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David Stephenson–US

David Stephenson–US

There’s no better way to climb Kilimanjaro than with Amani Minja and his team from ClimbKili. I’m sure plenty of other guides will be able to take you on good routes, keep you safe, and get you to the summit. But Amani did all that while also motivating us at every roadblock, staying up late with us answering questions or just drinking tea and talking, and kept our spirits up with his jokes. He was the perfect mountain guide and an even better mountain coach.

We did the 7 day Machame route with Climb Kili with an additional 2 day safari added to the end. From the start to finish every single part of the trip was so well organized and well explained. It’s a big undertaking to schedule these things from halfway across the globe so when the welcome packet arrived with a booklet laying out every aspect of our trip (and a knit hat!) it did everything to put our mind at ease. At each step we were briefed on what was going to happen and were able to ask every question we could think of. That started from our first day in the hotel and continued each morning and night on the mountain. Our team was well prepared and most importantly we never felt unsafe since they knew the routes, had the right gear, and had so thoroughly briefed us on day by day. And the rewards were breathtaking; seven days above the clouds camping and talking, the success of summiting, and really feeling like you achieved something amazing made each day of climbing worth it.

And what can I say about the food. Each day we had enough food for a team triple our size, with frequent hot tea and coffee breaks. I can’t explain how good the fresh vegetable soup was, especially after a long day of hiking. Our chef Halifa was amazing and he even made us a celebratory cake once we made it to the top. And everyday we were amazed by the hard work the porters put into making the camp comfortable, keeping it well stocked, and dealing with our equipment. I also rented a sleeping bag from ClimbKili; the process was easy (just paid in cash at the office in Arusha) and the bag was clean, warm, and comfortable. Other people in our group rented other equipment and no complaints from them.

The team took care of everything from transfers to and from the airport (they were waiting on arrival), lodging (the ClimbKili offices were located on the first floor of the hotel which was very convenient), luggage storage while we were on the mountain, permits and government stuff for the climb, safety (Our guides carried reserve oxygen and gave twice daily medical checks to us on the mountain), transport for the safari with a guide who knew exactly where to find whatever animals we asked for, and a million more things I’m forgetting. When I say that the welcome package they mailed out once we confirmed our dates covered everything I really mean that it did (From tipping practices in Tanzania to a full work out plan to prepare you for the climb).

The two day Safari at the end was a nice cap to the whole thing; with an excellent stay at an amazing hotel on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater. We might have seen 4,000 animals over the 2 days (seriously, the density of life there amazed us) and the same ClimbKili service applied there; we had briefings to tell us exactly what was happening, everyone was night, and everything happened on time.

Overall the best thing I can say about ClimbKili is that they were deliberate. It is just so nice to be able to fly into a country and do a fairly strenuous activity and just have each and every day unfold precisely as it was laid out on the schedule they provided to you months before. With their punctuality, professionalism, and openness we never felt surprised or uncomfortable in any of the ways that you kind of expect when you travel to a new culture. That allowed us to really focus on the beauty of Tanzania, on enjoying our trip up Kilimanjaro, and on taking in the people around us. I’d recommend any of ClimbKili’s packages to anyone. And if you’re on the fence about climbing Kilimanjaro, seriously, just do it.