In February 2011, I traveled to Africa and climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro. The climb stands as both one of the highlights of my travel experiences and one of the most fun and memorable moments of my life. Reaching the highest point on the African Continent, by foot, was not only rewarding to me personally, but also a fantastic embodiment of what a Zephyr Adventure Tour truly is!
I love that working for Zephyr and I’m looking forward to guiding their Kilimanjaro and Safari Adventure in July 2012! Tanzania is an amazing country and I look forward to sharing this experience with you next year. So, without further adieu, here are a few lessons I learned while climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro:
1. You Can Accomplish Things That You Think are Beyond Your Grasp
It has been a life long goal of mine to travel to Africa. I love both the spirit of the people as well as the beautiful, arid landscape. Right before going to Africa, I finally hit a point in my life where I knew it was more important to make this a reality than to hope that one day I could check it off my list (After all, one day may never happen.)
I feel that making the decision to take on such a feat is the hardest part, because you’re no longer just dreaming about an incredible journey, you’re holding yourself responsible to accomplishing it.
Once the hard part (committing) was over, I was able to open myself up to meeting many wonderful people and to pushing myself out of my comfort zone – to try something that many people would never try. When I arrived in Tanzania, I immediately fell in love with the people and culture. And, as I slowly made my way up the mountain, I realized that I needed to do more of this in life. I.e., committing to trying something new (that’s been on my wish list). What’s the worst that could happen?
I believe these experiences help to shape you as a person and make you stronger and more confident.
2. Journey is the Destination
It’s important to enjoy the simple pleasures of life. Kilimanjaro is a remarkable mountain. And, while I found this challenge to be more mental than physical, there are the select few that are unable to summit due to altitude sickness. But summiting isn’t the point of climbing the mountain.
After all, the top isn’t just the final point on the trail, it’s part of the trail. It’s a terrific accomplishment to reach the top but don’t overlook the breathtaking landscape while you’re there (or on the way).
During each day of my climb, the scenery changed drastically. I saw plants and animals you would never encounter here in the states. I can distinctly remember each night, where I was sleeping under the African Sky. It was all part of the journey, and I enjoyed every minute of it.
3. Exercise is Actually a Mental Game
So often we only calculate our capacity as humans by assessing our physical condition. This is common on tours, as many potential guests wonder if they will be able to complete a certain tour based on their current level of fitness. We encourage everyone to try a tour, because we know that ultimately it’s not about what you ‘think’ you can do, but about realizing your potential.
Exercise is a mental game. And, it doesn’t matter what sort of shape you’re in; on a tour, you’re bound to discover untapped mental fortitude you didn’t know you had.
One of my greatest takeaways from climbing Kilimanjaro was realizing that I had pushed my body much further than I thought it could go. I had carried myself up 19,000 vertical feet. At the moment that I reached the summit, I realized that there were many things in life I could likely accomplish, much in the same way that I climbed that mountain. Our limitations are often mental. We accept our fears as reality.
4. Persistence is Key
Ultimately, every adventure comes with its difficult spots and sticking points. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be an adventure!
The key, in every one of these trying experiences, is to be persistent. During the first few days of
Kilimanjaro, you often wonder how on earth you going to ascend such a vast distance. But, as in life, putting one foot in front of the other really does move you up mountains – literally!