Elephant Herd in the Masai Mara, Kenya

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A White Christmas in Africa

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


Sixteeen years since my last attempt at climbing Kilimanjaro, I wanted to face the challenge again. Better equipped with thermal gloves, handwarmers and fleece hats compared with the Marigold washing up gloves, towels for scarves and lack of preparation the last time. Kilimanjaro - the largest free-standing mountain in the world - has Uhuru Peak at its summit at 5,895m or 19, 340ft. We took the Machame Route and camping at Barafu in deep snow we were despondent, thinking the weather conditions might thwart our attempt for the final push at midnight. It was the deepest snow our guide had ever seen in his 410 climbs!

The snow made the summit a difficult climb (and descent!) but we were rewarded with spectacular view. Spare a thought for those on the Marangu route who had to turn back after a rock fall 200m from Gilman's Point, the crater rim.

Our small group was strong both physically and mentally but it was unanimous to opt for more luxurious camping, hot showers and delicious food, this time next year. Now home, I'm proposing alternative safari trips for Christmas 2007. I shall be at Destinations Travel Show 1-4 February and look forward to discussing holiday ideas for next year.