I’ve made reference to the fact that I’m heading to Tanzania next month, and yet I don’t believe I’ve actually told you the purpose of the trip.
Well, I’m hiking Mount Kilimanjaro. That part is probably not that much of a revelation. Usually, when people head to Tanzania, it’s for one of three reasons: to hike Kili, to go on safari in the Ngorongoro Crater or to visit blissful Zanzibar. I hope to do all three while I’m there (though as of now, only the first part is confirmed).
And it’s just apt timing that this all falls on my 30th birthday. Tackling a mountain (in every sense of the word), raising money for a great cause and heading to Africa once more—can you think of a better way to begin a new decade?
That’s right: I’ll be huffing and puffing my way up Africa’s highest mountain (19,341 feet) in just seven weeks’ time. We will be taking the least used route, the Shira Plateaua via the Northern Circuit Wilderness. The trek will take eight days, during which we will sleep in mountain tents. When we are through, we will be spending a day with the children that Impatiens Kilimanjari supports.
Many work trips for me materialize out of the blue, anywhere from a week’s notice to a couple of months, depending on the scope of the assignment and the news angle. This one I’ve known about since last spring, but I didn’t want to jinx it by saying anything until the contract was signed.
I was approached by Katrina, she of Estonian fame, who I have known since 2005. Katrina was in the same program in Holland and Denmark where SVV and I first met, and she and I have remained friends over the years. She’s lovely, she’s fun, and we have so many of the same interests—from photography to diving.
Katrina currently works for Ladies Trekking Virtual Club, a grassroots organization out of Europe for international women who have been to Kilimanjaro and also for those who dream of visiting the Roof of Africa during their lifetime.
And it just so happens the group is motivated by a united, noble cause: to raise money for education in East Africa. We will be producing a book called Dreamers & Doers, “a collection of inspirational stories, life-changing moments and acts of kindness,” and the message is one on which I’m sure we all agree: That everybody is entitled to education. Every penny of the proceeds made from the project will go toward educating young girls in Tanzania.
- $1,000 pays tuition for a private school in Tanzania
- $130 buys 40 textbooks for a Tanzanian classroom
- $40 buys an atlas for a rural Tanzanian school
There are nine of us ambassadors going—including tech superstars and fellow Americans Caroline McCarthy and Cheryl Yeoh, whose blogs I have been following—as well as several members of LTVC (15 hikers total), all of whom will be collaborating on the project. My job will be putting down experiences in words, and probably taking a number of photos along the way. (Good thing, because that’s pretty much the only thing I know how to do.) Though something already tells me that in Tanzania, words might fail me, as they did in Rwanda and Cambodia and other unforgettable places I’ve experienced in recent years.
If you’d like to help out, you can do so in the following ways:
- Become a sponsor of the project.
- Donate to the Tanzanian schools, no matter how big or small a contribution you can afford. (And if you do this, please let me know so I can send you a thank you note personally from Africa.)
- Buy the book when it comes out.
- Write a post promoting the book. (If you’d like to do this, shoot me an email at CamelsAndChocolate AT gmail, and we will chat.)
- Just follow along and offer words of encouragement. Those are always welcome, too!
Oh, and if you’ve ever been to Tanzania before, I’d love if you chimed in down below. I have
several a hundred lingering logistical concerns, particularly as I plan on extending my trip: How physically fit do I need to be to accomplish this hike? (I’m really afraid of altitude sickness.) Is it true there is cell service on a lot of the mountain? (Trip Advisor says it’s so, and that baffles my mind.) How do you even pack for a trip like this? (At least we’ll have sherpas.) How much is “enough time” on Zanzibar? (Without your husband divorcing you for being away from him too long.) And can one actually do a day trip (or two) out to the crater from Arusha? (I’m arriving a couple days early to acclimate to the altitude and also so I’m not stuck in a plane on my actual 30th birthday.)