One of the most stressful parts of this trip to Tanzania has been all the prepping that has needed to be done before we leave. I’ve never planed or prepared as much for any trip in my life as much as I have for this! You would think I’d be ready to go, but I still feel so out of sorts! Because it’s been so consuming, I figured I should share with you everything I’ve been doing over the last several months to get ready!
This has been the part I’ve been the most worried about. I would hate to get part way up the mountain and the reason I can’t finish is because I didn’t work hard enough before I left! So to try to get in shape, I’ve been doing a lot of exercise. Every other weekend, Amy and I head out to the mountains to get a difficult hike in. Usually we try to aim for 8-9 miles round trip with 3500′ elevation gain as our minimum. By most standards, this is considered strenuous, but summit night we’ll be doing 4.5 miles up with 4400′ elevation gain, so we need to be ready! I’ve also been doing strength training with TRX (suspension training), yoga (and I’ve even graduated to hot yoga, which is awful!) and swimming or running for cardio. My goal has been to get 5 days a week in of exercise, but it’s tough! I can’t remember the last time my body has been so consistently sore! I’m definitely earning my post climb massage in Zanzibar.
Being mentally prepared is probably one of the most important, and the toughest things to do. Hot yoga is one of those things that tests my mental fortitude because it makes me want to vomit every time I do it. But if I can stick through that feeling in yoga, hopefully I can do it when I feel nauseous on the mountain. I also created a Kilimanjaro playlist on my iPod that I’m both listening to now to get me psyched up and to listen to when I’m actually climbing to take my mind off my misery at 3am on summit night when it’s 0 degrees, dark, windy, I’m exhausted to the point of collapse and the last thing I want to do is put another foot in front of me. It contains songs like Eye of the Tiger, Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, Don’t Stop Believing and every dance track known to human-kind. Hopefully this will have the desired affect of keeping me going.
Stocking up on gear has been far more expensive than I ever expected. I actually already own most of the gear I need, but a lot of it isn’t rated high enough or cold enough for Kili. To help with the cost, I’ve asked for some of what I need for Christmas presents and my birthday. My parents got me an awesome sleeping bag, and I found a great down parka on sale for $150 off! New hiking boots were the other big purchase I had to make, as the ones I owned were more trail runners than boots. I’ve been wearing them for 6 months and I still get blisters on my heels! The rest has mostly been little things here and there. Thermal socks, warm gloves, sun screen, travel pillow, tiger balm, ear plugs, wet wipes, etc. I feel like these are the things that are taking up the most room in my bag, too! The upside to having to purchase all this stuff now is that I should be set for every hiking and camping trip I could ever want to take over the next 10+ years!
I think I’ve mentioned in a previous post that we are using Zara Tours for the climb and Good Earth Tours for our safari. I read through many different companies and online reviews of each to determine which guide service would be the best for us. In all this research, I found that most climbing companies outsource their actual climb to Zara Tours, and that it was cheaper to just go through them directly. They are the largest guide service in Tanzania and have been very responsive so far. Good Earth Tours came highly recommended on Trip Advisor. They have also been very responsive, and though their prices seem to be a bit on the high side, this tour was exactly everything we wanted. We’re still debating adding the hot air balloon option on. It looks amazing!
This has, by far, been the most expensive trip I’ve ever taken not even including all the gear I needed to get. Thank goodness we’ve had a year to prepare for it! I’ve tried to put away about $600/month or more over the last year to pay for things as they come up. Fortunately we’re paying for nearly everything before we go, so our costs in country should be very minimal. I’ve also been to a few doctor appointments to make sure I’m healthy enough (I have asthma and joint issues) and to get all the medications I need to stay healthy while I’m there (Melarone malaria pills, Diamox for altitude, Ambien to sleep on the mountain and Azithromycin for stomach trouble). I mentioned already the costs of our airfare, but a breakdown of everything else we’ve paid for is below (prices are per person).
Entire trip costs so far:
Kilimanjaro climb – $2131
Safari – $2870
Hotel in Zanzibar for 7 nights – $770.07
Visa to get into Tanzania – $100
Medications – $40 after insurance
Tips for the climb and safari – $500
Potential balloon ride – $540
Total cost prior to leaving – $6911.07
Gear purchased for the climb
Gas for driving to the mountains
TRX and yoga classes
Books and music to stock up my iPod and Kindle for flights and long hikes
Did I not tell you it was expensive?! It’s three times more than I would normally pay for a vacation, but this will be so worth it. When I’m home from the trip, I’ll post an update of everything I spent so you know exactly how much a trip like this would cost.