Butiama Bed & Breakfast

Butiama Bed & Breakfast

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Through the Serengeti, this time from the Ngorongoro Crater

The main entrance to the Ngorongoro Crater
I am finally taking the trip through the Serengeti National Park from the other end, through the Ngorongoro Crater.

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Wednesday, 22 June 2011

The Serengeti saga: the conclusion

I arrived in Moshi last night, having failed to cross the Serengeti National Park by car for 23 US dolllars. Placing reliance on cars that may or may not pass through Ndabaka Gate, the western entrance to the Serengeti National Park, was like playing the lottery.

In the morning I decided to board a bus from Lamadi for Mwanza from where I took an afternoon flight to Mwanza. In the end I did not even see a single wild animal and paid much more than the 23 dollars I budgeted for. But I can still say I crossed the Serengeti - at 5000m above sea level.

And staying at Lamadi gave me an idea about writing a guidebook on budget travel. I stayed at the Nima Delux Guest House for 9,000 shillings (6 US dollars). At Mama Mniko's I ate a meal of rice, beans, and Balala fried fish for 1,300 shillings (0.86 US dollars). Bus fare to Mwanza 3,000 shillings (2 US dollars).

At Mama Mniko's where a plate of food sells for Shs.1,300/-.
Inside my room at Nima Delux Guest House.
Then the final expense item and a reminder that plans do not always unfold as expected, I paid 220,000 shillings (147 US dollars) for the flight from Mwanza to the Kilimanjaro International Airport.

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Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Serengeti crossing, not yet; I settle for Serengeti Stopover

In the last post I boasted how I would cross the Serengeti National Park, a world heritage site, at a cost of 23 US dollars. It did not happen, at least not yet.

The trouble with unscheduled travel is that cars sometimes do not show up when expected. I showed up, the car did not. So I am stuck outside the Serengeti National Park.

But there is a consolation, at least in name. Near the entrance to the Serengeti National Park's Ndabaka Gate is a hotel called the Serengeti Stopover. How appropriate for my predicament. This is where I came to reflect, have breakfast, and ponder my next move.

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Across the Serengeti, again

It's Tuesday, just after seven and I am at Ndabaka Gate, the western entrance to the Serengeti National Park and will board a car through the Serengeti on my way to Arusha.

My fare will be the equivalent of 23 US dollars. I will see the usual assortment of wild animals including zebras, gazelles, hippos, wildebeast, giraffes, and perhaps some lions. For 23 dollars.

There are visitors from abroad who pay a lot more than that compared to what I will pay.

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Sunday, 19 June 2011

Visitors to Butiama: Alex Muriithi

Kenyan national, Alex Muriithi, visited Butiama today. In the photo below, from L-R, my nephew Julius, Alex, and Alex’s host and my friend Dick Nyongo, a resident of Musoma.

Alex visited the Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere Museum, and Mwalimu’s mausoleum. The Tanzanian border town, Sirari (Isebania on the Kenyan side), is just over an hour’s drive from Butiama and we frequently receive visitors from Kenya, particularly students.

Butiama is also along the main tourist route for tourists heading to the Serengeti National Park through Sirari and entering the Serengeti either at Ndabaka Gate (1 hour away) or the Ikoma Gate (2 hours away).

Alex did not ride to Butiama on a motorcycle, although that is quite possible. I have no clue who owns that motorcycle in the photograph.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Sunset at Butiama

The sun sets over Lake Victoria, to the west of Butiama. The sky to the west was hazy today, but on ideal

days, we get the most spectacular sunsets with the sun's rays reflecting off the Lake's surface.

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Culture and tradition: Muhunda makes an appearance again

Last month, a few days after the burial of my cousin at Butiama, a large baboon was sighted.

I first learnt about the baboon when I walked into the kitchen at home and someone asked, “Did you see Muhunda?”
“Yes, he has just paid us a visit.”

While he spoke the dogs were howling like wolves, continuously.

