Our final leg journey before (hopefully) summiting began with an early departure from Utengule. We aimed to avoid the chaos of trucks and traffic on the Tanzanian roads.
However, only 30 minutes into our drive, a stern policeman flagged us down to let a convoy of trucks pass. When asked why he had stopped us, he simply responded with “Now is the time for trucks”
The roads were swarmed with traffic police, making our journey feel like an obstacle course.
Along the way, we made a stop along the Lukosi River, hoping to capture some breathtaking drone footage.
However, disaster almost struck when the connection between the drone and the controller cut out. Panicked, I had to sprint back to the drone, which was trying to land itself near the main road, to rescue it.
After this adrenaline-pumping incident, Emma and I were told to do breathing exercises in the car to calm our nerves. I however suspect it was more so to stop the two of us from fighting over whose fault it would have been if we lost the drone.
Our next destination was Mikumi town bus station, where we collected Justine, LiC's regional manager in Morogoro.
From there, we arrived at Mikumi National Park, just a 20-minute drive from Mikumi town. Once again we arrived at our destination just as the sun began to set.
As we settled in, we watched a bat hawk hunting from an astonishingly close distance, a thrilling and very rare encounter.
Later, we joined Justine for dinner to discuss the plan for the following day: meeting 30 children and the rest of the LiC team from Morogoro for a game drive and lunch in the park.
The children arrived fashionably late that morning, giving us time to engage in an impromptu challenge: trying to kick a plastic water bottle into a bin.
It was getting to the point where we had missed an embarrassing amount of times so we were all very grateful to see the children pull in.
The game drive was nothing short of spectacular. We spotted lions, buffalos, elephants, zebras, and giraffes.
The cherry on top was seeing a young leopard perched in a tree just before lunch. The children all had pens and pads and were taking notes at every sighting.
After lunch, we had one final stop at Hippo Pools, a viewing platform overlooking a watering hole for park visitors to stretch their legs and watch animals from outside the vehicle.
A herd of elephants had just arrived for a drink. After watching for some time, we climbed back into our vehicles and returned to the gate.
As we bid farewell to the children and Justine's team at the gate, we set off for Morogoro, 120 kms away.
Arriving at Nguzo Campsite, the accommodation felt comparatively luxurious to where we had stayed the night before, boasting hot showers and air conditioning.
That evening, we gathered at Dragonaires Hotel to watch the South African rugby team face Tonga in their final group stage match at the World Cup.
The crowd consisted of just us and one of the waiters. SA won, making the outing worthwhile.
Returning to Nguzo at midnight, we rested briefly before setting out early the next morning for our final stretch of driving before our much-anticipated Kilimanjaro climb.
We stopped on the side of the road for lunch, only to realize we had forgotten to request cutlery. Resourceful as ever, we ate our chicken noodles with our hands.
The excitement soared when we saw Mount Meru, which appeared massive from a distance. In our eagerness, we mistook it for Kilimanjaro, but just moments later, the true outline of Kilimanjaro emerged, sending shivers down our spines.
Upon reaching our BnB in Moshi, we found basic yet cozy shared rooms, with a charming open dining area.
Our day concluded with a short walk to find the perfect spot to witness the sunset against the breathtaking backdrop of Kilimanjaro.
As we stood there, gazing at the iconic peak, we realized that the entire journey, filled with teaching, exploration, adventure, and challenges, had brought us to this pivotal moment. Kilimanjaro awaited, its majestic presence a testament to the remarkable experiences we had accumulated on our unforgettable roadtrip, from Cape Agulhas all the way to the roof of Africa.