Category: Safari

SMI’s Second Kilimanjaro Team 2017 gears up for summit day!

Kilimanjaro with Snow on top

SMI’s second Kilimanjaro Team 2017 goes for the summit! They chose to summit via the Northern Circuit Route, a seldom traveled route up Kilimanjaro. They started their trek on February 18, 2017. Follow their journey with us as Kurt Wedberg, SMI Founder, keeps us updated!

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David Schucker and Bryan Miller fresh off the plane in Tanzania

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Diane Tsuda, David Schucker, Bryan Miller, and Andy Schucker start their trek in the jungle!

 

 


 

February 23, 2017

Greetings from Mawenzi Tarn Camp at 4315m on the flanks of Kilimanjaro. Our team just finished day 6 of our 9-day climb.  We started on February 18 at the Lemosho Gate at 2100m. We trekked under the jungle canopy and we’re treated to sightings of Black & White Colobus Monkey’s jumping between tree branches.  Kilimanjaro is the only place where one can pass through 5 climate zones in as many days. Over the past several days we have climbed through the Cultivation & Jungle zones into the Moorland & Sub Alpine zones.

Our team chose the remote and seldom traveled Northern Circuit Route. We’ve been treated to beautiful views of the upper flanks of Kilimanjaro covered with fresh snow from recent storms. We’ve had rain 5 out of 6 days usually after arriving at camp.  The team remains in great spirits enjoying the discovery that accompanies the views each new day brings. Tomorrow we move to to our high camp at 4700m in preparation for our summit bid the following day.

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February 24, 2017

Greetings from 4720m at the Kibo Hut; our high camp on Kilimanjaro! Our team spent last night at the Mawenzi Tarn Camp at 4315m underneath Mt Mawenzi. This impressive satellite peak was formed during the first eruption of Kilimanjaro.  Today we got an early start to trek towards our camp enjoying stunning views of the mountain we came to climb. We spent this afternoon preparing our gear for summit day, hydrating and resting. An early dinner will be followed by early to sleep so we can wake early for summit day. We’ll start wearing headlamps and climb through the night with the goal of reaching the summit in  the early morning.

Everybody has acclimatized well to the high elevation. We’re feeling great and psyched for our summit bid to the Roof of Africa!

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Stay tuned as the second SMI Kilimanjaro 2017 team make for their summit bid on Kilimanjaro! Follow on our Facebook and Instagram @smiguides

Our New Web Site is Live!!

Mt. Whitney (14,508’/4422m) in morning alpenglow.

Greetings from Bishop, CA!  We hope this finds everybody well and enjoying the fall season.  After a busy summer and fall we have been hard at work planning for 2014.  We have also launched a new web site for your viewing pleasure.  We invite you to have a look and come with us on a trip!

As of this writing SMI guides April Mayhew and Kurt Wedberg are off to Argentina for an Aconcagua expedition.  Back home in the Sierra the weather is getting cold and we’ve seen some of our first significant snowfall.  We’re gearing up for winter time activities including ice climbing, backcountry skiing, and avalanche courses.

Basin Mountain and surrounding skyline on Sunday November 24, 2013 after our recent snowstorm.

Here is a brief listing of some of our upcoming offerings for 2014.  We hope to see you on a trip with us in 2014!

Aconcagua:  Trip #1:  November 29 – December 17, 2013,  Trip #2:  December 27 – January 17. We still have a couple openings on both of our upcoming expeditions to the highest mountain in South America.

Mt. Kenya:  February 1-10, 2014.  A technical rock climb up the second highest mountain in Africa.  The climbing ranges from low 5th class up to 5.7.  It’s in a beautiful, remote, and wild setting overlooking the beautiful East Africa jungles.

Kilimanjaro and Safari:  February 11-25, 2014.  A 7-day climb of the highest mountain in Africa combined with a game viewing safari where we see some of the most spectacular wildlife on our planet!

Mt. Whitney:  Winter/spring 4-day climbs and summer 3-day climbs of the highest mountain in the contiguous United States.

Ice Climbing Courses:  Ice is forming now in Lee Vining Canyon and June Lake.  Come up and discover the exhilaration of climbing ice in these premier destinations.

