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Entries from Kilimanjaro


Kilimanjaro: Hahn & Team Begin their Climb

Greetings from 10,000 ft on the flanks of Kilimanjaro.  My team hasn’t actually seen Mt Kilimanjaro yet, they are taking it on faith that there is a big volcano hidden somewhere in the clouds.  From the Arumeru River Lodge at 7 AM breakfast, there was no sign of the mountain and we didn’t get even a hint of a sighting during our 1.5 hour drive to the Machame Gate of the National Park.  Along the highway and under the clouds, there was plenty to see.  We watched Tanzanian kids going off to school and their parents heading off to work.  We saw people laboring in corn fields and vegetable gardens.  We watched plenty of buses and taxis stopping to let folks on or off.  As the road steepened closer to the mountain, people were tending to banana groves and coffee plants.  The park gate itself was a busy place as trucks and buses unloaded and porters were issued loads and signed up for their week of hard work.  We got signed in with the National Park and were issued our permit.  At 10:20 AM it was finally -after months of planning and training and after days of travel, packing and prepping- time to start walking.  Our local guide staff, Naiman as leader, Freddy and Philibet, Jorome and Gamma led us up a road into the big trees.  The road became a trail after 30 minutes and the trail eventually started going uphill steadily.  It was all made slightly easier by the cloud cover keeping the sun off of us.  In fact it was a perfect temperature for walking.  We came up 4000 vertical feet in five hours, which included a few lunch/rest breaks.  In the process we got out of the big, lush forest and into the “giant heather” of the Moorland vegetation zone.  The team took it all in stride -so to speak- and we pulled into Machame Camp close to 3:30.  We were pleased and surprised to see the fine camp our staff had already built while we hiked.  Our sleeping tents were ready for us to move into and a snack and hot drinks were waiting for us in the dining tent.  There was time for a welcome rest between tea and our 6:30 dinner.  Chef Tosha came into the tent as darkness fell and dinner was served to greet the team and introduce his assistant cooks and wait staff.  We were amazed and pleased to have such a fine meal halfway up a mountain… assuming again that we really are on a mountain.  Maybe we’ll see it tomorrow.

Best Regards
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

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Kilimanjaro: Hahn & Team Prep Day at the Arumeru River Lodge

This was our prep day for Kilimanjaro.  We got started with introductions and itineraries at 9 AM in the hotel “boma” -the meeting place.  There was plenty to cover regarding what to expect on the climb and how we’d tackle various challenges along the way.  We followed the meeting up with equipment checks and packing… and lunch on the outside patio of the dining area. After lunch all that remained was to weigh the bags and to catch up on some rest.  Some chose to walk the garden-like grounds of the hotel, checking out the Dik Dik (smallest of the antelope family) population and the vervet monkey troupe that came to visit.  We didn’t get a view of Kilimanjaro itself today although our morning overcast eventually broke up… things stayed murky to the north and east.  We enjoyed dinner on the patio to finish the day and turned in by around 9 to get plenty of rest for the start of our adventure. 

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

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Kilimanjaro: Hahn & Team All Present in Tanzania

Wonder of wonders, all ten climbers made it through to Tanzania and Kilimanjaro International Airport without missing flights or losing baggage. We’ve got the team assembled at the Arumeru River Lodge on the outskirts of Arusha…folks have eaten dinner and are now attempting to sleep away some of their jet lag. In the morning we’ll meet to get into the nuts and bolts of preparing for a Kilimanjaro climb.

Best Regards,
Dave Hahn

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Kilimanjaro: Hahn & Team Spend One Last Day in Tarangire National Park

