Tanzania, Kilimanjaro


With the good wishes from our families we (Pat Miller, Marshall Miller, Bob Ottenritter, Slater Ottenritter, Ryan Travers and myself) left for Africa,  in July 2007.  We left Baltimore arriving at Kilimanjaro airport after much planning and a great guide service “ Africa Travel Resources” ATR we made ready for an ascent of Kilimanjaro. ATR procured for us twenty four of his strongest young men to carry our loads up the mountains.

24 porters for 6 people.  Now that is good employment.

The chief guide had done the excursion many times and he had a great group of support men including the toilet men. We took an abundant supply of chocolate, goats, chicken,  rice; as well as medicine, and our tents and sleeping gear.

This is our hotel above.  The Kilimanjaro hotel had a pool with a fine dinning experience and lounge are pictured above. We sucked down a few beers here -very cool.

In the Town of Kilimanjaro, the goats and flocks were feeding around the waddle huts and the boys whistled and the birds sung in the soft air while the women sold their food in open air markets. From the town we drove to the trail head the drive was harrowing. The porters who carried our burdens had forty pounds each, and they were stronger than us.

At first we were amid teeming tropic gardens on the hillside. with very colorful and numerous birds.  At an elevation of between 6000 and 7000 ft,  green moss hung from the trees.


Great ferns were seen along the valley. A rambling stream followed our path most of the way for the first few days we took the Rongie route.  As we rolled into camp we were treated to a scrumptious lunch of hot tea, sandwiches and good chocolate. For dinner after an afternoon rest we dined in elegance on chicken, rice and cooked vegetables before retiring to our tents.  We normally were awakened at about 6:30 am and broke the evening fast with tea or coffee, eggs, or oatmeal, it was very nice.

Above is the group with Killi. in the back ground.

We left camp at 7:30  and continued our ascent through steep and bushy country and as we rose in altitude the forest gave way to high plains shrub.

By the end of second day we were through the heavy dripping woods and out in a series of light brown fields.

Trees began to look spindling the bush and briar and thorn covered the floor and the fields were sprinkled with beautiful flowers, red and pink, blue and purple..

In the late afternoon the sky was beautiful and it painted the sky scarlet with the plain below lay in its shadow,. As we moved to about 14,000 feet, we felt the cold keenly. The night sky was crisp and sharp and became aglow with the splendor of the moonlight, and all around was darkness over the land except  on the now covered top of our great mountain.  After dinner and directly before nightfall but at deep dusk I tried to sleep outside but it was to cold so I retired to the tent with Ryan my bunk mate.

The following day was going to be our attempt on the summit after reaching Kibo hut.  That attack on the summit would happen at midnight.  The next morning we set out for the hut passing through a high plains desert environment where nothing grew but very short stubble.  It was eerie., wind swept and cold all day long.  Upon arriving  at he hut we rested had a light meal at 8 Pm and then at 2 AM rose for the summit attempt after a cup of coca tea that I had smuggled into Africa from Peru.  ,


We started for the glaciers of Mount Kibo, highest and grandest of all African mountains, the moon was out. By  6 AM  we made the crater rim and the panoramic views of the country at a height of 19,000ft, it  was incredible.

This shot is taken on our way to the summit before sunrise- wow

We continued onward to the highest point on the crater rim and rejoiced as the sun rose and we were there to great it.

This is Gilman’s point on the crater rim

We had to hike it out and got in to camp down the valley at 5 PM in the early evening, we had been hiking for 36 hours straight,  and I was smoking tired.


Video of us on the summit



Cool Summit Video

our climb we went on safari in the Tarangire. Tarangire National Park measures 1,600 squares miles and is Tanzania’s fifth largest park. The park is named after the life-giving Tarangire River that provides the only permanent water for wildlife in the area.

The river is a magnet for wildlife during the dry season when massive concentrations of elephant, buffalo, wildebeest and zebra congregate along its banks. Imagine hundreds of zebra stripes reflecting in still waters or the looming silhouette of elephants burnt into the crimson sunset or the sight of ghostly baobab trees scattered across shimmering grasslands. These features are just a taste of what Tarangire is all about!

We were there when the sun has baked all moisture from the surrounding landscapes, so we were lucky that a menagerie of different shapes and sizes of animals are lured to the enticing waters of the Tarangire River and seasonal swampland. The green season in Tarangire can also be incredibly rewarding as there are fewer crowds, many resident animals can still be seen (including large numbers of elephants) and the lush landscape is washed in vivid emerald foliage making a spectacular backdrop for photography

Tarangire boasts one of the most diversified parks in East Africa for birding. The park is especially good for raptors were astounded by the abundance and diversity of these powerful air borne predators. We saw eagle, long-crested eagle, martial eagle, fish eagle and spotted eagle owl.

Tarangire is a hidden wonder of Tanzania that safari enthusiast must visit, especially during its prime in the dry season when huge masses of animals stream into the park for its perennial water supply.

The most spectacular feature of Tarangire is that it serves as a place of refuge for the largest elephant population in northern Tanzania. While out on safari, you will notice that a large proportion of the elephants encountered are less then 10 years old and baby elephants are abundant. For us set against stunning scenery, the elephant viewing will undoubtedly prove to be one of the biggest highlights for a safari in Tarangire.

The Tarangire River runs up the center of the park through diverse habitats and varied topography. Gentle rolling hills interspersed with giant baobab trees, open acacia woodlands and seasonal swamps provide a spectacular and picturesque setting. A memorable sight are the mystical baobab trees– giant wonders of nature, these silvery, massive trees seem to dwarf the animals that graze underneath them.

In addition to the migrating herbivores (including buffalo, wildebeest and zebra) there are numerous resident animals that remain inside Tarangire National Park year round. Resident herbivores that we saw were of course the elephant, mongoose, giraffe, bushbuck, rock hyrax, hartebeest, dik-dik, impala, waterbuck, warthog and reedbuck. Primates we saw included olive baboon, vervet monkey and bushbaby.

We saw some large cats, the lion, leopard and hyena. Lions are abundant in Tarangire and are regularly encountered. We saw large prides and a surprisingly good leopard shot in a tree with his prey and they congregate around the remaining rivers and swamps inside the park boundaries.

Saying good by to the guides

Tarangire is an incredible park that will reserve a special place in your heart and memories. Rest assured – no matter what time of year you choose to visit Tarangire, you’ll certainly be glad you did!