Kilimanjaro Halisi Retreat: Comfortable Acclimatization before Climbing Kilimanjaro

Kilimanjaro, as seen from Halisi Machare

Kilimanjaro, as seen from Kilimanjaro Halisi Retreat

It is not uncommon for Kilimanjaro trekkers to be concerned about altitude sickness on Kilimanjaro.  While there is no single way to avoid altitude sickness without medicinal help, one highly-regarded preventative approach is through acclimatization.  Kilimanjaro Halisi Retreat at Machare Farm is a new up-market boutique lodge near Moshi (the gateway to Kilimanjaro) that is situated at an attractive 4,500 feet elevation on the broad flanks of Kilimanjaro, meaning clients traveling from sea-level climes have a comfortable property to spend a few nights before a trek to rest and prepare for their trek plus help them acclimatize. Our travelers often choose to arrive in Tanzania about 2 nights before a trek to have a rest day. With Kilimanjaro Halisi Retreat, you would not only have a rest day but also valuable time at a higher altitude.

Kili_Machare_RoomThe lodge is itself is situated in a quiet oasis far removed from the hustle and bustle of Moshi town. Outside your door is an enchanting 350 acre organic coffee estate, with lush manicured  grounds all around the 7 up-tempo luxury rooms, each with en-suite bath and decorated in a bright mix of African and Euro-chic style.

The food at Machare Farm is carefully prepared by a resident chef, using the finest local produce. The coffee is sensational, and as fresh as can be, grown and roasted right fromDSCN0089 the estate. Wine, beer, soft drink, juices and bottled waters are available for purchase.

Energy and hot water is supplied through a mix of solar power and electricity.  Travelers can enjoy guided or unguided walks throughout the estate, exploring the tranquil coffee fields or venturing into the serene 100 acre nature reserve. Here you you can walk to a waterfall, swim in the river and look out for mountain wildlife including many species of lustrous birds. Guided coffee and tea tours can be arranged as well as visits to the local village.

DSCN0078Rooms are spacious and can be reserved as single rooms, double rooms, or twin rooms with separate beds. There is a 2 bedroom farmhouse suite and a finely decorated room inside the main lodge proper. Other units are cottages spread out over the grounds, with the stunning white massif of Kilimanjaro looming close by.  Outside of the main lodge is an interesting al fresco lounge, immersing you in the estate’s natural surroundings when it’s time for evening sundowners or a morning cup of coffee.

2016 prices at Kilimanjaro Halisi Retreat are US$100/person/night in double or twin room (breakfast and taxes included) with the single supplement just $40.

The lodge is located about 25 minutes drive from Moshi and a little over an hour from Kilimanjaro Airport. We’re very excited to add this exciting new property to our travelers climbing Kilimanjaro. We hope you can enjoy the full Kilimanjaro experience with AWR!

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Update on Kenya Visa Fees for Minors

giraffeWe like to keep our clients up-to-date on all the latest visa news. And here’s some good news from Kenya if you’re thinking about taking your children. Effective February 1, 2016, Kenya is waiving visa fees for all children traveling with their parents, although visas are still required. This waiver of fees is good for children of any nationality as long they are younger than 16 years old. The visa waiver allows parents to save the $50 they would otherwise pay for a single entry tourist visa or $100 for a multiple entry visa.

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Everest Base Camp Charity Trek with Make A Difference

ebc-1Nepal: Everest Base Camp Charity Trek
October 4-20, 2016

Make A Difference in the Lives of Children

Join MAD on a 17-Day grand adventure. The trek begins with a beautiful flight to Lukla. The trek passes through the picturesque Sherpa village of Namche Bazaar culminating in the “ascent” of Kala Patthar from where classic views of Everest and the surrounding peaks are available. There will be plenty of time to enjoy the culture of the Sherpas, visit ancient monasteries and learn how Lamaistic Buddhism influences Sherpa life. We shall stop at any of the numerous teahouses, sip a glass of sweetened tea or Chang (millet beer) and get a taste of hospitality unique to the Sherpas. Beautiful, multi-hued prayer flags, prayer wheels and intricately carved mani stones line every hilltop, rock wall, and trail-side, singing prayers to the gods with every breeze and every passing traveler.

