When you plan an expedition to Kilimanjaro, the trip is all about the climb. All of your planning, your thoughts, your training, all of it is about the mountain. But when you’re going all the way to Tanzania, you want to see a little of the local area as well. so, what’s the area around Kilimanjaro like? Our guide Louise Lawrence wrote a little bit around her trip back in September 2017…
The area around Kilimanjaro
“The Kilimanjaro trip creates its own excitement. Living on the mountain, climbing, sunsets, local people, struggle, euphoria, it’s all encompassing. But we rarely talk about the other experiences that make this such a great trip. I was incredibly lucky to meet such amazing people on my last climb. Kind, funny, energetic, and to top it all my sister and great friend were there too.
Where we stayed
We arrived to the usual excitement and busy afternoon of expedition briefing, gear check and overall planning for the next seven days on the mountain. However, people still managed to find the time to swim, lie in the sun, have a beer and order a dinner. On this trip we stayed in the Outpost Lodge in Arusha, which has the dining room and bar half inside and half outside. Monkeys can be seen in the trees and, depending on the time of year, the trees are full of amazing purple flowers. You truly feel like you have arrived in Africa.
The real Africa
On the road journey to the mountain you get your first glimpse of real Africa. The bustle of traffic, children walking to school, stalls and shops, street food and people working the fields. Everyone is spellbound by the smell, noise and bustle. The way back is even more intense as we are all tired and a bit emotional that the time on the mountain is over. Luckily the trip is far from over! There are still plenty of experiences to come.
Dirty and tired on the way back to the hotel we stopped for lunch at a shop/restaurant close to Kilimanjaro. They had porcelain toilets and hand basins – a real treat after the trek. We sat and ate in a beautiful courtyard surrounded by art and sculpture created by local artists. There was also a shop to start your present buying or your collection of African memorabilia! We went back to the hotel for a shower, cold drink and our celebratory dinner. What an evening – stories, food, chatter and a lot of energy until the early hours of the morning!
We had a full day and a half to soak up more Africa before we made our way home. There is an option of a day’s safari. Most of our group left at 6.30am in big Safari jeeps and returned 12 hours later in a state of excitement or as one person said “total sensory overload”. They couldn’t believe what they saw in just one day; lions, zebras, giraffes, elephants and more, in every direction. Unbelievable. Some people chose to stay in Arusha and explore, or went to local eateries to relax in stunning gardens. Gardens with shade, sofas covered in cushions surrounded by trees, monkeys, birds and cocktails! All simply heaven after the trek.
As we met up that evening for chats and dinner, an acrobatic group arrived at the hotel. To everyone’s amazement, they put on a show of fire and acrobatics right beside the pool. It felt like the amazing experiences would never end.
The local markets
The local market was the last visit of our trip. The Masai Market was only short walk from the hotel, and is full of friendly haggling, back pats and laughter. I was never sure who was getting the better deal but both parties seemed happy!
One last surprise…
As we headed to the airport we said goodbye to some of our team. They had taken advantage of flights and extended their trip to Zanzibar and a multi-day safari – lucky lot! The final treat before we went home was literally a “flyby” from our pilot… straight past Kilimanjaro. I was surprised the plane didn’t tilt as half the passengers stuck their noses to the window for a good look!
A twelve day journey of contrasts and stunning experiences – what a trip to Africa.”
If this has you excited about the area around Kilimanjaro, take a look at our upcoming expeditions to the mountain here.