x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Preparing for the climb

In Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah Al Thani's daily update on his climb for antimalarial charities, he travels to Nairobi ahead of his Mt Kilimanjaro ascent.

As we sat in the comfort of the airport eagerly awaiting our boarding call, I couldn't help but ask myself what Mt Kilimanjaro meant to me. Masoud and I have been together on many an adventure, including a climb to the base camp of Mt Everest last year, but this would be our first attempt at conquering a peak - the tallest in Africa, at that. Standing atop Mt Kilimanjaro would be the fulfilment of a dream; the first of the famed seven summits that I could check off the bucket list I've been adding to for years now.

We spent our five-hour flight to Nairobi reviewing the next day's schedule and thinking of things we wanted to do when we reached the summit. Masoud's attempt at the world's highest chicken dance was firmly on the list, now that we had met our fundraising target to support the fight against malaria through our friends and followers on the internet. As the clock approached seven in the evening, we began our descent into Nairobi. Our connecting flight was delayed for a reason that drove home just how deep in the heart of Africa we truly were: an almost two-metre-long snake slithering underneath our aeroplane. The dangers of sleeping in tents on our way to the summit suddenly became a reality. If even the airport wasn't safe from a snake, what were we to expect in the untamed forests that surround Mt Kilimanjaro?

A good 15 minutes went by as a group of men gathered the courage to chase the snake away with bamboo sticks and we were soon guided towards the plane. "Jambo!" said the flight attendant with a great big smile as we stepped on board the last luxury of our journey, the flight to Kilimanjaro. Although the airport lay just 30km south-east of the peak, there wasn't much to see in the pitch darkness of midnight when we stepped off the aircraft. Our first sight of Kili, as we'd now come to affectionately call it, would have to wait for daybreak.

It was around one in the morning by the time we'd arrived at our hotel in the city of Moshi, which, at 910 meters above sea level, would be the starting point of our climb. The city is home to the Maasai tribes that have lived at the foot of the mountain for generations, but has developed significantly over the last few years. We chose to end day one with a chicken sandwich from the coffee shop at the hotel, which was admittedly the strangest I'd ever tasted, before getting some much-needed rest. We had just over four hours of sleep ahead of us before we'd need to wake up and prepare our climbing gear for the five-day climb to the summit.

Follow more of Sheikh Al Thani's adventures at www.musafir.com.