UK Mountains Walking, Mountaineering and Equipment Reviews
Kilimanjaro Day 1 - Flight to Tanzania

3am, the alarm wakes us up. The adventure begins, my bucket list will, hopefully, be one item fewer in a couple of weeks time. By 3:30 we are on the way to the airport. Not much traffic and no dramas apart from a last minute lane change - too busy talking - we arrive at Birmingham Airport and into the 'Premium Drop Off', so called because it costs £2 for 10 minutes parking.

Final check for passport and tickets and I am off in search of the check-in. A helpful Easy Jet girl sends me the wrong way, but I eventually locate the desk at opposite end of the Departures area. Thankful, I drop off my luggage and head up to join the huge Security check queue. I get caught for my belt and watch and then for the liquid soap, but eventually get through.

I'm amazed how busy the airport is with long queues for everything but I finally deal with the loo, breakfast and water for the trip. The flight to Amsterdam leaves 25 minutes late but we arrive on time due to a shorter flight time than advertised. Schipol airport is huge! Walking in the general direction of 'in' I eventually stop to check my destination gate which has now magically appeared on my phone - all is well, I'm heading in the right direction to Gate F09.

Walking into the gate waiting area I see numerous rucsacs and soon spot people I met in Sheffield so all is well and I find someone to chat to until our leader (Andy) arrives and gives us a quick briefing about what to do when we get to Kilimanjaro which basically is head out and wait for everyone to assemble.

On board I didn't get the front seat I had hoped for but am sat in the middle of a row of three. Ho hum. Striking up a conversation with my fellow passenger I learn she is Canadian, living in Norway and working in Tanzania and has climbed Kilimanjaro! Eager for information I ask all the dumb questions.

In flight drinks and nuts soon arrive, followed by a tasty chicken in rice with Profiteroles for dessert. Boredom soon sets in, so I settle down to watch 'Sleepless' which seemed like an apt movie title given the conditions.

Later on we are served a pizza snack, then soon after it is time to land. Long queues to get through immigration but eventually I was reunited with my luggage, all arrived safely. The rest of the team soon joined us. There was a distinct 'deet' odour as everyone was frantically spraying themselves with the anti-mozzie spray which bought a few tears to the eyes. No one was missing anything so off we went to load the mini-bus.

The drive to the hotel was uneventful but bumpy and being dark there was nothing to see apart from the odd group of lights and a few people - Tanzanian night life.

The Hotel huts

The hotel was amazing. Quickly checked in, I was taken to my room which was a brick version of a mud hut - very traditional. It was gone 10:30 by the time I had rearranged my gear into the 'go' and 'no go' bags. We were allowed to leave gear at the hotel for our return from Meru - no sense in dragging more gear than we need up and down the mountain, plus we were limited to 12kg anyway.

Next stop was supper of pizza, although to be fair, I could have quite easily just gone to bed, I was tired and we had been well fed on the flight over. I did, however, discover that the hotel sold 'Kilimanjaro beer', well, it would have been rude not to. Andy told us that he would show us in the morning, the gear he was taking to Meru just in case we wanted to modify our choices. We'll see how it matches with my choices.

It was midnight before I crawled into bed under the mozzie net.

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