Avalanche Classes:  Learn essential skills to evaluate snow conditions in backcountry travel.  We also include rescue training using transceivers and probes.

 

Successful Game Viewing Safari February 6-10, 2013!!

A cheetah in the Serengeti. Cheetah's are lean powerful cats built for speed. They're the fastest animals on our planet capable of speeds of 70-75mph/112-120kph for distances of up to 1600'+/500m when hunting prey.

SMI guides Kurt Wedberg and April Mayhew are back in Moshi, Tanzania after leading another amazing game viewing safari in Tanzania.  Joining them on safari was Dan Cherico, James Gault, Beth Keller, and Emily McIntyre along with Christine Loredo and Frank Martin who stayed for one day.  Over five days the group visited Lake Manyara National Park, the Ngorongoro Crater, and the great Serengeti Plains.  They also visited a Masai village and saw the Olduvai Gorge archaeological site.  At the end of their five days they flew from the Serengeti back to Arusha, Tanzania where some continued on to Zanzibar Island while others flew home.

April and Kurt are now awaiting the arrival of their next group of 11 folks who will attempt to climb Kilimanjaro (5895m/19,340′) February 14-20.  Stay tuned for highlights from this climb.

Below are some pictures from the animals the group saw on safari.

 

A lioness with a cub survey's the landscape from the perch of a tree in the Serengeti.

 

A mother leopard checking out a hollow log before letting her cubs enter it for hiding.

A leopard cub learning to survey the landscape for danger from the top of a fallen log. It’s mother was watching from a nearby tree.

Zebra's in the Ngorongoro Crater. Zebra stripes are as unique as human fingerprints. When in a herd their stripe patterns make it difficult for predators to tell them apart from one another.

A zebra couple courting in the Ngorongoro Crater.

A mother elephant giving herself a mud bath in the Serengeti. Elephants use mud as a cooling mechanism during the heat of the day.

A hippo yawning in the Serengeti. Hippo's spend most of the daytime hours submerged up to their heads in water. They're herbivores and only use the large front teeth for fighting.

An Olive Baboon baby hitching a ride on its mother's back in Lake Manyara National Park.

A Blue Sykes Monkey in Lake Manyara National Park.

A Masai Giraffe eating acacia tree leaves in the Serengeti. Giraffes are the tallest animals in the world with some males reaching over 19'/6m. Their food supply is therefore plentiful since no animals can reach where they normally eat.

Cheetah's scanning the landscape while a third rests in the bushes to the left.

Hippos play fighting in the Serengeti.

Elephant mother and a calf less than a year old in the Serengeti. Elephants don't have any natural predators besides lions who will attack unguarded calves. Mothers usually keep their young close by and protected from danger.

Safari in style!! Dan Cherico, James Gault, Beth Keller, Emily McIntyre, and April Mayhew loaded up and ready for safari with SMI founder Kurt Wedberg and his long time safari driver Tarimu from Marangu, Tanzania in front. Tarimu is a skilled driver who knows the game parks and is intimately familiar with the behavior patterns of the animals. Kurt and Tarimu have been running safaris together since 1998 having countless memorable events over the years together. Tarimu drives a 4x4 Land Rover equipped with a removable rooftop, air conditioning, and electric charging ports. The vehicle can comfortably seat seven people in addition to Tarimu.

After an excellent 5-day safari the group is ready to fly out of the Serengeti for a birds eye view of the terrain we just covered over the preceding days!

 

We Can’t Get Enough of Africa!

 

Team Nguvu Dadas (l-r): Amber, Kelly, April, Betsy, Rachel

On August 7th, team members from across North America united at the Springlands Hotel in Moshi, Tanzania. Betsy Northam and her sister Rachel flew in fresh and rested from 5 days on Zanzibar Island. The others arrived via bus ride across the Kenya/Tanzania border. The Kilimanjaro climbing team consisted of Betsy Northam of San Diego, Amber Sidhu of San Diego, Kelly Dunfee of Halifax, Nova Scotia, and SMI guide April Mayhew.  During the climb, Betsy’s sister Rachel Mueller would provide base camp support from her poolside office at the Springlands Hotel.

