Strong Willed… Challenge of a life time


Martin Kelly contacted B2B just before Christmas 2010 after an old climbing mate of mine; Warren McDonald pointed him in our direction. Over the months that followed through email correspondence I personally got to know Martin and likewise I’m sure he got to know me and what goes on here in Tanzania.

Our bush updates, since they began to trickle out into the world wide web, have never been about individuals or clients safaris, but with the permission of Martin he has allowed me to show case his success story, so please sit back and enjoy ‘The Challenge of a Life Time’…

Martin’s story started with a passion to climb Kilimanjaro and below I have pasted in his initial email to me.

So, I’ll be 60 next spring, and having done some athletics have my share of injuries, shoulder, knee, etc. That said, I’d love to give “Kili” a shot before I get too much older. The last thing I’d want to do is hold anyone back; so if you have a “trip” for “strong-willed” but imperfect bodied people that would be perfect!

As Martin was going to give Kili a shot by himself we advertised his climb on our notice board, but over the 4 months that followed our efforts were fruitless and we did not get any takers for the 8 day Lemosho climb that we had selected for Martin.

The ‘Lemosho Route’, to paint an overall picture, is as all routes up Mt. Kilimanjaro very picturesque and has the advantage of being spread out over 8 days as opposed to most other routes going for around 7. With Lemosho though there is the added excitement of the adventure actually beginning before you even put your day pack on!! The track is strictly 4 x 4 only!! And even the best 4 x 4 by far sometimes is not enough and you may be forced to go the extra mile on foot!!

Certainly the most relaxed, scenic, uncluttered, and open routes that Kilimanjaro has to offer. Several days as all routes offer heading up through lush, heavy rain forest of the lower slopes with black and white Collobus breaking the silence of the forest with their grinding low repetitive bark.

After leaving the forest one breaks out onto the Shira Plateau and the whole world seems to open up before you as you stand dwarfed by the amazing natural amphitheatre. Lemosho is a camping only route and would still be one of our favourite routes. Reason being, usually very quiet and certainly is away from the crowds as you approach the mountain from the West. Wildlife is still present in the lower forested areas with elephant movement very visible along the trail head. And so it was Martin arrived one day earlier than he originally planned to which he enjoyed the lush grounds of Ngaresero Mountain lodge before heading out on the short wildlife safari that we had stitched onto his Kili climb. When we have inquires for kili and safari our suggestions is always to head out to the bush first; this is basically to find your feet and give you time to adjust to each and everything including the mind set of stepping on the mountain in the days that follow. We also like to give each and everyone an opportunity to put the boots and head for some subtle altitude, this being achieved by taking a ‘Walk in the Park’ heading up the foothills of Mt. Meru located in Arusha National Park touching the 2000metre mark. We also offer a hidden treasure and seldom trekked hike through the Ngorongoro Forest reserve. This route has to be accompanied by x 2 armed rangers for good reasons as Martins story was later relayed to me!

Martin for sure in his own words would back me up about being un-trekked as he found the bush completely overgrown after the long rains had done their part in the circle of life turning the forest into a web of vines and long grasses. Usually as the season moves on into the dryer months the walking although challenging becomes easier as natural game tracks trampled in by wildlife make perfect trekking routes through the bush for us homo-sapiens. Martin later relayed that the guide juggled between machete and rifle in true Rambo style as he had to hack his way through the bush in certain sections. This was all going well although progress was fairly slow and then abruptly stopped when the trekking trio met a large black mass of fur and muscle through heavy bush!!

The Machete disappeared by magic and the rifle was now being aimed at a 900kg fortunately placid buffalo that went crashing through the bush after its encounter with Rambo and co!!

The Ngorongoro Forest Reserve is a natural haven and hideaway for much wildlife that enjoy the heavy bush with an abundance of easy foraging without the disturbance of villages and cars. Other hikes that we have organised in conjunction with Kilimanjaro or simple for those wanting an active safari have always turned up something exciting!! 2 ladies several years back had to take a 2 hr detour to get around a 200+ strong herd of elephant that had decided to spread themselves out on each and every track the rangers tried. So to say these walks are somewhat on the wild side is an understatement. A good level of fitness is required as this is not a ‘Walk in the Park” that is planed from A to Z you could encounter anything or nothing in the forest as it is the luck of the day as with all wildlife encounters. However one thing is for sure the walk will take you into heavy virgin afro-montane forests that usually only has the 4 legged mammals trampling the soft soils under the dense canopy.

During Martins climb I spoke to him several times on mobile phone (yes you get coverage almost to the summit) to which I relayed messages to loves ones who were hoping to follow Martins slow trudge up the highest free standing mountain in the world. On each time we spoke, although a little out of puff Martins happiness of the adventure he was living was plain to hear from the short conversations we were having, I finally managed to get through to Susie his wife and relay all the messages.

On the 16 June I got the final call from Martin that he had summitted Kilimanjaro allusive Uhuru peak and all was well!! Again the tone of his voice could not hide the elation of the quest Martin had just successfully undertaken and without going into in-depth accounts of how the B2B kili Crew stood by him through thick and thin I wanted to round off by simple writing his comments that he later relayed to me in the office.

“Apart from meeting my wife and being there for the birth of my children,
successfully climbing Kilimanjaro comes third on my list of greatest moments”

Success for sure in the eye of the beholder. Take that first step and leave the rest to Bush2Beach Safaris, so you too can be adding a few great moments to your life stories.

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