My husband, Dmitry, and I decided to hike Kilimanjaro to celebrate our 50th birthdays over the summer of 2020. Covid had other plans. After discussing the trip extensively via email and over the phone with Gerry Analytis (Kiliwarrior co-founder) and also his son, Tom, we decided to postpone the trip by a year and, instead, celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary! Gerry moved our reservations, honored all of our deposits, and stayed in touch with us throughout the delay. This was our first inkling of the professionalism and attention to customer service that Kiliwarrior Expeditions provide for their clients.
It is said that life is about the journey, not the destination. Although the destination in this case was completely awesome, the journey was second to none. Upon arrival in Tanzania, Wilburt (managing partner in Tanzania-good luck with the Boston Marathon!) and Gerry attended to our every need. The accommodations and food were excellent at the Kibo Palace and communications about each step of our trip were extremely clear. My husband and I decided to visit two local hospitals in Moshi and Gerry arranged the transportation for us along with arranging transportation for another member of our group who visited a children’s organization.
Our group was comprised of seven hikers and this journey was made all the more special by making the trek with them. We quickly became like family and from the first night at the hotel, it was apparent that this was going to be an amazing trip for all of us and that we would be a handful. We laughed until we cried and never shut up for the entire hike – except for the breach/summit day when we just focused our energies on breathing!
Leading our crazy crew was Josea – our lead guide. A true gentleman with knowledge that ran deep and wide. He constantly was checking on each of us to make sure that we were hydrated, feeling well both mentally and physically, and that we had everything we needed for success. Ephata – whose wit and infectious smile lightened everyone’s day. We still can’t believe that he did all of those push-ups on the summit with Chris after that climb! “Life is good!” Shedrack – who did not always talk but who was always listening and taking care of you and cracking jokes. So kind and funny (loved the Simba cave – D really expected the lion to come out). Mama Luis – the chef who is second to none on the mountain making the most amazing meals that 99% of people could not make at sea level! Gilbert (AKA my Angel Gabriel) who was my personal porter and Johannes (AKA Rooster) who was Dmitry’s personal porter made our climb so much more enjoyable. We still say “Sippy-sippy” to each other. Kanini – who was the camp manager who was the glue that held everything together and could sing a song and tell a story to make everyone laugh.
As far as service and attention to detail, at every camp that we came to, we noticed that Kiliwarriors had the nicest tents, bathrooms, a shower (this was amazing – and most of our group took 2 or 3 during the trek at multiple elevations!), biggest mess tent, and the list goes on. When it got cold, we were given hot water bottles to put in our sleeping bags. We checked our vitals three times a day. We had warm drinks delivered to our tents every morning, a bowl of warm water and soap for washing twice a day, popcorn and tea for a snack after a day’s hike – everything was done to make our journey feel special at every turn.
It took a staff of 49 porters/guides to get 7 people up the mountain – so the real heroes of the trip were all of them. They are super humans and one of the most fun things for Dmitry and me was listening to them all laughing and singing in their 2 tents at the end of the day’s hike. One could tell that they loved what they were doing and that they were having a great time with each other.
All seven of our party summited and we directly attribute it to our 7 day ascent and 2 day descent. I have a few friends who have tried to summit Kili and failed because of altitude sickness. They all did 5 and 6 day ascents. Having the extra time to acclimatize at Lava Tower and Glacier Camp was key because we all needed to get used to the altitude prior to the final push.
For Dmitry and me, this was a trip of a lifetime and we did not want to leave anything to chance. It was the hardest physical test that either of us have experienced – and we have run marathons and D has done extensive hiking and multi-day back packing trips in the White Mountains and Mt. McKinley. We wanted to go with the best company that was most interested in making sure that we had a safe and amazing journey. Although we could have gone with other cheaper companies, every penny was worth it!
We came to Tanzania as strangers and we left feeling like we had family there. Thank you to everyone at Kiliwarrior Expeditions for the gift of a memory that will last a lifetime!