Hi Ho, It’s off to Heathrow I go – 21/02/10

So this is day one of the trip. Hard to believe actually after all that I have gone through that it is effectively all just starting today.

I think that packing bags was hard. It is very very difficult to ultimately know what to take and what not to take. How many pairs of underpants am I going to be able to realistically change into when it is -30 degrees up the mountain?

I have plumped for three bags. One is my main repository for things that go up the mountain with me. It is a duffel type tube bag thing, capacity about 80 litres. It contains my sleeping bag, thermarest, hats, gloves, camp shoes, my layers of thermal underwear etc etc. The bag also contains a bunch of medical supplies, and things to munch on along the way.

Heathrow, all set....

It will all have to be unpacked when I get to Tanzania, as I will have to carry the things that I might need (suntan lotion, fleece, waterproofs, snacks etc) in my backpack on a daily basis. The duffel bag itself will leave me every morning and be carried by the Porters, and so I will not see it from morning until the evening. On the other hand I will have to pack it myself every day still. I wonder how hard it will be to roll up my sleeping bag when I am at altitude. It was a complete git to do rolled out on the carpet in my house on Oxfordshire, an so it will no doubt be bloody hard work.

My next bag is my daily lifeblood, quite literally. It is my backpack, a 30 litre Camelback thingymajig. It will carry my 3 litre camelback bladder and the day supplies as mentioned above. It also has sunglasses, camera, and the like, and my money etc.

Lastly I have packed a bag for the hotel. I will be in Arusha for three days and nights altogether, two before I go and on after I come back. The temperature there at the moment is around 35 degrees C. I pack T shirts and shorts and flip flops accordingly.

Each bag is fitted with a padlock, which I hate doing. I am advised however that there are unscrupulous people in Africa, and so I take the advice. I think it is sad, and I know that I will lose the keys as I am so rubbish at keeping hold of small objects.

And so it is off to Heathrow. I am filled with trepidation. A new continent altogether for me, let alone a new country and then Kilimanjaro. And on my own. It is only the second trip I have taken on my own in my life. The first one was four months ago to Lanzarote. I don’t enjoy being on my own, although this I know is way different.

At the airport I basically feel just overwhelmed. I want to be there, but I feel all of a sudden so tired, and then I spend probably 20 of the next 30 minutes going to the toilet. Please excuse the information overload here, but this is how it was for me.

Before I know it, and after several telephoned goodbyes, I am on Kenyan Airways flight 101 to Nairobi. I fly overnight (I am on the plane as I write this) and will land in Nairobi at 6.20 tomorrow morning. From there it will be a short layover and then a 20 seater plane to Kili – I cannot imagine the plane will get as high as the mountain is – we will see in the morning I suppose. I hope that I will get to see my first glimpse of it from the air – I am back in the zone again.

I eat some strange tasting Kenyan Airways macadamia nuts, and ask for a gin and tonic. I am told there is no tonic, and so just take the gin. I eat what I believe to be some sort of curried gazelle (if it was chicken then I am a leprechaun), and then try to get my head down. I can normally sleep on planes, especially after a few beers, wines and gins, but not tonight. I have a feeling that this is going to be the first of many nights where the anticipation of what lies ahead of me prevents me from getting some proper rest.

Bring on Africa – I am ready for you, I hope………

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