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Jim & Joanna Johnston – US

Jim & Joanna Johnston – US

Our trip to Africa was AMAZING!

Our summit photo is attached. It is not what we were expecting, but that didn’t make it any less spectacular. Well maybe a little, since we couldn’t see the sunrise, or just about anything from the top since it was completely overcast, windy & cold. But we had great weather the other days and James warned us that the mountain is unpredictable.

Jim & I can’t say enough about the staff from start to finish on our trip. The hotel staff were attentive and kind. From the moment we walked in late, close to midnight, they had warm towels and juice for us. The meals were fabulous. Most of the nights we felt like we had a private chef cooking for us.

Our climbing team was first rate. James & Maxon & Helgut kept us going and without their assistance with some of our group member’s altitude illness, and Jim’s fatigue on the way down after the summit, we might not have made it. The food was great. We always had way more than we could eat. Except for the one lunch when Douglas made fish & chips. That day was amazing-we ate everything!! Jim worked with Dina at the hotel and our climbing team to have a birthday cake brought up to the Mweka camp after the summit on my birthday. The guides & porters all sang “Happy Birthday” to me in English & Swahili. I blew out the candles, cut the cake, and shared it with the team. Jim especially loved that there was a HUGE platter of freshly popped popcorn everyday for the 4 pm snack. The first day Chinna came out and put that in the food tent, I thought Jim was going to cry. He looked forward to that every day. It was an incredible experience and Climb Kili made it happen. Jim & I will never forget it.

Our Safari was equally amazing in a different way. I did not realize there were so many zebras in the world. We were very lucky to see the big 5, even though the rhino was probably a half mile away, Jim got a good look with the binoculars. Our guide, Steven, made sure we got up close to everything. I love the big cats, so getting close to the lions, several times, was great for me. The leopard up in a tree with the yearling babies in the grass, scaring off a hyena, was likewise incredible. The best thing for Jim was the giraffes. His one goal was to see a giraffe run. And even though we didn’t see one run, we did see one trot, and twice we saw groups of 6-8 giraffes. The  hotels and the tented camp were first rate. When we pulled up to the Lake Manyara hotel, we couldn’t believe it- the views were spectacular and the grounds were immaculate.

We had a crazy moment on the day we were leaving. Our flight left at 9 pm, so we hung out in the garden of the hotel in Arusha for the afternoon. Nickson Moshi had his family and friends there for a celebration. His youngest daughter had recorded a song and they were filming a video. His oldest daughter, Sia, came over and asked us to join them for lunch. It was completely unexpected, and we were honored. We hung out with them and talked with Sia about going to school here in Arizona at Grand Canyon State. Everyone associated with our trip made us feel special.

I will be happy to post on Trip Advisor and Facebook. Jim & I are total poster children for Climb Kili, and are telling everyone we know to go to Africa. Even if you don’t climb the mountain, go to the national parks on safari and see the animals. You will never regret it.

Thanks for all your help and guidance!!