Climbing Kilimanjaro: Life Lessons from the Top of Africa

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure and privacy policy for more information.

Last Updated on November 24, 2020 by Audrey Scott

A few ideas on how climbing Mount Kilimanjaro to the top of Africa can teach you something about life.

For some, climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro is another check box on a “to do” list. For me it turned out to be a journey — in its own way, an epic exercise in achievement.

Like any journey of significance, themes emerged. Somewhere beyond Kilimanjaro’s snow-patched Uhuru Peak, I learned and relearned some lessons that resonated beyond the mountain-climbing task at hand.

Dawn at the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro - Tanzania
Sunrise over the glaciers at the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro

The following experiences are taken from our Marangu Route Kilimanjaro Trek with G Adventures. If you are considering this tour, this Mt. Kilimanjaro life lessons article provides some ideas on what you may learn and how you may grow as you make it to the top of Africa's highest peak. Disclosure: This tour was sponsored and provided to us in conjunction with our partnership with G Adventures as Wanderers.

1. Sometimes life’s greatest competitor is not the person next to you, but the one inside your head.

On Mt. Kilimanjaro, if it’s not (wo)man vs. mountain, it’s most definitely you vs. yourself. On the way up, it’s easy to let the anxiety demons stop you in your tracks.

“Am I getting altitude sickness? I’m not going to make it. I’m not strong enough.”

These fears take over during the day, and when you’re trying to sleep, they sap precious mental and physical energy.

You must overcome their chorus to get to the top.

Sound familiar? Maybe you’ve got a big project coming up or you've been staring down the barrel of something completely new. In either case, don’t let the voices of panic and the ghosts of failures past cloud your success story. Allow deep breaths and your perspective to put them in their place.

2. Support is a beautiful thing.

Understand in life that you are not going it alone, and that often you’ll need the support of others.

Stephen Covey called it interdependence. And you’ll need it to get up the mountain. Before you go, it comes in the form of words from friends and fans. On the mountain, it comes in the form of a mob of people including guides, porters, and cooks all watching out for your wellbeing. Not to mention, your partners in the climb.

The Whole Kilimanjaro Team!
Our entire Mt. Kilimanjaro team: climbers, guides, porters, cooks and all.

In life, know that even in the midst of your greatest challenges you are not alone. Take comfort in others who have taken the challenge before you, with you and in your wake. Along the way, graciously accept their genuine support. And give it, too.

3. Appreciate the journey, in all directions.

Keep your head down if you need to, but look up, look down. Look forward primarily, but occasionally look back to know where you’ve been and to appreciate the beauty of where you stand.

Above the Clouds at Horombo Huts - Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
At Horombo Huts, appreciating how far we'd come.

Good advice on the mountain. Good advice in life, I believe.

4. Take it slowly, slowly.

Pole. Pole.” (Swahili for “Slowly. Slowly”) If you hear it once on the mountain, you’ll hear it a thousand times. It cannot be said enough. For us mere mortals, it is the single greatest key to the enjoyment of climbing and the satisfaction of summiting Kilimanjaro.

In the beginning of the climb, the plodding seems so maddeningly slow as to be ridiculous, but there’s good reason for this. A slow but deliberate pace is the key to continually managing energy and acclimatizing to altitude.

Trekking Kilmanjaro, Day 2 - Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
One foot in front of the other on Day 2 of the climb.

I’ll tell you why I’m convinced of this. On the way up the mountain, especially on the night of the final ascent, I had my struggles. We all had our struggles.

Oddly enough, however, it was on the way down that I felt like my guts were going inside out, my head pounded, and my vision was blurred.

On the way down? Why?

I made the mistake — in a fit of great excitement – of over-exerting myself at the summit. And I paid for it. All the way down to our overnight camp.

In life, sometimes pole pole – one foot in front of the other; slowly, slowly, surely and deliberate — all the way to the end — is the best way to ensure you reach your goals.

5. Have the right tools.

From firsthand experience, I can tell you that climbing Kilimanjaro does not in any way need to be belabored with equipment anxiety in the run-up. But having a few key items in your bag (either upon arrival or renting on the spot) is important.

When you’re struggling to put one foot in front of the other on summit day, the last thing you need to mind is being cold, wet or uncomfortable. Make sure you have the right gear so you can channel all your energy into the task at hand.

