I hope everyone is sitting down, because I’ve got some pretty big hiking news. Huge. But let me start at the beginning…
This summer, I turned 30 inside Yosemite National Park. It was an incredible experience, and it reminded me that there’s so many gorgeous places out there to hike. So when I started thinking about what epic hiking trip I wanted to take in 2018, I knew it had to be big if it was going to top Yosemite. I just didn’t know where to go.
Then I became an ambassador for Girls Who Hike, a nationwide women’s hiking club with chapters in every state. Through our facebook group I kept hearing other ambassadors talk about going to Machu Picchu and Kilimanjaro with WHOA Travel, a women’s adventure travel company. Some girls had gone in the past, and others were going in 2018. As they talked about how life changing and incredible their Kilimanjaro summit was, I couldn’t stop listening to their stories. I’d always thought that climbing Kilimanjaro was too hardcore, scary, and difficult for someone like me, but here were all these normal girls who had hiked it and loved it. Could I do this too? I began reading blogs about summiting Kili, and even read a book about one woman’s trip to the top. I read gear lists, looked at temperature/climate charts, and read lengthy posts on facebook about what people wore on the mountain. I googled “How to train for high altitude hiking” and learned about Diamox. And after a few weeks of slowly learning as much as I could about the mountain, I realized that I really, really wanted to do it.
But what if I got altitude sickness?
What if it was too hard and I didn’t make it to the top?
What if my bags didn’t make it to Tanzania with me and I didn’t have any gear?
What if something bad happend to me?
How could I afford it?
I had a million fears and no answers. Every experience I read about Kili was different, but all of them had the same message: you’ll never feel like you’re “ready” or that you can afford it, but this experience will change your life. I don’t know how my body would react at 19,341 feet, or how it will feel to climb up a mountain for 6 days. The only way to find out is to try it. And after many discussions with my husband, talking to my best friends about my secret dream to climb Kili, many online conversations with girls who had climbed Kili with WHOA Travel (and I even talked to one of the owners of WHOA who was super helpful!), and lots and lots of tears, I finally made a decision.
It’s official – next August I will be climbing Kilimanjaro, the tallest freestanding mountain on earth!
I’ll be hiking the 7 day Machame route with WHOA Travel, which means that I’ll be summiting with a group of incredible female hikers from around the world! And many of the girls going on this trip will also be members of Girls Who Hike from all over the US. I’m doing the Hike + Yoga trip, which means that we’ll be doing daily intention setting, some guided meditation, and a bit of yoga and stretching as we make our way up and down the mountain. I’ll also be finishing the trip with a 2 day safari! It’s going to be a once in a lifetime experience and I seriously can’t wait. I have so much to do to get ready for Kili – new gear, tons of training, shots at the doctor, and a new passport – but I’ve got months to figure it all out. For now, I’m focusing on how exciting it is to sign up for an amazing and terrifying new adventure! And I’ll be blogging about it every step of the way.
Have you ever climbed Kili? Give me all your tips! And if not, would you ever climb Kili? What’s on your adventure travel bucket list?
21 thoughts on “I’ve Got the Biggest (or Should I Say the Tallest?) Hiking News!”
I climbed Kili last year for my honeymoon! I have lots of thoughts about it and reading my posts about the experience will tell you everything that I want to say. We climbed Kili via Machame route, but over 6 days. Having done both Machu Picchu and Kili (and reading about your usual hiking adventures), I can tell you that there is no challenge in hiking Kili except for the last day when you’re summitting.
As for Diamox, start taking it 24 hours before you need it. Diamox needs some time to get into your system to work. The first time I used Diamox for Machu Picchu, I waited too long and had a miserable 24 hours until it kicked it. The side effects vary from person to person, but I experienced an increased need to urinate (seriously, I was going every hour or two) and an occasional tingling feeling in my fingers and toes in the morning.
Since you’re going with a Western tour company, you’ll probably have better tour experience than what we had.
Whoa. Thank you so much for sharing those posts! First of all, you are really badass for doing both of those epic hikes! Machu Picchu is next on my list! Summit night sounds ridiculous. Did you get sick at all?
I’m so sorry to hear that you had such a crazy experience with your guides. One of my coworkers was telling me that I should do what you did (just get there and book it cheap) but I told her I’m too stressed out to do anything like that and wanted everything taken care of so that I all I had to do was worry about the training and then show up. It sounds like WHOA has all of that crazy stuff covered (the company – Trek2Kili, gear, food, even tips) and the reviews from their trips are all really good, so I’m hoping it’s totally different than yours! That sounds pretty rough but I also think it shows how awesome you are for making it to the top with all of those challenges!
I didn’t get altitude sickness at all for Kili because I knew to take Diamox ahead of time. I wanted to see if I got sick first for Machu Picchu (I don’t recommend this) and I was really nauseated and threw up constantly (it felt like really terrible morning sickness). I got a headache too, but that was the least of my problems. My husband got altitude sickness too, but his was more really terrible headache, verging on migraine pain, and queasiness.
The summit is surreal. Enjoy it because there’s nothing like it.
That’s so cool! I’m so excited for you! I would absolutely climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. You’re going to have such an amazing experience. I can’t wait to hear about it!
Thanks! I can’t wait to blog about everything!
That’s a super exciting birthday plan and it’s extra cool because you have so long to plan and look forward to it!
I just found out that the Amsterdam marathon is on my 40th birthday next year (I live in the Eastern US) and maybe this post is a sign that I should go for it?
Thanks! I actually am going a month after my birthday, but I’m still crazy excited about it! You absolutely should do it! Celebrating birthdays with races or travel is the best way to do it!
Awesome way to spend a birthday. I’ve got another friend hiking Kili next year. I’ll have to check what guide they are going with. Africa’s always been on my bucket list. I’ve got to make it happen soon.
Thanks! It will be a month after my birthday but still a killer way to celebrate turning 31.
What an amazing opportunity! Can’t wait to hear more about this as you get ready to go! I’m always interested in hearing about new places and new gear, so be sure to post what gear you are taking too!
Oh I definitely will blog about every step of this process! I’m currently stalking other blogs for gear recommendations.
Which blogs are you reading in preparation? There’s a good chance I’m going too!
That’s awesome! I’ve always wanted to go there too! That will be an amazing experience no matter what the outcome!
Thanks! I hope you get to climb it soon too!
Wow, congrats! That is a big decision! I’d have a lot of fears, too but remember to trust yourself – you can do it!
Thank you so much!
So exciting! Kili is on my list of dream hikes!
Do it! It sounds like it’s going to be such an amazing hike!