On December 17, 2011, the six-person PinoyMountaineer Kilimanjaro Expedition took off from Manila to Nairobi, Kenya in East Africa via Qatar Airways to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa and one of the famed Seven Summits of the World. Joining me were fellow medical doctors Mutya Bernardo and Jun Carnate, and my longtime hiking companions Swami Del Bahena, Farah Pasamonte, and FR Hortelano.
After a 16-hour flight (including a two-hour layover in Doha, Qatar), we arrived in Nairobi, and walking from the tarmac, the significance of finally being in Africa was not long among us; we got a Kenyan visa-on-arrival for $50 (one of the good things about the Kili climb for Filipinos is that no prior visa application is required).
From Nairobi, we had a private bus drive us through the Namanga border with Tanzania, where we got another visa-on-arrival for $50. After crossing the border, we passed by the small town of Longido, and Mt. Longido rose to our right – it was but a herald to the majestic Mount Meru, and of course, our much-awaited Mt. Kilimanjaro.
The drive continued on to Arusha, the de facto capital and diplomatic hub of the East African community, where we had a very nice feast of various meat (goat, lamb, beef) with ugali, a staple made of cassava or cornflour in a local grill house. The meal went well with Kilimanjaro beer, a famous beverage in the region, which will eventually find its way with me to the Philippines as celebratory drink over New Year’s Eve!
The drive continued. The over 260-km. road trip has taken the whole day, and we were anxious to rest after a long journey from Manila. But then, suddenly, it came to view, albeit half-obscured, albeit fleeting, what Hemingway wrote about, what we had dreamed about, and our excitement was renewed: The snows of Kilimanjaro!
Pictures courtesy of the members of the Kilimanjaro Expedition Team.