There’s no need to overthink the gear you need for life and go gadget-crazy, but having a few key tools to allow you to do your work will enable you to focus on what you do best.

6. Allow yourself to acclimatize and adjust.

On the mountain, this means taking an extra day if you feel you need to, or taking short hikes to higher elevation at the end of each day. The idea is to take a taste of the thinner air that awaits you and return to a comfortable place so you can sleep at night; you will be better equipped – mentally and physically — to take on the challenge in the morning.

Particularly when life is about movement from one comfort zone to the next, give yourself time and room to adjust along the way.

7. Be confident, but don’t underestimate the task at hand.

How was Kili? Doable (obviously), but not to be underestimated. Although Kilimanjaro is not a technical climb, ascending to 5,895 meters (19,340 feet) in just three days is no easy feat.

Dan at Stella Point - Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Where many often stop. Exhausted, but not yet at the Uhuru Peak (5,895 meters)

There is a fine balance between confidence and underestimating the task. Kilimanjaro is within reach. I suspect that’s why so many people try to climb it. Unofficial reported rates of summit success are something like 80%. Apparently after the official log books are cleared, the official rates are something like 30%. Let’s say the actual number lies somewhere in between.

Don’t freak yourself out about a daunting project to the point of not doing it, but understand that it may take more energy and determination than you ever bargained for.

That’s OK. You can do it.

8. Water for life.

“Water for life.” It’s a mantra on the mountain. There’s even a bizarre statue (of a man with a rifle) in tribute to the concept on the main square of the town of Moshi.

Water, it is said, helps clear the body of what ails it. No more so than at altitude. We were instructed to drink at least three liters of water each per day. In reality, we drank between four and five. (And yes, that means a whole lot of bathroom trips in the middle of the night.)

Drink more water. You’ll feel better. Period.

9. Personal victories are satisfying. Shared victories are sublime.

On the night of our final ascent (we set off at midnight after only a few hours of broken sleep), I envisioned us at the peak more times than was healthy. I am grateful that Audrey and I made it together, but that wasn’t enough.

There were five of us in our group.

About one-third of the way up, around 2:30 A.M., one of the women in our group sat on the ground and broke down. “I’m totally exhausted,” Jo said in tears. Her husband, Damian, held her in support. I could empathize and sympathize with that sentiment, right down to every last weary, altitude stretched, sleepwalking bone in my body. Based on the climb ahead, I put her chances of reaching the summit at an even 50/50.

Apparently her porters said all the right things and she did all the right things. In one of life’s miraculous and satisfying swings — only five minutes after Audrey and I reached the summit — we turned around to find Jo and Damian just behind us.

Joy in the success of others. It’s a great thing.

Our Whole Group at Uhuru Peak - Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
All of our group at Uhuru Peak, the top of Africa

10. Sometimes it’s about more than you.

On summit day, we also climbed with a young woman from Finland named Maija. When we reached Gilman Point, a sort of pre-summit two hours short of Uhuru Peak, she sat down and said, “I am happy. I think I will stay here.

She was fatigued from the last five hours of climbing, masking persistent altitude sickness and enduring stunning blisters across her heels with a determination that betrayed little of the physical pain she must have been experiencing.

Five minutes later, she was leading the way to Uhuru Peak.

Maija’s story is one that I’ll never forget. She received news from home just two weeks earlier that her father had died suddenly. After talking with her family, she opted to do the climb as scheduled, as a tribute to her father, an avid traveler and adventurer. He had been so excited for her to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.

I’m inclined to think he had something to do with her determination and final burst of energy.

And I’m certain he’d be proud.

If you are looking for more practical information about climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, check out our Marangu Route, Day by Day Guide and how to prepare, plan and pack for Kilimanjaro guide.

Disclosure: Special thanks to the leaders of our G Adventures climbing and summit team: Suliman, Issa, Isaac, Hatibo and Masa. Without you, we might still be on that mountain. Our Kilimanjaro Trek in Tanzania was provided by G Adventures in connection with its Wanderers in Residence program. As always, the opinions expressed here are entirely our own.

About Daniel Noll
Travel and life evangelist. Writer, speaker, storyteller and consultant. Connecting people to experiences that will change their lives. Originally from the U.S. Daniel has lived abroad since 2001 and most recently has been on the road since 2006. When he's not writing for the blog you can keep up with his adventures on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. And you can learn more about him on the About Page and on LinkedIn.

