December 9, 2011
Tanzanians are proudly celebrating 50 years of independence today.
After several decades, Tanganyika gained its independence from Britain to become The United Republic of Tanzania. Julius Nyerere, known as Baba wa Taifa (Father of the Nation), was influential in uniting much of the country by advocating for peaceful change, social equality and racial harmony. With the help of his efforts, Tanganyika became a republic on December 9, 1961. In 1964, Zanzibar followed and the two nations unified to form the United Republic of Tanzania with Nyerere as its first president.
A host of independence day celebrations are planned throughout the country including a weekend-long festival and a grand celebration at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam.
Another celebration, The Kilimanjaro Uhuru Climb, kicked off several days ago when 200 climbers, dispersed across four different routes on Kilimanjaro, began their ascent carrying the Uhuru Torch. The climbers converge at the summit today where they will reenact a symbolic torch lighting from 50 years ago.
November 10, 2011
Heidi and Jack’s travel plans to Tanzania were two-fold: not only did they hope to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro during their trek with Thomson, but they also wanted to exchange rings while they were on the mountain. Much to their surprise, however, their simple elopement plans quickly developed into an impromptu wedding ceremony, complete with officiant, best man and many new friends in attendance. To top it off, Kili’s iconic Lava Tower served as a breathtaking backdrop to their special wedding. Heidi and Jack shared their story with us; read it below.
The IMAX film inspired us to do the Kili trip. As the date approached, we decided this would be the perfect elopement trip. Our original plan was a simple exchange of wedding rings on the mountain.
We’d been with our trekking group for a couple of days but hadn’t shared our idea until we got to the Londorossi gate. It all started when fellow trekker and nurse from the Mayo Clinic, Kim, asked how long we had been married. We laughed as we showed her the rings we were carrying around our necks and told her our plan to elope on the mountain.
Kim asked if she could tell the rest of the group, and from there, everything took on a life of its own in the most fantastic way. Lou, another hiker in our group, was a minister who said he would be honored to do a small ceremony for us. The ceremony he designed was simple but beautiful, just what we wanted. Seasoned trekker and the oldest person in our group at 70, Jim, volunteered to walk me down the aisle. Our head guide, Wilfred, served as Jack’s best man. Wilfred later told us via email, that when he told his wife this story, she didn’t believe him!
We decided to have the ceremony at Lava Tower so everyone could be part of it – and what a community wedding it ended up being! Our Thomson group, plus another Thomson group and the combined staff, collected before dinner for our wedding. The ceremony was magical, personal and touching, in the most incredible setting.
We have a wedding guest book signed by almost 100 people, none of whom we’d met two weeks before. Everything was just perfect. Thanks to the joy and participation from everyone traveling with us, we definitely had the wedding we had always dreamed of that we never knew we could have!
June 1, 2011
Last February marked the 9th annual Kilimanjaro Marathon in Moshi. The event has been growing in popularity over the last few years, attracting thousands of runners to compete in one of three simultaneous race events: a 26.2 mile marathon, a 13.1 mile half-marathon or a 3.1 mile fun-run.
The race route begins and ends in a very lively Moshi Stadium, where there are many fans, vendors and live music. The route takes the runners out of the stadium and into the town where they pass through villages and banana and coffee plantations before heading gradually uphill to Mweka though the forested foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro. Many of the runners are inspired by the view of Kilimanjaro’s peak, which can be seen throughout the race route.
Over 6,000 runners registered for the races this year, the majority of which hailed from Tanzania and Kenya. There were, however, many international racers such as South African, Richard Goodhead, who ran from Cape Town to Moshi in just over 140 days (that’s a marathon/day!). As if that wasn’t achievement enough, Goodhead went on to compete in the marathon and then climbed to Mt. Kilimanjaro’s summit! Another international runner included our very own Thomson trekker, Meghan Fischer. Fischer, an avid marathoner, ran a fantastic race – finishing in an impressive 24th place, she was the first non-African woman to cross the half-marathon finish line. Meghan shares her experiences below:
I ran the race the day before we started our trek up Kilimanjaro. Even though the Kili trek and safari were both so incredible, I have to say that the race was my favorite part of the trip. What I loved about the half marathon was that I really felt part of the African culture. I have been running long distance races since high school, so I have a deep respect for the many amazing marathon runners from Kenya, Ethiopia, etc. I really enjoyed being on their turf, for once, and comparing their races to American marathons.
It was really exciting to see all of the runners at the race start. All of the runners were incredibly welcoming. It really was a party atmosphere before the race even started.
The first half of the race was uphill toward the mountain. It was a steady uphill climb, but many locals came out and cheered us on. The second half of the race was running back down the roads we had run up, so it was a very fast finish.
