Charged By An Elephant – by Jae

The day after we got down from Kilimanjaro our Exodus Travels group had arranged to visit Arusha National Park on the way to the airport. It meant we had to have everything packed and be ready to leave the hotel at 7.30am, when we would be picked up, taken on a quick safari with all our luggage in the back, and then dropped at Kilimanjaro Airport at 3.30pm for our 5.30pm flight. It felt a bit mad to rush about so much the day after getting off the mountain but our whole group agreed that we should make the most of our time in Africa, so we’d booked the safari.

I am so glad we did!

We saw lots of giraffe
Baboon families sit and groom each other by the roadside
Baboon families sit and groom each other by the roadside
Lunch overlooking a lake in Arusha National Park
Lunch overlooking a lake in Arusha National Park
A shy bushbuck checked us out
A shy bushbuck checked us out

Not only did we see baboons, Colobus monkeys, blue monkeys, giraffe, zebra, water buck, a bushbuck, bee eaters, bulbuls, an African Crowned Eagle, hornbills, sunbirds, and loads more besides; we also found a gorgeous view of flamingo lakes, with Kili in the background (on a clear day), to scatter another fifth of Grandma. I know she’d have loved the vastness of the panorama – even the three teenage lads with us were flabbergasted as they walked up the steps to the viewing platform!

The view over the flamingo lakes which Grandma now gets forever!
The view over the flamingo lakes which Grandma now gets forever!

And the very last thing that happened as we were speeding back to the exit to head to get to the airport, was that Oscar and Sharon spotted some elephants in the undergrowth. Alex, our driver and guide, quickly backed up and we glimpsed a couple of elephant bums disappearing. Then, suddenly, there was a huge bull elephant on other side of us, staring us down. It flapped it’s ears and started to charge. Alex stepped on the gas (fortunately everyone was holding on!) and we moved far enough away to calm it. The elephant moved into the bush so Alex reversed a little but it came back out into the road and made to charge again, so we moved forward again. It was at this point that we realised more elephants were waiting to cross the road. We stopped and watched as a family, including the tiniest elephant we had ever seen, filed across. What a way to finish an amazing visit to Tanzania.

Didn’t manage to get video of the bull charging but you can see his family here!


The Day After… Arusha National Park

So, if everything has gone to plan, we will have got up and packed all our stuff bright and early, to get picked up from our hotel at 7.30am yesterday. A safari vehicle will have taken us for a tour around Arusha National Park – where we’ll hopefully have stayed awake to see some fabulous Tanzanian wildlife – and then dropped us at the airport. As you read this we should be landing at Heathrow Airport!

Chasing Waterfalls – Sheila and Oscar

27th August – Sheila and Oscar

Oscar and I had another lovely day. As Oscar’s football skills had been such a success in Mustafa’s yard on the previous day, we started the day there with Oscar giving Brian, Mustafa the guide’s son, a two hour training session. Although Brian is only five, he picked up the techniques quickly. Oscar tells me he taught him how to do both rabona and step-overs.

Mustafa showed me that he was wearing a pair of my warm walking socks from the bag of stuff I had given him the previous day. He said he would keep the 3G T-shirt for himself – he likes the logo of the mountain on it designed by Gwen – and that he had given one pink Catching Lives T-shirt to his wife and one to Beebee. I protested that the shirts were far too big for them – both women are small and the shirts extra large. He said that was no problem – the women are good sewers and will tailor them to fit!

During the football coaching I was outside Beebee’s house again on her broken plastic chair while she sat with me on her tiny stool for some of the time. However she was clearly not feeling too good. I had brought her a packet of lemon and honey menthol cough sweets, which were well received. All the neighbours came out to try one. Most people here seem to have coughs and catarrh. People say it is because of the weather – but it seems pretty mild to me – in the mid 20s in the sun during the day and the teens at night. I suspect it may have something to do with the enormous amount of dust raised on all the dirt roads by motor bikes and other vehicles. My skin, hair and clothes have been dusted in it at the end of each day: it is amazing in the circumstances how clean the majority of people appear to be. The families in Beebee’s compound share one cold water tap and three hole-in-the-floor toilets, which are kept carefully locked. The women seem to be constantly brushing down their kids and their floors and washing clothes.

