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 11, 2013
Click to enlarge photos:
My father and I had an absolutely INCREDIBLE time. I am so happy and grateful to the Thomson Safaris guides, porters and kitchen staff for making my summit possible. I could not have reached Uhuru Peak or survived 9 days in the wilderness without them!
The overall support and positive guides cannot be matched! Thomson is THE best! I was overwhelmed by how much delicious food we were served at EVERY meal. The food and service staff were especially impressive.
Kilimanjaro Western Approach Trek, January 2013
View Lauren’s Blog for videos of their trek!
January 24, 2013
Like so many people across the world, the Newtown shootings shook Cristina Nelson to the core and like so many; she wanted to help in some way. She was set to climb Kilimanjaro just a week after the shootings and did so with a special tribute packed in her bags. Her story follows.
On the Sunday after the December 14th shootings, I attended mass, as I do weekly. We were all upset about Newtown, and I mentioned this to my chaplain – how devastated and numb I felt, how I wish that there were something I could do. Her response was to tell me to dedicate my trek to those children, and so I did. “Walk it for the children,” she said.
I also got Tibetan Buddhist prayer flags and wrote the names of each of the children on the flags and planned to let them fly when I reached the “Roof of Africa”. It was very meaningful, especially being able to do something with purpose in the face of a tragedy. I often thought of those children as I climbed.
Unfortunately, on the last day of the trek, just 2000 vertical feet from the summit, altitude sickness forced me to turn back. I was very disappointed, of course. But I handed the flags to a father and son in my trekking group from Dothan, Alabama. They reached the top, unfurled the flags and the tribute was seen to its fruition.
In addition to the mountain staff being so supportive, taking care of me and encouraging me the whole way; what really kept me going was the promise I made to dedicate my trek to 20 helpless, little children who would never again know the feeling of climbing, walking, and running. I had a different purpose than just crossing something off my bucket list. I am glad the flags flew at the summit and we were able to pay tribute to and remember the victims.
June 27, 2012
Tanzania is absolutely the most amazing place I have ever been and this was the most amazing trip I have ever taken. I am so excited to share my experience with all my family, friends, and even those I don’t know. Asante sana, Thomson Safaris, and to all your nyumba crews, your Kilimanjaro guides and porters, and your safari guides – job well done! It was above and beyond anything I expected!
Casmir is an amazing guide, and will always be a great friend. He does not miss a beat! I would recommend Thomson Safaris to everyone, and request Casmir as a safari guide.
I have thousands of photos from my trip. I bought beautiful beaded work and other treasures, but nothing touched my heart or brings a bigger smile to my face as when I reminisce or tell my friends about the beautiful, kind and caring people of Tanzania. I did leave a part of my heart behind…and I am so looking forward to coming back.
Kilimanjaro Western Approach Route & Safari, February 2012
Read more about Deb’s adventures in Tanzania in two Wisconsin news publications:
August 20, 2011
The sky at night in Africa is like nothing we see in the US. All those millions and millions of stars is just breathtaking. The Milky Way forms a beautiful swathe through the heavens and one could spend the entire night just watching the stars go by. Ken, being from New York City, had never seen anything like this before and was quite excited when he saw his first satellite tonight.
The above is an excerpt from Jas M.’s blog.
For more, visit his blog documenting his trek on the Grand Traverse Route.
May 1, 2011
To all at Thomson Safaris,
I realized I never personally wrote to thank you for the amazing experience I had during our trip to Tanzania last winter. Not only did we accomplish our goal of reaching the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro with the entire team including our two challenged athletes, Erica Davis and Tara Butcher, but we were looked after like kings and queens by Thomson Safaris staff. Every part of our trip was so well-planned that we hardly noticed we were traveling with two wheelchairs and about twice as much luggage as everyone else!
Special acclaim must go to our porters and guides for our trek up the mountain. Their unflagging energy, enthusiasm and support for what I am sure looked to them like a very strange endeavor was amazing. Without them we would not have made it to the top and back down again in one piece. I know that Derek Gates as thanked you, but I felt another thank you would not be out of place.
Once again, thank you for your support of the Through the Roof trip and documentary. I hope that I will be able to return to Africa with Thomson Safaris – probably without the wheelchairs and film crews – in the future for another amazing experience!
Penthea Crozier, CEO, C.H.E.K Institute
Purchase the Through the Roof DVD, a movie documenting the trek of the first female paraplegic to summit Mount Kilimanjaro!
Read the daily dispatches from the mountain on the Through the Roof blog.