Polar bear at the Toronto Zoo, Canada.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Ottawa, Canada.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Reuniting with Max in Germany on October 1st.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Kilimanjaro Day 1 - Machame Gate to Machame Camp 9,300' altitude

Day 1 started at 7:00am in Arusha. We then had a two hour drive from Arusha to Moshi, and we stopped at several places to pick up either people or gear. There is a lot of logistics involved with getting two people to the top of Africa... and we had a total of 11 people helping us get there!

We had our two guides, Kobby and Shalali, our cook Martin, and eight porters carrying the gear and supplies needed for seven days and six nights on the mountain!

Monday, February 1, 2021

Ready for Kilimanjaro!

By the time most of you read this we will be well into our first day of hiking the highest mountain in Africa!

I am drinking a nice Kilimanjaro beer this evening as I write this. It will be the last one I have for a week! 

I want to tell you a little bit about the mountain and the route we are taking...

January Expenses - Ouch

Back in December when we were trying to figure out where to go next, the Tanzania option had one big negative. It would be the most expensive option.

And so while we knew that in advance, it's still difficult for a couple of normally frugal travelers to watch the numbers add up! But, it's only money, and you can't take it with you. Not really much point in having it if you don't spend it. Within reason, of course.

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Mt. Meru hike... what did it cost? And other stuff...

We've spent the last two days recuperating from the Mt. Meru hike, and preparing ourselves for our upcoming Kilimanjaro hike that leaves on Tuesday February 2nd. 

In fact on Friday, we never even left the apartment! 

Our host Justin has a local girl Janet (24, we think) come in to cook and clean and she looks after our laundry as well. It's pretty inexpensive to have this all done for us when you get the local prices, so we give her a 10,000 shilling ($5.50 CAD, $4.30 USD) tip every now and again which pretty much doubles her daily wage.

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Mt. Meru Hike... the animals

The last day of our 4 day 3 night hike up Mt. Meru was really great. Our park ranger Dominic agreed to take us on a route that went through an area where we would see a waterfall and a high chance of seeing some of the animals that call Arusha National Park home.

We were woken up at 6:30am at Mariakamba Hut. Had a good sleep and felt much better! Ready for the 6.8 km (4.2 mile) hike down to the entrance gate with a short detour to a waterfall along the way.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Mt. Meru Tanzania Hike day 3... that was tough!

If you haven't already, you really should read day 1 and day 2 of this hike!

Before we get into the summit hike itself, I wanted to explain a little bit about Mt. Meru. It's a dormant volcano that had half of its cone somehow collapse 8,000 years ago. So the remaining part of the cone is what we were climbing. You make your way up and along the ridge of the cone itself, with the 2,000 meter (6,600 feet) sheer cliff walls on one side, and a steep volcanic slope on the other side.

Mt. Meru hike day two... the next level!

If you missed day one, you will want to start reading here...


Because of our late start on day one, we had not arrived at Mariakamba Hut until about 6:30pm Monday evening. The first day hike had not been that strenuous and we were feeling pretty good. We had done about 9 kms (5.5 miles) uphill, rising in altitude 915 meters (3,000').

Our ranger Dominic had set a fairly slow pace and we weren't doing much more than 2 km/h. They really stress that you need to go slowly for proper acclimatisation, and a higher chance of success of achieving the summit. 

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Mt. Meru, Tanzania hike... day one

I'm going to post each day of our four days away as a separate post. But I will try to post twice a day to get us caught up, so try to remember to check back so you don't miss anything! 

Lots of photos for you. Don't forget that you can click on the photo to make it full screen!

So, day one started with us being picked up at our apartment by the safari vehicle from our tour operator at Rwalinda Tours. They arrived with two of our porters, and our head guide.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Ready for our Mt. Meru trek!

By the time most of you read this, we will be well on our way through the first day of our 4 day, 3 night trek up Africa's 5th highest and Tanzania's 2nd highest mountain, Mt. Meru.

Our guide and our chef were over at the apartment on Sunday going over some things with us. They are very detailed, and want to make sure you are prepared. I get the impression that they have come across people who have definitely not been prepared.

Nice hike on the outskirts of Arusha. Beautiful scenery!