Mustafa’s plan for after football was to take us up the road immediately behind his house to see a beautiful valley and waterfall in the foothills of Mount Mehru. On the previous day we had discussed transport for the trip. The normal means of travel would be by motorbike taxi.

We have seen groups of men on bikes at intervals beside the road on all our travels, and I had assumed the were just lads hanging out. However, I now know that they are the equivalent of taxi ranks – you hop on the back and the driver takes you where you want to go for payment.

Motorbike Taxi Rank
Motorbike Taxi Rank

Mustafa told me that one of his aims is to own a motorbike, so that he can earn money during the rainy season from taxi driving, when it is too wet to act as a guide on Kilimanjaro.

I decided that going by bike would be ok, provided Oscar wore a proper helmet – the Hopkins boys are not allowed even to ride a scooter without one. My reasoning for agreeing to it is that these are not boy racers: they are ambitious men who have worked hard to buy their machines, and, like taxi drivers, would be very anxious not to damage their vehicles by any careless manoeuvres.

I do know that I am known for being reckless however, so it was a hard think! In the days before child car seats and safety belts, Stewart’s parents borrowed a car in which to drive down to Manchester to visit us for a week. Jae was one at the time. We all set off from Manchester to spend a day at the beach in Rhyl and when Jae fell asleep on the way, we just laid her on the rear parcel shelf for the journey. How unthinkable is that today! We also used to think nothing of knocking back a few glasses of wine and then driving home – and very frequently there would be many more people in the car than seats. It wasn’t unusual to sit on someone’s knees during a journey. I am very aware that Jae’s generation are much less casual in these respects than mine was. Oscar was quite certain his parents would not allow him on a motorbike, but was willing to run with my decision.

The dilemma was solved for us, as it happens. Mustafa had acquired some bits of fabric for my appraisal, and I bought two of them at exactly the price he said, without the usual negotiation. It is normal for people to ask for at least twice what they expect to get – but how could I knock down a guy who has been so kind to us? I had also given him $10 US more than he had told me transport and permits for the outing would cost. He was quids in, so he approached a friend and acquired an extremely plush mini-bus, with seat belts (!) for the outing. That produced a big smile and a sigh of relief on Oscar’s face.

After putting two litres of petrol into the vehicle, we set off up the track. It was the most amazing bit of driving! There were enormous lumps and pits in the road, and Mustafa had to hang out of the window to negotiate through them at snail’s pace. The only other vehicles on the track were motorbikes and trucks. We would have been there in a fraction of the time on bikes! I was anxious we would do serious damage to the vehicle, which I would have felt morally responsible to pay for, but happily it survived intact.

When we got as far as it was possible to go, we abandoned the vehicle to the care of two small boys, whose job was to protect it, and walked on up to a check point, where there were guards. I couldn’t quite see why a waterfall in lush green countryside with fabulous views needed armed guards.

Our vehicle protectors
Our vehicle protectors

Mustafa explained that there are still tribal skirmishes in the area, and one tribe might poison the water source of another. As the river coming down Mount Mehru provides water for most of the Arusha region, it is essential to protect its purity.

When we came to the river gorge, we had to climb down steeply to the river bed, where we were met by two lads, who I thought were about Oscar’s age. It quickly became apparent that they had appointed themselves as hand-holders, as we had to cross the river bed balancing on stones a dozen times or more, as we advanced towards the waterfall. We really appreciated their hands to help us keep our balance.

Waking towards the waterfall
Waking towards the waterfall

The taller of the lads told me he is 18 and that his friend is 15. They were amazed to hear that Oscar, towering above them, is only 13. The boy said he had never been to school as his father is dead and he didn’t have the money. He said he had been holding hands in the river bed all his life and that he had learned English from people like me. Mustafa was convinced that the lad was spinning me a tale: who knows?

Themi waterfall, when we got there, was spectacularly beautiful! The water fell vertically into a pool, with cliffs covered in trees and foliage all around – the only patch of sky visible being directly overhead. I will never forget that unique and peaceful place.

