Experiencing Mount Kilimanjaro

Experiencing Mount KilimanjaroMany people think about undertaking a challenging trip once in their lifetimes. Our client, Hetal Pawani talks about her decision to book a trip to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and shares the highs and lows of her journey.

Why did you want to take a challenging trip such as Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro?

It was partly for family reasons as my husband and sister in law were going and partly the realisation of a 10 year dream. I love the mountains and at one point I said I wanted to climb many mountains and suddenly here was my chance. A group of people we knew were going so I thought this would be the ideal opportunity to push myself.

Have you ever taken a trip like this before?

No.  At times it was incredibly tough and at others it felt easier than anticipated. When we were walking through the picturesque valleys, seeing all the weird and wonderful vegetation it was a great feeling but at other times when we were hiking through scrubland on a dusty trail it felt monotonous and I was wondering if it would ever end.

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How fit are you? Do you need to be fit to take this trip?

You need to be reasonably fit but the most important thing is the mental preparation. I hadn’t worked out properly for two years or more however, it’s more of a mental test more than a physical one. I took the whole trek slowly, I set my own pace and was happy to stay at the back of the group, I just wanted to finish, I wasn’t interested in being the first. I took it a day at a time and just told myself, if I can get through today, I can get through tomorrow.

How did you prepare for the trip?

We did do some preparation for the trip a by hiking around the UAE in Ras Al Kaimah and other places however, I don’t think you need to be running marathons or anything like that. It’s good to get into a fitness routine and I did something physical 3 or 4 times a week in the lead up. I loved shopping for new gear and all the equipment, it made the build up to the trip really exciting.

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What was the hardest part of the trip?

Summit night for me was the most difficult and the most emotional. We were walking all night and doing the climb in temperatures of -20. Just the thought of walking in all that gear was daunting enough let alone actually doing it. At that point it felt like every day had just been practicing for this big climb and when we got to summit night we were all on equal ground. There was no difference between the fittest and the less fit, we were all in it together. The guides set the pace and walk in front of you and you just follow at this point. After reaching the summit I felt totally drained and like I couldn’t take another step but I had some hot tea and somehow managed to carry on. Coming down was hard, I just wanted it to end. I seemed to fall and trip quite a lot on the descent!

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What did you enjoy the most?

There are various parts to the trek that stick in my mind but my favourite was Barranco Wall (one of the most challenging sections on the mountain, rising 800 feet above the valley below) . It looks incredibly daunting and as though there is no way you can get up there but it was good fun with all the scrambling. It made me feel like a kid again and the great feeling of accomplishment once I’d got to the top made it totally worthwhile. It’s also amazing to watch the porters going up this part of the climb, often without using their hands as they’re carrying all the bags.

Would you do a trip like this again?

This trip was definitely challenging enough for me! However, I loved the active nature of it and the total joy of being in Africa was very special. I’d love to do something similar but I’d perhaps like to go somewhere with a mix of towns and beautiful scenery. Machu Picchu for instance would be perfect.

The organisation of the whole expedition was brilliant. We couldn’t believe how good the food was up a mountain and the fact that we had hot water twice a day to wash with. There’s a toilet when you stop and there’s someone there cleaning it for you, it felt like glamping rather than roughing it on a trek. Travelling as group of people who all knew each other worked really well for us, we all balanced each other out emotionally and there was an amazing camaraderie afterwards. I’d absolutely have to give this trip 10/10!

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