72 thoughts on “Climbing Kilimanjaro: Life Lessons from the Top of Africa”

  1. Inspiring post that is unique in the respect that it comes from angles other than just ‘here’s how to do it’. True, personal & emotional. I finally get it – just why people do this climb.

  2. I loved!! this post. As someone going through a major career change and feeling overwhelmed with the “climb” I am on, these points are all so true and helpful.

  3. Great post, and congrats for making it to the top! My computer is being just a little cranky at the moment, so I can’t see the pics, but I am sure they are wonderful. My only view of it was through a bus window on a cloudy day. Figures!!!

  4. Well done guys. I know the challenges faced when attempting something like this. Though not quite as high and with more days to do it, I climbed Kala Pattar in Nepal to get views of Everest above the base camp, 5545m and it wasn’t easy. I had the “slow slow” thing the whole way as well, and I am glad I did as I came across so many hikers who had succumb to altitude sickness. Kili is definitely on my list and this post inspires me even more to get there! 🙂

  5. What an amazing experience. Can’t wait to read all the practical stuff too – this is definitely something I want to attempt in the next couple of years.

    I trekked around Mt Kailash in Tibet at the end of last year, and we crossed a pass at 5,700m – that was intense even after acclimatizing above 4,500m for nearly 2 weeks. I can’t imagine ascending that high in just a few days.

    Slowly slowly is really the way to get through something like this, and plodding determinedly along was the only way I didn’t sit down and burst into tears. We had a couple of people push themselves way too hard and had to be driven back out (illegally!) with serious AMS.

    It’s so true that slow and steady wins the race. There was a girl on the trek who’d climbed Kili, and she muttered ‘pole pole’ to herself the whole time, conscious of not exhausting herself. She was my role model on the trip – it was a good mantra.

    Congratulations again guys.

  6. I am so very jealous! Kilimanjaro has been on my (secret) bucket list for years now, and I hope to make the trek too someday. Congrats on reaching the summit!

  7. @Susan: Thank you for your comment. It made my day, and made writing this post all worth it. Am glad the life challenge metaphor and personal growth messages are helpful.

    Continued good luck to you on your journey, your climb.

    @Joanne: Yes, you are now one of “those” people. Feels good, doesn’t it? I’ll be reflecting on this experience (and getting a lift from it) for some time to come.

    Am really glad we had the opportunity to do it with you.

    @Dean: Thanks. We had hiked the Annapurna Circuit (the Thorong La pass, something like 5400m) and that altitude was in my head all night long as we made the final ascent up Kili. “So I made it to 5400…5895 isn’t’ that much more, is it?”

    The whole conversation with myself was silly, but I suppose it helped pass some time up those switchbacks.

    In any event, on Kili: slowly, slowly. You can do it.

    @Megan: The rapid ascent up Kilimanjaro was certainly the wildcard. The good thing is that the porters have done this dozens (and in some cases 100s of times), so they know what advice to give and how to manage circumstances when they become tricky.

    5700m pass in Tibet sounds pretty substantial, even with 2 weeks of acclimatization.

    Here’s another slow four-step mantra: “One foot in front the other.” Worked for me much of the way.

    Thanks for your comment and support.

    @Claire: I’d seen photos of Kilimanjaro, mesmerizing like all peaks that seem to rise out of nowhere. But I have a new appreciation for the place having walked it, especially the view of the glaciers in and around the crater and the peak.

    @Lori: Thank you! I really felt that this is the least I could write to do justice to our experience.

    @Kay Bee: Thank you. Do it. Slowly. You won’t be disappointed.

  8. @Nellie: Whenever I hear that something has resonated, it makes me feel like the circle of writing has become complete. So, thank you.

    Kilimanjaro will be there, just in time for when you are ready. Regarding time, money, fear, working through and overcoming that, too — in time, slowly, slowly.

    @Smitha: Thank you. Enduring. I like that. For me (and the others who made it with me), the raw emotion of this experience will last a good while, the memories forever.

