October 17, 2013
Pete traveled on safari with Thomson Safaris in 2012, and returned in September 2013 to conquer Mount Kilimanjaro. Read about his experience on the mountain below.
I made it to the Roof of Africa! We were a group of six and had never met each other before. We all got on really well together. One of the hikers was from New York, still working and 72 years old/young. We started climbing from 11,500′ and went to 15,500′ and back to 12,200′ over seven days to get acclimatized and in better shape. We all made the summit and Thomson Safaris boasts 98% success.
Trails were good but a lot of black volcanic dust which got everywhere, impossible to keep clean. First rest day at really nice wildlife lodge. However, no wildlife and very few birds on the trails but did see lots of tracks from Cape Buffalo and Eland which ascend in the midnight hours to lick the salt and minerals off the rocks at the higher elevations. Glad we were not around at those hours.
It was some 85F every day with strong sun so lots of sun block needed. Snow flurries on some days. Camping out every night, and every night was below freezing but I kept very warm in my LL Bean sleeping bag.
On day eight, we started at 15,520′ and hiked ten hours uphill to 19,341′ to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro’s Kibo Uhuru Peak. Tough going as you are running on about 50% less oxygen at higher elevations so lungs working overtime. Unfortunately, we had snow flurries and very low clouds on this day, and the next, so did not get the best views I was hoping for of the mountain, glaciers, etc. Can’t predict Mother Nature…
Slept the night inside the crater rim at 18,802′ next to amazing glaciers. It went down to 24F in my tent overnight and froze everything from my drinking water to sun block. Woke up to half inch dusting of snow.
From 18,802′ inside the crater, we descended to 12,500′ the next day and then to 5,450 the following, over 2 1/2 miles downwards in two days.
I prepared well and followed all the requirements plus some more. I never had one ache, pain, blister, etc. going up or coming down. Preparation was the key. Follow the instructions!
The food was excellent and we ate very well. For the 6 of us, there was a team of 43 porters, cooks, guides, etc.
Over the ten days, we walked some 64 miles.
An incredible and amazing journey of a lifetime.
Kilimanjaro Grand Traverse Trek, September 2013
July 15, 2012
I have climbed Kili twice with Thomson. All of the aspects of the climb with Thomson were excellent just as they had been on my first trip. The most important part of climbing with Thomson was the part we never used: the emergency equipment and the training the staff has in case of an emergency. One guide carried emergency equipment all the way to the summit with us. That is what made climbing with Thomson an easy choice for us.
Kilimanjaro Western Approach Route, February 2012
This was Scott’s second time trekking with Thomson; his first trek was in 2009.
May 12, 2012
OK, you guys have totally spoiled me! Safari in 2009, Kilimanjaro in 2011 – you are now my gold standard for adventure travel. I just got back from 3 weeks in Patagonia (Argentina & Chile), it just wasn’t the same (camps, food, client service). I had to stop comparing this adventure to my previous trips with Thomson or drive myself crazy.
Thanks for doing things right!
Safari and Kilimanjaro Guest
April 27, 2011
“In his book “Kissing Kilimanjaro”, Daniel Dorr states that to successfully climb Kilimanjaro one needs to have three full buckets: fitness, attitude, and altitude. Thanks, Fit For Trips, for filling my fitness bucket.
The program was well suited for one such as me who is not big on working out in the gym. The home version gave me the level of fitness I needed to climb the mountain. I never had to worry if my muscles would work for me…just focused on breathing!”
I’ll add that I described the Fit For Trips program to the group at the beginning of the climb. One of the members of the group said, “you trained for this?” Although she was very fit, she wished she had done the “right kind” of training because her legs were screaming by the end of the trip. She has since taken a keen interest in the Fit For Trips program.
Kilimanjaro Western Approach Route, March 2011
August 6, 2010
We had a great trip which exceeded our expectations on all counts. It was the best planned trip we’ve ever been on and the guides showed an amazing knowledge and wonderful attitude at all times.
Similarly all the support staff were extraordinary and truly focused on making the trip the best for us all. Above all, they were attentive to how we were feeling and the head guide was keen on safety of the group. It truly was a trip of a lifetime.
Kilimanjaro Western Approach Route, July 2010
(This is Munira’s second time traveling with Thomson. Her first trip, three years ago, was a safari through northern Tanzania.)