Climbing Kilimanjaro with Dig Deep will be one of the best decisions you will ever make, it may be hard but it is definitely worth it. It is truly the best experience of my life and I am so glad that the opportunity came around for me to be a part of this incredible adventure. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity to achieve something amazing not only for yourself but for an incredible charity that helps to create clean water and sanitation for rural areas of Kenya. You will also meet some of the best people on the mountain and gain some lifelong friends in the process.
When I heard my university was involved in the Dig Deep challenge of Climbing Kilimanjaro for Clean Water I was instantly intrigued to find out more as I have always wanted to do something cool like climb a mountain and knowing that is was for such a good cause made it even more appealing. So, when I saw the introductory video highlighting the climb I was hooked! Was it mostly because of the views and the idea of seeing an amazing sunrise at the peak of a mountain? Well, yes!! I mean the views and the scenery looked beautiful and I knew it was something I could not miss out on and it was then, in my uni Starbucks that I knew I had to climb Kilimanjaro with Dig Deep (sounds so cheesy but it’s true).
The main goal of the trip until you arrive in East Africa is to fundraise, and this can seem daunting and nerve wracking the closer it gets to the final deadline but it is achievable. It can be difficult especially whilst studying, but taking the time to organise and plan fundraising events can be very rewarding and even fun. Especially as you can spread the message of the amazing work Dig Deep does to improve rural areas of Kenya. Doing little things like a bake sale in your library can help you raise more money than you think, this is something I did with doughnuts from Krispy Kreme who are more than willing to help with a discount for charity events. You will find that many people will give you their loose change and listen to what you have to say if you are confident and willing to approach them.
Social media is an amazing platform, I shared my page on Facebook and Twitter all the time and with a positive message it was often shared which helped me gain a few donations. Also, asking family and friends to share your page at work can bring in a lot of donations, which is something that helped me a lot. The Dig Deep team is also amazing at helping you out if you are ever stuck on ideas and regularly check on you to see how your progress is going. There is always someone to help whether it be your team leader, your team, or a Dig Deep representative. My main advice would be to just ask anyone and everyone, the worst they can do is say no or they could give you your biggest donation!
The real excitement begins when you arrive in Moshi with the realisation that in a couple of days you will be climbing the biggest mountain in Africa! This especially begins to settle in on the bus ride to Machame Gate from the Midlands Lodge in Moshi. I will never forget that bus ride because it was then that we saw Kilimanjaro for the first time and everyone on the bus just starts shouting in awe of our home for the next 6 days. The nerves begin to settle in but it is also so exciting because you know that you are about to embark on one amazing adventure. Kilimanjaro is a beautiful beast of nature; it will be hard and tiring but when you reach the top and realise that you are on the Roof of Africa and at the top of the highest free-standing mountain in the world the pain of walking for hours disappears.
You just take in the achievement and realise that you made it to the top of a mountain and it is the most brilliant feeling! If that isn’t convincing enough, seeing the most beautiful sunrise on summit night is just one of the many beautiful views that you will encounter on the climb. You will find yourself walking through a sea of clouds as you climb higher and higher and the brightest, most beautiful stars you will ever witness! Even the sight of the peak as you get closer to the end of the climb continues to amaze you, especially once you reach the top of Baranco Wall. Two places that were my absolute favourite on the mountain was the second camp, Shira Cave Camp and the climb up Baranco Wall and the view once you reach the top.
The climb would not have been possible without the help of the incredible guides and porters of Trek 2 Kili who make sure that you are happy, safe and positive throughout the climb. They are honestly some of the kindest, funniest and most energetic people you will ever meet and you will continue to talk about how amazing they are even when you get back to England. They know what they are doing and are absolute pros, running past you with your big rucksacks, or chairs, or tables on their backs, necks and heads as if they weigh nothing so that they can set up camp in time for your arrival.
You will truly appreciate everything that they do for you, especially the incredible food they make. I am still stunned by how they managed to make such amazing food on a mountain and I can just about cook in a proper kitchen! The soup, pasta, vegetables, chicken, and of course the chips that created an exertion of energy and excitement in the mess tent every time – they were so delicious. One of my favourite memories of the porters is when they would sing and dance and everyone would join in, especially after a long day of walking, although it doesn’t sound like you would have the energy for it you do and it is so much fun. The songs were also the best, we were still singing them throughout the rest of the trip and I still catch myself singing them now.
Kilimanjaro is an adventure that needs to be experienced to fully understand the sense of achievement and comradery that is felt whilst living on the mountain, it really is like one big family by the end of the climb.
However, the adventure does not end there as the day after descending Kilimanjaro we embarked on an African Safari which was very exciting. Being surrounded by animals and being greeted by monkeys and beautiful birds is something very different especially if you’re more of a city person but the whole experience is amazing. As you begin to see more of the larger animals such as zebras, wildebeest, giraffes and of course the beautiful elephants it becomes more and more incredible, we even spotted a leopard laying upon a tree branch which we were told is quite rare.
Also, camping in the wild with the animals only moments away is an experience especially when you can come back and say a wildebeest wondered into your camp whilst you were asleep. You realise the next morning when you drive around the corner and see giraffes just hanging out how close you were to the animals that you are normally only allowed to view from the confines of a jeep, which is pretty cool. This is followed by 4 days on the beautiful island of Zanzibar, with its crystal clear blue waters, blue sky, and white sands… it is paradise! The hotel Palumbo Reef is luxurious after spending much of the trip camping, with its amazing rooms, food, pool, beach volleyball and beach bar, it is the perfect place to just relax.
The excursion that is provided by Dig Deep to visit Prison Island and Stone Town are also a must! Visiting Prison Island and going to the tortoise sanctuary filled with the largest and oldest tortoises ever is something you just must do and Stone Town is such a charming little town, filled with markets, haggling, culture, and amazing food. Stone Town allows you to experience the everyday life of the locals in Zanzibar, exploring the town and getting lost along the narrow streets filled with stores of jewellery, art and clothes is so much fun. The hotel also offers many other excursions such as Safari Blu, where you are essentially island hopping, snorkelling and eating some more amazing food.
To sum up, climbing Kilimanjaro with Dig Deep will be one of the best decisions you will ever make, it may be hard but it is definitely worth it. It is truly the best experience of my life and I am so glad that the opportunity came around for me to be a part of this incredible adventure. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity to achieve something amazing not only for yourself but for an incredible charity that helps to create clean water and sanitation for rural areas of Kenya. You will also meet some of the best people on the mountain and gain some lifelong friends in the process.