After my fun in the sun in Zanzibar, I took a flight to Moshi, Tanzania. I needed to book my tour for the hike to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro. I had seven days available to do the hike before I needed to report to my next volunteer assignment. People I had met over the past few weeks all recommended that I book a tour once I got into town because it would be cheaper than organizing it before I arrived.
I spent the day walking through town and looking at the different tour companies. There are street hawkers on every corner that aretrying to sell you safari trips or a hiking tour of Kilimanjaro. It is almost a little overwhelming. Since they get a commission on whatever trip you buy, they are relentless and will slander the guy you are talking with just to start a conversation with you.
I found a small company that was started by a few former guides. They borrow their permit from a larger company but organize their own tours at a substantial discount. At first, they thought they had a found a fresh mark since I was an American that needed to book the trip on a quick turnaround. Little did they know that I had the inside scoop on how much I should spend, tip and expect from them. After their initial offer, I looked at the guide and told him that I was offended that he was treating me like a tourist who was coming to the country for the first time. I told him what I expected and what the cost was going to be and that the only way I would do it was if they outfitted me with gear for the hike as part of the package. He smiled. He knew there would be no negotiations. It was the cheapest price for the five day Marangu route but at the same time it was a fair one for the start of rainy season.
We left the next morning for the Mountain. They had found another hiker to come up with me, a young student from Japan named Akash. Akash wasn't a talkative person but he was excited about the hike. I made conversation with him and found out that his only other hiking experience he had was Mt. Fuji. I was a little nervous for him because he didn't seem to be that active and didn't understand that this mountain was not as easy of a climb as Mt. Fuji. We were going to be with each other over the next five days and I decided that it was my goal to get him up the mountain if it was the last thing I would do.