Kilimanjaro Trip

The Uhuru of Getting up Kilimanjaro is Intense

How I got up Kilimanjaro

When I first started talking about hiking up Kilimanjaro my friends really thought I lost the plot. I was fit and strong but so are the other some 15,000 people who try to make it up there every year and less than half actually make it. There is always snow up there and if that doesn’t put you off there is altitude sickness, weird insects, dangerous animals and not a single Starbucks. I had been to Tanzania and loved the culture and the people but something in me was sparked and I left quite unsatisfied. For some reason I felt that I had to return one day and make my way up the tallest mountain in Africa: to Uhuru Peak.

Uhuru? Huh?

Uhuru is a Swahili word that means freedom. It is also the name of the highest summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. In my mind the two were synonymous and I was determined to conquer it.My trip to Kilimanjaro

This is how I did it

I got fit – I thought a good place to start would be to get fitter. I started doing longer runs and joined a local hiking club for weekend hikes.

I took my medicine – Before you go, get anti-altitude sickness medication. No matter how fit you are you need this to help your blood absorb more oxygen. Although it can have some annoying side-effects since it is a diuretic, it keeps you going and has one amazing side-effect: it makes you feel tipsy. Around 20 minutes after you take it you feel completely silly and happy – I even felt like giggling and singing. When you are descending you will experience the same sort of euphoria as the oxygen gets thicker.

I drank lots of water – Although this might sound like stating the obvious, it is vital that you stay hydrated. The trek starts in the jungle where it is humid and you sweat a lot. As you ascend you sweat less but the air is drier. Remember the anti-altitude sickness meds are a diuretic and you need lots of water, keep sipping.

I ate – Believe it or not, even with my very healthy appetite I did not want to eat. For some reason many of the hikers, including me, lost their appetites but we were told that we absolutely have to, have to get it down. The food will be cold and might not be to your taste but eat it anyway. This is a 50 something kilometre journey, you need your strength. If I ever do this again, I’ll bring some nuts with. One of the other hikers shared her almonds and it was the easiest thing for me to get down.

I listened to my guides – An African proverb I learned and loved ages ago is: ‘If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together.’ Kilimanjaro is not something you should do alone and having a good guide is invaluable. These guys have done what you are about to do for the first time, many times over, probably hundreds of times. They push you and pull you in all the right ways and even help carry your backpack when you just can’t anymore. Any advice they give is probably the best advice you can get. Take it.

I not only conquered a mountain, I conquered my mind

Experiencing the extremes of Kilimanjaro wrecks your head in many ways, but also gives you a mental freedom you have never before experienced. If you do this you can honestly say that you have extreme willpower and determination. You can also smile to yourself knowing that you are not only physically fit but that you also have fantastic mental fitness – conquering Kilimanjaro and achieving your own personal Uhuru cannot be achieved without this.

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