January 30, 2013

Ok, we had kicked this idea around since January 9 (my birthday when I posted “in 3 years I’ll be on the Roof of Africa” and then decided/questioned WHY am I waiting).  And by we, I mean Chris and I (should I go, how much does it cost, when would I go) and Fran and I (she’s always been on the list to go!) and then Erin and I (because whenever I’d talk (via text) about it she was all “I AM IN!” and she was all for SOONER).

We decided we’d do some exploring on different guide companies and start to put together a plan.  Below is the list of questions we sent to 6 (I think?) companies.  I know we had 4 responses.  And all were satisfactory (well one wasn’t but they did respond) but we immediately liked one the best and continued our discussion after that.  But that’s another post!

The questions and my random “now that it’s 8 months later” comments in red:

Hello, I have a group of friends that are interested in climbing Kilimanjaro late this year/early January of 2014.  I know that some of my questions below are answered on your website but any information you can provide would be helpful.  I am working as the coordinator.  We have 2 confirmed people (myself and a friend) and another “almost there” friend.  We are all female ranging from 43-57 and have done trips such as Rim-to-Rim Grand Canyon (backpacking 3 nights), Yosemite, including Cloud’s Rest and Half Dome (backpacking 3 nights) and most recently South Rim to North Rim in one day, followed by North Rim to South Rim in one day at the Grand Canyon.  This has been a lifelong dream of ours and my 57 year old friend really wants to go now while we’re all healthy and youngish!  LOL  Thanks for Fran for not killing me for using her age in public!  And it’s not like I’m THAT much younger!!  

1)      Recommended route (and does it fit in with #2?).  Our preferences right now seem to be leaning towards Rongai (had a friend who did this) and Lemosho.  We like the idea of Barranco Wall as a “challenge” (see Half Dome trip above) but also like the quietness of Rongai.  Can you help us narrow this down (and seeing dates in #2 might help in that regard).  We were really pretty open here but definitely knew we wanted at least 6 nights for acclimatization and liked the sound of the “less traveled” Rongai route.

2)      Our preferred trip dates are leaving the US around 12/26 and being home by 1/10 – what trips fit into those dates and pricing for 2 people as well as for 3 for the suggested trip.

3)      Price for add-on 2 night safari – which park(s), accommodation choices would you recommend.  Because if you’re going to Africa, you MUST go on Safari!

4)      Price for hotel night upon arrival (additional) and night after safari/fly-out (dependent on flight times).  We are very interested in having the day before the actual hike as an “extra” day versus flying in late at night and departing the next morning.  This was KEY to us reading trip reports and knowing many flights got in late the night before

5)      Toilet situation on hike (we could want Advantage Series), can we add-on (price) if desired.  This particular e-mail went to Team Kilimanjaro, I tweaked this one (and a couple of the others) specific to each company and what I could find on the web.  Also, 3 women reading the trip reports ALL AGREED a toilet of our own was mandatory.

6)      Food – is there a “dining” tent (this would be in included in Advantage Series correct?).  Many companies offered this and were highly praised for having a place out of the elements to eat and relax.

7)      Size of party – we are completely open to hiking with others, do you arrange this and/or how big will you go with a group?  What happens if some of the group is not as fit as we are in terms of hiking pace and acclimatization?  If we end up with the 3 of us, could we share one tent?  Or would we have 2?  I think we’re open either way, just thinking we could huddle for warmth if 3 of us fit.

8)      Inclusions/exclusions of prices (airport/hotel transfers, tips, meals, etc.)  I think this is pretty well done at: http://www.teamkilimanjaro.com/prices.html so we’re just looking at extra night (front end) and safari (back end)

9)      Equipment list for rentals?  We think we’d like to rent sleeping bags versus carrying them half-way around the world.  And/or pads.  We have the majority of the other gear or would purchase and/or train with it this year.

10)   Vaccinations – answered on web

11)   Visa – answered on web

12)   Safety equipment and training for your tour guides.  Do they carry pulse-oximters?  I had an experience last year on Pikes Peak w/a hiking companion (who will NOT be coming on this trip) that had a blood condition and at 10,000 feet had his pulse-ox in the 70’s.  We got him on oxygen immediate (at Barr Camp) and off the mountain in the middle of the night.   It seemed to be an excellent “tool” to help really evaluate his status.

So, on the afternoon/evening of January 20, 2013 I sent this e-mail (with variations) to all of our companies.  And we waited, for about 12 hours!  Amazing response times and detail!!  Yet to come…..

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