Nearly two years ago I was having a particularly dull day at University. I was fed up with studying and seeking some form of excitement. So, on a mad whim, I spontaneously signed up to climbing Kilimanjaro and agreed to raise £2,500 for charity in six months. I’m sure my friends and family thought I was having an end-of-teenage-years crisis but I was determined to fulfil this ambitious goal, albeit a spontaneous one.
Raising the money proved much harder than I had ever imagined. Asking people for money is just the worst (especially when you have to keep asking because they keep ‘forgetting’). Plus, when all your friends are students it’s even harder. Efforts involved baking hundreds of cup cakes, coercing my lecturers into buying Krispy Kremes, copious begging and when I got truly desperate, I tragically let all of my beanie babies go in a tombola at the local summer fair. They were dark times indeed!
Sure enough, with lots of support and some generous donations, I raised all the money. So in September last year I took on the daunting challenge of climbing Mt Kilimanjaro, the highest free-standing mountain in the world. It was a truly incredible experience with lots of highs and lots of lows. But in the end, every tear, every ache and every stinky toilet was worth it.
I hope you enjoy reading about my African Adventure. Perhaps my experience inspires you to take on your own spontaneous challenge.
Yep, that’s right, the porters set up our very own Kilimanjaro restaurant. Table set, tea at the ready and lunch prepared! We thought we were in for the easy ride!
The rainforest was amazing and the towering height of the trees made me feel very small. In a good way.
There were about 30 porters to our group of 10 and they are genuinely amazing people. Yes, that guy is carrying two bags, a loaf of bread and three chairs ON HIS HEAD. And they carry these right to the top (almost).
We arrived at camp to find our tents all set up and waiting for us. We then sat down for dinner which bizarrely involved a lot of popcorn.
Now I know what you’re thinking. This Kilimanjaro lark all looks like a bit of a breeze – bags carried, tents set up and food prepared!
Sadly, it did get harder. I promise.
Beyond the Canopy, Beyond the Clouds
The second day got progressively more difficult with a steep climb; but the views certainly made up for the struggle.
Another amazing porter being utterly amazing. Did I mention, they’re amazing?!
This is the first time we broke through the canopy, revealing the most spectacular views. My head was quite literally in the clouds!
The vegetation became more and more sparse until we were greeted with a somewhat dismal arrival at Shira camp. Engulfed in the clouds and super cold, this was our first glimpse at how harsh the mountain can be.
Thankfully, by morning the cloud had cleared and we were treated to a gorgeous sunrise.
If you’d like any advice, would like to share your own experiences of Kilimanjaro, or just want to say Hi, then I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.