Tanzania, Kilimanjaro & Zanzibar

Headed to Tanzania at the end of last month with Sarah my partner.  We’d signed up for a Kilimanjaro trip a while ago, but rather than just ‘fly in and fly out’ – the basis on which most of these trips operate   – we wanted to try and see just a little bit more of this East African country and to visit Zanzibar.  Before the trek convened, we explored markets, sneaked a visit to a primary school, took local buses and managed to see an animal or two.  


As it turned out, we never quite made the summit of ‘Kili’ (though we managed one of the subsidiary peaks on route) as Sarah got the dreaded altitude sickness at 4500 meters, higher up than almost anything in Europe. There are various pills you can take to alleviate its effects, but the best (and safest) strategy is to descend, though this is sometimes easier said than done as we had to trek for another day, before we could be escorted down.




Disappointing not to have stood on the top of Africa?  Of course, but it was still a great adventure and the scenery was superb.   In many other respects however, it was good to get away from the mountain, after 4 nights of (below) freezing camping at sites which were overcrowded and without any real facilities – the portable toilets provided by our tour company being slightly less unpleasant than the official ones.

Climbing Kili is also rather formulaic. Part of a long line of people on a predefined route, our party of 15 was accompanied by another 50 or so guides, porters and cooks. These are local people, employed by the tour operators on a trip by trip basis. Watching the porters hurry past carrying three times more than us, as well as their own equipment (for just over $5 a day – a good gig by Tanzanian standards – as  tour companies, facing intense competition and rising taxes, seek to cut costs) provides another perspective.







So, we headed to Zanzibar a bit earlier than planned and spent time exploring the twisting streets, the wonderful beaches, snorkelling from boats and islands and watching the dhows drift past the hotel.  Zanzibar is very different to the main land – they merged into a combined Republic in 1964 – has a strong Arabic and Islamic influence and was once the hub for an appalling slave trade.





But the villages along the coast road stood in sharp contrast to the blocks of international hotels that dominate Zanzibar Town’s coastline.  My first trip back to sub-Saharan Africa for over 30 years,  it was just as magical, but still seemed to be just as poor.

Longsleddale in the Lake District

Longsleddale is a hidden-away valley in the East Lake District.Postman-Pat  Even though Longsleddale can be reached very quickly from Kendal and the A6, with no shops/pubs and served by a narrow 6 mile single-track road, few people visit.  

Apparently the valley provided the inspiration for the children’s’  story Postman Pat, even if Longsleddale  appears  to have only one post box.  Stayed in a wonderful little place called Cappelbarrow. 

From the head of the valley – where the road ends, you can walk over to Kentmere to the west,  or continue north via the  Gatesgarth Pass to Haweswater.  Though it didn’t rain once, the hills above the valley can get very very wet and boggy.  It was also the lambing season with farmers bringing down sheep from the fell side.




A quick trip to New York City

Lucky enough to visit the Big Apple, a couple of weeks ago. The usual exciting feeling when, after catching the subway from JFK,  you hit street level and that tall skyline  – which looks equally impressive whichever way you approach.

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Wonderful sunshine for most of the time  and so it felt like summer up in Central Park  


Visited Long Island -never been. Up in the Hamptons  NYCs  ‘liberal elite’  might also have a  home, but not much happening at the beach..

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And also spent an evening or two at the Bitter End Club in Greenwich Village, where Dylan first played over 50 years ago20170222_205343

The Statue of Liberty sailing away to sea ?    

Just like in Paul Simon’s American Tune  

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Morocco mountain bike trip

Exodus Travel  Atlas downhill  Dec 27- Jan 3rd 2017

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Mountain biking in Morocco is completely different to anything I’ve previously experienced. Long, sometimes rocky descents are possible with great views of the barren landscape, that’s  if you dare to take your eyes off the track  – there were also a few ‘ups’ (!)  The trip involved six days of riding from three locations.


ThExodus bikes had tubeless tyres resulting in few punctures, although immediate technical support was always available. An excellent and well organised adventure. Well done to them.



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