By Debi Lander

The challenge of climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro attracts many mere mortals as well as adventure enthusiasts. It’s the biggest freestanding mountain in the world, rising over 19,000 feet. For those who train, it is doable, unlike the monster Everest — but I didn’t visit Tanzania with that in mind. I was in Africa on a Volunteer Vacation with Discover Corps. Nonetheless, I wanted to see the famed peak.

Visibility is typically difficult from the Moshi area, the location of the Discover Corps’ home-base. Most days the mountain hides behind clouds, only occasionally playing peek-a-boo. But Day 8 of my Tanzania itinerary called for an excursion to the mountain.

Snip's Tree and stump service over 25 years experience

My group boarded a bus and headed out, passing brown, dusty surroundings. As soon as the incline rose slightly, we encountered vibrant greenery. We continued climbing higher in the hills through lush vegetation. Huge banana trees towered overhead shading the ground under their palms.

We stopped in a touristy little town that sits at about 5,000 feet. It rests in a humid rain forest and the mist was swirling around us. Alas, the visibility was even worse on this day. Nevertheless, we picked up our guides: hearty sorts that head pilgrimages up the peak.

The plan for my group was to continue uphill and park just below the National Park boundaries. We’d trek to a few scenic waterfalls, something I didn’t associate with mountain climbing.

We began on a gravel path that soon became narrow and as slippery as a fish right off the line. I was happy I wore my Gore-Tex jacket because the air was chilly. I had to plant my footing with care, especially on the downhill portions. I vacillated between basking in the jungle-like beauty, snapping photos and not slowing down those behind me. I also had to focus on not falling off the inclined path.

The first waterfall we encountered sparkled through the spray hanging in the air. We proceeded onward, the way becoming more perilous and steep. The tricky part was that dampness made traction difficult. Thankfully a few men offered stabilizing hands.

We trudged on, carefully balancing and traversing rocks over a shallow but flowing waterway. Nearby, we rested at another wondrous waterfall cascading over multiple falls. Flowering plants like impatiens peeked out of the nooks and crannies.

To proceed onward, we had to ascend one vertical, treacherous rise. Whew! We were then above the waterfalls and could stroll on through grassy fields and small farms growing mainly bananas and some corn, beans and coffee. It was peaceful there, far from the sounds of the city.

Eventually, we returned near our starting point and enjoyed a picnic-style lunch. We discovered the local bottled beer, Kilimanjaro, and had to taste it.

I ventured on to the Visitors Center to learn all about the famed mountain. I also dropped into the gift shop where I bought a tee shirt emblazoned with a drawing of a Kilimanjaro beer bottle and the slogan, “If you can’t climb it… Drink it!” Exactly my sentiments.

Eventually, my group made their way to the Marangu Gate, one of the official starting points into Kilimanjaro National Park. Our guide explained that most hikers take four days for the ascent and another two to come down.

He said he wakes the climbers around midnight the night before they reach the summit. I asked if that was so they can watch the sunrise from the top.

“No,” he said, “it’s so they don’t see the trail. Once they arrive on top, they have to come back down.”

Hmmm. Mountain climbing has never been my thing. Need I say more?

Visit to read more of local travel writer Debi Lander’s stories and travel tips.


Photo courtesy Debi Lander.

Hikers begin the trek at Mt. Kilimanjaro.


