My Kilimanjaro Experience

On the Summit with guides, Sunday and Bernard.

I spent the past two weeks in Tanzania climbing Kilimanjaro.  Let me tell you, that was quite the experience.  Never have I been awed so much.  Just when I would think, ‘it cannot get any more magnificent than this I would stumble upon something else that would awe me.  The landscape, the wildlife and the people of Tanzania are amazing, magnificent and beautiful.  I spent a total of twelve days in Tanzania, eight of those days in Kilimanjaro National Park.

I took hundreds of pictures and made small videos at least twice a day during the trek to make record of the changes in altitudes and how I was dealing with the altitude.

During my trek I experienced fatigue like I’ve never experienced it before, suffered lack of sleep, sickness due to altitude, heat, cold, rain, hail and snow…the full gamut.  There were a few times that I felt like quitting.  Also, I made new friends, laughed a lot and joked around much as I trekked (with new friends) through miles and miles of Tanzanian country and slowly ambled my way up Kilimanjaro, finally reaching her highly coveted summit on March 15, 2011.

On Day 6, we summitted Kilimanjaro.  It was an awesome experience to stand atop the roof of Africa.  I was soooo tired as I slowly made my way up to Uhuru peak.  The moment I saw the sign indicating you had reached the highest point in Africa a surge of energy ran through my body.  Tired and out of breath I picked up my pace as I hungrily yearned to touch this wooden sign I had seen so many times in pictures and only dreamed I would ever have the chance to stand before it.  There I was, though, standing before it, finally!  I had to touch it just to make sure it was real.  Atop of Kilimanjaro, 19340 feet, my mind seemed a bit scattered due to altitude, I think or, simply due to excitement, – probably both played a part.  Above 15,000 feet I quickly found myself easily out of breath.  At 19,340, oh boy, I was scattered mind.  Look at it this way, I had a couple of prayer flags that I wanted to leave at the summit of Kili and, I did.  But, here’s the funny thing (or bad thing – however you see it).  I read out what was written on the prayer flags I left up there but forgot to mention one of my brothers who was clearly written on my prayer flag to my family.  I did not not realize that I had totally left out my brother, Sam’s name when I read out the prayer flag.  I mentioned everyone in my immediate family along with spouses and nieces and nephew but forget to mention Sam’s name.  I didn’t catch that mistake until I was comfortably sitting on an airplane bound to Amsterdam from Tanzania.  I was like, oh my gosh!  How am I going to explain this one to my brother.

Prayer flag for my family. My brother, Sam's name is on it! 😉

I did talk to my brother about forgetting to mention him in the summit video I took and he was cool with it.  He said, “hey, at least, you remembered Delora, Ashley and Taylor.  That’s what was important to me”.  That was very cool of him.  Delora is Sam’s fiance and Ashley and Tayler are Delora’s children.

Well, I’ve been trying to think of the best way to get my tale out regarding my experience climbing Kilimanjaro.  What I’m thinking of doing is to do a blog entry for each day of the climb, typing out what I had written down on my journal during each day and posting pictures and video corresponding to each of those 8 days on the mountain.  I’ll add a few side notes to each day’s journal entry in order to clarify anything that doesn’t make much sense.  Remember, I was scattered brains as I ascended the mountain?  😉

Cairn, vff and Kilimanjaro...Priceless!

So, I will start each blog entry regarding my Kilimanjaro trip with “Kilimanjaro Day 1: Shira Camp 2” and so forth.

I still cannot come up with just the right words to explain what a life changing experience this trip has been.  My eyes have been opened and my horizons broadened.  What turned out to be a trip to climb the tallest mountain in Africa has changed my perspective on several fronts.  Climbing the mountain was an amazing experience but not as big of a deal as I thought it would be.  I was being helped up the mountain by guides that have literally climbed this mountain more than a hundred times each.  Porters were passing me up the mountain carrying huge duffel bags balanced perfectly on their heads and wearing shoes that were literally falling apart.  I would reach every campsite tiredly and my tent would already be pitched with most of my gear already stored inside the tent.  I would crawl into my tent sucking in as much oxygen from the very thin air as I could and one of the two waiters we had on the mountain (Adam and Innocent) would stop by with a bucket of warm water and soap so that I could wash up some. Every time I would feel like I’ve done something amazing I would look around and see the porters, waiters, guides, cooks move easily past me, get setup the campsites and then wait on me and the rest of the group.  How could I feel nothing but humility?

