After all the preparation, we departed April 28, 2014. We said our goodbyes and left from the Ottawa Train station by KLM highway coach to Montréal, where we caught the KLM flight to Amsterdam (on an MD-11, one of the last in service though in remarkably good condition) and a connection to Kilimanjaro International Airport on a KLM Airbus A330.
While a small airport, Kilimanjaro International serves large aircraft though I doubt it often services more than one flight at a time. We were pleased to have a WiFi connection while waiting for immigration so we could report our safe arrival to family at home.
On arrival, we were taken to the Springlands Hotel in Moshi. The hotel is owned by Zara Tours, our local operator. We had two nights and a full day to relax and get our gear prepared, which was fortunate as a number of our group were missing luggage that arrived on the next day’s flight.
We also took the opportunity to explore Moshi a little and take a hike in the area around the hotel. Moshi is only around 3,000 feet, so we hadn’t yet had the opportunity to experience the altitude to any extent.
Late in the afternoon we met our main guides, including our lead guide by the name of Living, who would take us up the mountain. I had a sense that a few in our group were just then realizing what they had gotten themselves into.
There was a lot of shuffling of gear to ensure that our duffel bags, which would be carried by a porter, were within limits. As a side note, the use of professional guides and porters is mandatory on Kilimanjaro. Anything we wouldn’t take was placed in storage, while passports and cash were placed in a safe deposit box at the hotel.