This time a year ago…

… I was here…

It doesn’t feel like a year ago today that we climbed Kilimanjaro, but it has been making me happy all day today to think of what an achievement it still remains for me. I wrote about the experience for the Travelwrap blog, but here’s a shortened version of what I said there about our trip:

It was my older sister who first came up with the idea that we should climb Kilimanjaro.

And in the same way that, decades earlier, she had insisted that it was a good idea for me to cut my hair myself, I knew there was only one answer she would accept. A year later, we were in Tanzania.

Pole pole. These are the two words that sum up Kilimanjaro for us. We went round the North Route, taking eight days going up and down the mountain, and over that time, we went from bounding through fairly lush flower strewn meadows, to tramping over almost desert conditions, to crawling past ice caps, and back down to rainforests. We woke up to views right across the wide flats of Kenya and even some town lights in the distance; one night we opened our tent flaps to find that we had been sleeping above the clouds.

But it’s the sight of Kilimanjaro itself that even our experienced guides would stop and wonder at. Put it down to tiredness if you will, but on the summit day, having been walking with only head lamps to show the way, seeing the sun rising across Africa made us all cry with something I can only describe as primal. ‘So that’s what a new day looks like’, said one of our travelling partners, forgetting his normal cynicism.

And, as we watched the sun hit the ice caps on the top of Kilimanjaro, I realised I had stopped looking at the mountain as the enemy that had to be conquered. Instead, for the first time, I thought what a privilege it was to be there. Whatever would happen in the future, no one could ever take away from me the fact that yes, I had climbed Kilimanjaro.

If anyone reading this, is wavering about doing the climb, I would say GO FOR IT! It was both the hardest and best thing I’ve done. I’m more than happy to give any tips or advice from my own experience. We went with East African Adventures who were just amazing – exactly the right mix of solid professional care and good fun. I do wonder sometimes if we would have done it without them, but in any case, it wouldn’t have been so enjoyable. I still talk sometimes to one of our guides via facebook.

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This time a year ago…