August 8: After a celebratory dinner and a well-earned night’s sleep, we stretched our legs during a morning walk through the local villages and jungles of Moshi. The terrain navigated around small neighboring farms, then broke away into a dramatic landscape of manicured rice fields with a peripheral background of untamed jungle.

Walking with balance along the narrow rims of the fields can be tricky. Many large wild birds use the rice fields as a food source. In addition to grand views, our trek was graced by many friendly greetings from village children and rice fieldworkers.

Navigating the rice fields surrounding Moshi.

Local girl harvesting firewood in the jungle.

August 9-10.  Our first two days on Kilimanjaro were spent navigating the jungles and ridges of the Umbwe route.  Through light showers and mist, the glaciers of Kilimanjaro would occasionally appear – an inspirational beacon that fueled our progress. In good time we arrived at Barranco Camp (12,926’/3940m), what would be our base camp for two nights.

Team Nguvu Dadas arrive at Barranco Camp!

Morning at Barranco Camp

August 11.  The small storm blew through sometime during the night, lightly dusting the the benches of the mountain.  We enjoyed morning tea and coffee underneath a looming Kilimanjaro, our first view of the mountain uninterrupted by clouds or weather.  After breakfast of porridge, fruit, toast and eggs, we walked up to Lava Tower (15,190’/4630m) our high point of the day and Betsy’s personal record.  A hot lunch welcomed us back at camp, and the remainder of the day was spent relaxing, writing, reading, stretching, and napping.

Team celebrates reaching Lava Tower

August 12.  Soon after packing up camp, our team deftly scaled our high point of Barranco Wall then made our way along the south circuit path to Karanga Valley, and up to Karanga Camp (12,893’/3930m).  After cleaning up, we were treated to a hot lunch of fries, chicken, vegetable slaw, sliced fresh watermelon and oranges, and pineapple juice.  The sun broke up a lower cloud layer, which allowed stunning views of Mt. Meru and villages surrounding the base of Kilimanjaro.

Team navigates Barranco Wall

Sunset over Mt. Meru from Karanga Camp.

August 13.  We broke camp and made good time moving to our high camp, Barafu (115,091’/4600m).  After a hot lunch, we prepared for tonight’s summit bid.  Many international climbers were staged here and the camp buzzed with excitement.

Advancing to Barafu Camp

August 14.  We headed off into the night, a stream of headlamps breaking up the blackness, a small but very strong climbing team! We passed many parties on the way as we hiked underneath a brilliant starry sky.  At 5:45AM our team reached Uhuru Peak (19,340’/5895m), the summit of Kilimanjaro! After arriving back at Barafu Camp, we enjoyed a hot breakfast before packing up camp and descending down into the oxygen-rich jungle to Mweka Camp (10,170’/3100m).

Uhuru Peak

Sunrise view from Uhuru Peak overlooking Mawenzi

August 15.  In the morning, the local staff that supported our climb sang farewell to the team.  After many hugs, we separated and made our way down to Mweka Gate, where our transport waited to return us to Moshi for an afternoon of well-deserved R & R!

Mweka Camp: Farewell song & dance

The entire photo gallery from our climb of Kilimanjaro can be found here:

http://www.kurtwedbergphotography.com/International-Expeditions/Africa/Kilimanjaro-August2012/24784429_Gd7SHf

SAFARI!!!

The following days, Amber, Rachel, Betsy and April went on Safari while Kelly remained in Moshi donating her time at two local children’s homes.  Her presence was missed on safari!

Over the course of five days the team visited Lake Manyara, the Ngorongoro Crater, Tarangire National Park, and the great Serengeti Plains.  In addition to seeing a wide range of exotic wildlife our safaris are also a rich cultural experience.  We spent some time a local orphanage near that has become a traditional stop on our trips.  We also visited a local Masai Village where we were treated to traditional Masai dancing ceremonies, saw the mud huts they live in, and we were given the opportunity to purchase jewelry items.

Wildlife was prevalent throughout our safari.  Below are a few pictures.  The entire photo gallery can be found here:

http://www.kurtwedbergphotography.com/International-Expeditions/Africa/Safari-August-2012/24924709_W34VCq

Rachel, Amber, and Betsy dance with Maasai women

African Elephant (Tembo)

Female lion and cubs after feeding.

Leopard hanging from tree in the Serengeti

East African Safari: Plentiful Animals and Great Times!

