Three Things I Learned While Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro

By: Absolute Team | 11/20/2013

As someone who is always looking for the next adventure, ascending Mount Kilimanjaro was always high on the bucket list. Having never been at that altitude previously (nearly 20,000ft) reaching the summit was always going to be tough. But as often is the case, the most challenging tasks are also the most rewarding.

I’m happy to say I survived, and it was an experience I will never forget. Aside from sharing a week of hiking with good friends, experiencing the stunning landscape was a big highlight. From the lions and elephants in the National Parks, through to the Glaciers on the top of Kibo peak, to the beaches on the Indian Ocean, Tanzania is a country of geographical diversity. Despite a lack of what is perceived as first world infrastructure, the locals display a welcoming persona that shows they take pride in their country and culture.  From the Sheppard’s escorting their herds across the savannas, to the mobile phone salesperson camped under an umbrella, Tanzania is definitely a traders market.

One of the rewards of travel for me has always been the lessons along the way, below are three things I learnt while climbing to the ‘Roof of Africa’.

  1. ‘Pole Pole’ - Ask any local the key to summiting Kilimanjaro and you will get a simple response ‘Pole Pole’ (pronounced poe-lay poe-lay). The translation means to ‘go slow’, and this is the mantra for Mount Kilimanjaro. I couldn’t imagine how hard climbing for seven days at altitude would be, so we were thankful for the pace. Plus it also gives you a chance to take in the spectacular views. By slowing down it actually gives you a greater chance of reaching the top.
  2. Go ‘off the grid’ - As someone who is constantly surrounded by technology, I relished the opportunity to disconnect. Each day you wake up on the mountain, you don’t have to check your inbox, you just have to put one foot in front of the next. And in the evenings rather than posting updates to your social networks, you resort to old-school communication methods, sharing stories and writing a journal. We all have stories to tell and it was a great way to get to know both new and old friends.
  3. Enjoy the journey - Waking at midnight (after 3 hours sleep) to climb for 7 hours at -15 Celsius might not sound enjoyable to some,  but climbing Kilimanjaro is more than just getting to the top. It offers amazing sunsets and sunrises, changing landscapes, and amazing camaraderie with your fellow climbers and guides. Look around and enjoy the journey.


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