Anyone who has successfully summited Kilimanjaro has one experience in common.
Not the mental struggle of pushing yourself harder than you thought possible.
Not the unforgettable moment when you finally take in the view from the “Roof of Africa.”
It’s the Jambo song.
Sung by your guides and porters after a successful trek, it’s an exuberant, joyful song, accompanied by clapping and the voices of the entire crew. But if you knew what it meant, you might realize it’s not ALL sunshine and smiles:
Jambo! Jambo bwana!
Habari gani? Mzuri sana!
Kilimanjaro? Hakuna matata!
Tembea pole pole. Hakuna matata!
Utafika salama. Hakuna matata!
Kunywa maji mengi. Hakuna matata!
Kilimanjaro, mlima mrefu sana.
Na Mawenzi, na Mawenzi,
Na Mawenzi, mlima mrefu sana.
Ewe nyoka, ewe nyoka!
Ewe nyoka, mbona waninzunguka.
Wanizunguka wataka kunila nyama
Hello! Hello sir!
How are you? Very well!
Guests, you are welcome!
Kilimanjaro? No trouble!
Walk slowly, slowly. No trouble!
You’ll get there safe. No trouble!
Drink plenty of water. No trouble!
Kilimanjaro, such a high mountain.
Also Mawenzi, also Mawenzi!
Also Mawenzi such a high mountain.
Like a snake, like a snake!
Like a snake you wrap around me
You wrap around me, you wrap around me
Trying to eat me like a piece of meat
The song begins with a few tips useful for any trekker: walk slowly, drink plenty of water, and don’t worry too much about it!
But by the end, the mountain seems menacing, enormously high and doing its best to chew you up and spit you out.
No wonder they sing this after you’ve made it to the top and back again…
Semi-sinister lyrics aside, singing the Kilimanjaro song is a joyous occasion, filled with laughter, dancing (from porters and guests alike), and celebration. Get excited for the mountain with this video from a previous Thomson trek (and listen to the song’s advice, so you’ll have the best chance to hear it live from Kilimanjaro!). Thinking of the celebration that awaits you back at the park gate may be just the motivation you need when you’re struggling to reach the top!