I turned 50 and gave myself the most awesome present ever…
I left Auckland on Christmas day to climb Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania – the highest mountain in Africa. After flying for almost two days, I arrived on Kilimanjaro Airport without my luggage! Of all the trips this would be the most inconvenient time to lose luggage, because not only my clothes but all the climbing gear were in the bag. I had to hire the equipment that night to be able to start my trek the next morning. I had my own crew consisting of a chef, waiter, porter and guide. It rained and stormed for the whole 6 days but that didn’t dampen my spirits at all. After four days of walking up to 15 hours a day, praying, puking, swearing and grunting (not necessarily in that order) I reached the summit on the first morning of the new year at exactly 6.15 (and I’m NOT a morning person!) The spectacular view from the roof of Africa was a wonderful reward for every strenuous step. I was 6km above sea level and the temperature was 18 degrees below zero. The weather was absolutely perfect for the first and only time during the whole week.
While I was looking down on the clouds, which stretched for as far as the eye could see in all directions, the rising sun coloured the glaciers and clouds an eerie pink-and-gold and I realised how very insignificant we actually are.
It was hard to stay up there for too long because of the lack of air pressure and oxygen, so I had to leave after about 15 minutes. Walking back down for the next two days was almost harder on the legs than the climb to the top.
People ask me how it was, …. well to tell you the truth …. It was like running a marathon in a huge freezer with a baby elephant on my back, while breathing through a thin straw, while having the world’s worst hangover – but that was one adventure in my life that I will remember as long as I live. A life long dream that came true.
Achievements like this make me think that our world is filled with extra-ordinary places and travel is about embracing this fact and living life to its fullest. Making the summit of Kilimanjaro was truly a life changing experience.