You can see Africa unfurl for hundreds of miles below a sea of clouds from Kilimanjaro’s peak. Robert (Vince) Greece wanted a unique backdrop for his proposal, and this was it.
His plan was to reach the summit, pop the question and officially begin his life together with his longtime girlfriend Brittany Thomas. Of course, sometimes plans change on the fly.
Before you get any ideas, Brittany and Vince are happily engaged now. In fact, Brittany described the proposal on Kili as, “one of the happiest moments of [her] life.”
Still, there are a few things trekkers should know before planning a proposal on the roof of Africa, especially if you think everything will go off without a hitch.
1. There are no Showers on Kili
If you haven’t trekked seriously before, bear in mind you’ll be hiking for several days through rugged terrain with zero opportunities to shower. All things considered, you might not look or feel like a million bucks for the big question.
That made no difference to Brittany. In fact, it may have added something to the experience.
“It was a complete surprise… him asking me to marry him was probably the furthest thing from my mind,” Brittany said. “But as far as being ‘prepared’ to love him for the rest of forever, that’s been on my mind since we started dating.”
2. You Can’t Update Your Facebook Status
Vince and Brittany at the start of their trek
Changing that relationship status and posting pictures on Instagram is important to some. Others prefer a little privacy. Vince falls into the second camp.
“I liked the fact that we would be without the hoopla of Facebook and Instagram and the 10 million calls and texts from friends and family for a few days before we put the info out there,” Vince said. “It could be a forced secret for a few days.”
That’s exactly what it was. They took a few pictures and spent the rest of the trip enjoying the news with just each other.
3. Keep the Ring Close
The sunrise over Mawenzi peak on summit morning was their second favorite moment of the trek!
For those planning a proposal like this, there are two important things to consider, according to Vince. The first is ring safety.
“It’s obviously an expensive item, and you don’t want to lose it,” Vince said. “Before I left I had the ring fully insured in case of any loss or damage.”
Vince wasn’t all that concerned about the ring on Kili. It was easy to conceal, and he kept it on his person at all times. He was less certain about securing it in transit or while going through security.
“I did keep it in my carry-on at all times,” Vince said. “Any time my bag was not physically on my person, I had eyes on it, watching whoever was handling it like a hawk.”
Luckily, he didn’t run into any obstacles, and the surprise wasn’t spoiled.
4. Altitude Changes Everything
Vince and Brittany at Lava Tower Camp, where Vince planned on proposing as a backup
The second important thing is altitude. It’s very ordinary for trekkers to experience headaches, nausea and fatigue at high altitudes. Some experience symptoms more intensely than others, and that might wash out the significance of a proposal. Vince realized pretty quickly waiting for the summit wasn’t going to work.
“Initially I planned on proposing at the top, but by day two I threw that out the window,” Vince said. “Proposing would have been a waste, as Brittany was feeling the altitude pretty heavily on top.”
Luckily, he was comfortable changing the game plan on the fly, which goes hand-in-hand with the last tip.
5. Wait Until You Feel the Right Moment
Kilimanjaro is filled with beautiful sights. Incredible starry nights, lush rainforest trails, sweeping valley views above the cloud line – it’s one stunning backdrop after another. Vince simply waited until the mood was right.
“The plan changed to Lava Tower because I figured that would be a nice location. Then when we got there for our lunch stop, the mood didn’t seem right,” Vince said. “That night, we arrived at the base of the Barranco Wall, and the campsite was actually very beautiful with amazing views of the mountain and a valley below, so I said, ‘why not now?’”
“We just got to Barranco camp after having lunch at Lava Tower and we were in our tent changing,” Brittany said. “To my surprise, he starts saying he had something to ask me. ‘Do you want to get married,’ he said, and before the question was even finished he had opened a tiny red patent box that held the most breathtaking sparkler I’ve ever seen.”
“Before I could finish she said something between ‘yes,’ ‘oh my god’ and a gasping noise,” Vince recalled.
Brittany remembers shaking with excitement, thinking how she was on an amazing trip and climbing her first mountain.
Congratulations to Vince and Brittany! We are so incredibly happy for you both and excited to have been a part of your engagement!