This is all moving so fast

I’m not sure what happened, but sometime between buying the plane ticket and today, I hit the warp-speed button and things are just moving along at a slightly-too-fast clip.

So, yet again, let me catch you up.  (Do I hear a new catch phrase?  Something to rival “I’m not wearing pants” maybe?)

First thing to happen:  I emailed the Rwanda tourism office to see about a permit to go gorilla tracking.  They issue 56 permits per day (note:  they don’t only issue 56 permits a day, as in they work slowly, but for each date there are only 56 permits available.)  So they are incredibly hard to get, and they go incredibly quickly.  You need to book months in advance.  Why?  Because gorillas are endangered, you’re in a protected park, and they don’t want humans bothering/scaring/stressing the animals.  Each permit is $500US, but is, I have been told, completely worth it.

So I emailed them, and it turns out there are permits available for the 23, 24, and the 25 of August.  Which works out incredibly well with my schedule.  It allows me time to acclimatize in Addis (we’re getting to this point), climb Kili and do a safari.

Second thing to happen: Originally I was planning on doing the safari first, then Kili.  I thought, on the safari, I could climb Mount Meru to help with the acclimatization.  It’s a three-day climb- 2 up, 1 down.  But with the gorilla trek, it makes more sense to climb Kili, then do the safari, and let my legs rest before doing the gorilla tracking (which could include up to 8 or 9 hours of hiking).  So I won’t be able to acclimatize on Mount Meru.  Then, while doing some researching on Ethiopia, and Addis, I found out that the elevation of Addis is 2300-2400 metres above sea level (I have found differing numbers between those two points.)  That will do nicely to help me acclimatize to higher altitudes!

So that’s where things are.  I have my gorilla permit booked, and I’ve emailed two companies about Kili.  I still need to do some research into the safari, pick the company I want to trek with (and hopefully do a safari with, as that usually ensures a slightly better rate.) and research things to do in/around Addis and Kigali.

Let me catch you up…

So about a week ago, I found an excellent deal for a flight to Kilimanjaro airport, near Moshi, on the Travel Cuts website. $1619, taxes in.  Now, most flights to Africa cost somewhere over $2000.  To Dar Es Salaam, it’s generally $2300-2500, somewhere in that price range.  So this price?  Unheard of.

Of coruse, there’s always a catch.  The earlier I could leave would be July 31, and I would have layovers in Washington D.C. (overnight), and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, before landing in Moshi two days after leaving Ottawa.  (To be fair, part of that two days is crossing so many time zones)  As for leaving…the two dates I tried didn’t affect the price.  August 31 or September 4, both were valid.

I ended up going into the travel agency, rather than book online.  I have booked online, and had no problems, but I wanted to see about staying in Addis for a few days.  I’ve never been to Ethiopia, and I figured if I was going to be there anyway….just do it.  It added about $100 to the total price – an extra $30 to stay in Addis for three days, and then another $70 for dealing with a real human.  For me, it’s totally worth it to pay that money to see a new city. 

So here I am, with a ticket to Tanzania, leaving July 31 and returning September 4.  I decided a few days extra would be a good thing – that way I’m not rushing to climb Kili, do a safari, get to Zanzibar…I can take my time to see Moshi, Dar, maybe fly to Kilgala, Rwanda for a few days. 

So I’ve got a ticket, and it’s now a reality.  I’m going to Africa, I’m going to climb Kilimanjaro.