Itinerary in Brief:

DAY 1 / OCT 4: Arrive Kathmandu Airport, transfer, overnight Hotel Tibet
DAY 2 / OCT 5: Morning Kathmandu City Tour, afternoon meet with guide and prepare for trek, overnight Hotel Tibet
DAY 3-15 / OCT 6-18: 13-Day Everest Base Camp Trek
DAY 16 / OCT 19: Free Day, overnight Hotel Tibet
DAY 17 / OCT 20: Depart Kathmandu

Pricing:

  • Cost of Climb and Tour: $1845/person
  • Fundraising Goal: Minimum of $1000/person

Book EBC with MAD >>

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9 Surprises on the Rongai Route

Just being on Kilimanjaro was a glorious victory

Just being on Kilimanjaro was a glorious victory

We have a lot of “how-to” and general advice posts for climbing Kilimanjaro on our Blog. But reading an excellent recent post on CNN about Kilimanjaro, I was inspired to write a more humble ode of what surprised me the most on my Rongai trek to the top of Kilimanjaro. Here are my 9  biggest surprises on the Rongai route:

1)  The elfin beauty of Kilimanjaro’s rainforest

DSCN1778While the Lemosho and Machame routes are the best known trails for rainforest, I was amazed by the vibrant, lush green beauty I found along the Rongai trail. Despite the Rongai being theoretically in the mountain’s “rain shadow,”  I hiked through a fairy tale landscape in the lower reaches. While enjoying all the fresh air, I passed thick patches of beautiful towering ferns and so many massive, moss-laden trees – too many to count – with limbs twisting and turning into the sky every which way.

2) The abundance of water

DSCN1779

Anyone who’s visited Tanzania on safari can attest that much of northern Tanzania is a rugged dry landscape. Not the Rongai in November!

We passed so many photogenic waterfalls and cascades, both big and small. We crossed little creeks by hopping on rocks and larger creeks via sturdy bridges. It was a marvelous twist to enjoy a water wilderness as I ascended and descended the lower and middle reaches of the route.

3) The wildlife

Seeing fresh buffalo tracks while traversing the barren upper stretches of the mountain was a surprise!

DSCN1672What the animal was doing up there only the buffalo knows. But lower down, we had eye-to-eye encounters with blue monkeys as black and white colobus monkeys watched us carefully from the treetops. Beautiful turacos alighted branches in the rainforest while cute little “tennis ball” birds delighted the eyes in higher altitudes. Kilimanjaro might never be a “go-to” wildlife destination but what you do see are casual reminders that yes, you are most definitely in Africa…

4) Rain

Despite the Rongai being the relatively dry route (compared to other Kilimanjaro trails), it was truly rainy in November, with some days seeing up to 4-5 hours of rain and/or drizzle. November is the “short” rainy season but this last November saw a healthy helping of rainfall. The mists were magic though, as parts of the forest and mountain would suddenly pop into view, then just as quickly, mists would swirl and descend, visibility could be reduced to what you saw just in front of you, only to open up again in a few short minutes.

5) The cold at night

Maybe it was because the days were relatively mild temperature-wise, or maybe it was because we were on the equator (and it should be warm there, right?). Whatever it was, the nights on the mountain felt very cold; you noticed it starting at dusk, how the climate was remarkably different on Kilimanjaro than it was in the nearby Serengeti. My guide brought me a second jacket to wear over my own down jacket for the cold. I originally thought that was overkill but I ended up using it on about 3 nights of the trek.

