5 Ways Kilimanjaro Changed My Life:

October 24, 2013 at 11:51 am Leave a comment

by Daniel Dorr, author of Kissing Kilimanjaro: Leaving it All on Top of Africa

Several years ago I flew off to Tanzania to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro and try to impress a beautiful woman. Initially it was just supposed to be a vacation, a chance to check something off my “bucket list” of things to do before I die. But as I look back on my life since that amazing trip to Tanzania, I have realized that I’m a better man today than the one who stepped off that plane so nervous and excited all those years ago.

It wasn’t my victory in reaching the top of the highest freestanding mountain in the world that really impacted me. It was the people and culture of Tanzania. The warmth, laughter and support of the Tanzanian people have left a lasting impression on me in many ways and changed my life for the better.

Here are 5 ways climbing Kilimanjaro with Zara Tours changed my life:

1.  I laugh more freely – One the first things that struck me about the people of Tanzania was how eager they were to laugh, to simply enjoy the moment. As I climbed Kilimanjaro and porters passed me carrying heavy loads they always took a few moments to joke with me and share a laugh. Even under the burden of 60 pound loads these men took the time to share a smile.

2.  I enjoy life more fully – Almost every person I met in Tanzania seemed to live life fully. Yes, there was poverty and challenges beyond my ability to appreciate. But that didn’t stop people from sharing a laugh and enjoy the few things they did have access to.

3.  I welcome new friends more openly – At one point on our travels Lisa (the beautiful woman) and I ended up traveling on a local bus across Tanzania. We were the only white people on a bus packed to overflowing. At first I have to admit, I felt a bit intimidated and out of place. But as the bus cruised down the road we began to feel welcomed by these people; these strangers. We were all on a journey together, so why not enjoy each other’s company? Smiles slowly emerged and we were welcomed as a fellow traveler, not shunned as foreigners.

4.  I try more new things – Traveling through Tanzania and up Kilimanjaro we got lost, were confronted by “strange” people, tasted new foods and even got sick on the top of the African continent. But in the end, it all worked out. I tried something new, something a lot bigger than I had ever tried before. And it was wonderful. Thanks to the warmth and generosity of the Tanzanian people we got through all the tough times and had a life-changing experience. We learned to be brave and try a few new things, even something as big as a mountain.

5. Appreciate things more – As an American watching the news, my view of East Africa was pretty bleak. But my experience in Tanzania was quite different. I know there is plenty of poverty and problems in Tanzania. But I was struck by how much people appreciated the few things they did have, and how they appreciated each other more than anything. These weren’t a “poor” people waiting for people like me to give them a hand out. They were proud, hopeful and lots of fun. They were my teachers and I learned to appreciate all the little things I had and the people in my life.

Thank you Tanzania and Zara Tours! I’m a better man today because of you.

Daniel Dorr is the author of Kissing Kilimanjaro: Leaving it All on Top of Africa.  He climbed Kilimanjaro twice with Zara Tours and still cherishes the time he spent with owner Zainab, guides Mohamed and Mndeme and his wonderful porters Mik, Juma, Patrice and Ally.  

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