I ended up being the 24th female to finish the half and the first non-African woman to finish. It was so much fun and such a beautiful setting for the race. I loved that throughout my run I could look to the summit of Kili and know that I would be there in a few days : ) I would highly recommend this race to all of my runner friends. I hope to someday do the Victoria Falls Half Marathon, too!
April 20, 2011
This week, we continue our Q&A session with Marcus Shapiro, the founder and CEO of Fit For Trips, our Kilimanjaro training partner:
Q: Do you think anyone can make it to the summit?
A: In general, any healthy person can make it to the summit. The formula is rather simple: train properly + ample acclimatization time + a determined attitude = summit success.
It is difficult to quantify the parts of the equation; you might not be in good shape but have the mental toughness needed for a successful summit, or you might be in incredible shape but need support to deal with the mental rigors of the final summit push. Train in both areas now, and your Thomson Kilimanjaro guide will be with you, encouraging you from first step to summit.
Q: What are the top 3 exercises you recommend to train for Kili?
- Climbing stairs provides the trekker with the strength to ascend the mountain carrying their body weight. Repeatedly going down stairs trains the muscles and joints to handle the rigorous demands of descending Kilimanjaro.
- Walking on the treadmill at the highest grade is important as it conditions the foot, Achilles tendon and calf muscles to handle the constant stretch and forces associated with steep grades.
- Lunges. The exercise: forward/reverse lunge hop combines balance, strength, power and mobility. See the video below for a step-by-step explanation.
Fit For Trips provides Kilimanjaro training instruction by video,
audio and personal support, exclusively to Thomson Safaris.
Give us a call; as a Thomson Trekker, you’ll receive 25% off
of your personalized Fit For Trips training program!
April 15, 2011
How do I train for my Kilimanjaro trek? To answer this question and get you ready for your Kilimanjaro summit, we’ve partnered with the experts at Fit For Trips and have created route-specific, personal training regimens, custom-designed for you and your fitness level. Many of our guests, and all of our US Kilimanjaro staff, have used Fit For Trips to prepare for their climb, with nearly 100% summit success!
To get the low-down on reaching great heights, we had a Q&A session with Marcus Shapiro, the founder and CEO of Fit For Trips:
Q: What are some of the concerns your clients have before climbing Kilimanjaro?
A: I commonly get asked about altitude. Although altitude issues can affect anyone, being properly fit can help Kili climbers deal with many of the discomforts associated with high altitude symptoms.
Simply making it to the summit is another common concern. In brief, climbing stairs, treadmill work, specific ‘trail fitness’ resistance training exercises and hiking are essential to a successful summit.
Q: What is the most important thing to remember while training?
A: Always be aware of how your body is adapting to the training demands. Are you constantly feeling tired and sore? If so, then you might be over-training and need to take steps to decrease your training intensity or volume. Once you have recovered, you can resume training in smaller doses. However, doing so will likely increase the amount of time needed to become properly fit for your trek. This is why it is helpful to start training in advance – 12+ weeks – of your departure date. Travelers who are already fit can be aggressive and ramp up the training quickly in the pre-departure phase, say eight weeks prior to departing.
Q: What is your background in personal training?
A: My degree in athletic training from the University of Alabama coupled with my Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) designation is an unusual combination but significant in the world of personal training. My athletic training education enhanced my ability to work with clients who have sustained orthopedic injuries. The CSCS designation – prevalent in collegiate, professional and Olympic conditioning coaches – ensures that clients receive the most progressive and up-to-date training techniques. I am trusted by my colleagues in physical therapy who refer to me their discharged patients.
I launched the online fitness company, Fit For Trips, with Thomson Safaris as the first partner in 2009. I hold Thomson near and dear to my heart for trusting me with their guests.
My interests and experience go way beyond the world’s highest peaks. I am also an active father of two boys, the inventor of a portable dry-land training device for paddlers and creator of virtual software for personal training.
Next week, in part 2 of this post, Marcus will share his top 3 recommended exercises to prepare for Kilimanjaro.
January 17, 2011
We’re only a few weeks into the New Year but if you’re finding those resolutions are already falling by the wayside, take some inspiration from Helga to stick with them. At 78, this Thomson trekker set her goals on conquering Kilimanjaro and became the second-oldest woman ever to reach the top. What’s more is that she climbed with grace and humility.
She said about her accomplishment, “I never think of it as anything special. It came as a big surprise to me that I am the second oldest woman to successfully have reached the summit. I’m sure it is only thanks to Thomson’s superb crew.”
Wilfred, the group’s guide, commented that she was an inspiration by saying, “Bibi is my rock star, she makes everyone in the group happy.” (Bibi is Swahili for Grandmother) So what’s Helga’s secret? She cites a strong positive attitude and living by this mantra: It is good to try something we think we cannot do because we find out, we can.
Find out why Helga set her sights on conquering Mount Kilimanjaro and details about the trek in her article, Kilimanjaro Adventure – Why Climb the Mountain?