Once in a lifetime

Climbing Kilimanjaro - Company Review

1 comment :

by Rob Colbourn

My friend had been persuading me to climb Mount Kilimanjaro for a while. I have always felt the need to have a challenge in my life, I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not, so it did make sense to join her. At first, I was concerned about the cost aspect of it all but soon changed my mind as I talked sense to myself saying that these things don’t happen often, and you have to live life and so on. I told my family and friends that I was going to climb Kilimanjaro; my friends were excited for me and I think my Mother was a little concerned. The hype was up and I was excited to go. The next thing to do was to actually book the bloody thing and do it!

Long story cut short but my friend dropped out before we even booked. She had met a boy and love was blossoming - she didn’t want to go away for a whole ten days without him. I was still determined to go and booked with a company called Lava Expeditions. I was booked onto the next available trip that was April and found out that a group of boys were going; I would be the only girl. But this didn’t worry me too much. I’m not a girly girl, and I have a few good male friends of which we have shared adventurous travels, but that was when I was a bit younger. Despite this I was assured by the Director of Lava Expeditions that I would be well looked after and that I was.

The ratio of women to men was approximately 1 to 20. However, not once did I ever feel uneasy or threatened in any way, not once. I was extremely well looked after and the porters and guides nicknamed me ‘Dada’ which means ‘Sister’ in Swahili.

It wasn’t until I was on the mountain that I became aware of how different trekking and climbing companies treat the porters and guides of Kilimanjaro. It was extremely evident that some were looked after extremely well while others weren’t even clothed properly. I often saw porters, who carry heavy loads, your heavy load, wearing shoes with the soles falling off; ripped cut off corduroy trousers with a thin pair of trousers underneath that were too short for them, therefore exposing their skin to the harsh elements.

During my time on the mountain I spent six whole days and nights with the porters and guides and my fellow team mates. You get to know people pretty quickly and sometimes have deep and meaningful conversations. The porters told me that friends have died on the mountain, friends who weren’t looked after and clothed properly by their employers, friends who were not covered by medical insurance. I was also told that many have their food and tent accommodation deducted from their final wage for that trip, while on the mountain. All of this made me feel ignorant and selfish for not being aware of such, for not even having considered how the porters are treated before I set off on my ‘trip of a lifetime.’

I learned that Lava Expeditions is one of the few companies who look after their staff, treat them well, clothes them correctly, feed and house them while on the mountain. They are paid at least double the recommended wage of US$ 5 per day which in turn limits the temptation for porters wanting to sell their clothes to make money. One of our guides had a heavy cold that developed into pneumonia and he had to be carried down the mountain. He was taken straight to hospital where he was looked after properly. He fully recovered and is back on Kilimanjaro telling people about the amazing wildlife. All his hospital bills were covered by Lava Expeditions.

Those who take up challenges often raise money for a good cause, however this was something I was reluctant to do as I was thinking to myself, ‘What if I don’t make the summit?,’ and ‘How will I let people know that I didn’t make it?’ In hindsight I wished that I hadn’t been so selfish and had taken the opportunity to raise money.

More Information:

Climb Kilimanjaro for charity for a sense of altruism as well as personal achievement and fitness. So what are you waiting for? Go on, climb Kilimanjaro!


1 comment :

  1. That's great! If my family is persuading me to climb Kilimanjaro for a while. I would have felt the need to have a challenge in my life, I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not.