  9. Such a powerful post! Daniel and Audrey, your words always resonate with me (and I imagine other readers too). I didn’t climb the Kilimanjaro when I was in Tanzania, blamed it on not having enough money and time, but I guess I’m just scared! I’ll keep your wise words in mind and the next time I make it back, I’ll definitely put Kilimanjaro on my itinerary. 🙂

  10. What a beautiful post! To so many people climbing Kili is just another thing to cross out on their bucket list – you guys made the whole journey into an enduring lesson for life – beautiful. Thought-provoking.

  11. @Dave: Thanks. On the way up Kilimanjaro, we were doing the racehorse thing round-the-clock.

    Good luck with your decision…and if you go for it, the climb. We enjoyed our time in Bolivia. A fascinating country.

    @Kathy: Pole, pole indeed. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither do our lives need to be.

    As for our Tanzania trip, we’re Just beginning to go through photos. A lot of stories and experiences to share over the next couple of weeks.

  12. @Tijmen: Taking it slowly is crucial. Another woman we met was on her way up a day later. Turns out that she ascended so quickly on the final morning, she summited before dawn, and because of the cold, she had to turn around and descend. There’s no harm in following your guide’s pace. And ultimately, the last thing you want to do is rush and succumb to altitude sickness. On Kili, slow is the way to go.

  13. Congrats on reaching the summit!

    I spent some time with a lifelong hiker and trekker in Nepal and India, and his best advice to me was to drink enough water to ensure you’re constantly pissing like a racehorse.

    I’d like to climb Kilimanjaro one day too, but it appears I’ll first have the opportunity to climb a 6,000 meter mountain in Bolivia. It’s another 3-day climb, and even though the decision and opportunity to climb it is months away, I’m still wondering if I could do it (and it ties my stomach in knots).

  14. Loved this post, Daniel! So many points spoke to me and rang as true. I especially liked the first one, which reminded me of a little nugget that I found recently: “It’s not what you are that holds you back, it’s what you think you are not.” That internal voice is indeed powerful!

    We will perhaps try the Kilimanjaro climb when our kids are a bit older (currently, ages 8 and 11). In the meantime (Pole, Pole), we are just trying to experience the joys that can be had at each age.

    Thanks again for your post, and I look forward to more details and photos about your Africa journey.

  15. Climbing Kilimanjaro isn’t just about checking something off the bucket list. If we let it, Kilimanjaro can be a very positive, life changing experience. And you don’t even need to get to the top for it to have a lasting effect. Great article. Thanks for sharing it.


  16. Loved hearing about your climb, I’ve been thinking about you two since I heard you were going. I’ll always remember reading Michael Crichton’s description of his hike up there in Travels… sounds like you handled it a bit better 😉 I got really choked up reading about the woman whose father just died. What a beautiful tribute to him.

  17. @Daniel: Glad you enjoyed the piece. I’m with you. There are endless ways to approach Kilimanjaro — and I’m not just referring to which route you decide to take. There are also all manner of various outcomes, I’m sure, each with its own set of takeaways. The idea is to come to the task and take in the experience fully, and go where it takes you. That’s what we did.

    @Sasha: I read Crichton’s Travels a while ago and I’m trying to remember what he did on Kilimanjaro. In any case, I’m glad we handled it better. Having said that, we were dealt a healthy set of cards and seemed fortunate in every way possible: exceptional companions, weather, guides and cooks. Not sure we could have asked for a better setup to take this on.

    The story in #10 is very sad, but with a lift at the end. I think that’s what made everyone in our group getting to the top at the same time all the more meaningful.

  18. Great to read that you guys made it! The taking it slowely will be one of the hard things for me. I usually keep a pretty fast pace when i’m hiking, I just don’t like the really slow walking. But on that mountain it won’t be optional. Getting sick is definitely the biggest fear I have when I will finally climb it myself.

  19. @Sutapa: In this case, being hasty just because you want something can end up preventing you from achieving the very thing you came for.

  20. Great post!! Loved the point about taking it slowly. Some of us are such overachievers, we want it all and NOW. This one is really a great word of wisdom. You cannot hasten things just because you want it.

  21. @Angela: One hill at a time, one mountain at a time. I remember as a kid thinking a 1000 foot mountain was a pretty good climb. It still is, even after Kilimanjaro. Good to hear that you are taking on more hiking/climbing challenges and enjoying them. With the right group, it makes all the difference. I’m also glad you enjoyed the feelings and lessons in this piece. It feels good to share them and, in turn, hear others’ experiences.

