Mt. Kilimanjaro – Arusha National Park & Machame Camp

Mt. Kilimanjaro – Arusha National Park & Machame Camp

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Arusha national Park & Machame Camp

10 miles, 2950 meters

The Prouty Mountaineering Program
(the first Prouty Challenge Event benefitting Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center)

December 13, 2012

Wes Chapman

Mt Meru

Mt. Meru Inside Arusha National Park

Miraculously, our team all arrived on time at Kilimanjaro Airport in Arusha, Tanzania – leaving the luxury of an open rest day before the climb. Arusha is a city of almost a million people today, growing from a local village over the last half century, propelled by jobs in tourism, agriculture and manufacturing. It is also home to the Dik-Dik Hotel, a small Swiss owned gem that is the rallying point for our team of 5 climbers before and after the climb. The first team action in Tanzania was a unanimous vote to spend the unexpected free day touring the Arusha National Park.

The city has slowly grown to nearly swallow parts of the adjacent 552 sq. mi. eponymous park and wild game refuge. Arusha Park enjoys a tremendous diversity and density of wild animals including zebras, giraffes, waterbucks, reedbucks, klipspringers, hippos, buffaloes, elephants, hyenas, mongooses, dik-diks, warthogs, baboons and vervet and colobus monkeys.

 

The Snows of Kilimanjaro 2012 from Arusha National Park

The main geographic features of the Park include Ngurdoto Crater (a collapsed volcanic feature) and the alkali Momela Lakes to the east. To the west is 14,990 foot tall Mt Meru. The two areas are joined by a narrow strip, with Momela Gate at its center. The park’s altitude, which varies from 1500m to more than 4500m, has a variety of vegetation zones supporting numerous animal species. Included in the plant species is a giant parasitic fig tree, considered holy objects by the Masai. These trees can grow to tremendous sizes, as seen in the photo below.

 

A giant fig tree easily contains the entire team

Ngurdoto Crater is surrounded by forest, while the crater floor is a swamp. West of the crater is Serengeti Ndogo (Little Serengeti), an extensive area of open grassland and the only place in the park where herds of Burchell’s zebras can be found.

Zebras & a Giraffe in the Park

The Momela Lakes, like many in the Rift Valley, are shallow and alkaline and attract a wide variety of wader birds, particularly flamingos. The lakes are fed by underground streams; due to their varying mineral content, each lake supports a different type of algal growth, which gives them different colors. Bird life also varies quite distinctly from one lake to another, even where they are only separated by a narrow strip of land. Mt Meru is a mixture of lush forest and bare rock with a spectacular crater.

Rafts of pink flamingos on the Momela Lakes

The next day dawned with the nervousness of a big climb – all of our team members are experienced climbers and hikers, but hiking above 14,500 ft. is new ground for most. The first day is through the Machame gate, and up a good road, and then a very well maintained path for 10 miles to 10,100 feet and the Machame Camp.

The 2012 team, led by head guide Kapanya on the left

The wonders of Kilimanjaro hiking were obvious the first day – we have 42 porters and guides for a team of 5, and all of our gear, other than daily on-trail necessities, are carried by porters. Throw in a hot lunch by the trail and it sets a standard pretty hard to imagine for those who hike in New England.

Lunch by the trail

On this hike we pass through four distinct ecological zones dictated by altitude – tropical rain forest  sub-alpine heather, moorland, and finally alpine. The first day saw the transition from rain forest to heather around 9,000 feet. The explosion of plant species associated with this transition is incredible.

Bio-diversity by the Machame trail

 

Kelly gets a pack adjustment by Kapanya

Jeff Goodell teaches fifth grade in Newbury Vermont, and got a terrific sendoff from his students including the hat below, celebrating the dragon mascot for the Newbury Knights. Included in the send-off package were several of the pins in the hat, and promotional bumper stickers from Vermont – quite a cross cultural exchange. Jeff has as extensive climbing background, dating back to his college days in Vermont, and he confesses to going to Black Mountain – one of my favorites – for training hikes after school. He really wanted to get a blog out for his class and community, so I hope that this one makes it!!

The hat celebrating Arthur the Newbury Dragon, and a community’s support of Jeff Goodell

Jambo, from Machame Camp, Kileman-Jaro

Adios, from Kilimanjaro

Wes Chapman
Written by Wes Chapman

5 Comment responses

  1. Avatar
    December 17, 2012

    Wes! Thanks for the update *from the trail*!! Great to see you, the team, and your head guide – plus the giraffe, zebras and flamingos – looks like you’re all having a FANTASTIC time. Look forward to the next post 🙂
    Susan

    Reply

  2. Avatar
    December 17, 2012

    This is just amazing. I am so pleased you are all there safe and on time! The descriptions of the surrounds and flora are fantastic and much appreciated. My jealousy just keeps growing. Thanks so much for all you are doing to help the Cancer Center.
    Enjoy, travel safely, Mark

    Reply

  3. Avatar
    December 24, 2012

    Wess thanks for the wonderful pictures coverage during your Kilimanjaro expedition, the whole group seemed to have a great smile meanwhile they enjoyed the trip.

    Reply

  4. Avatar
    December 25, 2012

    Way to go, Jeff (and team mates)! It has been nearly 30 years since I climbed Kilimanjaro, and I am quite sure that I wouldn’t have managed it at 50….

    Reply

  5. Avatar
    June 27, 2014

    The pictures of Kilimanjaro is fantastic and the expedition shown in pictures is brilliant. We can feel the touch of it.

    Reply

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