There are only two Muhunda’s of significance. One is my uncle, Joseph Muhunda. And the other is the guardian spirit of the Zanaki ethnic group, a mystical entity that is believed to reside in the Muhunda ancestral forest at the enclave of Mwitongo, where my grandfather’s household (manyata to the Masai) was located. Entry into the forest is restricted. The area is under the guardianship of the wanyikura, members of the council of elders. Tree cutting is not permitted although picking dead branches from the forest floor is allowed.

A retired teacher, Jack Nyamwaga, recalls how when he was a child a large baboon showed up the homestead of my grandfather, Chief Nyerere Burito, and my grandfather prevented children from chasing the baboon, while it ate some cassava which had been set out to dry under the sun.

It is believed that the spirit appears in many forms: a cheetah, a snake, a goat or a baboon. Baboon sightings are rare at Butiama, and although I have sighted baboons on hills that overlook Butiama, several kilometres from Butiama, they rarely cross the valley through residential areas to Butiama. It is only the second time in the past 11 years that a baboon has shown up.

Those who believe in Muhunda have suggested that Muhunda has returned to Butiama to mourn the loss of a member of the clan, my late cousin. In fact, witnesses report that the baboon emerged from a northerly direction, crossed a residential area while ignoring the children who tried to scare it away by pelting it with stones, and reached my cousin’s fresh grave and sat nearby for a few minutes and then proceeded towards Mwitongo.
At the my cousin Mazembe's funeral.
Not only were the dogs howling, but even the numerous velvet monkeys became overly excited and reportedly disappeared when the baboon showed up.
A velvet monkeys peeks into a room. Part of the valley across where baboons are sometimes sighted is seen at the left side of the photo.
With such sightings in the past the wanyikura would convene and send a party to a soothsayer near the mouth of the Mara River to find out from the soothsayer the significance of the sighting. If Muhunda was upset by a certain event in the community, the elders would communicate the information back to the community and a cleansing ceremony would take place to appease Muhunda.

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Mary Kalikawe and William Rutta reach the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro: post 4 of 4

Mary Kalikawe is the Managing Director of Kiroyera Consulting, a tourism company based in Bukoba which opened a branch office in Mwanza in 2010. She joined the 3rd Annual Mwalimu Nyerere/Mt. Kilimanjaro Climb last year. This is the fourth of four posts of her experience, in her own words:
Mary Kalikawe
The guides are well-trained to handle climbers. Considering how tired they themselves are at that point, it is commendable how they keep up the words of encouragement with the sole aim of getting you to reach your ultimate goal, Uhuru Peak. The guide constantly talks to you out of falling asleep on the steep slopes telling you it is most dangerous and could be fatal.

Coming to the financial price of an individual climbing the mountain, I must say it is formidable challenge for ordinary Tanzanians to get the thrills of climbing Mt Kilimanjaro. Putting together my air fare from Mwanza, the fees paid to the tour operator, hotel and food in Moshi, tips and cost of mountain gear I come to a whooping 1 million shillings. Consider that this is for a Tanzanian who pays only a negligible rate of only Shs. 1,500 daily park fees to the Kilimanjaro National Park Authority. The rest is for the guides, porters for whom you have to have at least five, accommodation, food and transfers from Moshi to the mountain gate.
There are many ways of saying you reached the Summit. William Rutta sports a t-shirt with the message.
Kilimanjaro is not for the faint hearted nor is it for a Tanzanian with an average income. It is still early we are still requesting contributions to BUDAP and to Chief Wanzagi’s Girls school. Payments are to be made directly to the accounts of the two beneficiaries.
Account Name: BUDAP, Ac. No. 027201092625 Bank: National Bank of Commerce (NBC), Bukoba Branch, and to Chief Edward Wanzagi Girls’ Secondary School Ac. No. 030201191529, Bank: National Bank of Commerce (NBC), Musoma Branch.
Do make a donation if you can. It will go a long way towards meeting our fundraising goals for the Mwlimu Nyerere/Mt. Kilimanjaro Charity Climbing 2010.

