20 December 2011

EK Climbs Kili: Prep Work

In the future I hope to have grander tales of struggle and adventure but for now, here are some details about the not-as-fun side of climbing Kilimanjaro: paying money and getting shots.
After we decided to actually go ahead with this crazy plan and travel to Africa, there was the small matter of booking flights and finding a guide service. It is Tanzanian law that no person enter the national park that is Mount Kilimanjaro without a registered guide. There are hundreds of guide services as you can probably imagine, and the aspiring trekker has lots of questions to answer:
  • Tanzanian- or foreign-operated?
  • Expensive or affordable?
  • Minimal support or full-on luxury climb?
  • Ethical or terrible?
...and so on. I did some research (surprise...) and used resources from the Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project, the International Mountain Explorers Club, and Climb Mount Kilimanjaro to help guide our guide selection. After reading trip reports and doing lots of budget calculations, we decided to hire Good Earth Tours to guide us up the mountain.
Chris did lots of research on flights and we found a reasonably-priced ($1200) round trip JFK-AMS-JRO flights on KLM and booked those first. The next week, we sent in our deposit to Good Earth. Then I posted on facebook and received more comments than I ever imagined!

Once we had decided for sure that we were going, I made an appointment at the Barnes-Jewish Travel Clinic to talk about immunizations. My doctor there was Dr. Susana Lazarte and she was so excited, encouraging, and concerned about getting my immunizations right. As is standard protocol for international travelers, we reviewed the CDC's recommendations for Tanzania and compared them to my expected itinerary and activities as well as my health history. Based on all of these factors, we decided on an medication schedule of
  • Hepatitis A vaccine (injection, 0 & 6 months)
  • Hepatitis B vaccine (injection, 0, 1, & 6 months)
  • Typhoid vaccine (oral Rx, 8 days)
  • Tetanus booster (injection, 1-time)
  • Flu booster (injection, 1-time)
  • Malaria pills (Rx, 3.5-7 weeks depending on drug selection)
  • Diarrhea pills (Rx, for use only with symptoms)
Dr. Lazarte also gave me lots of non-medication recommendations for not getting sick:
  • don't eat fresh vegetables (cooked are okay)
  • don't eat fruit with the skin on, wash and peel everything
  • even bottled water can be dangerous, make sure shops are honest
  • boil/treat non-bottled water
  • wash hands a lot and bring disinfectant 
  • don't swim in streams
  • don't have sex with anyone
Alright! Got it! For some strange reason, the vaccines are uber-expensive to get at BJC, but less expensive to get at the STL County Health Department. Yesterday I went for my first round of Hepatitis A/B, Tenatus, and Flu. The nurse was pretty great and gave me bugs bunny bandaids.
Those are Hep A/B and tetanus. Flu is on the other arm.

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  1. Thank you for sharing your journey!

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