Travelers on the Go

Matt Huet explores Kenya and Tanzania

Uhuru Peak, Africa’s highest point. Matt (left with State of Pennsylvania insignia), Sasha (with Trinidad Flag) and Alex, 5895M

Where was your vacation/trip and how long did you visit that place? I traveled with my friends Alex and Sasha to Kenya and Tanzania, primarily to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro, one of the Seven Summits, the highest peak in Africa, and the tallest free-standing mountain in the world. Also, I spent time in Nairobi, the Serengeti, and the Ngorongoro Crater.

Enjoying the sunrise on the Rooftop of Africa

Me, Alex, and Sasha on the Shira Plateau with Mt. Kilimanjaro in the background; 3850m (12,631ft)

We touched down in the plains of Africa ready to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro, known as “the Rooftop of Africa having spent the previous weekend taking in all the smells, heat, and grit of Nairobi. Often described as a climb from the Equator to the Arctic, our climb took us through several unique ecosystems, including rain forest, heath moorland, alpine desert and the arctic summit. Adhering to the mountain mantra of “pole pole” (slowly, slowly in Swahili) despite begging our guides to “twende” (“let’s go!”), we reached the summit after nearly a week of climbing. After reaching the bottom of the mountain, we immediately began a safari to chase the Great Wildebeest Migration in the Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti National Park areas.

Sasha and her Mzungu bodyguards at Lava Tower, 4600m (15,091ft)

Your favorite thing to do and eat there? Each place that I visited on this trip provided unique and memorable experiences. I truly enjoyed immersing myself at the intersection of both physical and human geography.

In Kenya, the walking tour of Kibera, one of the largest slums in the world, truly puts into perspective how fortunate we are and how thankful we should be for each day.

Nairobi is a big city with the broad variety of options that come with it. Two restaurants that I enjoyed on the trip were the River Café, located in the Karura Forest, and for those stuck at the airport with a long layover, the Ole Sereni Hotel, a short ride from the airport, has great views of the Nairobi National Park.

Above the Clouds, witnessing the snows of Kilimanjaro

On Tanzania and once we reached the summit, I enjoyed touching the snows of Kilimanjaro and seeing the moon go down as the sun came up.

Watching the clouds come in over the Shira Cathedral

On safari, my favorite part was  staying in a tent in the Serengeti. 

Sunrise in Serengeti National Park

Giraffes in Serengeti National Park.

Where did you stay? In Nairobi, at Villa Rosa Kempinski and in Kilimanjaro, Alex and I shared a tent. Our Safari experiences included Bougainvillea Safari Lodge (Ngorongoro Crater area), Serengeti Tortilis Camp (Serengeti National Park, Camp moves based on the migration), Ngorongoro Rhino Lodge, Ngorongoro Crater National Park

Clouds at Baranco Camp, prelude to scaling the Baranco Wall, 3900m (12,795ft)

Nighttime at Karanga Camp, 4200m (13,779ft)

View of the Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

Training to be a Maasai Warrior outside the Ngorongoro Crater.

Would you go back? I would absolutely go back and recommend it to anyone thinking of visiting East Africa. Like Latin America, Africa speaks to me ways I can’t put into words and there were so many places, like Zanzibar, that I didn’t have the time to squeeze into the trip. If you’re comfortable being uncomfortable, and ready for some adventure, East Africa should be high on your list.

Alex, Sasha, and I on top of the Baranco Wall 4167m (13,671ft)

A tip for someone planning to visit that place for the first time. For anyone planning to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro and visit East Africa for the first time, there are several things to keep in mind. Depending on your country of origin, you’ll likely need not only a visa and medications like malaria pills, but a vaccination for Yellow Fever. Visas for ingress to the countries of East Africa are in USD and not cheap. Be sure to check your requirements. For the climb, many people also choose to take altitude sickness medication. There are a host of great websites with checklists to prepare climbers for the adventure.

I would also recommend coupling your Kili climb with an additional excursion. Our weekend in Nairobi and short safari after the climb were great complements. Going to see the mountain gorillas in Rwanda or visiting Zanzibar are two other good options.

View of Mawenzi Peak from my tent; Barafu Camp “Base Camp” 4673m (15,331ft)

Alex (L) and I (R) at the Uhuru Peak, with a glacier and Mt. Meru in the distance, 5895M (19,341 ft)

Any upcoming trips planned for this year? I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have already visited Venezuela, Colombia, Tanzania, Kenya, and England this year, so I don’t have anything major planned for the remainder of 2017 except for a few visits to Latin America. Lebanon, Iran, Brazil, and return trips to Greece, Turkey, and Spain remain high on my wish list!

Where can we keep up with your travels? You can follow my adventures on Instagram @mthuet