Let me start with the fact that climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak at 19,340 feet, was the hardest physical thing we have ever done in our lives. Ted and I do a fair bit of hiking in Colorado, including several 14ers (14,000+ foot peaks) the past few summers. We even did a 15er in Peru on our hike to Machu Picchu. However, Kili is a 19er and that extra 4000 ft in altitude makes all the difference in the world.

Gonna bag that peak

Many people prepare for weeks/months/their lives for this particular undertaking. However, we had spent the last few days lying on the beach (at sea level, obviously) in Zanzibar drinking cocktails. Prior to that we had been on and off safari for the previous 2 months which includes ridiculous amounts of eating and hours upon hours of sitting in a jeep. What I’m getting at here is that we were not in the best hiking shape of our lives, yet we were about to take on our biggest physical challenge to date.

Before our climb, Ted reached out to a few friends that had climbed Kili to ask them about the hike and to hear their experiences. He got a few intimidating responses ranging from miserable altitude headaches to incredibly grueling hard work. After hearing these reviews, he decided that there was no good reason to share this information with me until after the climb, and to this day I thank him for that.

With ignorant bliss, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the mountain for the first time on the drive from Kilimanjaro airport to Moshi, the access town. Glowing in the evening sunset, Africa’s biggest peak dominates the skyline, literally popping out of nowhere. It is nothing less than breathtaking.

Kilimanjaro at sunset

We got our hotel just as it got dark. We carbo-loaded on some pasta for dinner, repacked our bags for 6 days and 5 nights of mountain climbing, and did our best to get some sleep before the big trip.

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