Climb Kilimanjaro for Kids: One Man’s Inspiring TaleAFRICA, GUEST BLOGGERS, Philanthropy, Scenic Wonders, WALKING/HIKING — By James Barnett on July 24, 2012 at 01:24
Story by guest blogger James Barnett. Photos Copyright © James Barnett.
TANZANIA IS A beautiful African country with a diverse tribal population speaking 128 languages. Mount Kilimanjaro towers above the opulent safari kingdom as the world’s largest free-standing mountain.
One summer ago I embarked on my journey to the Roof of Africa, privileged to absorb the beauty of Africa’s incredible scenery, wildlife and fascinating culture of welcoming people.
The journey began after a year of energetic fundraising for Childreach International Charity, reaching a personal milestone of £2,500 and a team achievement of £75,000. This allowed us to take on the phenomenal challenge of “Climb Kilimanjaro for Kids”: a quest to climb the snow-capped summit in five days, while contributing first-hand to the development of humanitarian projects in some of Africa’s most deprived regions.
Upon touching down in Tanzania it was clear there was little Western influence upon the country’s infrastructure or culture. The main roads were rock-strewn, the lunch cuisine was goat, and the T-shirts of the world’s sporting elite were not seen on market stalls in even the populated city areas.
We made our away across Tanzania to visit a school receiving the benefits of textbooks and water supplies from Childreach’s investment projects in the region. Teaching English was a highly rewarding engagement with the children, and I particularly enjoyed playing the Tanzanian youngsters at a game of football on their school’s savannah park.
The day passed amid stifling African heat, and the following morning we began our ascent up Mount Kilimanjaro. The grueling climb required team bonding and enormous physical perseverance for the daily 10-hour stints. Watery soup and a vague slumber in the high-altitude rocky outcrops offered our only respite.
The local porters and guides could not have offered more support for our team. The journey’s physical demands increased with each passing day, and signs of altitude sickness ebbed into the team morale and steely determination. Despite the hardships, the breath-taking views fed our souls.The opportunity to immerse one’s mind in the freedom of nature’s untouched beauty was an incredible feeling.
Barranco Wall grimaced at us with its vertical jagged slope as only our true traveler spirit pushed us forward. After this milestone was conquered we indulged in a spot of yoga to combat the effects of the altitude. This surreal yoga experience also fostered a deeper spiritual connection to the mountain.
On our fourth day of climbing we broke through the fog into the skies above the Roof of Africa, basking under the heavenly clouds and vibrant skies that felt a world away from the beginning of our journey. No words can truly describe the mysticism of our seclusion in the splendour of Mount Kilimanjaro’s peaks, untainted by civilization.
A midnight ascent to the recorded highest mountain point was our final challenge before a rapid descent to the jungle at the base of the mountain. Colobus monkeys—native only to this jungle in the entire world—were a welcome surprise and a fittingly down-to-earth end to the trekking excitement.
James Barnett is a writer on behalf of eShores Travel documenting personal travel experiences around the world. “I currently live in the City of Leeds although my heart comes from rural fields of Norfolk, where I grew up jumping over hay bales and relishing the country life.” James has traveled through Asia (Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam) and has also done all the major cities of Europe. Hobbies include literature, travel, media, economics and social politics.