a very long shopping list… I keep finding myself drawn to any outdoor shop I walk by – especially if it has a Sale sign in the window. I think I underestimated slightly how much all this mountain gear would cost so I’m happy for firstly the 15% discount at Cotswold Outdoor, and that I work near Lillywhites where there is a great outdoor section. I also managed to spend a small fortune in Boots recently on things like water purification tablets and wet wipes and there is still plenty more on my shopping list! I am very much a list-maker so I currently have several lists going – packing list, shopping list and a few to do lists – enough to keep me occupied for the next few weeks!
With less than 2 months to go (!) until I fly to Africa to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, I thought I’d share a bit more about the details of the trip.
I decided to go with Discover Adventure on the recommendation of Parkinson’s UK as they had used them before to organise fundraising trips. We are climbing via the Machame route, which is apparently the most scenic route and also the best for acclimatisation. This does, however, mean that it also gets quite busy! There are currently 15 people signed up to the trek and we have been introduced via a Facebook group but yet to meet in person… We’ll also be accompanied by group leaders and a team of guides and porters who, let’s face it, do most of the hard work.
It will take 4 days to ascend Mount Kilimanjaro, through terrain varying from forest to rocky and what I have seen described as “moonscape”. This map shows the route up the mountain – it looks a very long way…
Everyone I’ve spoken to or read about who has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro seems to share the opinion that “Summit Night” is one of the hardest things they’ve ever done. We will go to bed nice and early, then get up at midnight and start walking for 4-5 hours to reach Uhuru Peak around sunrise. This is to avoid walking in the heat of the sun (and I’m sure it makes the views even more impressive at sunrise), but it means that the hardest, steepest part of the climb is very cold and dark, just at the point where the altitude is getting the hardest to bear. So that’s something to look forward to! I’m hoping that the thought of the view at the summit, not to mention the sense of achievement and the thought of all the donations to Parkinson’s UK, will be enough to help me push through!