The drive, the motivation and the inspiration for my epic Kilimanjaro climb adventure came from my first visit to Africa in 2008. As I train and prepare to again visit the amazing and diverse continent, I’m having flashbacks of my first experience.
My trip in 2008 began on 1st December in South Africa. I spent 9 days staying with my friend in her family home and seeing the lovely sites of Cape Town. We partied, patted cheetahs, watched amazing sunsets, frolicked on the beach and visited the amazing wine regions. I had a wonderful time there but sadly received some devastating news towards the end of my stay.
A call at 3am is never good, no matter where you are in the world, as I answered and heard my fathers shaky voice – I knew what had happened. My dear Grandpa Jack had passed away after living with the disease Alzheimer’s for 4 years. He was at peace, but I had lost one of my greatest mentors and inspirations. Most of all, I was so sad that I couldn’t be there with my dad in his time of need.
Fortunately, I was only to be in Arica for another 6 days and was actually on route to England after my short trip. I would make it in time to attend the funeral and to be the support that my dad and other family members needed at the time.
I had to put that out of my head and focus on the next part of my trip, no easy task, but Africa is a great place to take your mind off the rest of the world.
My next destination was Nairobi, Kenya. The flight to Kenya was really not very pleasant and I don’t recommend Kenya Airways, but that was the only option on offer- now I know better. A brief stay in Kenya- and a lovely welcome from my tour/ booking agent there- Chris. He met me at my hotel (which by the way was a rude shock! The accommodation was VERY basic and it was a definite sign that I was in a third world country) and put me at ease about my trip.
6 hour bus the next day to arrive in Arusha, Tanzania. I was again met by a lovely man from the tour company, Hakim, who ensured I would be safe in the trip and took me to my hotel. Now safe and sound in East Africa- I faced my next challenge – arranging to visit my gorgeous Sponsor Child in his remote Masai village. This is the sole reason I had come to Africa, and with my World Vision contact in Tanzania in contactable, I began to panic. Calls to Australia, USA, and Africa trying to hunt down the person I would meet were an epic challenge and left me exhausted.
At 9pm the night before I was to meet my sponsor child, the call came in- My host would meet me at 8am at the hotel and all is fine. Hakuna Matata (it means no worries) hahaha. Argh!
And all was fine – read this article to learn more about the single most incredible experience of my life, meeting my sponsor child Lazaro. Still the most amazing and life changing encounter I have had.
After my visit to my sponsor child, I explored Arusha and was taken out by my now friend Hakim to see some of the nightlife of Arusha. You should always have a friend or guide when in town.
Back to Nairobi on the 13th December after just 2 days in Tanzania. I had a full day of sightseeing including the David Sheldrick Wildlife Centre- Elephant orphanage where I sponsored a baby elephant and got to play with him. I then went to the Giraffe sanctuary and made out with a giraffe, followed by a trip to animal park where I watched Alligators being fed and was offered to ride an ostrich. I finished the day by visiting my driver’s small village, meeting his wife, sisters in law, nieces and nephews and new baby Robyn. An incredible and heart warming experience – and all in one day! I also went to the Carnivore restaurant in Nairobi and stuffed myself full of exotic meats.
I left Africa after just 13 days with some of the most incredible experiences under my belt. It was on the plane to England that would change my drive and ambition for the next 3 years and led me to this moment. I read an article on people who do charity challenges in honour of loved ones- and of course, this story was about Kilimanjaro. I had actually driven past Moshi and the amazing Mt Kilimanjaro on my way to the Masai village to meet my sponsor child and had said to myself “I’m coming back for you!” This article had me in tears and I knew then the way I could honour my grandpa and say a proper goodbye – I would Climb Mt Kilianjaro to raise money for Alzheimer’s. It was a promise.
2.5 short years later, and I will be able to achieve this goal. This isn’t so much a lifelong dream, as a promise with a passionate and determined drive to fulfill that goal.
I can’t wait to see what this experience of Africa will entail and I’m really enjoying remembering my first incredible trip to the continent.
I will be taking on my biggest Adventure yet, Climbing Kilimanjaro for Alzheimer’s Australia NSW! I will Climb Kilimanjaro in honour of my Grandpa who passed away from Alzheimer’s in 2008. I was in Africa when I found out and I said at the time I would one day do this for him, in his memory! We are raising money for Alzheimer’s Australia NSW to raise awareness and the necessary funds for prevention of the disease that affects so many. Dementia is the third leading cause of death in Australia, after heart disease and stroke. We must prevent and find a cure as it’s not a normal part of aging, and does affect 100,000’s of Australians.
Help me reach my $10.000 target by donating to my online fundraising page:
KILI COUNTDOWN – 28 Days to go