6) How easy it was to trek solo

I’m someone who’s very comfortable being on myDSCN1657 own in the wilderness, but on a trip like Kilimanjaro, I wrongly assumed I’d get lonely.  There are some climbers who make it a point to collect summits; they rack them up like trophies, almost like they are “taking” mountains. But on Kilimanjaro, I found the mountain took me. I felt a mysterious sense of belonging despite technically going solo on the trek. Maybe I never felt lonely since I was too busy being exhilarated? Maybe it was the unbelievable insight I gained into Tanzanian people by spending so much quality time talking with my guide instead of a friend? Maybe it was the constant smiles and laughter from the porters and rest of the crew while in camp? Or maybe it was the chance to finally sit down for long stretches and read a great paperback without distraction . . .  Whatever it was, this was one of the best trips of my life.

7) The difference it made having my guide carry my daypack on the summit attempt

It really doesn’t sound like much at all, but our guides swear it helps summit success when they carry your daypack on the all-important summit morning. My guide explained how young ex-soldiers, proud and strong, would initially refuse the guide’s help, but somewhere around 18,000 feet, suddenly the lights would go on and the stubborn soldiers would finally give in and then continue on to summit successfully. People can and do over-estimate their own strength sometimes with high altitude, so take the guide’s advice, let them carry your day pack from the beginning of the hike on summit morning. It that sounds like “cheating,” remember that you still have to “carry” your own body up the slopes, and that’s what counts. There’s no glory in not summiting, so I learned to trust my guide and let him help.

8) How “vacationy” the trek really felt

While preparing and anticipating howDSCN1756 difficult the trek was, I didn’t think even once that the trek could possibly be a “vacation.” My eyes were all on the goal of getting in shape, taking care of my body, preparing for the worst – all for summiting. But a funny thing happened on the way to the summit . . . I began to relax, enjoy the scenery, enjoy the steady support of my guide and the rest of the mountain crew, and appreciate the mountain and the solitude more and more each passing day.  I found it a wonderful experience to get away from computers, cars, cell phones, and bills for a week. I felt all my day-to-day worries go somewhere very far away.

9) Just how beautiful being on the summit was

Nothing really can prepare for the mixture of triumph, jaw-dropping natural beauty, and all-round happiness you feel when you are on the summit. I’ve done many awesome things in life and been to many DSCN1727amazing places, but the combination of doing and being on that summit was electrifying. I was honestly surprised at how I felt, maybe because I had held out on hope, in case I didn’t make it to the summit. Or maybe I had expected to be absolutely exhausted, which I was not. Whatever the reason, nothing can match the deep thrill you’ll feel standing on the roof of Africa – it’s something everyone should experience for themselves!

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Summer and Fall Family Special in Costa Rica!

Arenas Punta Leona

Arenas Punta Leona

If you are still looking for a fun, affordable family getaway this summer beyond our borders, we have a great idea! Our new summer (and fall) special is an amazing combination with the Arenal Volcano (and all the fun outdoor activities to do there) along with time exploring the beaches of the Pacific coast.

While the beach area hotel is within easy reach of Playa Mantas, a nice beach, with a little more effort, you can also visit nearby Playa Blanca, which is on the of the finest beaches in all of Costa Rica. Hotels in the trip are modest but clean and comfortable, with private bath and air-conditioning standard, and this trip conveniently starts and ends in San Jose, Costa Rica, which helps keep your international airfares low.

You can start this trip any day May 1-June 23, 2016 or August 1 -December 7, 2016. You can do this trip in July, but rates would be a little higher.

ITINERARY

Day 1: Arrive

Arrive San Jose, Costa Rica (SJO) anytime. We meet you at the airport and transfer you to your San Jose hotel.

Day 2: Arenal

This morning, you will be transfer from San José to Arenal (about 3 hours drive). One of Costa Rica’s most notable natural features is the Arenal Volcano. This impressive volcano resides within the 29,960-acre Arenal Volcano National Park. Although the volcano entered into a resting phase in 2010 – meaning that its eruptions have paused – it is still a stunning sight. Rising above the rainforest that surrounds its base, Arenal frames the skyline with near perfect symmetry.

The immediate area hosts a wealth of activities, as well as the friendly town of La Fortuna. Make check in at hotel and rest of day will be free to make any activity or just take a walk into Fortuna Downtown. Overnight at Arenal.