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Friday, 17 June 2011

Mary Kalikawe and William Rutta reach the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro: post 3 of 4

Mary Kalikawe is the Managing Director of Kiroyera Consulting, a tourism company based in Bukoba which opened a branch office in Mwanza in 2010. She joined the 3rd Annual Mwalimu Nyerere/Mt. Kilimanjaro Climb last year. This is the third of four posts of her experience, in her own words:
Mary Kalikawe
Mount Kilimanjaro climbing was very haaard!! While Jaffar and Madaraka climbed on the Lemosho route, I and William used the Marangu route, the narrow heavily-trodden path between that goes through the Horombo and Mandara Huts. I had left the gruesome climb behind and felt pain in my legs and thighs but smelling ‘triumph’ and longing to tell the whole world about my success in reaching the almost “unreachable” Uhuru Peak at my age of beyond forty!

On the steep slopes during the night climb to the summit, the mountain guides and porters who had been with us during the climb on previous days hugged me to avert a fatal fall backwards on the steep slopes down the mountain. Their jackets stunk of sweat. Mind you, we had been without bathing for five days. I guess I too was not smelling of roses. We continued through the night and after seven hours of excessive endurance beyond what I could ever imagine was within my capability, we had reached Gilman's Point!
At Gilman's Point: One down, one to go.
Gilman’s Point is the first point on the peak that is 200m lower than Uhuru Peak, the highest point of Kilimanjaro and of the whole of Africa. From that point I still had another three hours of climbing to get to Uhuru Peak. Those who saw my slow pace did not believe I could come this far! Scores of people who began with us at midnight had turned back due to fatigue, bad weather, and sheer fear.

The question ‘why am I torturing?’ myself kept ringing in my head. There are many possible answers. For one thing, the panorama at Gilman's point is a reward worth exerting for. The glaciers in the foreground of the deep crater valleys, the snow covered rugged surfaces and, above all, the much needed cup of tea served by my mountain guide Deo were all energy infusing.

At this point I made the decision to reach Uhuru peak for enjoying the glory of it. The contributions to BUDAP and Chief Edward Wanzagi’s school did not demand that I get up to Uhuru Peak. Gilman’s point was a lot more than enough. But the guide, in disbelief, but seeing my renewed energy and enthusiasm to proceed said it will be an hour to Stella Point, two hours to Uhuru peak.
Finally, I reached Uhuru Peak, the highest point on the African continent.
I did it! And got a milliard accolades of congratulations but my guide was the brunt of a thousand complaints over factors he could not control: Why was the Uhuru peak signboard so far? Why do we still have to climb, didn’t you say we are almost there? And so on, and so forth.
William Rutta at the summit.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Mary Kalikawe and William Rutta reach the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro: post 2 of 4

Mary Kalikawe is the Managing Director of Kiroyera Consulting, a tourism company based in Bukoba which opened a branch office in Mwanza in 2010. She joined the 3rd Annual Mwalimu Nyerere/Mt. Kilimanjaro Climb last year. This is the second of four posts of her experience, in her own words:
Mary Kalikawe
A day before the beginning of the gruesome climb, I and William Rutta, Chairman of BUDAP, met Madaraka and Tshombe Jaffar in Moshi at a press conference arranged to publicize the event. It was an uplifting feeling to be in the presence of these two great sons of Africa who are putting reconciliation ahead of a now forgotten bitter history.
At the press conference: L-R, Mary Kalikawe, Madaraka Nyerere, Jaffar Amin, and William Rutta.
Tshombe Jaffar, father of five children, now running a private business in Dubai is a flamboyant cheerful character. He is very dark like his father, tall and on the handsome side. He is a writer like Madaraka and has a keen interest in history, especially of his tribe and its legends. He talks of his youth and the many questions he used to ask his father. He tells of some harsh treatment he sometimes got from school from those who would dare not confront his father but found Tshombe’s then docile character a room to revenge. They pinched him for being a Moslem and for being the son of the ruling president. It made them happy, a little revenge that they got away with.
Coffee break after the press conference. L-R, William Rutta, Mary Kalikawe, and Jaffar Amin.
Tshombe Jaffar believes the exceptional fame in the two names of their respective fathers, Idd Amin Dada and that of Mwalimu Nyerere should be harnessed to draw development to the East African nations. Why should all the books and movies on his father go without any yield, he asks? Other clever people are earning big money on his name, he laments.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Mary Kalikawe and William Rutta reach the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro: post 1 of 4

Mary Kalikawe is the Managing Director of Kiroyera Consulting, a tourism company based in Bukoba which opened a branch office in Mwanza in 2010. She joined the 3rd Annual Mwalimu Nyerere/Mt. Kilimanjaro Climb last year. This is the first of four posts of her experience, in her own words.