Our team loved sleeping in the “tent cabins” of Balloon Camp.  Deep within Tarangire National Park and with no fences separating us from the wildlife we’d been observing, we were careful to observe rule one… don’t go out in the dark without an armed escort.  It was still a little dark when we got the day going this morning.  We enjoyed breakfast and then we split up… which might have been traumatic except those going in the “early car” were either heading home or to the beach and those of us in the “late car” were going out for a morning Safari… there were no losers.  Those of us on Safari were immediately on high alert in the cool morning air, looking hard for leopards and lions.  We searched along the margin of a vast and beautiful marsh and went good long stretches without seeing other people or cars.  This certainly added to the thrill of discovery when we came upon two mature and majestic lions and one gorgeous lioness lounging about and waiting for the plentiful wildebeest/zebra/impala/elephant/giraffe/ostrich/water buck/buffalo/tourist to get careless and come within range.  That didn’t happen while we watched, but then we didn’t watch for very long on this final day… there was still too much good stuff to see.  About mid morning, we came upon a big pride (the count got tricky in the tall grass after 8 -including cubs and a full-grown male) going hunting.  They stampeded zebra and wildebeest -which was exciting to see, and made their kill out of our viewing range, which was actually ok since by that point we were heading for the park gate and Arusha and scheduled flights home.  There was still time in late afternoon back at the Arumeru River Lodge for a pre-flight shower, a re-pack and a good early dinner together.  But then we had to say our goodbyes and break up what was left of a great team.  Oddly, the most repeated declaration today was “this was more fun than I thought it was going to be”.  We’re declaring victory for the RMI Expeditions early August Kilimanjaro Climb and Safari

I’m sticking around for the late August one as well.  Thanks very much for following along to this point. 
Best Regards
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

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Kilimanjaro: Hahn & Team Visit Maasai Boma & See Tarangire National Park

Another big day out in East Africa. It was tough to leave the comfortable Plantation Lodge this morning, but we had things to do and places to see. We stopped for some plain old tourism in the morning—shopping for gifts and souvenirs. Next up was a visit to a Maasai village. The Maasai are famous among the many tribes of Tanzania for holding onto their traditional ways. The villagers demonstrated their chanting and singing. They showed how high they could jump and invited our team to join in the competition. They brought us into the central corral, built of thorny branches and trees arranged in a tight circle, where their cattle are protected from predators each night. After demonstrating building a fire without matches, they explained a little of how their families are structured and welcomed us into their well-built but very small homes made of sticks, mud and dung. Our team tried bargaining for some of the handmade craft pieces the Maasai women were offering and then we got on the road for Tarangire National Park.

Tarangire is a vast park encompassing three parallel river courses. As soon as we were past the giant baobab trees that mark the park entrance, we began seeing zebra, impala and wildebeest in such numbers that we began taking these animals for granted. We got selective, only wanting to slow down for giraffes and elephants. None of us were casual or blasé about seeing a big sleepy leopard draped over the branches of an acacia tree. He or she (there was some debate) was exceedingly beautiful. We spied a lioness watching the world from a camouflaged clump of brush on a riverbank. And we saw many elephant families of mothers with their young ranging from 6 months to a year or two. We watched them feed and rest in the shade, we saw them using their trunks as straws to pull water from underground. We saw grassy savannas and thickets of trees and palms. Essentially we saw wildlife and wilderness from horizon to horizon. When we were deep within the park, we entered Balloon Camp, our lodging for this, our final evening together. We savored an evening watching sunset, moonrise and “bush television” (a campfire) before dinner.

The adventure isn’t finished just yet, we still hope for new discoveries in the morning…but everyone has airplanes to catch at some point tomorrow.

Best Regards,
Dave Hahn

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Kilimanjaro: Hahn & Team Descend into floor of Ngorongoro Crater

It was cloudy and cool at Plantation Lodge when we set out at 7 this morning.  And it was cloudier and cooler still when we reached the rim of the giant collapsed volcano that we intended to spend the day inside of.  We each had jackets or sweaters on as Fabian and Godson brought the Landcruisers down the steep and exposed road into the Ngorongoro caldera.  We began seeing wildlife immediately.  Herds (big herds) of wildebeest, zebra and Cape buffalo.  We went on the prowl, looking for big cats and rhinos.  This would be our only opportunity to see black rhinos… but we came up empty on that score.  Those guys were a little too shy to come into range of our binoculars.  We did see some cats -big and small- there was a serval cat and there were some lions.  We got a look at a lioness staring intently through the grass at some unsuspecting buffalo.  And ultimately we saw two full grown male lions lounging on what turned out to be a sunny afternoon.  We saw hippos and elephants and secretary birds and bustards.  There were hyenas and jackals and vultures.  By day’s end, we were barely turning our heads to see gazelles as they’d become too run of the mill and common.  We saw plenty of other Toyota Landcruisers -it is high season for tourism after all.  We crisscrossed the crater and bounced over darn near every dirt road, still standing with our heads out the tops of the vehicles at 5 PM trying to see every last critter and geological wonder we could.  Finally we escaped the caldera and came home to our comfy hotel.  We watched the sun set and the moon rise, had a relaxing and reminiscing outdoor happy hour before a fine dinner in the dining room. 