  • Smiles by Glenos & Hadfic Orthodontists
  • I.T. Promise Inc. Computer Services Professional Computer Services business and residential
  • Pavers concrete and more Free estimates
  • Snip's Tree and stump service over 25 years experience
  • The right cleaners, LLC House cleaning services
  • Premier Homes Realty Inc. Michael Taylor and Tari Taylor
  • Quality Eye care 25+ years of experience
  • Vote Rod Hardwick for st johns county sheriff Working together for the strength of our community during challenging times
  • Preddy law firm estate planning, wills, trusts, probate, guardianship
  • Starling Nocatee, 360 degree virtual tour
  • Advertise in our May Issue The Creek Line
  • Staverman Hearing Centers Hear loud and clear
  • Support Community Journalism The Creek Line
  • Tutoring club of st johns. Text tutoring to 484848 for a chance to win one month of free tutoring
  • Being Well Florida News line is excited to introduce Being Well magazine
  • Westminster Woods on Julington creek. Live well. Be Happy
  • Have questions about your medicare benefits? Call a SHINE volunteer.
  • Ellegant earth solutions complete lawn maintenance with 28 years experience, complete lawn maintenance
  • Prudential Financial Planning Services with Andrew Laino
  • Vote for Dr. Erick Aguilar Republican candidate U.S. House Fl 4th district
  • Academy of Dance Open House & Registration August 19th and 20th 3pm to 6pm Classes start August 24th! Ballet, Pointem Jazz, Hip Hop Contemporary, Modern, Lyrical, Music Theatre, Vocal
  • Affordable Water
  • All About Ballroom
  • Do you only want cremation?
  • Craig Funeral services, Funeral, Crematory, Memorial Park
  • Cronin Ace Hardware
  • Vote for Christian Whitehurst! for St. Johns county commissioner, District 1
  • Doug Nunnery, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices,
  • Finding the right doctor just got easier, Dr. Levine Baptist primary care
  • DIscount up to 30% Jim Register state farm agent
  • Nemetz Dental Associates! Your new smile awaits!
  • Deerwood Academy register now for 2020-2021 VPK
  • Eye center of st augustine, The eye surgery Center of St Augustine
  • Famous Automotive and tire center
  • Fruit Cove Baptist Church
  • The Goddard School summer camp
  • Havana Printing and office supply Call us today for all your cutome printing needs
  • Ian MacDonald Mortgage loan originator with Regions Mortgage
  • Julington Creek Chiropractic & Wellness Center P.A. serving st. johns county for nearly 21 years
  • Wild Birds Unlimited Nature shop. Have you watered your birds lately?
  • Creeks Air Conditioning & Heating. We service all makes and models for residential and commerical!
  • Crosswinds Veterinary Hospital. Preventative Medicine and wellness, Surgery, Dentistry, Labs and Imaging, Farm Animal Medicine, In-Patient and Emergency Care
  • Deborah Lennon, AAMS. Edward Jones Making sense of investing
  • Florida Waterways Inc. Your trusted Waterway Advisers
  • Julington Creek Family Dentistry. Implant Cosmetic and Restoration Dentistry. We are following Advanced Safety protocols set forth by CDC, OSHA and ADA guidelines for dental practices
  • Alicia Washington for Circuit Judge
  • Re-elect Mike Orfinger for circuit judge
  • Concrete Works! Free Estimates, driveways, Patios, Walkways, Concrete removal, Driveway extension, Pavers
  • Family Remodeling Contractors! Bath, Kitchen &ADA Remodeling
  • River Garden Senior Services, However and whenever you need us we're here
  • Starlight Gymnastics! Our #1 priority is your children!
  • Chris Strickland for ST Johns county sheriff!
  • Sugar Bear Antique Mall Summer spectacular sale July 10th-12th
  • Baptist Health, Great tools for motherhood
  • A Green Cleaner, Free pickup and delivery to your home!
  • Dottie Lay. When selling or buying choose the top sales agent that works for you!
  • HarborChase independent & assisted living Memory Care Mandarin. Your safety and peace of mind is always our Top Priority
  • Fieldd Cadillac of St. Augustine
  • Advertise your business in The CreekLine!
  • Bring your print projects to us! The UPS Store
  • Westminster St. Augustine Gracious living a world apart
  • Willie Jewell's BBQ! Every meal comes with a side of southern hospitality
  • Advertise your business in The CreekLine!
  • Advertise your business in The CreekLine!
  • Advertise your business in The CreekLine!
  • Havana Printing 904-447-5021