We stayed at the Springland Hotel in Tanzania (which is connected to Zara tours, the company we were hiking with) the night before we hiked Kilimanjaro. I am not sure what I expected of the hotel, the roads leading up to it were dirt and the area surrounding, simple and rustic. A garden with palm trees, and gorgeous flowers broken apart by cobblestone style walkways was not even on my radar. But that is exactly what we found when we arrived- well that and a smiling staff, they almost made me feel as though I had just arrived home after a long trip.
After checking into our room we worked out a plan for the lost luggage. Did I mention they lost my friend’s bag? Apparently that happened to about half the plane. I don’t know what happened at the airport in Amsterdam, but I hope it was fun. Regardless, Y’all. Never in my life have I met such kind and helpful people. I mean these people, at our hotel, assured us that the luggage would come, but not only that, that if it didn’t come in the morning, they would bring it to my friend on the mountain – What?! – They said they would bring the luggage up Kilimanjaro, as soon as it arrived. I was blown away.
Side Story – when I moved to Italy the airlines lost my luggage and when it arrived, they simply left it outside my apartment with a note… this was the complete opposite of that in the best possible way.
Alright, so we had the luggage figured out, kind of, and had our tally hoe (as my mom would say) or the next day – so, my thoughts shifted to re-packing and sleeping.
Re-packing? Absolutely. I knew that I was going to be going to multiple locations on this trip and I didn’t want to bring everything up the mountain.
This is probably a good point to explain how the hiking process works. When you hike Kilimanjaro you are responsible for carrying a daypack with anything and everything you might need or want during the day. A group of insanely nice and strong fellas carry the rest of your gear, think sleeping bag, change of clothes, …etc.
I am absolutely positive that these wonderful guys didn’t want to carry up non-essential gear anymore than I wanted to bring it. Online, I read that everything you need for the five day hike should fit into a small – medium duffle bag, so that is what I went with. And honestly, I had already planned to wear things for multiple days and resigned myself to the idea of bathing with baby wipes, so I didn’t have a lot of gear anyway. The biggest pain was my sleeping bag … that thing is just a pain in the butt to pack – can you say first world problem?
To make the journey across the pond, I packed everything for the entirety of my trip in a large rolling suitcase. Within that, I packed my empty duffle bag and all the gear for the hike on one side of the bag. On the other, I packed the rest of my stuff for the remainder of the trip. It worked out beautifully. Having two separate compartments came in clutch later when all my gear was completely and totally filthy – the space saving bags helped with that too.
During breakfast we made friends with the waiter, who, excited to talk to us, taught us the song of Kilimanjaro. He was even nice enough to write it down for us, along with a few other words that I was desperately interested to know. After breakfast we made our way to the front desk where we met our guide – Jambo (hello) Mndeme and Salimu. Because my friend’s bags had not yet arrived, Mndame took us to rent some gear from the hotel and then we were on our way.
TIPS FROM THIS LEG OF THE JOURNEY
- Bring bug spray with you and make sure that the spray bottle works before you leave
- The duffle bag I used for the trip was the northface base camp medium – anything similar to that would work perfect for a 5 day hike. Also I borrowed mine after putting a call out on Facebook – you never know what your friends have and it never hurts to ask.
- Bring lots of snacks for the hike – including snickers, which the guides in particular love
- The jacket I rented was $20 for the five days and it was clutch. Highly recommend leaving your jacket at home/ not purchasing an expensive one, and just renting one. You’ll be warm, happy, and you won’t have to carry around a dirty jacket for the rest of your trip (and you will get dirty).
- The water that comes in water bottles in Tanzania have a lot of chemicals in them – we had a lot of trouble with that, not being used to drinking it. Luckily I had water bottles with water filters in them – that was a life saver. Make sure you bring at least one extra filter with you.
- Bring more cash then you think you will need – there will be bumps along the way, that is jut how international travel works, it is always better to feel a little flushed then not.
- There is this amazing thing called a stuff sack. It shrinks your sleeping bag down and is easy to pack. I didn’t have one but let me tell you, it is worth it to get one. It was about the only thing I wished I had taken the time to get.