The journey began over a year before summit day when pondering how to celebrate my 50th birthday milestone. It had to be something different, challenging and adventurous but achievable. There was never any doubt that my long-time partner and soul buddy Jono would be up for the challenge, having shared many adventures together over the last 20+ years. To complete the group, my sister Soda joined us, the timing of the trek planned to coincide with my 50th birthday and the 2 week period where we are both the same age.
In the past year, many many hours of research, planning and preparation had been clocked into overtime. Given the time and cost and a philosophy of ‘if I commit to doing something, it must be done with 150% effort’, nothing was left to chance within our control.
After extensive research, we decided on the Northern Circuit 9 Day trek through Peak Planet which is run by the guiding company African Walking Company. The key criteria in the selection process was to ensure we had the best possible experience and highest probability of reaching the summit. In this respect the following was of primary importance:
- A highly rated guiding company that had a good resume, excellent client reviews, good equipment and facilities, a comprehensive safety and evacuation plan and good support staff to client ratio
- The best routes that would maximize acclimatization time on the mountain, balanced with being picturesque and less congested
- Spent two months hiking very hilly terrain using as much of our ‘Mt Kilimanjaro’ gear as possible, in particular our boots. We also did a multi-day hike to test other gear.
- We booked business travel, given it was 48 hours (door to door) traveling from New Zealand to Tanzania
- We carried all our hiking gear as cabin luggage, wearing our boots etc, to avoid losing luggage in transit.
- We arrived in Arusha (at approx. 1300m) two days before the scheduled trek and rested, ate and hydrated as much as possible
- We drank no alcohol or caffeine and drank only bottled water
- We avoided any food that might upset our stomach. Conversely, we ate any food that was thought to be beneficial, even though we didn’t like it or typically ate it. Incidentally, we are vegans.