  22. I’ve never climbed such a high mountain, so I don’t know what it feels like. I went down a canyon in Sardinia, which for me was huge, but compared to Kilimanjaro is probably a litte hill…
    It was the first trekking/climbing experience for me and I was absolutely exhausted. To the extent that at the end I swore I would have never done it again. I changed my mind the day after, I did like to challenge myself, and really enjoyed sharing such an experience with the group I was climbing with.
    It’s really great the feelings and the lessons you drew from your experience, makes me want to do it.

  23. I’m not the first one nor the last to congratulate you for climbing the Kili. I was in Tanzania last year but couldn’t make it because I didn’t have enough time (my holidays should be infinite).

    I wanted to thank you for bringing me back memories of similar experiences I had. I have learnt the importance of ‘pole, pole’ while reaching the Torres del Paine lookout, walking along the Inca Trail or reaching the Nevado del Ruiz summit.

    I also wanted to tell you that it always amazes me how Audrey and you both manage to convey such intense emotions using an amazingly simple style. Add to this the pictures and the result is perfect. I am a true fan.

    PS. I can’t wait to see your Zanzibar pics. I loved the island!

  24. Great pictures ~ and super important life lessons. I’m glad the two of you made it to the top. Thanks for sharing your experience with us!

  25. There’s just something about climbing mountains. You learn so much about yourself and life when you do.I really miss it. I’ve not climbed one since having Kalyra almost 4 years ago now.
    This has motivated me to start getting fit and thinking about doing it again. Although I’ll have to wait to baby no 2 pops out this time 🙂
    Kilimanjaro is definitely on the list. I look forward to the challenge and learning some more lessons.

  26. Congratulations on reaching the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro! Thank you for sharing with us the priceless lessons you’ve learned along the way. Each of us have our own mountains to climb and these reminders can greatly help us reach those life summits. Well done indeed, this is one great post that needs to be shared to friends and family.

  27. Slow and steady is the way to go. I cant believe though that on the way down was harder for you then going up. When it comes to gear I guess just making sure you have the essentials is key and not over thinking things. Wow that was a lot of water that you guy were drinking.

  28. I long to do Kili! I have done Everest base camp and know where you are coming from with all your points! Conquer your inner self before the mountain!

    Great website, love the stories and photos.

    Si @thedepartureboard

  29. @Sandra: Thank you. Your comment is so kind and humbling, I almost didn’t know how to respond. It really made my day.

    I know some people who claim to write blog posts in their sleep “45 minutes and it’s up”. That’s not us. We think long and reflect on experiences — for better or for worse. One of us writes, the other edits and that process goes another round or two until the piece is finished. Audrey and I think very differently. So while I’d like to think that the end product is fuller for our combined participation, we do occasionally put on boxing gloves during the editing process. Not pretty, like making sausage.

    But when we receive comments like yours, it makes the process worthwhile.

    Finally, I’m glad our story made a connection to some of your own life challenges and experiences.

    @JoAnna: We’re glad, too. Thank you!

    @Caz: Perhaps it’s because climbing a mountain is a metaphor. We hear it in songs, we compare life’s challenges to it, then we actually do it.

    Kili will be there. If you want it, I hope you have the opportunity to climb it.

    @Dan: Thank you!

    @Kirk: Yep, although the climb was challenging (nausea and exhaustion in particular), I didn’t experience any of the headaches or other altitude sickness symptoms on the way up. On the way down, it was another story. Other than overexertion and time at the top, I can’t explain why. However, after speaking to other climbers, I’ve heard my experience is not that unusual.

    That was a lot of water. I don’t think I’ve ever consumed that much water over a sustained period of time in my life.

    @Si: Thanks! Good to see you here and to know that you’ve conquered some mountains of your own.

  30. @Jeffrey: Thank you! Ah, the challenges of climbing a mountain, and the literal perspective you get above it all when you are on top of one.

  31. This is a great story! Thanks for sharing it, I did climb mount Kili a couple years ago and so far, has been one of the greatest experiences I have ever done in this life. I totally could identify my self with every sentence of you story, most of all with the “anxiety demons” and feeling all that energy of the surrounding and different climate zones, while you climb up.

