On My Itinerary: Kilimanjaro?

Jon and I are starting to plan out the details of going to southern Africa this summer for an entire fortnight (i.e. 14 days for non-Shakespeare fans; also a LOT of time for American travelers! two whole weeks!). We’ve decided on a five-day safari that would zoom us around the major parks of northern Tanzania, then three or four days on the island of Zanzibar exploring Stone Town and sitting on a beach recuperating, and then we’re trying to figure out how to spend the rest of our precious, precious time. Jon would like to volunteer at an orphange or somewhere in Kenya and get acquainted with some locals and see regular life, which I do like to do, and I would like to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, but we both agree we’d be happier if we could just climb Kilimanjaro for 2 days, not the suggested 6-8 days (the longer the better for acclimization to the higher elevations. Jon’s colleague did it in five days and said half his group was throwing up because they didn’t spend time acclimizing).

The reason for my fascination with Kilimanjaro is not because I have anything to prove to myself – since I like hiking and I’m in good shape, I’m pretty positive I’ll be able to handle it. And I’m sure I could get to the top, but even if I don’t, my life will go on without my feeling like some giant failure. I’ve also recently re-read Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air  about the Mt. Everest disaster, and for some reason reading about people dying on Everest is making me want to go climbing Kilimanjaro. Not because I’m looking to die, because Kilimanjaro is actually an easy, safe climb as long as you’re in good shape (and as long as climate changes doesn’t keep melting the ice caps and send falling boulders onto tourists like it did a few years back) – and I do miss hiking, and it would be cool to stand on top of Africa for a few minutes before descending back down.

The other hesitation, besides short amount of time and the $1,200+ to climb Kilimanjaro is we have to pack – a lot. Apparently, people just stop changing their shirts after a while (but they do change their socks and underwear, thankfully), but we would have to pack basically all our ski clothing. Thermals, wool socks, fleece, winter jacket, some kind of warm active pants, hiking boots, etc. This sort of packing does not fly with my desire to carry-on only, especially when changing at least two planes.

In reality, I wish we had an entire month, but that is highly frowned upon in American corporate society to abandon your job as such just so you can go see the rest of the world (How dare we be open minded!). That way, we could do all three activities and spend even more time lounging around Zanzibar and even venture towards the seaside of Mozambique, which piqued my interest initially. I will keep you all updated on our planning!

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