Kilimanjaro Diary: Day One

9:49 AM

It’s only the first day and my body is exhausted from the journey to our hotel in Arusha. We are staying at Planet Lodge which somehow reminds me of Al Nahda resort and spa in its layout. Looks quite similar but this hotel is I think smaller than Al Nahda. 

The trip started with us gathering at the Costa Coffee by the departures gate in Muscat International Airport. We are 10 participants in total, all Omanis taking part in this Kilimanjaro Survival Challenge and we all hit it off immediately. The chemistry is there which is promising for when things get tougher up the mountain.

Ethiopian Airlines was the carrier Outward Bound Oman chose and to be honest I would have preferred a different airline simply due to the fact that the service was not the best in addition to its unpredictable changes of destinations. The plane was a 737 which was literally packed on our way to Addis Ababa with no entertainment nor blanket nor nothing! Come 5 hours later and we disembark to an even more crowded airport, wait a few more hours and then off we go to Kilimanjaro only to find out while up in the air that we are to land in Mombasa first before we move ahead to the final destination. The flight this time around was spacious and very comfortable with an entertainment screen stuck at the back of each seat. So there wasn’t much to complain about there other than the unknown stopover to Mombasa. Hours later we arrive at Kilimanjaro International Airport, we were met by Big Expeditions and Safaris who were our tour operator for the entire trip. Add on a 2 hour bus ride and we finally arrived at the hotel. Obviously this was a good test of patience on what to expect days to come.

We were briefed on the most important gear we definitely should have and what we can just choose not to bring.  Some of the team had been misinformed on a few essentials which the briefing cleared up. Reporting time next morning was 08:00 hrs and that’s when the real challenge begins. Throughout the rest of the evening, we decided to explore a bit of Arusha at night which culminated in a power outage, yummy grilled chicken and chips; locally known as kuku choma na chips and of course getting to know each individual of the team more. We definitely have kicked off better than other groups and expeditions I have been a part of in the past which is something I am very thankful for. 

This trip marks my first time ever in East Africa. I have grown up hearing stories of how my parents, grandparents and ancestors thrived in this corner of the world. How life had a different meaning and their smiles as they reminisce gets their eyes to sparkle. As soon as I stepped down out of the airplane and my feet rested on the tarmac that I understood it all. The serenading wind, the emerald greenery, the fluffy clouds and glowing sun were speaking to me and the connection I felt was instant. Maybe it’s the bond or maybe it’s seeing the place for the first time and the description you’ve had that became sketched in your imagination fits it perfectly, something just grasped my soul and made me smile. I can't wait to explore more of this place and see if I can up for the challenge ahead. 

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