trekking with giraffes

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August 3rd 2008
Published: August 3rd 2008
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There is something quite amazing to start a trek and be walking next to a group of giraffes... I still have to make sure I am not dreaming all this.

The trek up to Mt Meru started in the rain forest. It was very foggy, misty even, but the forest was really like an enchanted forest, with big trees, full of moss and lichen, and the sound of monkeys. I was hiking with the guide that will be working with me for the next 6 weeks, a really nice tall friendly Tanzanian and a ranger with his .306 to chase the potential buffalos and elephants off the trail... An American guy also joined our party, he was traveling solo and needed a ranger also, so we went together and it was very pleasant to share the experience and the unbelievable amount of food the cook prepared for us. The first day was fairly short, and we stayed in the huts built for trekkers. I was amazed how comfortable, well kept and clean were the huts and also the trails. Very well maintained. Tanzania is a very good example for other countries for many reasons.

The second day was short too but in the afternoon we climbed "Little Meru", a 3800m or so peak, close to the camp, with a great view on the crater rim we had to climb the next day and of Meru itself, except it was too cloudy to see it that day.

And this morning, we got up at 1 am, had some breakfast and left just before 2 am to start the long climb to the top of Meru. I was quite nervous as this climb was along the crater rim, with huge drops on both sides, and a supposedly very narrow trail with one "somewhat dangerous" section. So we started climbing in the dark, with our headlamps, and I was thinking "Thank God I can't see what I am doing". The trail wasn't too narrow, but no too wide either, and there was indeed one section that looked like something I would not do if I could see what I was getting myself into. But the starry sky was amazing, we were all very focussed and excited about reaching the top on time for the sunrise and we just kept putting one foot in front of the other for about 4 hours. It was pretty cold, especially close to the top, with a strong wind and some fog also. But we were totally blessed, we reached the top just as the sky was turning orange and in the middle of this fascinating display of colors, in the distance, was... Kilimanjaro.

We were 4 Westerners and 2 guides up there, speechless, in awe, for about 25 minutes. And all of a sudden, as more trekkers joined us in this narrow space, the fog came back and there was no more view. It was cold so we decided to leave. We were all apprehensive about going back down, and I was also thankful that the fog was preventing us from seeing the drop, but after all it wasn't all that scary going down, a lot easier than I thought, and even the worse parts in the dark looked better in daylight! So it was all in my head, and I enjoyed the view on the way down, as the fog was lifting once in a while.

We reached the hut where more food was awaiting us, we were all smiles, and soon we left again to go all the way back down to the gate where the adventure started 3 days before. And the giraffes were there again.

I am now back in town, some of my clients arrived already, the rest of the group will be here tomorrow night, and our first adventure will be.... Mt Meru again!


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