Hiking Kilimanjaro was one of the most challenging things I have ever done. Travelling to Africa is also a bit of an adventure and we were fortunate enough that Tanzania isn’t fraught with a lot of the turmoil other African countries have to endure.

Tanzania is very religious and both Christians and Muslims coexist peacefully. The country has some mining but its primary economy is agriculture and wild animal parks. I think that if the country had a lot of Western needed resources then I imagine the country would be a lot less peaceful. Private citizens are allowed to own firearms but must put in a request with the locale police. You don’t see a lot of police and driving their can be a bit crazy as there is no one there enforcing any sort of traffic control. There is petty crime but murder is rare in the Moshi/Arusha area. The exchange rate gives the dollar some value in Tanzania.

We had hiked Machu Picchu with a trekking company about two years ago and found that hike to be relatively easy. We had heard of Kilimanjaro as being challenging and decided why not give it a shot. We had used GAP tours in Peru and thought about using them here in Africa as well. After some reflection though we decided that hiring a locale trekking company might be better as it would direct our dollars directly to the people who lived in Tanzania as opposed to a third party who resided in a country somewhere else. That turned out to be a great decision.

We researched different guiding companies on trip advisory and chose two of them. We sent off an Email and Godi, owner of Bless Africa Tours , returned our email the next day. Our correspondence was timely and he answered all of our questions and sent us an itinerary that matched our schedule and needs. We booked both our hike and safari through Bless Africa Tours.

We chose the Macheme route as it was scenic and had a hike high, sleep low strategy in conquering the mountain. It is 60 miles round trip and took us six days.

Upon our arrival at KIA Godi picked us up and took us to a reasonably priced bed and breakfast called the ‘Hibiscus” which was a beautiful home. The following afternoon Godi came over and we checked our trekking gear and prepared for our hike. We rented most of our equipment from him since it was too much to bring on the plane. In the morning we met our main guide Saumu and our assistant guide Roderick. They were a great team and their professionalism was obvious over the next seven days. Both Saumu and Roderick have more then 150 summits and their knowledge of the mountain made the trip memorable.

The hike itself starts in the rain forest and the trail makes its way through five climatic zones until you reach the top. The Machame trail can be steep at times but its well worth the effort. The beauty of the wilderness and the vast landscapes are spectacular.

We awoke earlier for the assent and eight long hours later we made the summit. Saumu and Roderick were their the whole time giving us encouragement when we thought our legs were going to give out. Once on top the views are surreal and it seems as if one is on top of the world.

Hiking seven days without a shower makes everybody smell bad. Upon our return nothing felt better then a long hot shower.

Bless Africa Tours web site: http://www.blessafricatours.com/

I took over a thousand pictures of our hike as well as our safari’s: https://www.facebook.com/michael.j.barker.3/media_set?set=a.858324994197387.100000596833677&type=3