As we enter into our last week of Ramadan, it really dawns on us that we only really have 2 weeks left before we fly out.
Thank god, at least we have most of the fund raising done with only dribs and drabs to come in now.
That said, we have no hotels or flights booked for the extension of our trip to Safari and Zanzibar. Harune doesn't even have a decent sleeping bag to crash in!
So This weekend, off we went to Go outdoors for the first proper gear hunt. Most specifically for Harunes sleeping bag and found a very able Rab Ascent 700 but along the way, he managed to pick up some Leki trekking poles, waterproof trousers, trekking trousers, shoes and socks.
I on the other hand was far more reserved in my spending as I already have most of the gear. Though the few essentials I had listed in my iPhone before I even got to the store (lists, lists, lists). I picked up a Thermo tube for my camelbak hydration thingie. This is really quite essential as lower down the mountain, it keeps the water cool enough to drink and higher up the mountain, it prevents your tube from freezing. Dehydration is a major factor in Acute Mountain Sickness and I'm not playing ball.
I also picked up a pair of Smartwool socks. These babies are super comfortable but cost £17 a pair! The way I figure it, I desperately need to look after my feet!
I was tempted with a flow meter for my hydration pack which monitors how much water I have drank and how much is left in the reservoir but at £25 it was a bit much... I later found this for £15 posted on eBay so its on its way! Supergeek!
So that's the main stuff over with it's all the itty bitty things left now.
After scouring the internet for hotels for a couple of days, I decided to make at least one move and book the flight from Kilimanjaro Airport to Zanzibar. We've had to go for the budget flight but it's okay because at £90 it means that we get back from the Safari, straight into Kili airport and to Zanzibar within the hour. This is way better then the alternative, which is as follows: We get back from Safari, spend the night in Arusha or Moshi because the buses don't go to Dar till the morning. Get on a bus first thing in the morning for a 600km journey to Dar es Salaam. If we get there before 5.30pm we can catch the boat over to Zanzi, however, these coaches are notorious for delays which would mean missing the boat and spending a night in Dar es Salaam then catching the boat in the morning. This would mean that we miss a complete day just travelling... Yup, I'd happily pay the £90 to sort it all out in an hour and anyway, these short flights are my favourite ever as it's just take off and landing and very little in between!
No not the Radisson SAS in Reykjavik, I mean the booking hotels in Zanzibar. This whole episode with trying to get hold of the itinerary has meant that we have now been scanning Hotels.com for some decent places and are really stuggling. All we are left with is the very cheap and the very expensive. Though Harune's taste was edging towards the Hilton, my cars head gasket issue was sliding me to the cheaper end of the scale. That said, I always prefer a place with a more rustic feel rather then the very made up and posh hotels with all the mod cons as with these, you could be anywhere in the world and they all seem the same.
After three days of scanning every hotel in detail, I finally bit the bullet and booked the hotel that we saw at the very beginning, The Tamarind Beach Hotel. Though it has very mixed reviews, It has a sensational location and so we shall see how it all pans out. And at £90 for three days per person, it's not bad value at all!
Interestingly, as soon as I booked the hotel, I found out that my cars head gasket was not blown but it was just the water pump... thank you car for saving me £200 on the hotel and £800 not replacing a new engine... touch wood!
I have made contact with the operator of our Kili trek as they also do Safaris. They have agreed to 'sort out' our safari for around £300. I'm not quite sure what 'sort out' means and so I need to get a proper itinerary off them before we hand over any money. I just hope they don't balls all that part up...