Saturday, July 14, 2012

London to Nairobi

It was 11pm on a Friday night and as everyone was heading out for a night on the town, I was trudging through South East London with my ill-fitting rucksack about to head off to start this year’s adventure of blood, sweat and tears. Along with a group of 16 others I was heading to Tanzania to climb up Kilimanjaro for the charity Childreach International followed by some independent travel around the country. 

We were booked on the first flight out of Terminal One bound for Zurich at 6am and since I was in London I had the luxury heading out as late as possible, but most of the group had flown down earlier that day and had set up camp in Costa. Alas, it took me and my friend Dan a good half hour to realise this as we checked every other corner of Terminal One. The whole group managed to stay awake as we were running high on adrenaline and a lot of fear which got us through to check-in at 4am. Tiredness hit us hard in the departure lounge when we were all far, far too excited about the prospect of WHSmith and Boots being open at that time in the morning.

The flight to Zurich was spent sleeping for most people but I was quite glad I was awake, at least for the free Swiss chocolate. On approach to Zurich we had to sit in a traffic queue but this meant we got a nice aerial tour of Zurich but meaning we arrived in 10 minutes late to our already tight transfer window. We were rushed through Zurich but even after several close calls with shuttle train doors we got to our plane only to be greeted by disgruntled looks from our fellow passengers for holding up their flight.

Crazy Mountains In Albania

For the 6 hour flight I was sitting next to Jill, 
a girl I had met before through hockey and she 
had seen me through hockey initiations so I had no worries about her seeing me at my worst halfway up the mountain. She was a great plane companion too as she preferred the aisle seat meaning that I got to stare out the window for a very scenic journey that took us over some fantastic mountains in Albania, Greek Islands, the Sahara desert and if that got boring there was always the TV in front of me loaded 
with films. I would highly recommend Swiss Air, even if just for the sheer amount of food 
they gave out in our flight including our main meal of chicken stroganoff, cake, bread, pretzels, a pizza stick, some luxurious Movenpick ice cream and of course more Swiss chocolate.

Our Food Selection

How Dark 7:39 is here!

It was around 6pm when we landed in Nairobi and it wasn’t as busy or as hectic as we were expecting; as we left arrivals but there was nobody but the odd taxi driver. We did mark ourselves as terribly obnoxious tourists as we, (what can only be described as), "mobbed" our way past the Prayer Room on the way to Visa control. Only to look back and realise we were those British tourists you scowl at as they shout everything in English only this time with added hand gestures. The sun had already set when we bundled out though the bamboozling fingerprint scanners at Visa control at 7:30pm. This was very alien to me coming from almost 24 hour daylight to half that- it also didn’t help our already messed up body clocks. 

Wilderbeest Camp

Our ride for our time in Africa was a Wild Thornberries- style comvee with fold down seats in the aisles, which were great for stretching out on. Our camp for the night was down a very horror-film-style dirt roads, including wooden signs with “Butchery” painted in red. Despite its surroundings, the Wilderbeest Camp was actually a lovely little eco-lodge with a number of permanent tents with comfy, beds, for those lucky enough to be given these tents. Our first meal was quintessential of the trip: impressive in size with a number of mystery meat stews and curries. I do not envy any vegetarians in Africa, let alone vegans. The Lodge was owned by an Australian couple along with their two kids, two dogs and cat. It was strange giving dogs that second look for rabies rather than instantly running over and getting all lost in their fur. The camp had a pool table, tv and a bunch of other western luxuries we had prepared not to see for another three weeks. The hot shower and flushing toilet including toilet paper were the main culprits. After a communal shower in the mixed cubicles as a starter bonding experience, we tried to sleep but even in our deprived state, we couldn’t overcome the adrenaline spike at the beginning of an epic adventure.

 Wilderbeest Camp:

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