    Climbing Kili was one of the things in life that I’ve wanted to do since I was 3 years old, when I saw this Nat. Geo. Magazine with the Colobus monkeys and mount Kili in the background on the front page of that magazine. And now after 27 years I still keep the magazine with me and after 2 years I keep the freshest memories of Kili and Africa. Definitely going back again in the future.

    Thank you and Keep it up!!!

  32. I tried my hand at mountain climbing as a teen and it taught me amazing life lessons in perseverance. Your post inspires me to take this on again. Perhaps one day I’ll make it to to the summit of Kilimanjaro and remember this post when I gaze out from the peak.

    Travel on. Write on.

  33. @Cesar: Thank you for your comment! Kili is one of those places that captures imaginations, and when you finally get there, it snares your attention. Definitely a mountain that helps to create life experiences. One of the more difficult and more memorable things I’ve done in my life as well.

    Am glad that we helped bring back the good memories of Kili…not the anxiety demons!

    @Francesco: Am hoping you have the opportunity to climb Kilimanjaro one of these days. It sure is worth it.

    @Amber: Glad we could offer some more inspiration. If you take on Kilimanjaro, we’ll look forward to hearing about it, particularly what you feel as you gaze out from the peak. It’s quite a view, quite a feeling.

  34. Congratulation Dan and Audrey! I read every inspiring piece of your writing on Kili. You made it sound so easy but deep in my heart I know it’s obviously a test of perseverance and endurance. Seeing your pictures on the summit almost brought me to tears!

  35. Wow – what an accomplishment!
    Kili has been on our list for quite some time, reading this has me excited to start researching once again.
    I enjoyed this post, as it can be applied to life in general, especially #9

  36. @Cam: Definitely give Kili a serious look. We weren’t fibbing — it’s an exceptional experience.

    Glad you enjoy shared victories. They are even better at high altitude.

  37. Wow, great article and I agree with every point!!! I had nearly the Exact guides that you did… If it wasn’t for Hatibo I would’ve never made it!

  38. Congratulations on summiting Kili and what an excellent post. I have been mulling over a Kili climb as part of my African travels (recently relocated with family to Cape Town, Africa is the 5th continent on which I have lived 🙂 ) and your post has made it a definite. I had been trying to get at my motivation for climbing Kili, beyond the bucket list concept, and your words helped me clarify my own inspiration. Also I needed the “pole, pole” message today. Thank you! Love your site, I look forward to reading more. And when you get to Southern Africa and need a connection in Cape Town, do let me know 🙂

  39. @Kerry: This comment made our day. Kilimanjaro — do it. Am glad to hear that this post helped tip you. If we’ve missed anything or you have any other questions, please let us know. Big thanks on all accounts.

  40. hey,

    thanks for the post. i was getting super bored in office. i came across your blog.simply loved the lessons. i have recently started trekking..i could relate to the lessons.u have expressed it well.

  41. @gautami: You are welcome. Glad you enjoyed the lessons and that I could help take your mind off the office and onto the mountain!

  42. ohh absolutely..i was on the mountain enjoying the sun and wind. i was so inspired by your story that i decided to start with Kalasubai(thats the highest peak in shayadri valley in Maharashtra(India)..It is a piece of cake for u guys.but gonna start with it.Hope to climb kilimanjaro too..

  43. @gautami: Great to hear it. Maybe another lesson: don’t overdo it, especially if you’re just getting started 😉

    Have fun. Trekking/hiking is one of the world’s greatest (easiest and cheapest, too) mind-clearing exercises.

  44. hey,

    I am thrilled to tell u that i just came from a trek.i have started taking baby steps..thanks for the motivation.

    i loving trekking(though my legs r aching badly)lol

  45. It is really interesting to see how you relate each step of the climbing to life. I think each short journey could be related to life in a big way. The difference between you and many people like me are that we don’t stop in between and think and relate it.

  46. @Roheel: Thank you! It was a great feeling.

    @Sailor: Glad you found useful the connection between the progression up Mt. Kilimanjaro and one’s progression through life. Reflecting on an experience and understanding what it has taught us impacts our satisfaction with a travel experience. To us, learning life lessons through our travels and the people we meet is one of the greatest benefits of around the world travel.

  47. What an insightful adventure! Thank you for sharing it in a personal perserverence story with nuggets of advice. I looked into tours/flights last week and not sure this summer is the time to climb yet. Yet your account stirs me to climb on! Thanks for being inspiring friends!

