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16 MAR - Moshi, Tanzania

Date received: Fri Mar 16 2001, 07:34 AM PST

I appologize for not posting many updates over the past couple of weeks, but I really haven't had any internet access. The power has only just now returned here in Moshi, a small town which is the base for treks to Mt. Kili. I seem to have a lot to catch up on:

Just yesterday, I returned from a six day trek to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro. It was a great trip! The summit is at 5985m (about 19500ft), so altitude definitely takes it's toll. I hiked with Diana, an Argentinian I met in Kenya, and with Ed and Fred, a couple of 18/19 yr. olds from England. The ascent was strenous but not technical. On the summit, you can see many glaciers, which was spectacular. On our summit day, we started climbing at midnight, in the middle of a snow and lightning storm. It didn't seem to be such a good idea to me but neither guide was the slightest bit worried. Indeed, before we reached the summit, it cleared, and we had a beautiful sunrise. The climb down was the worst part, which involved about two days of constant sliding on wet rocks and mud.

It is expensive to do the hike, since the government exacts a significant tax. About $450 of the US$590 spent went directly to the government. The food was great, however, and we were treated very well. I would have preferred to do it alone (not organized) but you are required to have a guide on Kili.

Prior to that trip, I was on safari for a week. As I mentioned before, I went to many parks, including Masai Mara, Lake Nakuru, Lake Baringo, and Samburu. It was really great, and I saw tons of animals (I even rented a high power lens for my camera for the occasion.)

Tomorrow, I head towards Ngorongoro crater, a very beautiful area in northern Tanzania. I am going again with Diana, but Ed and Fred changed their flight and won't be able to join us, as originally planned. It will probably be my last "safari" for a very long time. As much as I enjoy seeing nature and wildlife, it isn't travel.

I don't have a lot of definite plans right now, but I think that I will eventually head up towards Uganda, maybe dropping by Mt. Kenya.


-Peter Birch


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