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  Everest Summiter Gary Guller's Team Mt. Kilimanjaro trip report

Dispatches: Summer, July 2004 - Team Mt. Kilimanjaro &
Wildlife Camping Safari With Nice Folks Expedition

01 July to 19 July ( Chicago-Amsterdam-Kilimanjaro-Amsterdam-Chicago) 2 1/2 Weeks

Expedition Overview

Mt. Kilimanjaro - Tanzania, Africa

Tanzania is one of the few countries in the world that is endowed with a vast range of natural wonders. More than 25% of Tanzania's land area (about one million square miles) is covered with magnificent game reserves and national parks. Tanzania has 12 national parks, 29 game reserves, 40 controlled conservation areas and a marine park. It is bordered by several great lakes including Lake Tanganyika (the world's 2nd deepest), Lake Victoria (the world's 2nd largest, where Burton Speke discovered the Nile River source) and Lake Nyasa. Olduvai Gorge is where Dr. Louis and Mary Leaky discovered the oldest remains of the 4 million years old homohabilllis.

Tanzania is the home of the everlasting snow capped mountain MOUNT KILIMANJARO. The crown of Tanzania, Kilima is the Swahili word for "little mountain" or "hill". Jaro has less certain roots. Theories on the name's origin include: Njaro, a "devil" characterized by eternal cold and Ngare, the Maasai word for "water source".

Dispatch One

Shira - Kilimanjaro

July 4, 2004 - Team Kilimanjaro has all arrived safely into Tanzania and has had a glorious day exploring the local town of Moshi and the surrounding region. We watched a wonderful and exciting cultural show over dinner at our inn at the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Everybody is in good form and we send a big hello to our family and friends and a special hello to Crockett!

We'll contact you upon our return from our safe and enjoyable ascent of the highest free standing mountain in the world. speak with you in six days!

Team Arun Kilimanjaro 2004

The view of this majestic mountain's gigantic snow-capped summit dome, rising high above the surrounding savannah is one of Africa's classic images. At 5,896m (19,344 ft), Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa, and one of the highest volcanoes in the world, attracting trekkers and climbers from all over the world. The attraction is even greater because with adequate time and preparation, it is possible to walk all the way to the summit without technical mountaineering equipment or experience.

The Kilimanjaro massif has an oval base about 130 - 200 miles across, and rises spectacularly above the surrounding plains. The two main peak areas are Kibo, the flat-topped dome at the center of the massif, which dips inwards to form a crater, and Mawenzi, a group of jagged pinnacles on the eastern side. The highest point on Kibo is the 19,344' Uhuru Peak and our summit goal! Although Kilimanjaro lies just 3 south of the equator, both Kibo and Mawenzi have permanent caps of snow and ice.

Dispatch Two

Cheetah in Tanzania

July 11 - Hi there all!

Thank you for supporting this fine expedition and sending your good vibes to us all the way to the Top of Africa. We had 100 percent success with all team members and all guides reaching the summit ridge and summits at approximately 7:02am 9 July 2004. See, the difference in climbing with Arun is that we try our best to make the ascent not only challenging, but more importantly, enjoyable. We all had the most beautiful sunrise ever, :). We are all safe, in Moshi relaxing and preparing for the next 5 days of safari exploration.

A big huge hello to all Moms, Dads, Sons, Daughters, Grandparents, Cats, Dogs, Fish, Cows, and the goats.

We are off - we love you all. Team Good Folks 2004

After a day relaxing poolside at the lovely Inn just outside Moshi, we'll head out for 5 adventurous days on wildlife safari in Northern Tanzania, traveling in a very comfortable, roomy 4WD vehicle. The birds, mammals and plants in the lush forest of Lake Manyara National Park, on the Serengeti and in the 100-square mile Ngorongoro Crater are truly amazing.

We'll spend time with local Maasai villagers and camp close to nature on the plains, the sounds of wildlife all around us. This safari offers some of the most celebrated animal viewing in the world, including cheetahs, leopards, lions, rhinos, zebras, elephants and giraffes.

Dispatch Three

Elephant in Africa

July 17 - Survived all the nibbles from the Warthogs!

We arrived in Moshi at the Inn ready for long hot showers and airing out of our camping gear! The success on the mountain had been amazing every step of the way. Once we got ourselves clean and clothes washed we celebrated with a delicious meal and cocktails. There was much toasting to go around. Even amidst the reminiscing we were looking forward to our next adventure on Safari at Lake Manyara, the Serengeti and the Ngoro Ngora Crater. After resting a day in the pool and sauna and shopping in Moshi, we headed out in 3 laden Land Cruisers. We were on our way!

