Kilimanjaro Day One: Arusha to Simba Camp


4 minute read

August 25, 2010

Today was not an easy day by any stretch, but we certainly didn’t get off to a good start!

“Where are my hiking boots?”

Yeah – you kinda need hiking boots if you’re gonna hike up a mountain…


Just give me five minutes alone in the ring with that guy.  He’d be wearing my hiking boots…..but not on his feet…

Who am I talking about?

That flight-jockey in the Amsterdam airport who stole my goddam hiking boots!

My Dad and I decided to pack ALL of our essential hiking gear in a second carry-on bag to take with us on the plane.  It has been said that one in three bags is lost on the way to Africa.

In North America, you’re allowed TWO carry-on bags as you can stow one in the overhead bins and one under the seat in front of you.

So that’s what we did!

But by the time we got to Amsterdam, we were informed by some sawed-off squid with a bad moustache that KLM rules in Europe only allowed a single piece of carry-on luggage.

My Dad lost it!

Window into my childhood, if you will; I watched my Dad tear a strip into this guy for the better part of twenty full minutes!

All the while, other passengers with two carry-on items were walking past us, completely carefree.

The “rule” was so arbitrarily enforced, but arguing was useless.

That didn’t stop my Dad, however, from arguing and arguing and arguing!  There was finger-pointing, name-calling, threats, and I’m pretty sure that at one point my Dad said something about “punching him in his stupid moustache face”…

Wait a sec….NOW I know where I get it from!

In the end, Moustache-Squid simply said, “There’s nothing you can do about it,” and he was right.
I asked him how we knew that our bags would even get on board, and he said, “Because I will be PERSONALLY overseeing it.”

He stressed “personally” with a gleam in his eye.

And upon opening my rusack last night, my hiking boots and head-torch were gone.

I can just picture Moustache-Squid prancing around the Red Light District in Amsterdam in my hiking boots (with no socks) and shining that fancy-dancy head-torch at anybody that catches his….fancy.

I hate airlines.

You might be wondering, “Why did you wait till last night to open/check your bags?”

Well, we have several bags, all with different clothing and gear; some for Arusha and some for Kilimanjaro.  I guess I’m so obsessive-compulsive that I didn’t want to mix them!  Its like the drawer you have for your dress socks versus the drawer you have for your sweat socks.  What – you don’t separate!?!?

Thankfully, all’s well that ends well.
The Flemings are incredibly excessive, and both my Dad and I brought a “backup” pair of hiking boots.

Yeah, really.

“Nothing says ‘excess’ like ‘excess'” has long been our motto.

Well, with my backup hiking boots in tow, all that was left was to start the trek!

But alas, Arusha is a five-and-a-half hour drive from the base of Mount Kilimanjaro.

So before we could start today’s trek, first we had to drive in a crummy van over a dirt road for the equivalent of eleven episodes of “Everybody Loves Raymond,” which seems to be their favourite show here in Tanzania…

Imagine getting out of a cramped, dirty van after five hours and having somebody say, “Okay, let’s trek eight kilometers!”

It wasn’t easy.

But it went by pretty fast, and I can’t say I felt any I’ll effects when we were done.

Back in Toronto, I trained by walking up and down the Bayview Extension over and over.  On the East side of the road, walking uphill from Pottery Road to the cut-off that leads to the Loblaws parking lot amounts to 1.3 KM.  I would do ten trips (up and down) to get in my 13 KM.

It would take me about 2 Hours 20 Minutes.

So why did it take FOUR HOURS to trek 8 KM today?

Well, for one thing, the elevation in Toronto is at sea level.  At the base of Kilimanjaro we started at 6,600 feet and finished tonight at Simba Camp at 8,600 feet.  The air is thin, my friends!

But there’s also very difficult terrain.  Walking through heavy mud and over rock face isn’t quite the same as walking up paved asphalt!

The early indication is, we’ll be consuming a lot of macaroni and bread on this trip!

I’m already living off of Myoplex and Mesotech bars.  Wanna borrow my GNC “Gold Card?”

There’s also an indication of a LOT of down-time!  I brought a deck of cards that will likely be well-worn by the time we’re done here.  I’m trying to teach Subash how to play Crazy-Eights but every time I change suits he says, “Dabed, my friend, have you sunken by battled-ship?”

Tomorrow we had to Camp 2 which is about 14 KM that we complete in two legs.  Its going to make today look like a cake-walk, although I would gladly take the hike over that damn van ride again!

I hope you’re getting these blog posts back home.  I’m writing them on my Blackberry and then sending them to my buddy Galen to post online.

Writing this is quite therapeutic. I almost feel like you’re all with me on this journey.

Kwahieri for now.

PS – don’t I look bad-ass with a brush cut? 🙂

Written By David Fleming

David Fleming is the author of Toronto Realty Blog, founded in 2007. He combined his passion for writing and real estate to create a space for honest information and two-way communication in a complex and dynamic market. David is a licensed Broker and the Broker of Record for Bosley – Toronto Realty Group

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  1. fidel

    at 8:03 am

    Sounds like an awesome time, looking forward to reading the rest of your trip

  2. Marz

    at 8:10 am

    This post is too funny. “…have you sunken my battled-ship?”

  3. OCD.merton

    at 8:13 am

    Even far, far away, you are still making me laugh:
    “Dabed, my friend, have you sunken by battled-ship?”

  4. mw

    at 9:13 am

    LOL! you actually “trained” to hike Kilimanjaro by walking up and down an inclined sidewalk at sea level? why didn’t you train in the Rockies in Idaho while on vacation? You could’ve stayed there for two weeks, hiking etc and flown straight to Africa accustomed to the altitude, and…ummm… real exercise!

    P.S. You mean some people DON’T separate their socks???!!! wow. I thought everybody did that.

  5. Krupo

    at 10:50 pm

    Crap, I’m flying KLM soon… thanks for the headsup…

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