  48. @Soness: Keep climbing. You’ll find a way to get to Kilimanjaro. Once you are there, you’ll know you belong there, and you’ll make it to the top.

    And thank you…we’re so grateful for having met you in Tokyo!

  49. Just climbed Kili last week. Your post rings true in all aspects. The only way to climb Kili is positive thinking and water!

  50. @JD: Congratulations on climbing Kili! Glad to hear that our post rings true and that positive thinking and water helped to save the day. (Always does, I guess.)

  51. Daniel & Audrey,

    This flowed like a great insightful novel. Reading it gave me a good impression of what lies ahead. I’m climbing Kilimanjaro in December over Christmas and eagerly await the pleasant surprises and challenges ahead. Right now the hardest part is the wait.



  52. @Linh: Glad you liked the telling of the story. Good luck climbing Kilimanjaro. I’m sure it will be a great experience. The most difficult part is indeed the wait, the run up, and when you’re on the mountain, any bits of lingering anxiety. Regardless, have fun!

  53. @Riis: Thank you. Climbing Kilimanjaro was definitely among the most powerful personal experiences we’ve had on our journey.

  54. Loved reading your perspective. Ditto “Michelle’s Bucket List” response!!

    For a humorous perspective from someone who never even considered climbing Kili, but wound up doing so after an unexpected invite to fill a cancelled spot…


  55. Loved reading this, and truer sentiments never spoken. I managed Kili in late 2012, and reading your post brought lots of amazing memories back. The person in your head part….oh so true. Summiting in the darkness, just your headlamp, and the person in front of you, who is also lost in their head. The places your mind goes, and where you steer it, to stop thinking about how tired you are, your aching body, and desire for sleep. Mine took me to magical places, and when I returned home, quit my job (that I was so unhappy with), took some much needed me time, and have now found myself with a much better job, new city, and new life. Oh thank you Kili!!!!

    • Michael, thank you for sharing your experience. First off congratulations on both conquering Kilimanjaro and also apparently getting some clarity regarding your next steps in life.

      From your articulation of feelings on Mt. Kilimanjaro, we clearly experienced something similar. Oh, the places one’s mind goes on that mountain.

  56. I can’t stop reading your blog posts!!

    Kili has been near the top of my ‘I’ll do that next’ list for ages, but I am now itching to experience it! Inspiring!

    • Great to hear it! Thank you. If there are any questions regarding Kilimanjaro, just let us know. Looking forward to your decision to climb!

  57. Great posts Dan! Like any great summit, the lessons learned about oneself are usually greater than the triumph of getting to the top. Thanks for sharing. I feel I have a lot of catching up to do on your site as I have only just discovered it. Yours and Audrey’s story is inspirational so thank you for sharing.


    • Thanks, Mark for your kind comments. Our experience on Kilimanjaro has served as an endless source of lessons and stories — both on our blog and website here and also our inspirational and motivational speaking. Peak experience, life experience — whatever you’d like to call it — that was our Kilimanjaro summit journey.

  58. Hi Daniel and Audrey, I just wanted to let you know that lesson #9 struck me so deeply I decided to write a blog, something I’ve never really considered doing before and might not do again. I just felt the need to write my story from climbing Kilimanjaro and why lesson #9 made me burst into a sobbing mess sitting by myself on the couch. Here it is in case you are interested in reading: Thank you for your post, still meaningful however many years later!

    • Thank you for sharing your story, Anna. We are so sorry for your loss, yet so glad you have this memory to return to. I find that writing often helps to process circumstances and feelings, no matter how long ago the event that motivated those emotions might have been. We are grateful that our words prompted you to do so. I hope and urge you to continue to write, either through blogging publicly, journaling privately, or both. Thank you so much for taking the time to write and to reach out.

  59. I really enjoyed your post! Just less than 2 weeks ago my entire group of 7 summited Uhuru Peak and it was indeed the experience of a lifetime. Life changing in many ways. All your points truly hit home. The support needed to achieve, mental attitude, preparing and bringing the right gear, slowing down to enjoy the experience, and pushing for the goal were all applicable in my experience as well. Again, thank you for writing. And Congrats.

    • We are so glad this resonated with your own firsthand Kilimanjaro climbing experience. Thank you for taking the time to share your feelings with us, Wendy. And congratulations to you and your group for summiting!


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.