Iza’s Family Kilimanjaro Climb – What happened…
Our Owner/Founder Iza Minkiewicz recently travelled to Tanzania to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro with her husband Marcin and their 10 year old son Filip. Their goal was to help raise money for a nearby community classroom. Find out in Iza’s own words exactly what it was like…
“When I close my eyes and think about it I can still feel it – intimidating nature, vast land and large birds flying around, hunting for food. It was simply incredible, overpowering and somehow reminded me of our trip to Siberia we did many years ago.
I was very anxious just days before. Franticly packing and ticking off all the essentials from the very long lists of items to buy, making sure we took care of everything we needed: vaccinations, visas, logistics, etc.
And as if by some magic we were suddenly there, in Moshi, Tanzania relaxing on the porch of our hotel, from where we were about to set off the next day. All we could feel was the underlying anxiety about what was ahead of us.
After a few hours of driving and dealing with all the formalities of the trip we finally started our big climb. We set off from Lemosho gate at 2,100m above the sea level.
The first lesson we learnt very early on from our guides was a local Swahili mantra – “Pole.. Pole” (pole-ay pole-ay) which means “slowly, slowly”. We were constantly confronted with this phrase as if to temper our early energy and enthusiasm. It quickly proved critically important. Not only is it a tip to preserve energy and give your body time to adjust to the altitude, it also reminds you to slow down and appreciate your surroundings and each other – something we often take for granted.
We had nowhere to rush to, nothing else to think about other than what was happening now and so much time to talk and listen to each other. It was simply wonderful and finally we were all at peace.
You could feel an enormous positivity from day one. People were very friendly and always smiling and always singing. Together with the three of us we had an incredible team of 14 people – guides, porters to carry everything we needed, cook, toilet operator (Ohh yes a BIG job and so appreciated by me personally!) – simply a little village that travelled with us.
We trekked for a full 4 days ascending through beautiful rainforest into the more open moorland and up through the clouds into a rocky desert. We constantly admired changing landscapes as we walked though different climate zones, feeling as if we were walking on the moon on day 4 surrounded by rocks and some massive plants appearing from nowhere. We caught our first glimpse of the snow-capped peak of Mt Kilimanjaro on day 2 and enjoyed fantastic views of it from our tent at Shira 1 camp.
In the morning of day 3, at 3,610m, it was already cold and difficult to get going but our guides led us with a motivating warm up song and dance. We trekked upwards for an excruciating 9 hours, spurred on by the sight of the majestic peak in front of us. That evening I started to feel the first signs of mountain sickness but I was hoping I would recover during the night.
But I did not, unfortunately. Day 4 we trekked from 3,840m to the Lava Tower at 4,600m and all throughout I was battling nausea and severe headache but with the encouragement of my boys and our team I managed to push through and we made it to Baranco camp at 3,900m.
I slept the night at Baranco Camp, hoping to feel better in the morning and continue to the summit but unfortunately, I only got worse and had to take the heart breaking decision on day 5 to quickly descend the mountain to avoid a dangerous threat to my health.
“Mission aborted” we called it. Was it really happening? Fine, we knew that one or more of us would likely get a bit sick and perhaps even not make it to the top but I did not plan that to be me! Perhaps our 10 year old son Filip would struggle a bit – but not me!
But yes, in the end it was me. Hakuna Matata, another Swahili phrase you hear a lot, means ‘Do not worry’. I see its importance now in everyday life when we fail to achieve what we planned and don’t hit our targets.
While our main goal was of course to reach the summit at the 5,895m, it was also to give back to the local community and raise money for a new classroom for a nearby community centre in the Tsavo region of Kenya. But what we learned and gained along the way was just as valuable.
If we succeed in our goal of raising £3,000 for the community centre in Itinyi Valley then the people of the Tsavo region will also have gained something important. If you would like to donate – please visit our just giving page. Every little donation is highly appreciated and we cannot be more thankful to those of you who already supported us.
My son Filip reflected afterwards that failure is what motivates us to keep trying and keep dreaming, and we wish the best of luck to all people who dare to dream.”
In the words of Conrad Anker
“The summit is what drives us, but the climb itself is what matters”