After a successful climb of Kilimanjaro the team said goodbye to Caleb, John, and April.  Caleb and John began their journey home.  SMI guide April Mayhew stayed behind in Moshi to run in the Kilimanjaro Marathon.  Three days after standing on top of Kilimanjaro April placed a very respectable second among female non-Africans then caught up with the rest of the group for the last three days of safari.  Congratulations April!  The rest of the team took off on a game viewing safari to see up close some of the most fascinating animals on our planet.

Over the course of five days the team visited Lake Manyara, the Ngorongoro Crater, Tarangire National Park, and the great Serengeti Plains.  In addition to seeing a wide range of exotic wildlife our safaris are also a rich cultural experience.  We spent some time with kids at a local orphanage as has become traditional on our trips.  We also visited a local Masai Village where we were treated to traditional Masai dancing ceremonies, saw the mud huts they live in, and we were given the opportunity to purchase jewelry items.  We also visited Olduvai Gorge which is rich in archeological history.  Bones of many extinct animals have been found in this area.  It is also the sight where the archeologists Tom and Mary Leakey discovered the oldest homonid footprints.

Wildlife was prevalent throughout our safari.  Below are a few pictures.  The entire photo gallery can be found here:

Game Viewing Safari February 25-29, 2012

Rhonda, Kurt, Jackie, and Janet on safari at Lake Manyara National Park.

Two lioness sisters resting in a tree at Lake Manyara National Park.

Male lion in the Serengeti.

Cape buffalo with a stork on its back in Lake Manyara National Park.

Wart hog family in Lake Manyara National Park.

Wildebeest mother and calf. 185,000+ wildebeests are born within a two week period in October each year. This insures the survival of the species.

Male and female impalas at Lake Manyara National Park.

Janet, Rhonda, Kurt, and Jackie in the Ngorongoro Crater.

Female spotted hyena on the Serengeti plains.

Male agama lizard sunning itself on a kopje rock outcropping in the Serengeti.

Grants Gazelle in the Serengeti.

Zebras resting in the Serengeti.

Young teenage elephants in the Serengeti.

When a giraffe bends over to drink it is in its most vulnerable position for predators.

Giraffe eating leaves from an acacia tree in the Serengeti.

Vitelline Masked Weaver at Olduvai Gorge.

Abdim's Stork in the Ngorongoro Crater.

Male Cory Bustard bird puffed up looking for a mate in the Ngorongoro Crater.

Red Collared Widowbird

Egyptian Goose in the Serengeti.

Secretary birds on top of an acacia tree in the Serengeti.

Saddle-billed Stork in the Ngorongoro Crater.

Janet, April, Kurt, Jackie, and Rhonda at our hotel in Karatu during our safari.

Traditionally dressed Masai women during our visit to their village.

Rhonda, Jackie, and Janet were invited to join the Masai ladies in their traditional dance.

Masai warriors conducting a traditional mens dance and jumping ceremony.

A Masai man shows us inside his mud hut where he and his family live while he shares with us their way of life.

Masai jewelry for sale at their village.

Kilimanjaro Summit Success!!

February 23, 2012 6:15am. Summit photo on Kilimanjaro. Team members from left to right: Rogati Lucas, Caleb Fiske, Rhonda Bellavia, Kurt Wedberg, Janet Lacey, April Mayhew, Hillary

SMI guides April Mayhew and Kurt Wedberg just returned from Tanzania where they led another successful climb of Kilimanjaro.  Team members included Rhonda Bellevia, Caleb Fiske, Jackie Hammitt, Janet Lacey, and John Lafaro.  Several team members used this climb as a fundraiser for Big City Mountaineers (www.bigcitymountaineers.org).  The money raised will help this well respected organization bring underprivileged and inner city youth on 7 and 8 day backpacking trips this summer.

The team met in Moshi, Tanzania where we spent one day to relax after the long flights, pack our gear for the climb, take a hike in the forest near our hotel, and eat a traditional Chagga meal of banana soup.  On February 18 the team took off for Kilimanjaro National Park and the gate at the start of the Umbwe Route which would be our ascent route of the mountain.