Best Regards
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

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Kilimanjaro: Hahn & Team Explore Lake Manyara National Park

Beds are a wonderful invention.  That seemed to be the consensus view shared over breakfast at the Arumeru River Lodge this morning.  Leaving for Safari was certainly easier and more casual than leaving to climb Kilimanjaro was.  We drove west through Arusha starting just after 8 AM and after all the traffic and stoplights it was a relief to break into the open countryside beyond the city.  Our two Landcruiser drivers are also our two naturalists and guides.  Godson and Fabian began educating us on Tanzania in general, on the Maasai Tribe (since we are passing through much Maasai territory) on trees and animals and geography. 
It took the morning to reach Lake Manyara, our National Park for the day.  We popped the tops on the cars and stood hanging over the edges with cameras and binoculars in hopes of seeing exotic critters.  We weren’t disappointed.  There were Cape Buffalo and a few shy elephants.  There were giraffes and wildebeest and zebra.  Storks, pelicans, flamingos, vultures and ibis.  We saw monkeys and baboons.  Folks liked the hippos out rolling in lily-covered wallows, yawning and grunting and flipping their tails.
After a great picnic lunch, we drove a few more rough dirt road laps through forest and the lake shore and then in late afternoon drove out of the park and up the escarpment of the Great Rift Valley to our hotel -the Plantation Lodge.  The contrast with our dusty camps of the past week could not be greater.  Plantation is a beautiful garden surrounding with tastefully constructed and furnished rooms.  The dining room and bar are comfortable enough, with such friendly service, that a few of our team are now considering simply living here indefinitely.  They can do that after tomorrow though, because we’re going out exploring again… Ngorongoro Crater is calling us. 

Best Regards
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

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Kilimanjaro: Hahn & Team Back to Usa River

A night at “low” altitude in 10,000 ft Mweka Camp did us a world of good.  The team showed up at 7 AM breakfast rested and ready for anything.  What we got was more perfect weather.  We did our “gratitude ceremony” with our 49 man staff just before setting out for our final walk.  The lead guides made a few speeches, gratuities were distributed, hands got shaken and then we got to the good part… our staff sang, danced and clapped hands as we joined in.  We got on the trail at 8:30 and instantly were back into the thick and shady forests.  The trail was about as good as it could be, but there were still slippery and slick stretches on some steep inclines. We each navigated these obstacles with great care but invariably up to a dozen porters carrying heavy loads on their heads would come thundering down the wet trail at flank speed to pass as we slowed down.  It only took us about 2 1/2 hours to drop the four thousand feet to the Mweka Gate.  We were lucky enough to see a few black and white Colobus monkeys up in the big trees on the way. Our bus was ready and waiting to take the team a few minutes away from the gate for a fine picnic lunch before the big drive back to the Arumeru River Lodge. Each of us was happy to be finishing, but sad to be saying goodbye to the staff who’d helped us in immeasurable ways. 
After a few hours on the highway -studying Tanzania from the windows- we rolled into our lodge at 3 PM.  Folks went straight for the showers and then stayed pretty busy for the rest of the first afternoon back in the comfortable world.  We prepped a bit for Safari, some visited the mountain staff in their nearby homes, some went through e-mail and photos.  We got together for a victory dinner outside on a patio under the stars.  The hotel surprised us with a celebratory Kilimanjaro cake and some fine singing.
Everybody is excited at the prospect of sleeping in a bed tonight… but we won’t be sleeping late in the morning.  Our Safari begins bright and early. 

