Tanzanian guide Andrew Kitma and UW Oshkosh alumnus Clint Dorn spoke about their nine-day trek to the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro Thursday at the Multicultural Education Center.
Kitma, who has been serving as a climbing guide for the company Kilimanjaro Direct for 23 years, has been to the mountain’s summit about 300 times.
At the event, Kitma and Dorn told the story of their journey hiking up the mountain together in February 2017, touching on topics such as battling the elements, handling emergencies, forming bonds with fellow climbers and fighting to reach the top.
Kitma said Kilimanjaro is not only the tallest mountain in Africa but also the highest free-standing mountain in the world, meaning it’s not part of a mountain range.
Kitma said despite its height, the mountain doesn’t require any professional training to climb.
“Kilimanjaro is a pure non-technical climbing mountain, while other mountains, they need more techniques and you need to be more professional to do,” Kitma said. “Kilimanjaro is not like that and that’s why Kilimanjaro gives a chance to everyone. Even the people with physical problems, they can climb Mount Kilimanjaro.”
Kitma said the final stretch just before reaching the summit is both the most difficult and his favorite part of the trek.
“I love going up to the summit because this is the most challenging part,” Kitma said. “It’s where you can see people; they can cry just because they’re happy, or otherwise they can cry just because they feel like they’re facing something difficult.”
The duo also spoke about their adventures in Tanzania following the hike, including their visit to the Maasai village and safari in the Serengeti.
Kitma said the Serengeti, which means “an endless plain” in Maasai language, is one of the largest parks in Africa, covering nearly 14,000 square feet. The park is home to a variety of species, including all of Africa’s big five game animals: elephants, rhinos, lions, leopards and buffalo.
According to the Maasai Association, there are about 500,000 Maasai people occupying about 62,000 square miles of land along northern Tanzania and southern Kenya.
Dorn said the Maasai people live with a mix of tradition and modernization.
“They’re a modern tribe, meaning they stick strongly to many of their traditions, but they still have one foot in modernization,” Dorn said. “For example, you’ll see them out with their animals, dressed in traditional gear, but they’ll have a cell phone, and they’ll be texting somebody.”
UWO junior Nicholas Metoxen said the mix of culture and the outdoors is what drew him to the event.
“I’m actually interested in lots of the outdoor activities around the world, and I’m also interested in lots of different cultures,” Metoxen said. “So I thought this was a good combination of both of those things at once.”
Dorn said he and Kitma had initially discussed the idea of arranging the event on the trip 11 years ago.
“He talked about on the mountain that he wanted to come back and visit me and wanted to share more about his country, and I said, ‘Yeah, why don’t you come?’” Dorn said. “And I said, ‘I know they have the cultural center here. I’ll see if I can talk to them.’ I didn’t really think he was gonna show up, but then he actually did, and I was like, ‘Oh, I guess I’ll try to set this up.’”
Metoxen said what he found most interesting was Kitma’s knowledge and experience as a guide.
“I think the most fascinating thing is how much information he’s accumulated in the 23 years he’s been doing it, and just going up and down those mountains all those times,” Metoxen said. “You know, most people dream of doing that maybe once. He gets to do that for a job, and I just think that’s very awesome.”
Kitma said the nine day trip package runs about $4,380 per person. This package includes gear, meals, transport and hotel accommodations, camping equipment and guide and park fees.