On Africas roof - waiter climbs continents highest peaks during his downtime
When the Reefs Hotel closed for a couple of months during the slow season, waiter Martin Grznar knew it was a perfect opportunity for adventure.
The 35-year-old from Slovakia packed his bags and set off on a five-week trip to Tanzania where he climbed two of Africas highest mountains Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru.
He also went on a safari and enjoyed the countrys south coast while spreading the word about Bermuda and handing out local souvenirs.
What took me there was the culture and wanting to see the African continent because I have been before only to Egypt, said Mr Grznar.
The Reefs closed for the off-season so I decided to travel somewhere else. Usually I go backpacking for three or four months. I did most of South America, Central America and Southeast Asia on different trips.
I didnt do much of Europe because Im from Europe and it is accessible for me. I was looking for the more exotic places. I travel by myself and it gives me the opportunity to meet more people along the way.
The highlight of his trip to Tanzania was climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. At 19,335 ft, it is Africas highest mountain and the tallest free-standing mountain on Earth.
The climb proved the ultimate challenge for Mr Grznar who climbed the 14,977 ft Mount Meru a couple of days before, in preparation. Some 15,000 people attempt the climb every year.
Im not an experienced hiker and it is hard to do but I put it in my mind and did it, said Mr Grznar who took six days to reach the summit.
The total hike was about 100km. He stopped at various camps along the way.
The only thing I did to prepare was play tennis and run on the beach and other exercises to expand my lung capacity, he explained. I organised this through the internet and found a [tour] company because I didnt want to go by myself. I found an American guy who was more fit.
I took two days break [between Meru and Kilimanjaro], to relax and prepare clothes and get some extra equipment like a warmer sleeping bag. We had a crew of ten six porters, a cook, waiter, guide and assistant guide. [The porters] have a faster pace so when we reached the next camp it was already set up.
The gruelling climb ended with the summit attempt on day six. That involved a six-hour walk to Stella Point which, according to many climbers, is the most mentally and physically challenging part of the trip. Leaving their camp around midnight, the climbers reached the 18,650ft Stella Point in time to witness a magnificent sunrise before another two-hour trek to Uhuru Peak.
It was better to climb to the summit in the night, said Mr Grznar. You reach the summit by sunrise and feel like you are on top of the clouds, its so beautiful.
When I planned for this trip I didnt plan this mountain because it looked like mission impossible, but then I got interested and set my mind on it. When you follow your mind and really want to do something you can do it. You have to be motivated to want to do it.
The porters stay in the last camp so you go on to the summit with the guides. Everything is in the tent. It was very cold and very windy and my water froze. When I reached the summit I cried from happiness. It was very emotional, a great feeling.
After the climb Mr Grznar went on a camping safari for five days in four national parks Tarangire, Serengeti, Lake Manyara and Ngorongoro.
Its called the Northern Circuit, the parks are so big you can spend weeks there, he explained.
Mr Grznar spent time relaxing on the coast. He also took a ferry to Zanzibar Island to enjoy the beaches and wind down at the end of the trip.
Useful websites: jipetrekkingandsafaris.com/index.html; www.trekkingtour-kilimanjaro.cjb.net.
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