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

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Kilimanjaro: Hahn &  Team Summit Highest Point in Africa

—Update—

Wake up was at 11:30 PM last night, breakfast was at midnight. We set off for the summit at 12:45 AM in perfect conditions for climbing. It was cool at 15,000 ft Barafu Camp, but not terribly cold. The sky was clear and the air was calm. As expected, there were plenty of teams going for the top, but we didn’t encounter much in the way of traffic jams. We went 90 minutes before our first rest break and then kept it to just ten minutes so as not to get too cold. Basically, we climbed for nearly six hours in the dark with the air getting progressively thinner and colder. The team handled it all quite well and we rolled onto the crater rim at Stella Point at 6:30 AM, just as the sun tipped over the horizon. We had a magnificent walk along the crater rim in the light of the new day, arriving at the true summit, Uhuru, at 7:24 AM.  It was time for a few hero shots and handshakes. We spent nearly a half hour at Africa’s highest point and then began the big descent to thicker air. We dropped down dusty scree fields and pulled back into high camp at 10:45 AM. It was a relief to get out of all the cold weather clothing, since it was now hot, and back into hiking clothes.

Our staff served us up a great “brunch” and then we packed up once again and skedaddled. We got headed down at 12:30 PM and dropped a further 5,000 vertical feet to reach Mweka Camp at the start of the forest. To be sure, our gang worked hard and folks were tired, but everybody made it in to camp by 4:00 PM, which is quite a respectable finish to a big day. Appetites are returning, headaches are fading and hopes are high for a full night of sleep in low altitude, well humidified air. People are starting to talk about showers…the end is near.

We did great things today, but not without a huge boost from our local staff. From our guides, to the kitchen crew, and porters.. many went the “extra mile” in every sense to help us achieve, and enjoy, our dream. 

Best Regards,
Dave Hahn


—Original Post—

Hey this is Dave Hahn calling from Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. We summitted today. We were on top of Uhuru, the highest point in Africa, at about 20 minutes after 7 this morning 25 minutes after 7. Pretty good - excellent conditions, nice and calm, beautiful day. Now it’s ten minutes after 11 in the morning and we are back at High Camp. We are going to rest up here a little bit and then go down to Mweka Camp, way down there at 10,000 feet. That will be a full day. We have been up since 11:30 last night. I’ll check in when w are down at Mweka Camp.  We are all good here.

RMI Guide Dave Hahn


RMI Guide Dave Hahn calls to report reaching the summit of Kilimanjaro.

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Well done!! Jeff Tracy, we willl celebrate at Boma at WDW in your honor tonight!-Team Falls

Posted by: Team Falls on 8/12/2019 at 4:57 am

Congratulations, Mike, to you, your team, your RMI guide, and the staff on reaching the summit!

Posted by: Pat Winiarski on 8/11/2019 at 2:12 pm


Kilimanjaro: Hahn & Team Arrive at Barafu Camp & Prepare for Summit Bid

Another day of perfect weather on Kilimanjaro. We’re starting to feel lucky. A few of the team ventured out in the dark last night to capture long exposure shots of the night sky and the moonlit mountain. At dawn we were far above the clouds and in perfectly calm and clear conditions. We set out from 13,300’ Karanga Camp around 9:00 AM on a moderate but steady grade. Before long we reached the end of any vegetation and came into the Alpine zone. Without tree cover, we could see all of our neighboring expeditions and all of their associated porters moving as if in some mass migration. Hundreds of people with loads on their backs and or heads, all moving steadily toward Barafu Camp (Swahili for “ice”) at 15,000’. We arrived in short order at 11:30 AM, with everybody feeling strong. Our purposely easy afternoon was spent lounging about, eating, drinking and prepping for tonight’s summit bid. Normally folks lose their appetite at altitude, but Chef Tosha prepared a fine spaghetti dinner and none of our team let it go to waste. After dinner, it was a tough thing to quit watching the beautiful sunset and fading light, but the gang retired to the tents early. We’ll be up in just a handful of hours for our alpine start and a climb to the Roof of Africa.

Best Regards,
RMI Guide Dave Hahn

On The Map

Leave a Comment For the Team (2)

The climb sounds like so much fun.  Wish I could traveled with you all.  Wishing all well as you reach the top.

Posted by: Cynthia Chitwood on 8/11/2019 at 5:54 am

I am enjoying the blog and what an incredible journey!  Can’t wait to hear all about your experiences especially reaching the summit….Michael Shannon!

Posted by: Dona Marrah on 8/10/2019 at 10:52 am

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