Kathleen Rellihan reaches the summit of Kilimanjaro, moments before sunrise, with a full moon lighting the way. (Credit: Kathleen Rellihan)
The months leading up to my Mount Kilimanjaro climb were filled mostly with making countless trips to REI to stock up on gear and promising others that even their grandma could do it. Yes, before I had even stepped foot onto Africa’s tallest peak, I already was reassuring friends and family, “No, no … anyone can do it. It’s not Everest. There are 80-year-olds who climb it all the time.”
While it’s true that you don’t need to be an Ironman to climb Kilimanjaro, it was obvious that I wasn’t so much reassuring my friends, my family and the guy fitting my hiking boots that I was fully capable of trekking to an altitude of 19,341 feet — I was trying to mask my own doubts. Sure, I had read every Kilimanjaro packing list that I could find and scoured reviews on the best moisture-wicking, wind-resistant, fleece-lined, solar-paneled, this-definitely-will-help-you-not-die gear out there. But in terms of any mental or emotional preparations, the only thought I could allow to enter my mind was: “Just make it to the top. Even if someone has to drag you.”
Photo by Thinkstock
It’s not exactly the vacation capital of the world due to its isolated location, but Lake Natron in Tanzania, Africa, is turning heads for what’s appearing from the depths of its alkaline concentrated water.
Almost everything that goes into the lake comes out dead and mummified, appearing to have “turned into stone.” Ash from volcano Ol Doinyo contaminated the lake, creating high concentrations of soda and magnesite that make it impossible for animals diving into the lake to survive.
Photographer Nick Brandt came across “calcified” birds and bats during a trip to the area. He captured images of the animals that he placed in poses as if they were still alive and published them in a new book titled “Across the Ravaged Land.”
Scientists suggest that the animals are confused by the “glassy” reflection of the water and enter the surface, causing them to get trapped and slowly calcify. The only creatures that survive this concoction are alkaline tilapia; fish that have adapted to the lake’s extreme conditions. Flamingos in the area can also survive standing in the water because of the protective skin or “shell” on their legs.
While the views and images from the area are striking, most travel sites say the lake is most appreciated from above as getting to the lake itself can be treacherous. It’s a 5-hour drive from the safari camps of the Serengeti’s Loliondo area and the accommodations at Lake Natron consist of tarp covered tent areas.
Also, with lake surface temperatures soaring above 140 degrees Fahrenheit, a water PH level equal to pure ammonia, and an evaporation rate that is ten times that of the region’s rainfall, it’s not exactly an ideal swimming or fishing hole.
But for the intrepid traveler, the views and science behind the area can make for an unforgettable experience.
A 22-year-old Australian woman is thankful to be alive, after her bungee jump in Africa went horribly wrong. Erin Langworthy wanted to celebrate New Year’s Eve with an adrenaline rush. So she decided to take an111-meter bungee jump off the Victoria Falls Bridge, located on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The adventurous traveler jumped from the bridge, plunging head-first into the croc-infested waters of the Zambezi River, when her bungee cord snapped. The entire event was caught on video. Langworthy is seen hitting the water with her feet still tied before being swept towards edge of the river. She was able to swim to the Zimbabwe side of the river and haul herself out. Langworthy was flown to a South African hospital with a fractured collar bone and massive bruising.
Well, bungee jumping isn’t for the faint of heart, but we wanted to share this amazing video and more details about this gut-wrenching story. So do you think this will show up on an episode of When Vacations Attack?