Climbing Kilimanjaro for charity? Here’s how to get started
In June, the world watched on as double leg amputee, Spencer West, climbed Mount Kilimanjaro for a cause, walking up on his hands, using the pure strength of his arms to take one arduous step at a time towards the summit. Why did he do it? To redefine what is possible in life. “I needed to show others that it doesn't matter what your abilities are or where you come from in the world. If you work hard, never give up and laugh a lot, you can achieve anything” (Me to We Speaker Profiles 2012).
Over 20,000 people per year climb Mount Kilimanjaro and more and more challenge themselves to climb it for a cause. Doing a Mt. Kilimanjaro charity climb is a magical and possibly life-changing experience, and if you’re ready to take on the challenge, here are some things you should think about before you get started:
Which charity do you want to climb for? Choose something you’re passionate about - a cause you can’t stop talking about and feel good about representing. Before you leave for your Kilimanjaro charity challenge, take the time to get to know the people at your chosen charity, experience what they do on a daily basis and how. The more you’re connected to the cause, the more you’ll feel empowered when the going gets tough on the mountain. Being part of the charity’s community will also help you tell a deeper, more connected campaign story and in turn, get more engaged followers that will support your charity climb.
Do you want to lead your own Kilimanjaro expedition or join an existing charity challenge? Decide if you want to climb Kili alone by tacking on to a scheduled trek with like-minded individuals from around the world, or bring together your own expedition team and develop a custom itinerary. Some of the companies that specialize in Kilimanjaro charity challenges include Huma Challenge, Charity Challenge Canada, Charity Challenge UK, Tusker Trail, and many more. Also, keep in mind that there are some charities out there that already run their own yearly Kilimanjaro climbs that you can join, such as American Foundation For Children with Aids and Alzheimer Society.
How do you prepare for your Kilimanjaro charity challenge? I admit, with the thousands of online posts and articles on climbing Kilimanjaro, doing your research can be daunting. But do it! When I did my initial research for our Kilimanjaro charity climb back in 2008, I found Henry Stedman’s website and guide Kilimanjaro: The Trekking Guide to Africa’s Highest Mountain very useful. It will narrow down the field and provide you with some good links, tips and recommendations. When choosing your trekking tour guide, also consider getting recommendations from friends and family and review testimonials. Narrow down the trekking outfits and begin a conversation with at least three of them. Choose a company that operates in alignment with your values. For example, watch out for how the tour operator treats the porters, its policies on sustainable trekking, and how it handles emergency and health procedures and equipment.
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