It all goes back to SNV, the Netherlands Development Organisation, linking people’s capacities and supporting the development of Tanzania’s tourism sector. During my assignment with SNV in the Lake Zone I got acquainted with the village of Butiama, the home and burial location of Tanzania’s founding president, the late Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere. The objective of a meeting with tourism cultural stakeholders at Butiama was to contribute further to developing Butiama as a notable tourist historical site. During the visit, Madaraka Nyerere, who is one of the sons of the Late Mwalimu Nyerere, briefed me of his annual fundraising event – The Mwalimu Nyerere/Mt. Kilimanjaro Charity Climb. 
Elias, a member of BUDAP in Bukoba.
I indicated my interest to participate in the charity climb and we mutually agreed that Bukoba Disabled Assistance Project (BUDAP) should be a twin beneficiary, alongside the Chief Edward Wanzagi Girls’ Secondary School, as a beneficiary for the charity funds raised during the 2010 climb.
The author of this blog, second from right, with members of BUDAP. From left, Baraka, Ashirafu, Themistocles, and Elias at their Bukoba premises.

Kiroyera encouraged the formation of BUDAP some 6 years ago with the idea that tourism could be helpful in creating jobs for polio victims of Bukoba who were roaming the streets begging. BUDAP’s members produce African drums, dolls, handbags and other souvenirs that are sold to tourists, and the local community. BUDAP is a model of pro poor tourism.
William Rutta (left) BUDAP's Chairman with me at BUDAP's premises in Bukoba.
I decided that Madaraka was not going to do the 2010 Mt. Kilimanjaro climb alone. In recent years he has developed a friendship with Tshombe Jaffar Remo Amin, the son of the late Idi Amin Dada, former ruler of Uganda.

More than 30 years ago, Tanzania went to war against Uganda while their fathers were the respective leaders of the two countries. The war left many tragedies in both countries. To Ugandans Tanzanians are liberators who ended Idi Amin’s reign.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Join the campaign against hunger, spearheaded by Oxfam

I’ve just signed an emergency petition for action to stop the global food crisis. Prices are rising for everyone.

Leaders of the world’s largest economies hold the key to stabilizing things. but it’ll take a massive outcry to get them to act.

Join me by signing the petition for emergency action here.


Visitors to Butiama: Emmanuel Ssalongo Katumba

Mr. Emmanuel Ssalongo Katumba, left,  is becoming a regular visitor to Butiama. He is from Uganda and first visited Butiama on 14 October 2010 when this photograph was taken. In the photograph, on the right, is the District Commissioner for Musoma, Capt. Goeffrey Ngatuni. In the middle of this photograph is Mrs. Ngatuni.
On his latest visit to Butiama last month, Ssalongo reminded me that we had agreed to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro together. He might join me in September. In Uganda, "Ssalongo" is the name given to the father of twins.

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Saturday, 11 June 2011

The Mwalimu Nyerere/Mt. Kilimanjaro Charity Climb 2010 (post 12 of 12)

Next to reaching the summit, the most satisfying part of the climb is receiving the certificates for climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. The honour for handing over the certificates rests with the people who led us to the peak and back to comfort of Springlands Hotel, where the expedition began.
First in line was Jaffar (left) receiving his certificate issued by the Kilimanjaro National Parks Authority (KINAPA), handed to him by Solomon (right)
Then Ludovik (right) stepped in front of the camera to hand over Zara Tanzania Adventures' certificate to Jaffar (left)
Moments later, it was my turn (left) to receive my KINAPA certificate from Solomon (right)
And finally, Ludovick (right) stepped in view again to handover my certificate from Zara Tanzania Adventures.
We received two sets of certificates each, one issued by the Kilimanjaro National Parks Authority (KINAPA) and another issued by Zara Tanzania Adventures, the company that organizes the Kilimanjaro climbs.

