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Ascent to Mount Meru-Arusha(Maasai Village) on 2006-01-13

Climber: Ben Lostracco

Others in Party:guide "Steve"
see Mount Meru TR for details of today's climb
Date:Friday, January 13, 2006
Ascent Type:No Summit Goal
Point Reached:Mount Meru - Arusha(Maasai Village)
    Location:Tanzania
    Elevation:6234 ft / 1900 m

Ascent Trip Report

"KILIMANJARO TRIP 2006"(jan 9 to feb 11)
I came to Tanzania to climb Mt Meru and Kilimajaro (africa's highest point), and go on a Serengeti Safari. If at all possible squeeze in a climb on Mt Kenya in Kenya (Africa's 2nd highest point). Following is a short resume of the days activities prior to this day's, acclimatization hike, up the slopes of MT MERU.

JANUARY 9 & 10 - I flew Montreal/Amsterdam/Nairobi - leaving on the 9th at 18h50 hrs, arriving Nairobi on the 10th at 20h30 hrs (Nairobi time is Montreal +8 hrs). I took my first weekly malaria pill.
At the Nairobi airport I was met (prearranged) by Nathan, from DAVANU transportation service. We went to his airport office to look after business, I paid for tonight's shuttle to the hotel, AM shuttle to the bus station and the bus fare to Arusha ,Tanzania (gave me the tickets). His driver drove us to the Meridien Court Hotel (they had a room reserved for me), leaving after Nathan checked me in. All went very smooth.

JANUARY 11 - Davanu's mini bus arrives to drive me to the bus terminal. On the way out of nairobi, real heavy traffic, the bus made a stop at the airport, Nathan came in to say hello and said to call him if I need anything. Very professional, nice people. The streets and fields are full of people walking in every direction.
11h20 hrs - We entered Tanzania at the NAMANGA BORDER entry, easy, they stamp you passport and ask no questions or check your gear. The slow bus ride (Nathan had told me that the police are very vigilant) from to Nairobi to Arusha is very arid and barren, with never before seen conditions/panorama - not for me to talk about in this report, I came here to climb.
13h30 hrs - Arrived ARUSHA (elev 4500 ft) Mt Meru hotel under a light rain, Arusha is an "oasis" of green vegetation, compared to what I witnessed on the way here. A taxi took me to my base OUTPOST LODGE B&B, I met the owner Anna Maria - I had chosen her thru the internet and she had also recommended w s safari ltd for my guiding services.
Thru the internet I had chosen W S SAFARI, Arusha, for my guiding services, mainly because of their contact person ,LISA. Her responses were prompt and precise, not like most of the others who were slow and didn't answer my questions. A few hrs after checking in, Lisa (a friend of Anna Maria) came over to introduce herself, together with her 2 children (12yrs & 8mons). As expected she was a very warm, likeable, accomodating person. We agreed to meet in her office on the 14th, to look after the contract and its payment for the Mount Meru climb, which is to start on the 15th (I had sent her a 100$ deposit for this climb). We will look after the Kilimanjaro contract after I get back from this one. Also, the day after tomorrow, the 13th, I want to do a acclimatization hike on the slopes of mt Meru - she will arrange for a guide to here that AM.
So far on this trip all of my choices have been good, nice people. No pressure.

JANUARY 12 - A SETTLING IN, ORIENTATION DAY - After a breakfast of eggs and sausages, I put my personal papers in the lodges safety deposit box and walked to town. I was immediately approached and HASSLED by street hustlers from all directions, like never before. I was very frustrated and some what scarred of this whole scene. After walking around for a while and putting up with this constant attack, I decided to go back to the lodge after lunching at a restaurant.
The lodge desk clerk told me that the town hustlers don't mean any harm, however he advised me not to walk around the side streets after dark. Also Lisa called to tell me that a guide, Steve, will be here at 9h00 hrs AM. I spent the rest of the day doing a bunch of errands.


JANUARY 13 - ACCLIMATIZATION HIKE ON THE SLOPES OF MERU "MAASAI VILLAGE"

9h00 hrs - Lisa dropped off STEVE, MY GUIDE for the day. We will walk from here thru town, up dirt roads on the slopes of Meru, visit typical Maasai villages up on top (elev 6200 ft) and go down to a water fall deep in a gorge.
Steve, a stocky well built 32yr old, has been guiding for 10 yrs and is well known in town. He has a wife and 2 kids. When we walked up the slopes he would visit the huts, and stop and talk to the people, some came up to him, he would hand out money. They didn't bother me. Steve is very popular.
We stopped in at a SCHOOL on the outskirts of Arusha, the children in full school uniform were playing in the yard. Some came running up to me with big smiles and proudly saying in English "good morning".
We saw mostly women and children all over the place and the odd man, who apparently are in the fields guarding the animals. The women do all of the work, including looking/carrying fire wood from the woods, working the fields and all of the work around the house. The COLORFULLY DRESSED WOMEN are friendly, some being good looking and very sexy, they carry everything balanced on their heads. Steve talks to most of them. I took a photo of a bunch of them bundling the fire wood - I had to give them 2$. I asked Steve "What feature the Tanzanian man like most in a women?", with a big smile he said "A BIG REAR END". It was because of this experience, that on the way down, we went back to an art shop that we visited on the way up. I bought 5 beautiful "Batik linens of women carrying a basket on their heads".
The MAASAI HUTS are framed from wood and plastered with "cow dunk mixed with dirt & water", dirt floors and very dark. We sat with a lady cooking over a fire pit, you could hardly see her for the smoke. Everything is covered with soot which apparently has medicinal values, used on cuts and bruises.
The very LUSH FARMED SLOPES of Meru have an irrigation system, fed by a huge reservoir and springs. At the main Maasai village on top of a hill, Steve had to get registration papers and PAY FOR OUR VISIT to the village elder. Here the trail went thru a pine forest and then dropped straigh down to a river at the bottom of a gorge - very steep and slippery with jungle like dense vegetation.
We hiked up-river to the bottom of a BEAUTIFUL 100FT WATER FALL, lunched here. Steve left me here for 45 min while he climbed up the other side of the gorge to a "military post", to get his registration papers stamped. The military guards the water sources of Tanzania.
On the way down we had a HUGE DOWNPOUR, Steve just walked in a Maasai hut without permission to wait out the rain. A lady and her child sitting in one corner. I took a huge spill on the way down, a bit dirty but no damages.
17h00 hrs - Back to town center. I shopped for Tanzanite with NO HASSLE. The hustlers now knew who I was associated with, in fact they were all very friendly. Everyone knows who is who in town and there appears to be respect. Tomorrow I'll go to Lisa's office for the Meru trip. I called my wife Rose at home. All is going well.

"SOME DO DREAM - SOME DO - FEW DO BOTH"
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:2334 ft / 711 m
    Total Elevation Loss:2334 ft / 710 m
    Round-Trip Distance:11.2 mi / 18 km
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:2334 ft / 711 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 1734 ft / 529 m; Extra: 600 ft / 182m
    Loss on way in:600 ft / 182 m
    Distance:5.6 mi / 9 km
    Route: arusha center, up meru slopes on winding dirt rds
    Start Trailhead:outpost lodge, arusha  4500 ft / 1371 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:1734 ft / 528 m
    Distance:5.6 mi / 9 km
    Route: arusha center, up meru slopes on winding dirt roa
    End Trailhead:outpost lodge, arusha  4500 ft / 1371 m



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