County veterinarian and New Richmond resident Daniel Meakin has recently returned from an African adventure.
In October, Meakin, accompanied by his brother Chuck, enjoyed a two-week African safari, including a climb to the pinnacle of Mt. Kilimanjaro.
“I cannot think of a greater way to experience Africa,” said the doctor in his operating room Dec. 21. “My brother Chuck was recruiting people for some type of guided trip last fall; we chose the Serengeti safari. It sounded exciting and challenging.”
Meakin, who spent eight weeks preparing for trip with back weights and stamina training, said that the first challenge was taking two weeks off work from the All Creatures Animal Hospital and Boarding Kennel in Amelia, the business he started in 1992.
"You see what you expect to see," Meakin said. "Obviously I loved seeing the animals, especially the ubiquitous migration herds. The Serengeti is a beautiful, natural paradise. Pristine, preserved, and unchanged for centuries. You are right on top of the animals (which are used to people), especially the lions. The plain is a virtual smorgasbord for predators. We documented the experience by acquiring great photos and film footage. A highlight of the trip was climbing the mountain."
Mt. Kilimanjaro, which sits on the northeastern tip of Tanzania, is the tallest free-standing mountain rise in the world. Also an inactive, giant stratovolcano, Kilimanjaro rises 15,000 feet from its base (where Meakin's party camped), and includes the highest peak in Africa at a soaring height of 19,340 feet.
"Though challenging, it is the easiest climb of the Seven Summits," Meakin said. "Any reasonably athletic person could make it. We reached the summit at seven a.m. after a four and a half day climb. The view was, of course, staggering and scenic. We had pretty cooperative weather, although there were a couple of pesky dust storms we endured. Naturally, the thin air required deep and heavy breathing. We didn't sleep on the summit (where there is a glacier and a crater), we all wanted to get back down and clean up. Many native villagers had assembled at the mountain's base to welcome us back with beer, but at a price."
Dr. Meakin, whose wife Linda is also a veterinarian, plans on sharing the African experience with the community. He will be presenting his safari trip to several church groups in the new year and will appear at the Amelia Library Jan. 24.
"It was an interesting, worthwhile, and educational trip that I want to share with others. There was never any doubt that I would make it and enjoy the trip. It was a valuable cultural experience as well. The most important thing that I learned was that the good-spirited African people are very happy with very little. It makes me appreciate what we have in America that we oftentimes take for granted, such as infrastructure, roads, electricity, and plumbing."
Including baby wipes, which Meakin said was the most useful and essential item in their possession.