Photos from Tanzania / Mt. Kilimanjaro,

Our trip to Mt. Kilimanjaro was not originally planned for 1/1/2000, but that's the way it worked out. Still, an interesting way to spend the New Year. Our journey to Africa consisted of a week of sightseeing in a couple of nature preserves, and a 6-day trek up the mountain, to the "Roof of Africa". I hope the following photos give some idea of our experience.

Clicking on any photo shows a larger version

Me, Nancy, and George at the summit. If I look like I'm grimacing... I was. It was 5 degF and windy at the top and I was freezing. But that didn't keep us from breaking out a (small) bottle of champagne and some goofy hats. It was sunrise on New Year's Day 2000 after all.


Most of these photos were taken in either the Ngorongoro crater or around the Tarangire preserve. During these "photo safaris" we were riding in Toyota Land Cruisers, with openings in the roof. This way we could see and take pictures without having to worry about being trampled by an irate Cape Buffalo.

The two on the right were fighting. This consisting of swinging their necks and trying to whack the other one in the throat. They were doing it hard enough to make an audible "thump" from where we were.

This was a lone bull elephant, biding his time until he could become the dominant male of a herd.

Lions, doing what they do best
(lion around?... get it, get it? yuk yuk)

Go away, you stupid tourist! or I'll... I'll... flap my ears at you!

Herds of wildebeest and zebra in the Ngorongoro crater... oblivious to our vehicles (which the locals refer to as "European wildebeests")

a bunch of hippopotami

Cape Buffalo, the only animal they kept warning us about.
They tend to be very ornery, especially if surprised

wildebeest (ugly things)


More Animal


An acacia tree, a giraffe's favorite snack

some alien-looking plants called giant groundsels.
Seems like something fake you'd see in a Tarzan movie

The appropriately named candleabra tree

a large baobab tree we had lunch at one day.

More Plant


  • The Masai are the dominant tribe in the area we visited. It was a very common sight to see one or several out in the fields, tending their goats or cattle. Children would typically tend the goats... cattle were left to the young adults.
  • They are big on maintaining their culture, which is why you see so many of them dressed in the traditional red wraps (now cloth... in previous days would have been dyed animal skins). But along with the traditional garb, you might also see a wristwatch (first photo).
  • You almost always see them with either a spear or a type of club, which they carry more out of tradition than necessity... of course, that doesn't mean they wouldn't bash you with it if they thought you were trying to steal their cows.
  • Speaking of cattle, the Masai operate under the convenient belief that all the cattle in the world belong to them by some divine plan... which certainly makes it easier to justify the occasional rustling of cattle from their neighbors. One day we came across several hundred Iraqw tribesmen armed with spears (along with some Bushmen armed with arrows, which they poison) on their way to "discuss" a Masai raid on their cattle the previous night. Our guide said this was not an uncommon occurence and that in the worst case scenario one or two people might die before one side backed down. More likely the village elders would work it out, and everyone saves face... the young Masai out to prove their machismo by raiding cattle, the Iraqw for their show of bravado demanding them back, and the elders for their wisdom in finding a peacable solution.

We ran into these two in the crater tending cattle. I bought the spear for 15,000 Tanzanian shillings (about $19). I sure hope she didn't need it later... I'm not sure lions accept small bills...

Dressed for church on a Sunday morning. I wish I had a snazzy suit like the kid on the left...

He was one of a couple of local Masai retained by the owner of the Oldonyorok lodge to help patrol the grounds. One morning I found what appeared to be a green adder (a very poisonous snake) with it's head smashed on the patio, presumably killed on general principle.

toys!... oh, boy! That club is going to come in handy on business trips...

This guy looks like he might whack me with his club if I get any closer with my soul-stealing camera. Just kidding... they love cameras, and were pretty friendly, especially if they thought you might buy stuff!

Tending cattle down in the crater.

A goat skin being tanned, perhaps for a knife scabbard (see trinkets, below).

A small village, almost blending into the terrain.

The Masai huts were incredibly tiny and cramped. And smoky... the only "chimney" was the little hole in the wall behind him.

This was a typical small village, except this one had been designated as ok for tourists to visit, known as a "boma". They do this to keep tourists from just walking up to huts at random... analogous to large German tourists in lederhosen and loud shirts with cameras knocking on your door asking to take pictures while you're trying to change the oil in your car.

Ngorongoro Crater

This was an old volcanic crater which has become a naturally isolated environment for all sorts of animal life. The first Europeans didn't see it until late in the 1800's, just because they didn't think to look up in what appeared to be a simple mountain range. Many of the animal photos above were taken here. Our camp was up on the rim of the crater.

View from the rim

On the floor of the crater, looking up toward the rim

We really didn't see any elephant herds, just single males, out on their own

One of our favorite refreshments, a local brew

More Ngorongoro

Our Group

Out total group numbered 13 clients, with myself, the Kierspe's, and the Wolfe's making up 5 of those.

From left to right: Dave Squires, Tim Babbitt, Caroline Lambert, Wanda Murray, Stephan Serth, Nancy Kierspe, George Kierspe, Kathy Wolfe, Nicholas Caron, John Wolfe, David Steward, Jon Schmid (me), Allen Arpen, and Jo Anderson (our guide).

Riding in our "European wildebeests" (actually Japanese 
wildebeests... they were Toyota Landcruisers)

More of
our group

The Hike up Kilimanjaro

If you're really interested, you can view this map of the route we took up the mountain to Uhuru peak. It's 353K, though, so it may take a little while to load. I gleefully stole this map from Dave and Caroline Squire's web site (thanks, guys!).

At the summit! 19,340 feet, and by this time I had a bad case of bronchitis (like the air wasn't thin enough...)

I had to go all the way to Tanzania to get my picture on the front page of a newspaper. They were actually making quite a big deal out of all the hikers making the trek up to Kilimanjaro summit for 1/1/2000. There were probably 4 times as many people as normal. I'm in the dark shirt and shorts toward the right.Article Text

This paper and the one next to it (in Swahili) came out after 1/1/2000, reporting that two clients died during the climb... one Swiss guy of a heart attack and an American woman of altitude sickness (high altitude cerebral edema, HACE). As it turns out, two porters also died of HACE, but I guess that wasn't newsworthy. Naturally, the one on the right again shows a photo of our group, merrily waving under the unfortunate headline. Article Text

The start of our journey, up the mountain via the Machame route.

There was a mercifully short speech before we left, given by the Minister of Tourism.

Looks like a bunch of people, eh? For our group of 13, we had 5 guides(!), a cook and his 4 assitants(!!), and 36(!!!) porters.

About 3/4 of the way up, way above the clouds.

That's Mt. Maru in the background... I think the altitude's getting to me...

Ice fields at the summit.

One of our assistant guides, Bonaventure. This is at the end of the trail, after coming down the Mweka route.

I wouldn't want to be a porter... but it's not a bad deal if you're a native Tanzanian. A starting porter makes about $10 a day. If he makes two trips a month, that's about $120, more than a primary school teacher makes.

More Kilimanjaro

Oldonyorok Lodge

This was the first place we stayed. It was built for John Wayne while he was filming the movie "Hatari" (Swahili for "Danger!"). I have never seen the movie, but have heard it doesn't quite meet the criteria to be considered a classic. Nice place, though, out in the wilderness... we would see Cape Buffalo and giraffes out in the back each morning.

Kilimanjaro in the background


Tarangire Lodge

Another lodge. We spent a night here. It's in the middle of a reserve, and maybe a third of the animal photos above were taken here. It had a great view out the back, overlooking rolling hills filled with acacia and baobab trees.


The town of Arusha.

Typical low-income housing.

A nice restaurant in Arusha, run by an Italian guy.

Our favorite bottled drinking water...
you had to be careful about what you drank,
otherwise you might get "Kilimanjaro's Revenge".


Ok... so this was a slight diversion from our trip to Africa. On the way over, since we had to fly through Amsterdam, the flight was arranged so we had one full day and night there. We did a whirlwind tour, with a canal boat, a couple of museums (including the Van Gogh), and, of course, a trip to the red light district in the evening... talk about your window shopping... sorry, no photos though. Very likely your camera would be tossed in the nearest canal if you tried to take photos of the girls.

A car that's Kathy's size!

I think I'll find someplace else to go on a Saturday 
night. Interesting sponsorship concept for Smirnoff.

A floating version of Amsterdam's notorious 
"coffeehouses", hash bars in reality.

Canal tour boat

More Amsterdam

Some souvenirs...

This guy was pretty cool... he was a local artist with his own roadside gallery, and the painting I got (to the left) was typical of his style. He was pretty well known locally, and we saw what looked like his work on postcards and calendars and such in lots of the shops we went to.

Well, if you're going all the way to Africa, ya gotta buy a couple of spears...

... and some Masai knives (used for everyday tasks, butchering and such, not fighting)

... and some carved ebony antelope thingys, and a head sculpture.