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Thursday, 9 June 2011

The Mwalimu Nyerere/Mt. Kilimanjaro Charity Climb 2010 (post 12 of 12)

This is the twelfth of twelve posts on the December 2010 Mt. Kilimanjaro climb.
Monday 14 December 2011
Yesterday, a bruised toe forced Jaffar to trade his boots for sandals after we passed Millennium High Camp.

On the last day of the climb, Solomon (left) and Jaffar (right) in the forest section between Mweka Camp and Mweka Gate
Other climbers rush past us as Jaffar and Solomon pose for yet another photo.
He also wore the sandals today on the final stretch from Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate. We were once again back in the forest and having carried two cameras during this climb I had the luxury of taking many photos of some of the flowers and plants of Kilimanjaro.

Kilimanjaro Impatiens, Impatiens kilimanjari.


At the edge of the road we were picked up by a rescue vehicle because of Jaffar’s bruises and rode the few remaining kilometres to the gate by car. The Mwalimu Nyerere/Mt. Kilimanjaro Charity Climb was over for this year.

The rescue vehicle at the edge of the road.
Jaffars (center) after signing the guest book at Mweka Gate as Solomon (left) and Ludovick (right) look on.  
Next: Handshakes galore

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Monday, 6 June 2011

The Mwalimu Nyerere/Mt. Kilimanjaro Charity Climb 2010 (post 11 of 12)

This is the eleventh of twelve posts on the December 2010 Mt. Kilimanjaro climb.
Sunday 13 December 2010
Unlike last year, this year we were the first group out of Barafu Camp, having left at around 2330hrs.

On the climb we had a breathtaking view of the lights of Moshi down below on a cloudless night. The climb from Barafu Camp to Stella Point on the crater rim remains the more difficult section of the Kilimanjaro climb and there are probably more people who fail on the Barafu – Stella Point climb then in all other sections.

Sometime during the climb, I told Solomon that I experienced great difficulty caused by the frequent stops that we make and suggested I walk ahead but Solomon said it was best to stay together because that would be discouraging to Jaffar. I stayed behind reluctantly but suffered tremendously. I liken the difficulty I faced in resuming the trek after each rest to that of a heavily laden truck that is stopped on a slope and has to be driven uphill. A small car that starts from the same position has little difficulty surging forward. I was the big truck, the others were sedans.

Eventually at some point Solomon decided that I should walk ahead with him and Jaffar and assistant guide, Ludovick, remained behind at a slower pace. We reached Stella Point at 0600hrs as the sun was about to rise from the eastern horizon behind Mawenzi. We reached the spot with a Russian climber, Dimitry, and his guide, Freddy.

L-R, Freddy, an unidentified guide, and Dimitry at Stella Point, just before sunrise.
We reached Uhuru Peak at 0715hrs with a woman and his Tanzanian guide.  I quickly took some photos with Solomon and he left to meet Jaffar and Ludovick. I continued taking some photos as the

The author of this blog shaking hands with Solomon (right) at the summit.
other climber and her guide left the peak. Suddenly I was alone on the peak on a beautiful morning, an experience I did not like one bit. Man is indisputably the most dangerous animal on the planet. So, presumably everyone feels safer alone.  Surprisingly, that is not the case. A human being left alone imagines all types and manners of threats that can threaten his/her existence. I felt that.

But until I would meet other humans that morning, I had set a world record as the person who was located on the highest point of the African continent, a record that stood for at least 43 minutes. 

I began walking quickly towards Stella Point to try and catch up with the two who had left previously. Before reaching Stella Point I met Jaffar, led by Ludovick and tailed by Solomon, slowly making their way towards Uhuru peak. My world record moment was over.

L-R, Ludovick, Jaffar, and Solomon slowly making their way towards Uhuru Peak

As they made their ways towards the peak, Solomon (right) gestures as Jaffar watches. Mt. Meru is in the background.

Jaffar and Solomon pause as they ponder the last stretch towards Uhuru Peak, seen ahead at the topmost point.
At the summit, Jaffar (left), and Solomon.
We parted and I slowly made my way to Stella Point and all the way down to Barafu Camp. Midway, in mid morning, I met with the Tusker Group leading David Shoop to the peak.