Sheila and Oscar at the waterfall
Sheila and Oscar at the waterfall

Getting out of the gorge again was quite a climb, and had I known, we would have worn our boots as Mustafa had, rather than worn out old trainers (me) or fashion ones (Oscar). I shouldn’t complain though – the younger boy wore flip flops!

I was pleased when Mustafa said that climbing out of the gorge is something like climbing Barranco wall on Kili: we might not have climbed the mountain, but were up to scrambling up something similar to one of the most difficult bits of it!

I haven’t spent the last few days in Africa as I imagined I would, but I know that Oscar and I have had some real life enhancing experiences.

Market Day – From Sheila

26th August Sheila

Today Oscar and I met up again with Mustafa, the assistant guide who walked with us to the “ambulance” from the camp on the mountain on the third day of the climb, and escorted us all the way to the Lodge where we are staying on the outskirts of Arusha, which has a population of about a million and a half.

After greeting him, we all walked the mile or so along the dirt track to get to the main road, where we hopped on to a public bus.  I think we would regard it as a minibus with perhaps 14 seats. By the time we got into Arusha, I counted 20 passengers squeezed into it!

Mustafa took us to his own home, where he lives with his wife and children: Brian aged 5 and Brenda aged 2.  I was immediately introduced to “Beebee” – grandmother – and was seated beside her in the yard.  I get called Beebee too here. Beebee was apologetic about not having any food or drink to offer me: she said if I came back the next day she would have something.  Of course I protested, saying that we had plenty to eat and drink at the Lodge.  Mustafa interpreted for us: Beebee was speaking some sort of dialect – not Swahili.

Oscar was very pleased when Brian appeared with a football, and they, together with Mustafa and another couple of neighbouring boys, had a kick around.

Oscar playing football with Brian and another little lad
Oscar playing football with Brian and another little lad

I was told that Beebee owns the compound. She has her own “house” and lets out the other four or five shacks, including the one Mustafa and family live in.  Mustafa said he was her foster child.  Apparently he was born in Kilimanjaro village, but found himself alone in Arusha as quite a young child and she took him in, despite having six children of her own.  He said he made the money to pay for his schooling by acting as a caddy on the nearby golf course and as a ball boy on the adjacent tennis courts.  He actually walked us over to see the very lush golf course in a wealthy neighbourhood not far away.

I asked whether everyone had to pay to go to school and he said that they did.  Apparently the government claims that education is free, but Mustafa says the reality is very different.  For example each child has to pay for its own chair, which costs 35 US dollars.  The schools all make other demands as well – sometimes for desks or for new buildings.  If a parent hasn’t paid, the child will be told to go home to fetch the money.  If the parent can’t pay, the child just doesn’t go back to school. Mustafa says many such children end up on the streets and involved in crime and drugs.

Brian goes to school, but is on holiday till the end of the month. Mustafa makes enough from guiding on Kilimanjaro to send him to a private school, where there are small classes of only 40 or 50 children. In the public schools, there are usually between 200 and 300 children in a class. Further, in the private schools, the children learn English all the way through, while the public schools only teach a little to the older children.  It definitely seems to be the case that knowing English is the key to career progression here.

Eventually we walked on right to the centre of Arusha and to a little market – clearly aimed at tourists – selling crafts and curios.  Oscar and I both bought a few souvenirs to bring back for our family there, but felt very harassed by the vendors each vying to get us into their “shops” – each just about big enough for two people to stand in.

We walked on through Arusha to a food market, which was lovely to see, where Oscar bought a couple of apples from a mate of Mustafa. One guy at that stall took a look at me and asked if I wanted to see fabric. How could I say no to that?  So we followed him into a real shop, which did indeed have lovely cotton fabric –  just perfect for patchwork.  I chose a piece and agreed a price, then all hell seemed to break out!

The trouble wasn’t aimed at, but was caused by me. Mustafa explained afterwards that the guy who took me into the shop and agreed the price with me was nothing to do with the shop!  The shop owner shouted that she couldn’t just have people coming in off the streets and doing deals, when she didn’t know what share of the money she was going to get!

