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999 Days Around Africa: The Road Chose Me
Back in Dar Es Salaam the Jeep is perfectly safe and sound, and I take the opportunity to perform yet another round of maintenance while I’m in such a well-stocked big city. A routine engine oil change and tire rotation kick things off, and while I’m in there I clean the air filter, grease a few things and check everything over. While driving into the city I noticed a legitimate Jeep dealer, though as much as I rack my brain, I can’t think of anything I need.
Well stocked and ready to go, I strike out North along the coast before turning inland aiming directly for the mighty Kilimanjaro mountain. At 19,341 ft. it’s by far the highest mountain on the continent, and even boasts a glacier that I see clearly. Long ago when I dreamed of Africa, I dreamed of a summit attempt on Kilimanjaro, though things have changed since then. By the time park and mandatory guide and porter fees are paid a bare-bones hike starts at $2000USD – a lot more than an entire month of my budget. The cost of tourism activities in this part of Africa is extreme, and so I have decided to pick and choose what I will see and do, and what I will pass on.
I feel good about the decision because when I really think about it, I didn’t come to Africa to climb mountains and to see glaciers – I did all that in South America, and I live in the Yukon so I certainly don’t feel the need to pay over $2000 USD to do what I can do on virtually any weekend I choose.
The same goes for a visit to The Serengeti National Park, and the Ngorongoro Crater National Park. Because the Jeep has foreign plates the cost of entry just for it is $200USD per day, then on top I have to pay for myself and camping.
Given I have already seen thousands of large African animals – often with not another soul in sight – I simply can’t justify the price and decide to also give them both a miss.
Knowing I won’t get to climb Kili, I drive right around the base of the mountain, appreciating it from all sides. I find a magical place to camp where I watch a stunning sunset and sunrise, wedged between the mountain and Kenya to the North. I spend the night camping less than a hundred yards from Kenya, and less than 3 degrees from the Equator. It’s great to look out over the plains of Kenya, though they will have to wait a little longer – I’m not going there just yet.
Not far to the West of Kili I make my way to Chemka Hot Springs, which I have been told are simply stunning. It turns out they are not hot at all – but maybe even better. Extremely clear and refreshing water pours from the earth into a huge natural swimming area, complete with trees to jump off and a swing rope. It’s a scorching hot day and so lazing about in the fresh water is the perfect way to spend the afternoon.
Tanzania is enormous, and I finally feel like I’m starting to get the feel of the place.