Barafu camp
After lunch and a rest at Barafu where Jaffar, Solomon, and Ludovick arrived later, we left for the long trek past Millennium High Camp and a night rest at Mweka Camp. The current news: Musician Remmy Ongala has died.

Next: The final day

The annual Karibu Fair in Arusha

I have just returned to the best place on the planet (Butiama) from Arusha, where I attended the Karibu Tourism Fair for the first time.

The favorite attraction for both children and adults were the camel rides led by two Masai tribesmen. Some children, enthusiastic before getting on the camel became petrified when the camels began their unsteady

The Karibu Fair brings together tour operators, hotels, airlines, finance institutions, and suppliers to the tourism and hotel sectors.

It is held annually in early June.

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Sunday, 5 June 2011

The Mwalimu Nyerere/Mt. Kilimanjaro Charity Climb 2010 (post 10 of 12)

This is the tenth of twelve posts on the December 2010 Mt. Kilimanjaro climb.

Saturday 11 December 2010
At around 0500hrs I was awoken to what I thought was someone walking to the toilet. The noise first sounded like the shuffle of feet of someone dragging himself to the toilet, but then the noise grew into a constant rumble that seemed to gain both intensity and proximity to the camp. I found out later in the morning that what I heard was a landslide that had dislodged large boulders that careered down the face of the mountain and into a valley that was some distance from Karanga camp.

One of the porters, speaking to his colleagues in the morning, said he also heard the rumbling and was only waiting for the boulders to strike the tent ropes so he would attempt to escape. That would have been too late, I thought.

The view of the mountain from Karanga camp this morning is breathtaking. The sun shone brightly and for the first time since we began the climb, we had breakfast outside the tent.
Jaffar (seated) has breakfast, while the team's cook, Pantaleo, poses for the photo. I had never seen Mt. Kilimanjaro with so much snow cover.
I have discovered that I cannot handle frequent stops, because each time I resume walking from a rest, particularly when the walk resumes with an uphill walk, my heart seems to experience tremendous stress before the heartbeats return to a tolerable pace. I therefore told Solomon (who
The porters walk past Solomon (second from left) and Jaffar (third from left) during the initial stages of the walk from Karanga to Barafu camps.
took up the lead position as guide) and Jaffar that I would walk ahead. With fewer rests I opened up a large gap until they disappeared behind the mist and I trudged along alone, occasionally meeting other porters and climbers.
Alone, but with a camera, I pose for a rest and to took my own photograph before walking down the final valley before the steep climb to Barafu camp.
It was a repeat of last year, when I walked ahead of Yahoo, Notburga Maskini, and Gerald Hando on the same stretch between Karanga and Barafu camps. This time I was careful not to over exert myself as I did last year, later to suffer from fatigue during the final assault towards Uhuru peak.

On arrival at Barafu Camp I was told the American climber, who later introduced himself as David Shoop, was interested to meet us and had invited Jaffar and I for lunch. It was during that lunch that David had admitted that when Jaffar mentioned the reconciliation concerning Idi Amin and Julius Nyerere, he had not taken Jaffar’s words seriously. I assume he thought Jaffar was suffering from mountain sickness.

One can hardly blame him. For anyone aware of the war between Uganda and Tanzania what are the odds of climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro and bumping into the sons of Idi Amin and Julius Nyerere climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro together?

I had earlier in the day told Jaffar that word gets around on MT. Kilimanjaro quite fast and by the time we complete the climb, news of his presence will have reached far and wide. That news had finally reached David Shoop only hours later. David interviewed us for a Californian periodical which he said could provide much needed publicity for the charity cause we were promoting.

After lunch and the interview. From L-R, I, Jaffar, and David Shoop. Our guide, Solomon, standing behind us.
After lunch we retired to our tents for a few hours' rest before rising at around 2200hrs for dinner and departure for the summit.

There is normally a nervous moment I keep experiencing each time we leave Barafu Camp for the all-night trek towards the summit. It happened again this time, and I had to ask Solomon and Jaffar to walk ahead as I kept on adjusting clothing that somehow seemed not to fit me well.

Next: To the summit

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