After that, Oscar and I felt we’d done enough bartering for one day, so we stuffed into a bus again and Mustafa walked us the mile along the track back to the Lodge.

Inside the public bus
Inside the public bus

Quite a fun day, all in all. We shook dozens of hands and saw hundreds of faces, only one of which – a guy on the other side of the road – was white.  I really am enjoying having the opportunity to see at first hand how the local Tanzanians live.

3G Kili Climb – Day Eight

From Jae:

“At Millenium Camp. Scree all the way here. Did the tipping ceremony with singing and dancing, and gave out all the gifts – T-shirts and children’s books – Sharon and Sheila brought. We did a bit of a speech each – it worked well. Still at 3,500 so still v chilly at night.

Reuben did so well to get to the crater edge – it was very tough and he couldn’t feel his legs but marched on.”

Exodus trip notes: Descend to Arusha

A sustained descent on a well-constructed path through lovely tropical forest alive with birdsong and boasting lush undergrowth with considerable botanical interest. Our route winds down to the National Park gate at Mweka (1650m); and on through coffee and banana farms to Mweka village. The shower, the beer, and the swimming pool are tantalisingly close! We return by bus to Arusha (a distance of about 100km). Approx 4-6 hours walking.

Walky Walky

photo copy 3
Family we visited – Mum and children on the left and Safari on the right

Tuesday 25th August – Sheila

Today after breakfast we met a guy in reception, who was going to walk us around the area surrounding the Moivaro Coffee Plantation Lodge, where we are staying.

His name is Safari!  He started off by showing us round the Lodge’s kitchen garden, which I found really interesting. There were banana palms, but under them were growing neat rows of exactly the same kind of vegetables, that one might find in an allotment at home – plus a few more. There were lettuces, cabbages, leeks, chard, carrots and onions – but also peppers and aubergines. The herb garden had parsley, thyme, sage, basil and coriander.  I was very impressed by how healthy everything is – possibly down to the total absence of slugs and snails!  Safari was surprised to hear about the rampant ones in my garden at home.  It is all completely organic, being fertilised only by ashes from fires and cow dung.

Safari was extremely knowledgable about all the trees and plants we passed and knew the names of the exotic birds.  We saw mango, lime, peach, fig, and avocado trees.  Oscar’s favourite was the “sausage” tree.  Apparently the sausages are not used in Tanzania, but are used in Kenya for making beer.

We walked through the coffee plantation.  Neither Oscar nor I had known how coffee grew before. You have to pick the beans – which grow on shoulder high bushes – once they turn red, and new beans only take four days to grow. People were wandering through the trees picking the beans which had ripened, and do this every day.

We talked to Safari as we walked.  He told us that he hadn’t been able to go to school until he was eleven, as his family needed him at home to care for their cows.  Oscar and I have seen lots of small boys at roadsides holding a stick and keeping control of herds of cows on the verges. Safari said that he just took himself off to school as he wanted a better life and by 18, he had completed primary school.  He told us that he had failed the exam for secondary school, but wanted to try again.  I had assumed he was about 20, but when the topic got round to age, he said he was 37!  He said he had learned English on a three month course in Kenya – only very basic English had been taught in his primary school. His ambition is to be a safari guide, but reckons doing walking tours around where he lives is useful experience.

We talked to Safari about everything under the sun.  He was very shocked to hear that we have no religion – he said everyone here believes in God and that the world was made in seven days.

We agreed about politics. Elections are coming up here soon and he is for change and for human rights for all.  He wants rich corrupt politicians to be swept aside. We talked a lot about poverty and about the fact that wealth doesn’t make people happy – we saw a lot of very poor but apparently happy and welcoming people during our meanders.

We had brought a bag full of colouring books, pencils and sweets along with us and Safari said we would take it to his local primary school to give them to the teacher, as she could give them to the more needy children.  However, when we got there after walking for two hours, it turned out the school was on holiday for a month.

So Oscar and I started to hand out the odd item to passing children.  Most were very pleased, saying “thank you” in English and giving enormous smiles. However we came across one little girl who looked about three – though was probably older – holding a bar of soap she may have been sent out to buy. When Safari asked if she wanted a chocolate bar, she was horrified, saying her father would beat her.  A lesson well learned there: don’t take sweeties from strangers!

