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Earning the Snows of Kilimanjaro

Our agents travel to some pretty awesome destinations. When they return, our excitement to hear about their adventures is almost as great as their excitement is to share them. In ON LOCATION, they talk about the little nuances that make each place special. From Peru to South Africa, Switzerland, and Croatia, experience a fantastic second-hand journey and maybe take away some travel inspiration while you’re at it.


When you're climbing the tallest mountain in Africa, Allison recommends being prepared

You think I would be able to hike Kilimanjaro? You would need to be in really good physical health and hike a lot.

So that’s a big no. Well, it is the largest mountain in Africa, some 19,000 feet high. We climbed it in 8 days in total round trip.

What made you want to climb it? My friends and I have been thinking of doing it for years. It was crazy and hard, more difficult than I expected. It was probably the most difficult thing I’ve done, but it was worth it.

But you didn’t go alone. Along with my friends, we hired a company called Top Climbers, a great company which provided porters, a cook, and guides. We specifically researched companies that treat their employees well, since many don’t. We had a couple of porters per person that would hike ahead of us with their large packs and set up camp for us when we arrived. They made it seem effortless too. They would just charge up the mountain with packs on their heads. These guys were strong.

Sounds like it could have been faster than 8 days. It took 6.5 days to reach the summit, but a big reason it takes so long is because it’s easier to acclimatize that way. Elevation sickness is the real deal. My friend threw up 5 times on the summit and I even started getting a little sick.

Do they bring oxygen tanks? What do they do to ensure your safety? They do bring tanks, but just in case of emergencies. Every night at camp they would take our blood pressure and blood oxygen levels. No one was ever in danger, despite losing their lunch. And we couldn’t stay on the summit for very long. People do die on the mountain, so you have to take it seriously.

Summit day sounds dangerous. We started our last stretch at midnight and climbed straight up with just head lamps and an almost full moon. When we reached the top though, it was just the beginning of the sunrise. It was gorgeous.

Let’s talk more about lunch.

Not the “losing it” type I hope.

How did you eat? As I mentioned, we had a cook that would travel ahead of us with the rest of the porters. He made the most amazing soup. Not to say that his other meals weren’t good, they were amazing, but I don’t think I've had better soup in my life. Our cook, Godson was his name, was super jovial and would sing while cooking on these little burners.

Do you want to know what the best money I ever spent was?

The food?


What then? The private toilet.

You’re on a mountain, didn’t you just use nature? Sure, you go when you need to go, but they actually have public out-houses along the trail. Those things are…nope. Just nope. Instead, one of our porters set up a tent specifically for bathroom use, cleaned it, and carried it. Money well spent.

After you conquered Kilimanjaro, did you see any more of Africa? We flew into Nairobi. At the base of the mountain, we stayed at a little town called Moshi before we went up and after we came down. After that, we flew to Zanzibar and spent some time in Stone Town and the beach then did a safari in Kenya.

Would you recommend Kilimanjaro? If you are physically able, yes. I’m not much of a climber. I did a ton of pre-trip work outs to try to prepare myself, but I could have done more. I recommend preparation for a trip like this, but it was one of the best experiences I ever had.

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