Day 3: Zipline at Sky Trek

This morning, we’ll arrange transportation for your next adventure – Sky Adventure Park. Your zipline fun starts with riding an open-air gondola from the ground to the heights where you’ll be dropped off at an observation area for fantastic views. From this area, you will start riding down on a zip line track stretching across canyons and in between treetops, the exhilarating adventure of zip lining down the mountainside begins; ultimately returning you to the starting point at the main building. This is the most thrilling zip line in the country.  Afternoon at leisure. Overnight at Arenal.  ** If your kids are on the smaller side, switch to the Penas Blancas River Safari float or canyoning at Pure Trek – just let us know.

Day 4: Head to the Pacific coast

We’d recommend a free morning to enjoy another activity around Arenal, but you also have the option of going straight to the coast this morning (or wait to the afternoon).  Allow for about 2.5 – 3 hours for the drive. Transfer to Puntarenas (just north of Jaco) and overnight here for the next 3 nights.

Day 5-6: Free day on the Pacific coast

Day 7: Free morning / Transfer to San Jose

Transfer to San Jose this afternoon (about a 2 hour drive) and overnight.

Day 8: Depart San Jose

Transfer to the airport – adios Costa Rica!

2016 PRICE

  • US$795/adult – party of 4
  • US$895/adult – party of 2 or 3
  • US$450/child rate

 *** Notes: While the child rate stays the same, add $100/adult for travel over June 23-July 30, 2016.  Lower child rates apply for kids ages 2 to 9 years old, sharing room with two adults. Max 4 persons in a room (including children & adults). All above rates are based on current required government VAT and Service Fees.

Rates include all accommodations, round-trip airport transfers, all ground transportation as noted, breakfast daily, zipline tour, taxes, and services and support of our local office. Not included – flights, airport departure taxes (US$29/person), lunches and dinners, beverages, and items of a personal nature (laundry, etc.).

Standard Hotels:

  • Crowne Plaza Corobici (San Jose)
  • Magic Mountain (Arenal)
  • Arenas Playa Blanca Hotel

Please let us know if you have any questions or requests. Hotel upgrades are always an option, and you’re welcome to customize your summer Costa Rica trip even further. We hope you can treat yourself and your family to this summer!

SEE ALSO:

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Travel Advice Show

AWR was recently interviewed by the Travel Advice Show, which has online Podcast interviews all about travel.  Learn more about these great destinations:

Contact us for more information about any of these great destinations >>

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2016 U.S. Passport News

US PassportWe here at Adventures Within Reach want to share some news about United States passports as well as pass on some hard lessons learned by a couple of our clients.

Passports Expiring in 2016
If you have a passport expiring in 2016, you should renew it NOW. The processing time is six weeks, two weeks longer than the four week processing time in 2015. The State Department anticipates demand for passport services to increase this year because 2016 is the 10-year mark for when the United States started requiring Americans returning by air from Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean, and Bermuda to have passports. That requirement created considerable backlogs at the State Department then and the State Department anticipates a related backlog now.

Passports Must Be Valid Six Months Beyond Entry
Another reason to renew your passport now is because many countries are now enforcing their requirements that your passport be valid for six months beyond entry. A couple of our clients have been denied entry at foreign airports and borders; we don’t want you to have that same travel experience!

Passports Must Contain Four Blank Pages Per Country Visited
Also, please make sure you have at least four blank pages in your passport per country you plan on visiting (although we’ve not encountered a country where two blank pages have not sufficed, some countries say they require four blank pages). So, for example, if you plan on visiting three countries on one of our trips, you will need at least 12 blank pages.

If you do not have enough pages, you will need to get a new passport. For all of you road warriors out there, as of January 1, 2016, the State Department stopped issuing additional pages, but instead is issuing passports with more pages (52 pages instead the standard 28 pages) to frequent international travelers. If you do not have enough pages during your journey, you will need to go to the local U.S. embassy to get your passport renewed. And then you will be stuck at the embassy rather than being out there exploring!