Lake Manyara

In the first hour our animal sightings were limited to goats, cows and the occasional donkey but before long we were unloading our gear and opening the tops of the Land Cruisers to view an amazing array of wildlife. Baboons and Vervet Monkeys with infants clinging to their backs greeted us as we entered Lake Manyara. Soon the first giraffe lifted its head above the acacia and the photography began in earnest. Zebras, warthogs, elephants and water buffalo were within feet of our lenses...sometimes we had to just drop our cameras and stare at the amazing beauty of all this wildlife in its natural habitat. We continued on to the lake and spent an hour viewing the hippos, flamingoes, pelicans, storks and other water animals at close range and through binoculars. We were off to a wonderful start.

The Serengeti

After a delicious meal and a night of camping under the stars at Moyo Hill, we were off to the Serengeti. Along the route we observed huge herds of gazelle and impala, topi and ostriches. We also saw many Masai villages and herders out with their flocks. An amazing culture of people who live off the land. An interesting note is that Serengeti comes from the Masai word serengit which means "endless plain" a fitting title to a nomadic tribe that walks the land. We thought it a perfect name as well and we were in trucks! After a few short hours we were rewarded with our first lioness sighting - asleep in the shade of some rocks with her cubs. Our good fortune continued and we soon came upon 4 male lions asleep on the side of the road - mere feet from our land cruiser! There was a lot of discussion about what they would do if anyone ventured out to get a closer look, but needless to say, none of us moved a muscle.

When we arrived at our first camp in the Serengeti - and IN the Serengeti is literal as there were no fences, barriers or anything separating us from the wildlife - we quickly unloaded, pitched our tents and went out on a sunset safari drive. Within minutes we came upon a family of 9 elephants - from huge matriarch to small baby - eating their way through a clump of bushes. With the sun setting behind them as the lumbered off - it was a beautiful sight indeed. On the way back to camp we had our first hyena sighting which was a bit disconcerting as it seemed to be headed straight toward our camping area! Although we did not see it again that night, we certainly heard it and some of its friends not so far off in the distance!

The remainder of our time in the Serengeti was filled with amazing observances of all the wildlife we could imagine - herds of zebra skittishly drinking at a pool, hippos like you wouldn't believe, crocs, a lioness dividing her attentions between two males, the elusive pair of cheetah lounging in the shade, secretary birds, sly hyenas, a family of about of 27 elephants including a tiny baby less than one month old by our driver's guess, and at sunset a lioness with her three cubs and her zebra kill gorging themselves beside a pool. It is hard to describe the beauty of all this nature.

Ngoro Ngoro Crater

As we left the Serengeti for Ngoro Ngoro Crater (a word which means the eldest of the elders in Masai) we couldn't imagine what else was on the horizon for us. On our way, we stopped at a Masai village and were allowed in to see their culture and their homes as well as hear some of there songs and purchase items they had for sale. Amazing to say the least. As we reached the campsite on the crater rim we were greeted with an amazing view of the vastness below us and decided to head down immediately after pitching our tents. As we drove toward the crater we saw an elephant grazing quite close to our camp and began to wonder what types of visitors we'd have over the next two nights of camping along the crater rim.

During our days in the crater we glimpsed much of the amazing wildlife it sustains. Thousands of wildebeest walking in single file, herds of zebra and gazelle, warthogs grazing in their odd kneeling position, pairs of ostrich, pools overflowing with hippos, birds hunting in the high grasses, enormous water buffalo and even a black shoulder kite that dive bombed us while we were eating lunch! Some of witnessed a trio of lioness miss a warthog kill by mere inches (Janis and Tim have the tape to prove it!) and through binoculars we finally caught a faraway look at one of the crater's rhinos. From what we heard from our guide and driver, the crater is home to about 15-20 rhinos, but they are difficult to spot and often don't come into the open spaces especially during windy, dusty days. He also explained that the rangers in the crater sleep out in the wilderness with the rhinos to protect them from poachers trying to kill them for their horns!

Leaving the crater was like a clip from Jurassic Park - Huge trees, gigantic bull elephants, a herd of zebra grazing and several hyena scavenging from an old kill with a few vultures attempting to get a bite in without getting killed in the process. As we drove up the steep switch backs to exit this immense, lush wilderness, we sat down and were thankful for all we witnessed and learned on this wonderful journey. WE felt truly blessed -tired and dusty, but an adventure nonetheless!

A great adventure! Over and out from The Team Arun Team Mt. Kilimanjaro & Wildlife Camping Safari With Nice Folks Expedition Summer 2004. Gary

Gary Guller, Everest summiter, author and motivational speaker. To book Gary
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