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Monkey Business

This year I set out to conquer Mount Kilimanjaro. I wasn’t the outdoors type so this was a challenge and a half for me. I had no idea how much my time on the mountain would change me.

I started working at the Nasio Trust in June 2014 and went to experience the fundraising challenge that has transformed the Nasio Trust, enabling it to undertake life changing work. When told I would have a ‘real wilderness experience’ I was nervous rather than excited, after all, what is the wilderness like and doesn’t everybody prefer their home comforts really? I hadn’t seen much wilderness living in Oxfordshire! Even my training was spent in a gym walking uphill on a treadmill with a rucksack on my back!

Kilimanjaro really stops you in your tracks and forces you to take a deep breath and look around you. From the luscious colours in the lower rainforest region to the striking view of the summit itself. The wilderness is everywhere and you share your experience with the few people travelling with you.

The slow pace you practice climbing the mountain to acclimatize enables you to just take in what’s happening around you. My favourite day was spent in the rain forest, I was lucky enough to see Black and White Colobus Monkeys, who swish their long hair in a way that could rival any Hollywood actress on a shampoo advert. It was amazing to have such an authentic experience of wildlife, the monkeys were not bothered by people and I can only describe their behaviour as ‘chilling’. They seemed very relaxed, eating, lounging and just hanging out, apart from the odd and seemingly dramatic hair swish as they leapt between trees above us. This wilderness encounter opened my eyes to what we can experience in the world around us if we just take it slowly and look around.

As we climbed a little higher we saw Blue Monkeys, their hair styles were less impressive but they came much closer to us so I got a really good look at them. They mainly seemed to scamper along the ground and they definitely surprised more than a few climbers by suddenly darting along next to them. I couldn’t describe them as friendly or unfriendly, rather they were just there and accepted we were too. In the early hours at the campsite you can hear them all calling to each other, it’s loud and was so unusual compared to the night time sounds I was used to. It confirmed that I was really in the thick of it. It was a real insight in to life in the wilderness, where you make an effort to leave no trace behind you. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

This post is listed in Climb Stories

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