Getting closer…

9 weeks from today, I’ll be on my way to Mt Kilimanjaro. 10 weeks from today, the climb starts.

In between, I have 4-5 days in Ethiopia.

Addis Ababa is 2,300m (7,546 ft) above sea level, and since the altitude is the main difficulty to be conquered when climbing Kilimanjaro, I thought a few days breathing thin air before starting the climb could only be a good thing. Plus it seemed daft to go all the way to Africa and only see one little bit of one country.

I don’t know yet how to spend those few days – maybe by the time I’ve recovered from the flight, seen the city and done a couple of trips outside the city, that will be enough. Or I could jump on an internal flight to Lalibela to see the rock carved churches…

My guide book describes it as a “strange, isolated town… set high in the mountains of Lasta”

Last weekend I sent an email to my chosen hotel in Addis Ababa, to ask about prices & availability.

Before anyone asks, I didn’t choose it because it has a happy hour every day. Still waiting for a reply…

But the Ethiopian Embassy in London turned around my visa application in just 3 days.

I’m flying with BMI, so I’m watching developments on the sale to BA. BMI has already changed my flights twice as they cut back on their schedules. Frustrating when you’ve booked well in advance and paid a big chunk of money. Close to £600 return, I think.

Most importantly, I now know the Amharic words for OK (ishee) and beer (birra). I can live with the fact that ordering 2 beers at the same time will be beyond me. Buy your own, folks.

The hotel in Arusha (Tanzania) looks great. I had a vision of being in a fancy tent out in the bush with lions & tigers prowling about at night. Apparently tigers are scarce in Africa. I’m learning.

It will be wonderful to return to that luxury after 5 nights sleeping rough on the mountain. No shower (or shave) for 5 days. Hmm. There’s a first time for everything.

I have another vision. It’s me standing on the summit 5,895m (19,341 ft) up – exhausted, frozen and exhilarated in equal measure. My one hope is that it’s 95% exhilaration and 5% the rest.

I have a 3rd vision. The beer in the hotel bar when we get back down. I can almost taste it.

The expedition leader is coming to see us (5 of us are climbing together) next weekend. 2 long treks including a few hills, just to check out our fitness levels I suppose. Then a briefing session. Then the pub (oops, just slipped out).

I’m working away at my training programme – a 1 hour bodypump session, a 1 hour run and a 1 hour cycle is a typical weekend. It all goes into overdrive at the “8 weeks to go” stage.

I’d never climbed a hill in my life until July. Since then I’ve climbed 3 Munros and a Corbett (sorry, nerdy Scottish words to designate the heights of our little hills) plus 2 wee Alps. “Wee” being close to 7,000 ft.

Vaccinations will start soon. All the usual stuff, plus the more esoteric rabies and yellow fever.

It’s not all about the hill, of course. After the climb we’ll be visiting 3 projects in the Kilimanjaro area. I’ll do a separate blog about the fundraising we’re doing – the two are linked.

Then the R&R. Serengeti & Ngorongoro.

I’m starting to get butterflies in my tummy.

© iain taylor 2011

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