We went to visit a family and their two daughters, who brought out a stool for us to rest on.  There were hens with tiny chicks running around and the family cows were penned up in a small area. The girls were pleased with coloured pencils and a colouring book with instructions for the little one and dot-to-dot with colouring for the older one.

When Safari suggested a photo of us all, the mother refused to be photographed. I wanted her in too, so eventually, after doing herself up by going indoors to get a bright skirt to wrap over her grey one, she agreed. Girls are the same the world over!

We walked on and came to a building where Safari said they make beer from bananas. He said it would cost one US dollar to get a bottle. All three of us agreed that we didn’t drink beer, but would pay the dollar just to look.  Oscar – as a vegetarian – was appalled to discover when we entered the yard to find that they had killed a pig that morning, and all the parts of it were artistically laid out on a table. Flies were dotted all over the meat – the parts all separately lying there – liver, kidney, chops, cheeks, tail, etc.  We went the other way quickly into a little room, where we were shown a bottle of their beer. It said on the bottle that it was made only with bananas, sugar, lemon juice and water and that it was 10% proof. The woman flicked off the lid and poured some into a big green mug. Both the guys refused even to sip it, so I felt I had to. I had one mouthful – it tasted to me like normal beer – no banana flavour.

As we walked on, I asked Safari if he didn’t drink alcohol at all. He said no, then yes, then that he hadn’t drunk any since 2005.  I asked if he’d had a problem and he said he had, so both Oscar and I congratulated him on ten dry years.

Safari said he had taken photos of us during the walk with his phone and asked for our email addresses. We wrote them in a rather swish notebook I have been making notes in during our trip and handed him the book, expecting him to take the page. He thought I was giving him the book, so I took it back, tore out the used pages and handed it back to him to keep.  He was very chuffed, walking round with it on display and was pleased when I said he looked like a real professional.

So we had a real insight today into life in this very green and fertile area and the people who live here – so much more interesting than any sort of official group tour in a vehicle. Actually, pretty much the only vehicles we saw at all were motor bikes – the tracks were too rough and uneven for anything larger.

Oscar and I are making the best of our time here: we are crossing our fingers for Jae up the mountain.

3G Kili Climb – Day Seven – SHE MADE IT!


At 8am this morning she texted:

“Done it. With Dan and Sharon. Jez and Reuben turned back at Stella Point. Bloody hard – comparable to childbirth (well Ivor – not Osc!). Much love. Jx”

So she made it to the top, but only three out of the original seven got to the very top! We are SO PROUD that one of them is our Jae. Well done Jae, you legend.

Exodus trip notes: Summit day

We will start our ascent by torchlight around midnight so that we can be up on the Crater rim by sunrise. The steep climb over loose volcanic scree has some well-graded zigzags and a slow but steady pace will take us to Stella Point (5735m), in about five or six hours. We will rest there for a short time to enjoy the sunrise over Mawenzi. Those who are still feeling strong can make the two hour round trip from here along the crater rim to Uhuru Peak (5,895m), passing close to the spectacular glaciers and ice cliffs that still occupy most of the summit area. The descent to Barafu is surprisingly fast, and after some refreshment, we continue to descend to reach our final campsite (3800m) at Millenium camp. Most of us will be too tired to notice the beauty of the forest surrounding the crowded campsite. This is an extremely long and hard day with between 11 and 15 hours of walking at high altitude.

3G Kili Climb – Day Five

Update from Jae:

“Just reached camp for today. Did Barranco Wall this morning. All fine. The terrain is much lusher than it has been. Less moon, more desert covered in rocks, yuccas and lobelias.”

Exodus trip notes: To Karanga

A short steep climb up the famed Barranco Wall leads us to an undulating trail on the south-eastern flank of Kibo, with superb vistas of the Southern Icefields. The terrain changes to volcanic scree, with pockets of lush vegetation in sheltered hollows, and a powerful sense of mountain wilderness. Our next camp is at Karanga (4000m) a short distance away, the valley floor has the last water point on the approach to Barafu, whilst we camp on the higher sides of the valley with views towards the glaciers of the southern icefields. Approx 4-5 hours walking.

