I feared I'd only see this.

What a relief!

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KILIMANJARO xx xxxx xTravel in Africa had spoiled me. Since public transport was usually dangerous or unreliable, I'd fallen into the habit of arranging tours, having people meet me at the airport, and booking hotel reservations over the Internet. When the travel agent in Arusha said it was easy to do Mt. Kilimanjaro on my own, I almost panicked. Then, I remembered it was the way I'd traveled most of the world.

There was no reason to fear in the land of Hakuna Matata (Swahili for "no worries"). As soon as I arrived at the Arusha bus station, someone directed me to the bus for Moshi. Of course, it came as no surprise that my $1.50 ticket was $2.50 instead. I argued the price down. And, again, upon arrival in Moshi, I was directed to a mini bus for Marangu. And of course, before I got out of that vehicle, someone had latched on to me to be my guide. He directed me up the mountain three kilometers (that felt like a lot more) to a clean budget lodge.

In rainy season, seeing the mountain was hit or miss. Although it didn't rain, it was cloudy most of the day. I lounged away the afternoon reading. After each chapter I checked the cloud situation on Kilimanjaro. I learned there were two peaks - both cloud-covered most of the day. Eventually, Mawenzi (the pointed peak) was visible. And, fortunately, Kibu (the long and famous peak) could be seen around sunset. So, the trip was well worth it.

It rained throughout the night. So, I was very thankful I'd seen the mountain the day before. Everything was cloud-covered and wet. Robein, my Chagga guide and host from the lodge, walked me to Mt. Kilimanjaro National Park. It was three more kilometers uphill - reinforcing what I already knew. There was no way I wanted to climb that mountain.

Copyright 2001 by Phillip Martin All rights reserved.