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Annular Eclipse over Tanzania – September 1, 2016

Sun_EclipseFor those of you looking for something unique, you should take advantage of the opportunity to view an annular eclipse passing through Tanzania on September 1, 2016 at 12:00pm.  Tanzania is right in the middle of the path of this event, and there should be great views out on safari or an a Kilimanjaro trek.

An annular eclipse is when the moon passes in front of the sun and leaves a “ring of fire.” Slightly different from a total eclipse where the moon completely covers the sun, an annular eclipse is when the moon is further from earth, so it doesn’t completely black it out but leaves a little light around it.

Please join us for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to view a spectacular astronomical event without parallel. You can do a private Kilimanjaro trek and/or safari, or you can join one of these AWR groups already scheduled to be in Tanzania during the annular eclipse:

Annular Eclipse mapAnd for those of you who are more curious about the eclipse’s path, here is a map courtesy of Fred Espenak – NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center.  For more information on eclipses, see Fred Espenak’s Eclipse website:

Posted in Kilimanjaro, Safari, Tanzania | Leave a comment

New AWR Travel Gear Store!

We are excited to announce the AWR Travel Gear Store!  This new website offers clothing, duffels, travel towels, and other great gear perfect for adventure travel.  There are individual items and packages available for men and women.  Here are some of our favorite packages:

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AWR announces NEW Private Cuba Trips with fantastic food, culture and nature!

Cuban vegetable vendorJoin us for the revolution – Cuba is here! Book now for high season (November 2016 through March 2017).

cuba-havana-1Adventures Within Reach is excited to announce our newest destination: Cuba! Closed off to U.S. tourists for decades, Cuba has only recently opened up for general travel. What makes our tours especially unique is that they offer a private Cuba experience. Our trip includes an exclusive, professional private tour leader who personally accompanies you from Miami and back to Miami.  We handle your Miami-Havana round trip flights and your Cuba travel visa as an added convenience.

cuba-street-2Our trips feature comfortable mid-range accommodations, along with special touches like

  • Visiting the botanical gardens just outside of Cienfuegos
  • Guided waterfall hike in beautiful Topes de Collates National Park

You’ll also see truly classic highlights like

  • Havana’s colorful markets
  • Live Cuban music
  • Distinctive Cuban foods
  • Encounters with native artists
  • Visits to must-see colonial-heritage attractions and other historical sites

cuba-street-1We advise that travelers book their Cuba tour for next high season now (December 2016 through March 2017, with November and April being quality shoulder season months).  With the U.S. opening the gates, demand is off the charts yet availability and infrastructure is still lagging behind.  While you can travel other times of year, be prepared for Caribbean-strength heat and humidity. Note that the official hurricane season runs June 1 – November 30, with occurrences in the Caribbean region generally spiking between August and October. While a month like September can be a fine time to go, you’ll want to purchase comprehensive travel insurance in the event a hurricane threat pops up over your scheduled time of travel.

Here are the details on our inaugural trip to Cuba:

Who is Cuba NOT for?

Sometimes knowing what a place is not can be just as helpful as knowing what a place is! With that in mind, here is some advice for folks tinkering with the idea of taking the plunge to Cuba.

Cuba is not a good destination if you need a last minute trip, or if you require an exact itinerary with no flexibility. Cuba is tailor-made for open-minded, intrepid travelers who love to plan well in advance, yet are patient and eminently flexible travelers. While your Cuba trip with us is bound to be amazing, changes are almost an expectation rather than an anomaly. If that’s not for you, we would encourage you to look at our other destinations.

Cuba is a cultural travel hot spot, and not a beach or diving destination… at least not yet.  Cuba is all about its amazing people and the opportunity to “time travel” back to a land seemingly in better tune with the 1950’s than 2016!

Cuba is not yet a true adventure travel destination. We are among a relative handful of Cuba tour companies offering a guided hike in Topes de Collates National Park, yet other adventure options are few and far between.

For cutting-edge travelers looking for the next “big” thing, it would be hard to beat the promise and pure experience of Cuba – now is the time!

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