Late Night Footie

Monday 24 August – Sheila

Oscar at 'Anfield'
Oscar at ‘Anfield’

Three guys from the African Walking Company came to visit us this morning, after Oscar had slept for nearly twelve hours and we’d had breakfast, so we were both in good nick.

The African Walking Company is the company Exodus uses to make the day to day arrangements for their clients here. Their head guy, Paulo came with his driver Shabani. They were joined by the assistant guide Mustafa, who had accompanied us off the mountain on Sunday.

We discussed the plans for Oscar and me regarding the possibility of an early return to the UK – not possible – and what we might do in the meantime.

Then they got talking to Oscar about football and saw how animated he became about it. They told us they were going to the “Anfield Game Theatre” in Ngaramtoni tonight (Monday) to watch the Liverpool v Arsenal game live via satellite. They said that satellite TV is too expensive for most people to have at home, but they all pile into the theatre together and shout and roar and have a great time there. They said they were sorry it would be too late for Oscar as the kick off was not till 9.45pm with highlights from 9.30pm.

We discussed it for a while and I could see Oscar desperately wanted to go. I asked him if he would promise to have a sleep in the afternoon and I got Paulo to promise faithfully to take care of him – he had already told me he had kids of 12,7 and 4 of his own – and the deal was done.

I guess I could have gone as a chaperone, but the idea of sitting in a dark theatre watching football on a screen surrounded by shouting men is close to my idea of hell. Besides, I think it is probably a boys thing, and I trust Paulo, particularly as he refuses to accept payment, saying that he wants to take Oscar and knows someone who will love to talk footie with him.

So on Sunday we came off Kilimanjaro in an ambulance and on the very next day, Oscar is being collected at 8.30pm and returned after midnight!! Hmm – doesn’t sound quite right, but that’s altitude sickness for you, I guess – you are fine once you are down.

Tuesday 25th August – Oscar

Last night I went to a theatre named Anfield with the AWC chief. His friend was the owner of the place. We sat on chairs in the front row and watched the Liverpool – Arsenal match. The match ended 0-0 but was very good. Afterwards we took pictures with people and of the theatre. At this point it was past midnight so we went back to the hotel and got there around 1am, concluding a brilliant night out!


3G Kili Climb – Day Four

Exodus trip notes: Great Barranco Valley

A morning of gentle ascent and panoramic views, walking on lava ridges beneath the glaciers of the Western Breach. After lunch near the Lava Tower junction (4550m), we descend to the bottom of the Great Barranco Valley (3900m), sheltered by towering cliffs and with extensive views of the plains far below. Approx 5-7 hours walking.

Sheila’s Report From the Mountain

Florenz, the man who is the chief guide of the group, is a lovely and very attentive man, as are all the other guides and porters. They look after everyone really well, and are always asking if they can do anything to help – carry your day sack for you, get you more food or water, help you with tent or bag zips etc.

The toilet facilities – happily – are much better than anticipated, possibly because there were only 7, now 5, in our group.  The loo is state of the art with a pump to put water in and a lever to pull to make everything disappear – and it really worked. Loo paper always available too and little trace of any smell.  Very different from the experience of those not travelling with such a good company as Exodus Travels, I know.

The food was fine.  We had porridge each morning followed by eggs and bacon with bread and tea, coffee, hot chocolate and Milo to drink. We were given substantial packed lunches in Tupperware containers. We had peanuts or popcorn when we arrived in camp. Dinner consisted of soup, followed by fish or meat, potatoes or rice and vegetables, then fresh fruit.  I suspect that the food will become rather repetitive as the days go on, but it is absolutely amazing that they can cater at all in such circumstances after walking all day, and setting up camp. They cook on calor gas (yes – they carry the canisters up the mountain) in tents in the most basic of circumstances and our cooks were producing meals for 41 people – 7 climbers and 34 support staff, who are the true heroes. The cooking we do for Catching Lives pales into insignificance compared to what these guys achieve.

