HE SCALED MT KILIMANJARO 35 TIMES, BURIED HIS WIFE ON ROOFTOP

January 3, 2015 at 12:03 pm Leave a comment

macon & lanka

The North Carolina native, Macon Dunnagan (R) posses for a photo with the writer of this feature
The government initiative in promoting Tanzanian potentials in the US has registered remarkable achievements after a 54-year old American for the 35th time descended from the top of Mt Kilimanjaro (5,895m ASL), Africa’s tallest free standing mountain for the cause.

The North Carolina native, Macon Dunnagan, continues to prove that age is not a factor as he did his 35th climb to the “Roof of Africa”, Tanzania’s Mt Kilimanjaro, and the world’s tallest freestanding mountain at 5,895m above the Sea level (19,341 feet) where he claims to ‘bury’ the remains of his late wife!

Recently, he broke a record for making the most Kilimanjaro summits in one month when he climbed four times in 28 days. At 54 years old, he serves as an inspiration for others as he still has climbs scheduled through 2017.

Dunnagan made his first ascent in February 1999 with little hiking and no mountain climbing experience and has yet to look back. He has since become a Kilimanjaro specialist and expedition director for Zara Tanzania adventures, a Tanzanian tour company based in Moshi.

In 2013, the Tanzania Tourist Board named Dunnagan as a Goodwill Ambassador of Tourism for Tanzania.
Speaking with Guardian in exclusive interview at Marangu gate on mid-September 2014 during his 35th expedition when ascending from the highest peak of Mt Kilimanjaro-Uhuru Peak (5,895 m ASL), Dunnagan explained that he felt superior as he managed to lead a group of nine Rotarians from different Rotary Clubs in the United States of America to climb Mt Kilimanjaro to raise funds to end up polio worldwide.

When asked why Dunnagan climbs the same mountain over and over again, he replied “I enjoy taking other people up Kilimanjaro and giving them an appreciation for the mountain, what it is, the environment and the people of Tanzania.”

In 2005, his wife was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and she succumbed to the disease in August, 2007. He has since dedicated a number of his climbs to raising awareness and funds for ovarian cancer research and treatments by partnering with ovarian cancer expedition of hope.

“I do remember, before my beloved wife passed away, she insisted me to bury her on top of Mt Kilimanjaro. So in 1999 when I climbed Mt Kilimanjaro from the first time I came with some ‘dusts of the remains’ of my wife’s body and burry it on top of Mt Kilimanjaro…” Dunnagan explained exclusively.

According to him, he has also “tackled” polio, bringing new awareness through his summits in collaboration with Rotary District 7680’s “End Polio Now.”

Though only a few countries still feel the effects of polio, Dunnagan believes it’s important to continue with eradication efforts until the disease is extinct. He has helped raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for both causes and will continue to do so for as long as possible.

In addition to his mountain climbing skills, Dunnagan is also a published author. Sons of Kilimanjaro are his debut novel and it details the summit of four men up Mt Kilimanjaro.

Commenting on the ‘uniqueness’ of climbing Mt Kilimanjaro, Macon Dunnagan explains “Though it’s my 35 time to scale Mt Kilimanjaro to the top, I’m now feeling very glad as I managed to lead a group of nine Rotarians who scaled Mt Kilimanjaro for the cause…,” he boasted.

He recalls that last year’s Mt Kilimanjaro charity expeditions dubbed ‘Mt Kilimanjaro 2014 Climb to end Polio Now’ started scaling up the mountain on Monday of September 8, 2014 and descend on Saturday of September 13, this year.

According to Dunnagan, in last year’s expedition, they had expected to raise a total of USD 300,000 that would go directly to the Rotary International End Polio Now project.

“In 2012, the climbers raised over USD106, 000 to help end polio whereby 100 per cent of the contributions will go directly to the Rotary International End Polio Now project…” they explained.

He said they started their 2014 Mt Kilimanjaro charity climb through Rongai route under the guidance of the professional Mt Kilimanjaro tour guides from ZARA Tanzania Adventures including Edwin Kilawe.

An official from the Tanzania Tourist Board who was among the people who officially received the expedition Augustina Makoye explained that a report from Karen Hoffman, President of the Bradford Group based in the US who is also the Tanzania Tourist Board representative noted that he will climb the mountain to attract more travelers to Tanzania to see the country’s exceptional blend of scenery of wildlife and human culture.

According to her, Macon Dunnagan, continues to prove that age is not a factor as he plans his 35th climb to the “Roof of Africa”, the world’s tallest freestanding mountain at 19,341 feet.

When asked why Dunnagan climbs the same mountain over and over again, he replied “I enjoy taking other people up the Kilimanjaro and giving them an appreciation for the mountain, what it is, the environment and the people of Tanzania.”

Elaborating on Tanzania, he said, Tanzania is the largest country in East Africa that is focused on wildlife conservation and sustainable tourism, with approximately 28 percent of the land protected by the government, the largest percentage of any country in the world.

Presently it boasts of 16 national parks and 32 game reserves, 50 game controlled areas, one special conservation area (the Ngorongoro) and three marine parks.

It is home to the Serengeti, to the “Great Animal Migration” that was named the New 7th Wonder of the World by USA Today and ABC TV’s Good Morning America, the world acclaimed Ngorongoro Crater, often referred to as the “Eden of Africa” and the “Eighth Wonder of the World.

Others include Olduvai Gorge, the cradle of mankind, Selous, the world’s largest Game Reserve, Ruaha, now the second largest National Park in Africa, the Spice Islands of Zanzibar, and seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Most important for visitors, the Tanzanian people with rich history and diverse blend of cultures are warm and friendly. Tanzania is an oasis of peace and stability with a democratically elected and stable government.

For his part, the Kilimanjaro National Park (KINAPA) Chief Park Warden, Erastus Lufungulo recommended the role played by Dunnagan in the tourism sector of Tanzania worldwide, particularly in the US.

“This man deserves to be named as a goodwill tourism ambassador of Tanzania in the US as he played a big role in the sector worldwide…” he explained.

He also recommended the role played by the Rotary Clubs worldwide in various community development activities.

For her part, the Managing Director of ZARA Tanzania Adventures (Zara Tours company) Zainab Ansell said that her company was established in 1987, and currently the leading Mt Kilimanjaro and Meru outfitter in Tanzania and one of the largest safari operators in the country.

She added that through Macon Dunnagan expeditions Tanzania will have more tourism potentials in the US and the America in general.
It is home to the tallest mountain in Africa, the legendary Mt Kilimanjaro; The Serengeti, home to the “Great Animal Migration” that was named the James Lanka is a Science and Environmental Journalist based in Moshi-Kilimanjaro Tanzania.

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