Kilimanjaro is the only place in the world where one can pass through five different temperate zones over a 5-day period.  We start in a jungle environment at 6000’/1829m and by the time we’ve reached the summit at 19,348’/5895m we’re in the alpine zone.  Along the way we were met with every type of weather possible from warm sun to rain, foggy white out conditions to clear days, and we even had some snowfall at the higher elevations.  The team adapted beautifully to the changing conditions keeping a great attitude throughout.

For all team members (besides the guides) climbing Kilimanjaro would be a new personal altitude record.  It was a joy watching this group of people who came from California, Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas mold into a super fun, supportive, and efficient climbing team over the course of this 7-day climb.

Congratulations everybody on a job well done!!

A few pictures are below.  The entire photo gallery can be found here:

Kilimanjaro February 18-24, 2012

The team ready to start the climb of Kilimanjaro at the Umbwe park gate.

The team at a rest break in the jungle on the first day of the climb.

John enjoying a lunch break in the jungle.

Inside the dining tent at the end of day 1. One of the countless jovial moments during this climb.

Kurt Wedberg performing a little first aid on one of our local Chagga staff.

February 19, day 2 of the climb. The team leaves its camp in the jungle at Umbwe Cave headed for Barranco Camp at 3940m/12,926'.

Our first view of Kilimanjaro from the jungle.

Gladiola flower along our route.

Janet Lacey at the front of the team enjoying the hike as the route rises out of the jungle.

Caleb takes time out for a gymnastics workout during our hike!

Jackie enjoying the views as the team rises out of the jungle.

The elated team reaches Barranco Camp at 3940m/12,926'

Jackie hugs a Giant Senacio tree near Barranco Camp.

Barranco Camp with the Western Breach Wall of Kilimanjaro behind.

The team and our Chagga staff enjoying an afternoon game of hacky sack at Barranco Camp.

The team at Lava Tower during an acclimatization hike. An afternoon snowstorm would not dampen this teams spirits.

February 21, day 4 of the climb the team leaves Barranco Camp headed to the next step; Karanga Camp at 3930m/12,893'

Rhonda and Caleb en route to Karanga Camp.

The team arrives at Karanga Camp 3930m/12,893'. Back row: John Lafaro,Hillary, Rhonda Bellavia, Caleb Fiske, Kurt Wedberg, and April Mayhew. Front row: Janet Lacey, Jackie Hammett, and Rogati Lucas.

Sunset over Mt. Meru. The peak is a dormant volcano at 4566m/14,980' about 60 miles away from Kilimanjaro.

February 22, day 5 of the climb. The team packed and ready to leave for Barafu Camp at 4600m/15,100'.

The team enjoying the climb to our high camp.

April Mayhew and Rhonda leading the way close to high camp.

Team members having a cup of hot tea before beginning the summit climb.

Streaking headlamps during the pre dawn hours of the summit climb.

Rhonda and Kurt shortly before dawn as the team reaches the crater rim of Kilimanjaro.

Team members silhouetted as the sun rises over the African plains.

Summit success on Kilimanjaro!!

Kilimanjaro casting its shadow across the African plains at sunrise.

SMI guide April Mayhew standing proud on the crater rim of Kilimanjaro at the start of the descent after guiding another successful ascent of Kilimanjaro; her 3rd ascent in the past year!

Celebration dinner after another successful climb of Kilimanjaro. Congratulations Team!!

Tanzanian Orphanage Visit June 26, 2011

Steve and Sarah helped distribute dollies at the Kilimanjaro Orphanage.

As has become customary on our Africa trips we pay a visit to at least one orphanage.  HIV and AIDS is still a very big issue in Africa and orphanages are overflowing with kids who’s parents have fallen victim to this epidemic.  What little SMI can do to bring a little cheer into these kids lives we feel very humbled and honored to be able to do.  Sarah MacDonald and Steve Schumm joined SMI guides April Mayhew and Kurt Wedberg for this visit.  As we did with our visit in February we brought with us hand made dolls courtesy of Cindy Simon and a group of talented ladies who sew these to distribute to kids all over the world.  A big thank you to Cindy and all the ladies who help make possible delivering these special dollies to the kids.

A few pictures are below.  The entire photo gallery including some video can be found here:

Kilimanjaro Orphanage June 26, 2011

Sarah giving out some of the dollies.