The others in our group are great fun.  There is Jez and his 13 year old son, Reuben, who live near Aberfoyle and are experienced mountain climbers. Jez, who already climbed Kili a couple of decades ago, is a travel journalist and entertained us all occasionally as we were plodding along behind the guide by shouting “Press coming through” and rushing to the front with his enormous camera.

Then there are Sharon and her 15 year old son Dan, who would be happy to be called adrenalin junkies.  They have travelled all over the world doing extreme sports and activities – jumping out of planes, off mountains etc.

You can imagine that the group are never short of conversation, which is really lovely.  In the evening as well as a lots of chatter, we played travel Pointless and cards – mainly a variant of Pontoon or 21 developed by Jez – which everyone enjoyed.

I know that Jae is in excellent company and hope she isn’t worrying too much about us – Osc and I are just fine.

Oscar well and discussing football with the men from the African Walking Company who organised the climb
Oscar well and discussing football with the men from the African Walking Company who organised the climb and went to visit Sheila and Oscar this morning.

3G Kili Climb – Day Three

Exodus trip notes: Shira Plateau

A day to help acclimatisation and to explore the grassy moorland and the volcanic rock formations of the plateau. We walk to the summit of Shira Cathedral, a huge buttress of rock surrounded by steep spires and pinnacles. There is a tangible sense of wilderness here (especially when the afternoon mists come in!) and the views from our camp near Shira Hut (3840m) of Mt. Meru floating on the clouds are simply unforgettable. The afternoon is free to relax. Approx 4-5 hours walking.

Only One On The Mountain

Sheila and Oscar back at HQTHIS NEWS JUST IN FROM SHEILA:

“On the second night on the mountain, both Oscar and I got D&V (sickness at both ends) – not sure if due to bug, poisoning or altitude.  In the morning we were too debilitated to walk on, and were brought off the mountain by an “ambulance”, which we walked to – about an hour over boulders and rough terrain!  We had to share the passenger seat in the front of the vehicle. There was no seat belt and the windscreen in front of us had a big spiders’s web crack!  The ambulance careered along the dirt track at enormous speed, sending up clouds of red dust – it was like something out of Top Gear!  At one point a guy on a motor bike with sacks of potatoes piled up behind him was driving in the middle of the road, so our driver put on the siren!

We were both as right as rain once we were down.  At one of the stops we handed out all the chocolate we had to street kids and at another, Oscar bought an ice cream – so clearly he is fine!

We are back at Maivoro Coffee Plantation and had a swim in the pool and we are now sitting in the bar with a roaring fire with a coke and a G&T.

So sorry folks, we didn’t make it, but had lots of fun on the way and raised lots of money for our charities.

Oscar might have set a record by doing 152 keepy uppies on the mountain.  He and another boy and his father and a couple of guides had a competition with the football the other lad brought along.

Jae is still on the mountain: we are definitely in a more comfortable place.”

We are all so proud of you both for giving it an incredible go and for all the money you have raised for charity, not to mention the blogs you’ve entertained us with daily. We are just glad that you are safe and well. Our thoughts and support are with Jae who continues the climb. – Gwen

3G Kili Climb – Day Two

Exodus trip notes: Ascend to Shira Plateau

The trail starts out in the lush rich montane forest before ascending into the moorland zone of giant heather. The trail climbs steadily with views across the plains opening out as we reach the rim of the Shira Plateau. There is a tangible sense of wilderness especially if the afternoon mists come in. We camp in the centre of the plateau at Shira One (3550 m). Approx 6-7 hours walking.

3G Kili Climb – Day One

Exodus trip notes: We start our climb

In the morning we transfer to Londorossi (2250 m), passing between the slopes of Kilimanjaro and the horseshoe-shaped volcanic crater of Mt. Meru (a distance of about 120 km). After completing the necessary registration formalities, we drive on for a short distance through farmland and plantations to reach the Lemosho roadhead. The last 5 km of the road to the park gate is of poor quality, particularly after rain, and the drive there should be considered part of the adventure. We often have our lunch in the glades before starting to walk. It is an easy day of walking up a small path through beautiful and lush forest, this area has a variety of game including buffalo. We camp at Lemosho Forest camp (2650 m). Approx 3-4 hours walking.