We met one of our porters yesterday. Abdallah is 24 years old and wants to work his way up to being a guide. He has taken the guide courses at the local college and is now beginning actual training. He is also learning Chinese because there are a growing number of Chinese tourists coming to Tanzania and there are no guides who can speak Chinese. 

Justin set things up so that Abdallah would spend the day with us doing a hike to a waterfall about 10 kms (6 miles) away from our apartment.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Exploring Arusha, and seeing how the other half lives

We hung around the apartment in the morning, and then at lunch time we had made plans to meet our new friends Ryan and Marti at an Indian curry restaurant in the central area. 

It was about a 3 km (1.8 mile) walk from the apartment to the center of Arusha so we set off at 12 noon for our 12:30pm lunch.

Friday, January 22, 2021

It was a long, interesting day!

I believe that every day here in Tanzania will be an interesting day. There is so much going on, everywhere we look!

We will be doing our four night Mt. Meru hike starting on Monday, and our seven night Mt. Kilimanjaro hike starting on February 2. So Justin said we had better get our gear set up for the two hikes. For that, we had to do the 80 km (50 mile) drive from Arusha to Moshi.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

First day in Tanzania

Our plane had arrived at just before 10:00am, so despite the fact that we were pretty tired, we still had the whole day ahead of us. Our contact Justin drove us and our new friends Marti and Ryan into the big city of Arusha (pop 500,000). Arusha is typically the main start off point for anybody doing Serengeti safaris.

We stopped at the big Mt. Meru Hotel where we dropped off Marti and Ryan and exchanged contact info. We hope to see them again on Friday. They will be climbing Kilimanjaro a week or so before us, so we are excited to see how they make out.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Made it to Tanzania!

The last blog post ended with us sitting in Istanbul (SAW) airport waiting for our Qatar Airways to Doha, Qatar.

We boarded on time and the plane was maybe one third full. We have to say, what a great way to travel. Qatar Airways has been voted Airline of the Year five different times. Essentially, they are an award winning airline! So combine that standard with the fact that the plane was only a third full, and you get some pretty good customer service!

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Sitting in Istanbul Airport

Writing this note from the boarding gate for our second flight of the day, going from Istanbul, Turkey to Doha, Qatar.

We were up at 5am this morning and by 6am we were on our way to the airport.

Our flight didn't leave until 10:25am, but we were told to get there early because of Covid etc, etc... then of course we sat around and waited for almost two hours for the bag drop to open!

And the airport wasn't at all busy. In fact, the exact opposite. There were four flights leaving all day!

We got there early, and had to sit around only to find out that the WiFi wasn't working. They only have one machine where you have to scan your boarding card to get access, and it was located outside the gate area. Ridiculous in this day and age.

Anyhow, the flight was almost full. I saw maybe six or eight empty seats. Everybody was really good about mask wearing, unlike our easyJet flight from the UK back in October. The only thing we both still find funny (odd? stupid?) are the people who want to rip off their seatbelt and jam themselves into the aisle as soon as the plan lands. Doesn't make any sense to us at all, but obviously we are in the minority.

Other than that, it was an uneventful one hour flight to Istanbul's SAW airport.

We had lots of time to waste before our 5:55pm flight to Doha, Qatar. But we couldn't go past passport control because the bag drop wouldn't open until almost 3:00pm! Oh well.

We finally got that done, and went to go through passport control. Of course our visas expired eight or nine days ago, and sure enough we got sent to immigration. We explained the story, and produced the letter from the doctor but that made no difference at all. He siad the only thing that would matter is if you were held up due to Covid!

Then he said "the fine will be 1,034 lira ($177 CAD, $139 USD) each". Yikes!

But he then explained we don't have to pay it now. In fact, we would only have to pay it if we come back within three months and then it would apply towards residency. Very strange, and we didn't quite get it. His English wasn't the best and he was trying to explain it through Google Translate.

But either way, it doesn't cost us anything right now, and if there are repercussions of any kind we will deal with them the next time we return to Turkey, possibly two years from now.

So we were cleared through passport control and on to the waiting area where we are now.

There are a few more international departures from this airport, but not many.

Here's an airport selfie for you!

Gotta go... we will update you again from Doha, Qatar!

Nice price drop on the Fire HD 10.

And in Canada...