Me on the Barranco Wall

So,this trip was not just about achieving a childhood dream.  It was a trip to teach me humility as well.  Seeing the poverty of Tanzania and yet these “poor” people are some of the hardest working, happy, friendly and Faithful people I have ever had the privilege of meeting.  Tanzanians are amazing people.  They greet you with a smile and the word, “jambo” which means hello.  They don’t complain.  They just do.  They are so willingly helpful, warm and friendly.  If I could just learn to be Tanzanian I would be a better person.

Banana Lady. Don't try this at home, she's a professional.

As I ambled my way up the mountain I bonded closely and formed endearing friendships with my fellow climbers.  Our climbing party was split into two groups – Simba & Tembo groups.  I belonged to the Simba group.  Simba group consisted of the following people: Naina, Mike, Larry, Melinda, Ross, Francisco, Jason, and Karen.  Simba’s guides were: Bernard (head guide), Sunday (assistant guide), Calvin (assistant guide), Polite (assistant guide).  Our cook was Richard and, our waiters were Adam and Innocent.  Each person I mentioned helped make this adventure one of the most memorable and wonderful experiences of my life.  The greatest achievement of this trip for me has been the impact these wonderful people had on me.  Each of them has changed how I look and approach life.  I felt least among them but at the same time felt totally accepted & cared for by each of them.

From left: Naina, Justo, Mike, Francisco, Malinda, Jason

I have a prayer for each of the people I met along this great adventure.  I pray that God may be bless, protect, enrich each of them.  May joy always be with them.  May God’s strength embolden them to persevere regardless of the circumstances life may rain upon them.  May they live fully and long.  When time comes for them to retire may they hand over the keys to the next generation and rest comfortably with their Maker.  May the next generation learn from these amazing people.

The Super Human Guides: Sunday, Calvin & Polite. I don't know who the guy in the middle back (blue jacket) is.

I’m getting a little sappy, I know.  It was an amazing experience.  If you have thought of doing something that seems grand to you, too grand, by all means, do it!  Do not let your dreams perish.  If you do not have the money at the moment to make it happen, learn patience and save until you can pursue and achieve your dream.  It took almost four years for me to accumulate money to make this trip.  If I can do it, so can you!  Live life fully.  Don’t sell yourself short.  You are a lot stronger than you realize.  Not much is impossible.  Dream big and let nothing dismantle your dreams.  You can do it and you should.  Go for it!

Thanks for stopping by.

This evening I will begin with “Day 1” of my Kilimanjaro trek and will continue each day until I finish all eight days of this amazing trip.

All the best to you and yours.




Groundsels, these plants are amazing.

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2 comments for “My Kilimanjaro Experience

  1. Sabine
    2012/02/13 at 12:35 pm

    Dear Dan,
    sounds great and expiring!
    i am planning a hike up Kili in March this year, just a year after you.
    i found the story of your prayer notes quite moving, especially that you forgot to mention your brother.
    Anyhow, i cannot promise. but if you want send me another note by email or normal mail and i take it up for you! at least i will try.


    • RunDanRun
      2012/02/13 at 7:40 pm

      Dear Sabina,
      That is a very kind thing of you to offer. Thank you.
      There will be no need to hang a note for my brother atop Kilimanjaro. I’ve made amends to my brother for forgetting to name him on the mountain. He’s cool with me. 🙂

      I wish you success & fulfillment in your upcoming adventure and conquest! Enjoy each day, each moment that you are in Tanzania. Let the country and it’s wonderful people change you.
      When it gets tough on the mountain, take a deep breath, say a small prayer and keep putting one foot in front of the other.
      Remember, you are a lot stronger than you realize!
      Have fun!


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