Kurt handing out dollies to some of the kids.

Steve with one of the kids at the orphanage.

One of the kids with her new dollies.

The children and their new dollies. Each dollie is unique and sewn by hand.

After our visit kids always follow us when we leave.

April getting her bicep workout courtesy of one this child.

See you next time. Our next trip is in January / February 2012!!

East African Safari June 21-25, 2011

After a highly successful and emotional climb of Kilimanjaro the team then ventured off on a game viewing safari.  We offer safari’s as part of a package with our Kilimanjaro climbs.  They are always fun and they never disappoint.  Since animal behavior is never completely predictable it is always a treat to watch the days unfold.  The only thing we know is that we will get to view some of the most legendary wildlife on our planet.  We visited Lake Manyara, the Ngorongoro Crater, the Serengeti, and Olduvai Gorge.  We also visited a Masai Village.  Below are a few pictures highlighting some of our animal sightings.  The entire photo gallery can be found here:

Safari June 21-25, 2011

Dik Dik's - the smallest of all the antelopes.

Thompson's Gazella

Hartebeest

Wildebeest

Topi in the Serengeti.

Male and female impalas in the Serengeti.

There are over 1100 bird species in East Africa.  We see many on safari.  Here are a few of them:

Grey Crowned Crane

Augur Buzzard

Egyptian Goose

Cory Bustard Bird. The largest flying bird in the world.

Male ostrich

Hildebrandt's Starling

Supurb Starling

Black Rhino. The rhino population has been decimated by hunters and poachers. The Ngorongoro Crater is one of the few places where they can still be seen. There are currently 26 living in the Ngorongoro Crater.

Cape buffalos

African elephants

Teenage elephants playing in the Serengeti.

When eating Masai Giraffe's use their long tongue to wrap around thorny acacia trees

Masai Giraffe's in the Serengeti.

Hippos in the Serengeti.

A lioness resting in the tall grass.

A pride of lions in the Ngorongoro Crater.

A lioness in a tree at the Ngorongoro Crater.

Spotted hyena mother and her offspring.

Cheetah in the Serengeti.


Another trip of a lifetime on safari!

Our Kilimanjaro team got down from the mountain and had a great celebration dinner in Moshi on June 20.  The following day we headed out in three Land Rovers for a game viewing safari.  One day was spent at one of the seven natural wonders of the world when we toured the impressive Ngorongoro Crater.  We also spent two nights in the infamous Serengeti Plains, plus visited Lake Manyara, which is famous for its diverse bird populations and lions who climb trees, and experienced Olduvai Gorge where numerous fossils of extinct animals are still being discovered.

A more comprehensive report is forthcoming.  In the meantime we wanted to share a couple quick photos highlighting a couple of our animal sightings:

Above : A lioness in the trees, June 25, 2011.

Below : A cheetah in the Serengeti, June 24, 2011.

Orphanage Visit February 26, 2011

Dollies sewn by Cindy Simon and friends ready to be sent to kids overseas.

After a very successful and emotional climb of Kilimanjaro the ladies flew to Zanzibar Island.  SMI guides April Mayhew and Kurt Wedberg had a day in Moshi to relax before traveling to Kenya for an attempt at climbing Mt. Kenya.  In addition to relaxing they paid a visit to a local orphanage in Moshi.  Orphaned children is a growing problem in Africa where Aids and other diseases takes its toll on the parents of families.  This orphanage houses 35 kids ranging from 4-12 years old.

April and Kurt brought with them gifts of hand made sewn dolls.  These dolls were the creation of Cindy Simon and a team of ladies in the LA area.  Cindy’s husband Bill is a regular client of SMI.  Bill and Cindy climbed Kilimanjaro with SMI in February 2010.  Cindy and her friends sew these dolls for orphans around the world.  They have sent over 600 dolls to children in Haiti.

Here are a few pictures of the event.  The entire photo gallery is here:  http://www.kurtwedbergphotography.com/International-Expeditions/Africa/Orphanage-in-Moshi/16100728_Fhh7b

SMI guide April giving dollies to the orphans.

The kids pose for a picture with their new dollies.

A child at the orphanage happy with her new dolly.

Kids playing with their new dollies at the orphanage.