This August, the newest member of our Kilimanjaro team, Rachel, is going to make her first attempt to summit Kilimanjaro. Follow her progress as she blogs about training for her trek and prepares for her trip to Tanzania. Look for Climb with Rachel posts here in the coming weeks. First, meet Rachel!


Rachel will attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro in August

I just found out I’m climbing Kilimanjaro this August and I’m beyond excited! After months of studying the mountain, its routes and the logistics involved with our treks, I cannot wait to experience the mountain for myself, first-hand.

I wouldn’t say my experience screams mountaineer but I do have a passion for hiking and the outdoors. Growing up in coastal Texas, which happens to be the flattest region of the state, didn’t exactly provide an optimal environment for hiking. In fact, if you asked me to describe a mountain when I was a child, I would say they were “buildings with trees on them!” Don’t worry, I’ve become much more familiar with mountains since then!

While I was in college in Seattle, day hikes in the Cascade Mountains got me hooked on hiking. Inspired by the mountains of the northwest, I sought out hiking opportunities wherever I traveled, including China – where I lived and worked – and the beautiful mountains of New Zealand. Since moving to the Boston area, I look forward to my weekend excursions to New Hampshire’s White Mountains, which happens to be a perfect place for training for Kili!

Kilimanjaro will be my first high-altitude experience, as the majority of my active background lies at lower elevations…at sea-level, literally! I’ve been a competitive swimmer since I was a kid and recently became an open water distance swimmer – I will be swimming my longest distance yet this summer: 10 miles! Training for open water in New England has been a bit chilly (the ocean doesn’t tend to warm up too much here), but I love the challenges the ocean presents with unpredictable factors like waves, currents, fish and seaweed. It’s so dynamic! When I’m not open water training, I like to join my teammates of the Nahant Knuckleheads; we swim in the ocean when it’s warm and do polar plunges when it’s not!


Thomson Safari staffer trains for Kilimanjaro with challenging experiences as an open-water swimmer


Like many of our guests, I’m headed to Tanzania as a solo traveler, and know that I will be in the best, most capable hands on the mountain; I am so excited to finally meet our hard-working guides and porters. In the meantime, I have been getting encouragement and lots of support from the staff here at Thomson Safaris, who have 10+ summits among them.

I’ll keep you posted on my training as I go. My regimen has been set up by Fit For Trips, who have been great about creating a custom program to incorporate the activities I already do and adding Kili-specific exercises, which will help me transform from a seasoned swimmer and casual hiker into a high-altitude climber!

Look for more posts as we follow Rachel through her training program. If you’ve climbed Kili before, wish her luck, share a story or offer words of wisdom via posting a comment below!