Hi folks, Luke here.
Travelling with Kel.
I put a post up here a long long time ago, somewhat of an introduction but more as something as an update for our first week in Africa. Now, it is 8 weeks later and I've steeled myself to the task of trying to describe our travels. Firstly though I figure I should summarise and/or introduce what we did.
We are now home in Australia. The time that we spent was packed with any number of adventurous things. I almost dont know where to start. Luckily I wrote over a hundred pages of notes as we travelled so I have some reminders. Here we go.
Firstly, some background. I am a 35 year old Mining Engineer from Perth and Kel is a 36 year old accountant from Sydney. We first met in New Guinea when we did the Kokoda Track together a couple of years ago. One day I will try to get around to putting up my notes for that trip on this site. After Kokoda I put out a general broadcast to a lot of my friends asking what the next trip should be, suggesting it should include Mt Kilimanjaro, and I only got 7 replies - six telling me I must be mad and one from Kel. He came up with the majority of the intinerary of this trip apart from that, I'd already done the whole safari thing about 15 years ago but he figured that if he was going to go all the way to Africa, it had better include something other than a snotting great hill along the way.
So he suggested Serengeti and Vic Falls and Okavango and Capetown and insisted on Mauritius because he'd always wanted to go there. And I went along with that plan because he was prepared to sort it all out and I'm lazy when it comes to that sort of thing.
Then I broke my shoulder riding a motocrosser in places that motocrossers are not designed to go, paralysed it for 3 months, and we had to postpone. But we kept the dream alive as they say. The healing process was not an easy one but was made easier by friends and family and an understanding employer.
7 months after that my mother passed away and I decided that I had to start living my life more on my terms and less on those of my clients, so I took a salaried job in China and told Kel that the trip was on, for sure. One day I will put up a bit of a blog "after the fact" for that time. You will find it more than interesting.
So I commenced training for Kili. And working in -28 degree weather in Hebei province at an altitude of 1600m, which I also figured was training.
I loved the time that I had there and really got into the whole teaching aspect that goes with the sort of role that I was expected to fill.
After 4 months though, my employer disagreed with my opinion of what was possible and how to achieve that and decided that I was no longer required in my position (To be fair, there was an incident with celebratory fireworks on my birthday... and I had let some people know what I thought of ... but that's no reason to put the future of the operation in jeopardy). And so far as I know through hearsay, I've been proved closer to right than I expected at the time, or perhaps a bit over optimistic but I've found over the years that you have to manage your managers so they feel comfortable managing their messages. I'm not bitter...
Anyway, I found myself in a position where I potentially had time on my hands rather than having to work around work, and Kel had included Mauritius in his itinerary, which I could not afford to do because I could only get a maximum of 28 days off work, even working an extra 5-7 days at a time in China. I got screwed on 9 of those days when I left, never got paid for them. But I'm not bitter...
So I told Kel that I would join him for the whole trip, but had to take a short-term job in the meantime because no-one would hire someone who had to disappear for a month only 4 months after starting with them. So I took a 3 month contract with a nickel miner out of Perth, on more than what I was getting in China even allowing for tax and the fact that I was working less days and home every second weekend. And they had a great gym to train in, and I met a lovely girl while I was driving courier trucks for my brother and waiting for the contract to come along. Like I say, I'm not bitter...
So my golf game improved by about 10 shots, down to around 82-85 and myself and this girl went out a few times but decided there was no future in it, mainly on account of neither of us realising beforehand that there was 16 years difference in our ages but both of us trying to make it work even after finding out. Nice girl.
And helped babysit an operation that had put it's best days behind it and was shutting down, but we conspired to go out with a flourish assisted by the highest nickel prices ever. Nothing to do for hours at a time but when you were needed you made it worthwhile. So I dont really feel guilty about what I cost, except for the fact that it was extortionate compared to what I could have gotten a few years ago. They're not bitter... I hope.
At the end of the contract I made sure that I had a couple of weeks before Africa to complete my training. An hour or two a day in the gym is good training, but walking 100km with a 25kg pack is better. So I did something I'd been wanting to do for a couple of years and walked the Great Ocean Walk. Very educational and a lot of fun, if you include pain in your list of fun things. You can check it out also on Yahoo. Just click on "Luke.Neesham's trips" or "View my trips" if you can find a link, yahoo are inconsistent with these things but Google are worse.
Which brings me to this trip. A lot of reading so far before we have even started, but believe me you're going to get more. We began in Sydney, or Kel did, I began in Perth. We met in Perth and flew to Mauritius for a stopover before Nairobi.
From there we bussed to Arusha in Tanzania. Some good stories there.
Off on Safari at that point. Four days of hundreds of pictures and dozens of stories. Some particularly interesting. A couple that were just unbelievable.
Things that you just do not see on Safari, not in a year of Safari.
Then the big one, the one we had all been building up to. Kilimanjaro. 8 days of pain and motivation and illness and inspiration and cold and elation. I wont tell you if we made it, that would ruin the ending. Sneak preview though - several of our group were very sick and badly altitude-affected after only half way. I felt like I was seasick and hungover by varying degrees for 4 days.
Then, as a bit of a boring run down to the end. Victoria Falls! Botswana! The Okavango Delta!!! Capetown (very nice) and a bit of a rest in a luxury resort in Mauritius to top it all off (not as good as it sounds). Not to mention diving with Great White Sharks, diving in tropical coral, Wetland safaris, dryland safaris and maybe a bit of romance.
So stay-tuned folks. There's lots of photos and lots of stories to come. I might not get it all in and I will certainly leave some of it out (what happens on tour stays on tour, you know how it is) but you should enjoy what is coming up.