sisters on barranco wall of mount kilimanjaro

My name is Angela Woods, and I’m the Manager of Guest Services here at Thomson. I just got back from an adventure that will forever be etched in my memory – trekking Kilimanjaro, the “Roof of Africa”! I undertook this challenge with my amazing sister, best friend and biggest cheerleader, Ashley.

For years, Kilimanjaro has been a bucket list item for both of us. We craved the physical challenge, the stunning scenery and the chance to bond in a truly unique way: from navigating the elements to sharing a room like when we were kids. I knew that if I was going to spend nine days on the mountain challenging myself physically and mentally, she was someone I could count on doing it with. Really, she’s the only person I’d want to do this with.

Training for the Climb

We knew Kilimanjaro wouldn’t be a walk in the park (literally). Months in advance, we committed to a rigorous training program. The training wasn’t just about getting physically fit; it was about building mental resilience too.

The Journey Begins

thomson staffer angela on mount kilimanjaro

Landing in Tanzania was exhilarating. My anticipation was through the roof – not only to embark on our trek but to show my sister the most beautiful country in the world. Tanzania is so special to me: not only do I spend my career helping guests experience the beauty of Tanzania, but I got married here just a few years ago.

angela at the kilimanjaro gate trailhead

The morning of our trek we drove to the Lemosho Gate, where we met our incredible guide team, a group of experienced and passionate Tanzanians who would become our lifeline on the mountain.

Our trekking group was so fun and so supportive. We had trekkers from all over the United States and all sorts of backgrounds: ultramarathoners, beginner trekkers and a biologist who showed our group all sorts of flora and fauna.

trekking group in the rainforest

The trek itself was an experience unlike any other. We trekked slowly, taking lots of breaks to rest and to explore our surroundings. Each day brought a new adventure– from navigating new landscapes like rainforests and volcanic rock slopes, to encountering unique wildlife, like brightly colored birds to playful monkeys. The constant change in scenery kept us on our toes, but the rewards were breathtaking – from panoramic views of untouched wilderness to the feeling of accomplishment after conquering a particularly challenging climb.

Overcoming Obstacles

My sister Ashley is an endurance machine. She tackles marathons like they’re Sunday strolls, so I figured this trek would be a breeze for her. Sure, she still physically trained for months, but her biggest challenge was being mentally prepared for the experience on the mountain – altitude sickness, sleeping night after night in a tent, the temperature swings, not having a shower. As the Manager of Guest services, I have a lot of conversations about physical training, but one thing I can’t stress enough is how mental preparation and reminding yourself what to expect on the mountain is so important.

ashley climbing barranco wall


trekking kilimanjaros alpine desert

We took frequent breaks where we’d crack jokes and share funny stories to keep her spirits high. It wasn’t just us though; our guides and porters recognized Ashley’s struggle immediately and were by her side every step of the way, offering encouragement, adjusting her pack and making sure she stayed hydrated and well-fed. Their attentiveness went a long way – it made a tough challenge so much more manageable.

Reaching the Summit: A Shared Triumph

The night before summit day I was eager to read the letter my coworker, Carolyn, packed me to congratulate me on my success, and eat my favorite chocolate covered pistachios that another coworker, Joel, gave me. Having a summit-day ritual with a few of my favorite things gave me something to look forward to my entire trek. Those delicious, sweet bites of candy and the kind words from my friend were the last boost of motivation I needed before setting off on the most challenging part of our trek.

notes of encouragement from coworkers

We woke up before the sun and set off to Uhuru Peak. Thin air, strong winds and sheer exhaustion added to the challenge of our summit day, but we were more hopeful and determined than ever to keep going. But that’s where the true power of sisterhood kicked in. Every time Ashley started to doubt herself, the big sister instinct in me kicked in and I pushed her to keep going. We motivated each other, one step at a time, until finally, after seven days of climbing, we reached Uhuru Peak, the highest point in Africa!

sun rises over mawenzi peak on kilimanjaro


summit morning on kilimanjaro


sisters at kilimanjaro summit

The feeling of accomplishment – of standing on the roof of Africa together – was indescribable. Tears welled up in our eyes as we hugged. It was a moment of pure joy, resilience and sisterly love. After exchanging hugs and pictures, our group of newfound friends celebrated our accomplishment by doing push-ups on top of the summit to show our true strength.

More Than Just a Climb

Our Kilimanjaro trek wasn’t just about reaching the summit; it was about pushing ourselves beyond our perceived limitations. It was about the incredible support we received from our guide team, fellow trekkers and each other. It was about witnessing the stunning beauty of Tanzania with my sister.

thomson mountain staff with trekking group


sisters support each other on kilimanjaro trek

Back home now, we’re both a little sore, a lot tired, but filled with a sense of accomplishment that overrides any aches. Climbing Kilimanjaro wasn’t just a trip; it was a challenge we faced together. We celebrated each milestone, big and small, because we knew we were achieving them as sisters. This experience has forged a new kind of bond between us, reminding us of the power of teamwork, determination and the unwavering support that comes with true sisterhood.


So, are you ready for your next adventure?
Call us to plan your unforgettable climb!