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Kili gliders still up, some walk down

7th February 2013
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TANAPA Public Relationship Manager, Pascal Shelutete

The 100 pilots who climbed Mountain Kilimanjaro on January 26 this year expecting to fly down using paragliders were by yesterday still up there due to unfavourable weather.

They were scheduled to come down using paragliders on Tuesday but they failed due to frequent weather changes.

Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) Public Relationship Manager, Pascal Shelutete, said until yesterday afternoon, the group was unable to glide down.

He said a special helicopter hired for rescue services has been dropping food and water to them.

“The decision was taken after receiving reports that the food they carried up with them was finished and they could not come down using paragliders due to poor weather,” Shelutete said.

“One of the characteristics of this mountain is the frequent changes of weather … there is a time when the cloud is heavy and strong winds blow, only to disappear after a while. The situation has been posing difficulties for the tourists keen to use paragliders,” he said.

“Until this afternoon the Mountain was covered with heavy clouds …some 15 tourists had to come down by foot last night,” Shelutete said, adding that some of them were sick.

Shelutete said that the sick tourists had been taken to hospital while others were taking a rest from the exhausting walk.

For his part, Kilimanjaro National Park Conservator Erasto Lufungulo, the use of paragliders to go down the mounatin was on trial.

“Climbing the Mount Kilimanjaro is not an easy task … it needs experienced people who know how the weather patterns," he said, adding: "That kind of tourism if successful it will increase the number of tourists in the country,” he said.

He called for engagement of experts who will conduct thorough research to establish exit stations and know proper time in the year for the exercise.

The Director for Ngarasero Mountain Lodge, Thimoth Leach, who is an experienced pilot and also capable of using paragliders said that he was happy to see such tourism being tested in the country.

Until the paper went to press yesterday the reports said that the tourists were still up the Mountain and that some of them were expected to come down by foot yesterday night.

The tourists went up the mountain on January 26 this year with the aim of raising 1 million USD to be used to support communities living around the mountain.

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN