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R Dean Bair–US

R Dean Bair–US

Summary: Very well organized, professional staff, five-star experience and exceptional value.
The 8 Day Lemosho Climb
Details: ClimbKili (ClimbKili.com) was exceptional in every way. They essentially provided a bespoke adventure for my 17-year-old granddaughter and me. Initially our group leader, Ann Harris Davidson, committed to another guide company. However, that company was unable to accommodate our requests of a small group without a significant “private group” surcharge. They were also unwilling to make an 8 day trek as opposed to 7 day (to help acclimatization), schedule the summit bid on or near a full moon and to have our last camp before summiting at the high Kosovo Camp (reducing the summit climb by 700 vertical feet.)
Ann contacted Tiffany Watson, of ClimbKili, who cheerfully met our requests. Our group was only 6 climbers that was reduced to 5 when one of the group had health problems shortly before the climb. We quickly noticed on our trek how fortunate it was to have a small group when we saw some guide companies with 15 or more climbers strung out along the trail. On summit night this was especially problematic on the dark, steep and challenging climb. Scheduling the summit night on a full moon also helped ensure a successful summit with improved light. The beauty of the moon at that elevation was spectacular. Arranging the Kosovo Camp was also critical to our success as it eliminated at least an hour of climbing on summit night from the traditional Barafu Camp. And ClimbKili was $2600 less expensive for the 8 day compared to their 7 day trek!
The ease of making these arrangements should have prepared us for the incredible professional service we experienced from when we made our deposit until they placed us on our flight home. We immediately received a comprehensive guidebook that was invaluable in preparing for our adventure. Read this thoroughly as the gear list is complete, the training guide very useful and the descriptions of the routes helpful (although nothing can truly prepare you for this extraordinary experience). Tiffany is readily available to answer any questions you may have.
This was my granddaughter and my first visit to Africa, so we had considerable anxiety landing at Kilimanjaro International Airport. However, our driver Emanuel, was patiently waiting and quickly drove us to the Summit Lodge in Arusha. There we were greeted by the friendly staff and shown to our very comfortable, clean room. The hotel serves as the client base for the ClimbKili expeditions and as such the staff is very attentive to the client’s schedules and travel. The restaurant is very good with a variety of Tanzanian and Western selections on the menu.
The Goods
ClimbKili has the trek dialed in. Our chief guide Good Luck Minja and his assistants, Junior Ramsom and Gaudrence were “ Guides Extraordinaire”. Good Luck was a fount of encouragement and optimism. It was no small feat to get our group with ages of 71 (me, the old man), three women in their 60’s and my granddaughter up Kilimanjaro. However, each morning we would start our hike at a very steady pace always reminded “pole, pole”—”slowly, slowly”. We soon realized that we often passed groups of much younger climbers as we held our steady pace and would reach the evening’s camp tired, but not exhausted.
I have to call out the incredible work of the porters who would break camp after we left, race ahead with their personal gear, our personal gear as well as all camp equipment, tents and food on their backs and balanced on their heads. By the time we reached camp, our tents were erected, gear stowed, dining and toilet tents up and meals ready. The meals were wonderful. Chef Elisamehe and his helper Michael served three appetizing meals and snacks each day. We were greeted each morning in our tents by Michael with piping hot tea. Freshly prepared eggs, pancakes, porridge and fruit would start our day. Lunch and dinner would bring made-from-scratch soups, rice or potato dishes with hearty sauces and again fresh fruit accompanied by black or ginger tea. Nutrition was critical as we were burning up 3000+ calories per day at high altitude therefore, they carefully monitored our intake.
Ladslaus deserves special acknowledgement for hauling the chemical toilet up and down the mountain and ensuring that the toilet tent was set up and clean. Nelson, Pascal, Ali, Mohammed, Benson and Dennis and the other porters were all cheerful and encouraging. Each one would greet you “Jambo” and sincerely ask how you were doing. We felt like we were part of their family and they were all committed to our conquering the mountain.
I want to again thank Good Luck for personally leading my granddaughter and me up the final summit climb to successfully and safely reach the summit.
Three Day Safari
Details: Again, all logistics were perfectly executed. Emanuel drove us to the Arusha airport for a short flight to the dirt landing strip in the Serengeti. There we were met by our guide Jephta. Much to our surprise and delight, we were the only clients. A private safari! “Eagle-eyes” Jephta was incredible. He could spot wildlife hundreds of yards away or obscured by vegetation. He would often spot wildlife and say “Let’s just sit here for a while.” We were rewarded by seeing even shy animals come close, go to watering holes and seem relaxed and natural. Other safari groups would rush up, take photos and rush off. We checked off the Big 5: Elephant, cape buffalo, lion, leopard and rhinoceros; apparently not an easy feat. We saw a mind boggling abundance of wildlife. Jephta was a wealth of information and he kept us entertained as we drove through the Serengeti, Ngorongoro and Tarangire National parks. Our first night was at the Kilma Valley Tent Camp. This was truly “glamping”. Hard wood floors, private shower and bathroom and very good dinner and breakfast. Serengeti sunrise should not be missed. Our second night was at the Ngorongoro Wildlife Lodge perched on the edge of the huge Ngorongoro caldera. The view across the caldera was spectacular. The lodge has an old world, classic vibe. This was a perfect and amazing way to conclude our grand adventure.
I questioned Jephta about working for ClimbKili. He stated that working for ClimbKili was a highly sought after position. He said that the company was well run and that Tiffany came to Tanzania every year to review procedures so as to enhance the client’s experience. It shows. This was a 5 star experience and I cannot recommend ClimbKili more highly.
P.S. A caution regarding Diamox. Although Diamox is indicated to help prevent Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) its potential side-effects can actually trigger AMS. Diamox increases respiratory rate thereby increasing oxygenation of blood cells. However, it also acts as a diuretic which can cause low blood pressure and dehydration which can cause AMS. Ann stopped Diamox after 2 days because of low blood pressure symptoms and had no problems with altitude. I persevered taking the medication despite excess diuresis and was severely dehydrated on summit night. As a physician, I should have been more aware of my condition. – R Dean Bair, USA