4 reasons why you should Climb Mount Kilimanjaro | TAP MAGAZINE

The first time I heard of Mount Kilimanjaro was from my hippie middle school geography teacher in Addis, he shared pictures and stories of his adventure climbing the highest mountain in Africa and it looked like an absolute dream. Fast forward to 15 years later, I got an opportunity to live and work in Tanzania and I knew I had to make it happen. As I look back on this painfully exhilarating and dramatically beautiful journey, I decided to jot down the four reasons why I think everyone should embark on this once in a lifetime experience. Originally published in TAP MAGAZINE ISSUE 9

 Climbing mount kilimanjaro

  1. Mount Kilimanjaro is one of the seven wonders of Africa.

 

Beautiful AF

Mount Kilimanjaro, which goes up to 5895 above sea level is the highest mountain in Africa and highest free standing mountain in the world, this might not mean much to you but look at it like this: views on views on views. In six days, you get to discover different climatic zones, from the greenest rainforests to the dry moorland through the alpine desert and finally up to the arctic peak, while facing all of the four seasons, from the hot summer to the coldest snowy winters. Not to mention the incredibly rich and unique fauna and flora; the impatiens kilimanjaro flower which can only be found on this particular mountain and the incredibly stars that light up the mountain every night. There is nothing quite like it.

 

Lesson: Nature is beyond beautiful and we should thrive to not only promote but also protect and nurture it.

Mount Kilimanjaro means many things to many people, to some it is a physical challenge, to others it a mental test or  even main source of income. To me, it represents something grand; it is the revelation that nothing is beyond my reach, no matter how daunting the odds may seem. And I hope to never forget that.

 Climbing mount kilimanjaro

  1. You will learn about yourself and others

 

Pole pole AF: 

Attempting a strenuous six-day hike, as a solo traveler was a conscious decision I made. I wanted to challenge myself physically but also mentally. I had been carefully planning this trip for six months and despite all the research and training (monthly hikes and occasional cardio workouts), nothing could have prepared me for the actual trek. It started off easy and so after day one, I became cocky. By day two, the mountain had slowly but surely humbled me. I realized I had to stop, listen and learn from my team. There was an art to this and it was no race.  I had to stay positive (we had a strict #nocomplaints rule), live in the moment (there was no phone reception), and learn to embrace challenges even when they seemed impossible to overcome (on day 4, we managed to get over the dreaded and steep 200m tall Barranco wall, using nothing but our hands and feet).

But mostly, I had to keep on pushing myself all throughout. Would I do it with a smile or frown? Ultimately, I learnt to change my moods by working on my most powerful tool yet; my perspective.

 

Lesson: Patience, perseverance and appreciation of the process are truly the keys to life (and to a successful climb).

Mount Kilimanjaro means many things to many people, to some it is a physical challenge, to others it a mental test or even main source of income. To me, it represents something grand; it is the revelation that nothing is beyond my reach, no matter how daunting the odds may seem. And I hope to never forget that.

  1. You will feel a sense of accomplishment

 

Proud AF. 

The higher we climbed into the mountains, the harder it became to breathe.

I wondered if I would ever make it to the top and at what cost? The night before the summit day, I had a complete breakdown. The weather was disrespectful; it had my feet, face and hands completely numb and frozen.   I was absolutely exhausted and had lost appetite but the schedule was such that I had to wake up in the middle of the night to begin the climb to the top with the rest of my team. Tensions were high and I was forced to stay behind, as my body simply could not move anymore. I had not eaten or drank the recommended amount that evening. After feeding me soup and letting me rest, my incredible guide gave me a pep talk. “After all, you have made it to the final day, it is about the journey and not always about the destination’’ he said, but in this case, both the journey and the destination mattered to me.  I was so close to the end, I could not imagine going back down. A mysterious source of strength crept inside me, I am not sure where it came from, but it was there and it pushed me through a snowstorm and all the way to Uhuru peak. I had never felt more proud of myself.

 

Lesson: Set goals for yourself, and be proud of all your achievements, no matter how big or small..

Climbing mount kilimanjaro

  1. You will create memories for a lifetime

Grateful AF. 

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro was a childhood dream of mine and like most of my childhood dreams; I did not think it would ever come true. The past two years of my life have been an absolute dream come true as well; I travelled through my beloved Africa, living in Addis, Accra and Arusha while visiting many other cities along the way. I was fortunate to meet new people, learn from different norms, cultures and experiences, which have all shaped me and helped me gain a stronger sense of self. And for this, I feel immense gratitude and joy. On the first couple of days of my climb, I was desperately trying to silence the little voice in my head that kept screaming :  this is way too hard, you are in over your head, you have nothing to prove, stop forcing it!

But with the help of my team and especially my guide, I pushed myself like never before. It had me wondering, what if I coached myself through all the challenges in my life ? What if I relied on people and the resources I have access to, to push myself up whenever life got me down ? As I settle back into my stressful Canadian routine, feeling bogged down by credit card debt, school and job applications and overall adulting, I regularly sit down and remind myself of just how far I have come, how well life has prepared me for what is ahead, it was no accident that I climbed this mountain, at this crucial stage of  my life.

Mount Kilimanjaro means many things to many people, to some it is a physical challenge, to others it a mental test or  even main source of income. To me, it represents something grand; it is the revelation that nothing is beyond my reach, no matter how daunting the odds may seem. And I hope to never forget that.

Climbing mount kilimanjaro

Lesson: A positive mindset goes a long way. Stop focusing on the magnitude of an obstacle! Start by taking baby steps towards your goal. See the glass half full, because it is!

Focus on the goal and you will always find your path.

 

Stephanie Gasana, is a Rwandan born, Ethiopian bred, Canadian resident who is passionate about travel, education and … climbing mountains. Email : gasana.stephanie@gmail.com 

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