First stop Nairobi

Trip Start Dec 02, 2006
Trip End Dec 13, 2006

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Monday, December 4, 2006

Finally, the trip that has been in the planning for about twelve months begins!

I don't think I have ever booked anything as far in advance as this one, and yet I needed all that time in order to raise around 3,000 for my chosen charity, Alzheimer's Society.

Despite most people wearing their Charity Challenge t-shirts, I didn't actually meet any of the group I was going to be trekking with until we were swarming round the baggage reclaim in Nairobi Airport. Fortunately, most of them turned out to be fairly normal - the kind of people I am happy to spend holidays with!

Once we had all collected our baggage and met our local guides, we set off in minivans to make our way to Tanzania, where our adventure would really begin! I would love to start by saying how scenic the drive through southern Kenya was, but the reality is, I was exhausted due to not sleeping on the flight, and so dozed much of the way to the border, missing out on my first glimpse of a zebra, as well as a few Maasai tribesmen.

The journey to the Kenya-Tanzania border took a couple of hours. Once there, we were greeted by hawkers trying to sell us everything from beaded jewellery to carved wooden animals - they were very persistent but ultimately unsuccessful. It didn't take long for us to exit Kenya, but a hundred metres or so further along the road, it took much longer for us all to be admitted into Tanzania. The landscape was far greener than expected, mainly due to the recent rainfall. In fact, the last two weeks of November and the first week of December has apparently seen more rain than in the previous eighteen months put together. I, for one, was not surprised to hear this, especially given the conditions we later had to endure.

Our lunch stop was something of a surprise - a large tent in the middle of a plain, with a couple of Maasai tribesmen, with spears, watching nearby. Unfortunately our views of the mountain were obscured by rainclouds that were to become something of a symbol of our trip. We had a huge buffet lunch, before setting off in 4x4s, much more suited to the terrain we would be covering.

The roofs of the 4x4s came off, so we got great views as we bounced through the countryside, and were lucky enough to see some zebras, ostriches, wildebeest and even a few giraffes!

Our first night's camp was in a large clearing, tents were already pitched, there was a bar and even a 'shower block'.
By this I mean there were two canvas tents, approximately 1m x 1m x 2m high, with a bucket of water perched on top of each. To operate the shower, you stood in the cubicle and pulled a string, which released a gentle flow of warm water - more than enough to wash under, and which was stopped by pulling the other end of the string. It was luxury!

We were lucky enough to be able to make a trip to a nearby Maasai village, and see for ourselves the conditions they live in. the small round huts were completely dark inside, all set closely together. The children generally were happy for us to take photos of them - they absolutely delighted in being able to see the images and laughed and shrieked with joy when we let them see the cameras.

We met our mountain guide for the trip, Sabas, who gave us a briefing on what we could expect on the trip and also warned us to beware of hyenas and Maasai in the vicinity overnight but I don't think anyone had any close encounters. For about the only time on the trip, everyone was too warm overnight - the sensation didn't last long!

Breakfast was a treat - bacon, sausages and eggs. Food was a main theme on our trip - three three-course meals every day, as well as snacks after each walk and cups of tea brought to our tents every morning!
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