Years ago, out of the blue, my daughter told me that she wanted to climb Kilimanjaro with me. Last Christmas I surprised her when I said we were going to climb it in 2015, though I had no idea at the time how I was going to make this happen.

I called a friend who’s job is organizing high-end global excursions, and she immediately said Thomson was the way to go. Although it was a bit more pricey, my main criteria were: (1) safety, (2) summit success, (3) beauty and (4) comfort.

It took only modest effort to learn that the 9 day Western Approach with Thomson was the best choice given those criteria, and our experience on the mountain exceeded my already high expectations. Amy provided fantastic pre-departure support to make sure we had the papers, the gear, and the knowledge to be as prepared as possible for the climb.

Our 12-guest group of strangers were supported, educated, and entertained by a staff of over 60, including 6 guides and 51 porters.  We bonded from the outset. The guides and other staff were as much a part of the team as the guests. We shared stories, philosophies, laughs, and even tears as we trekked, ate, and relaxed together. I was amazed at how well Gabe and the assistant guides kept us feeling like a cohesive team despite our differences. Our different food preferences, fitness levels, and musical tastes were nothing the guides couldn’t accommodate, and they did it so artfully that it was almost imperceptible that there were so many unique needs being met.

The guides kept us informed and motivated, and really stepped it up on summit day with their physical and emotional support, especially the singing all the way to 19,000 feet. We went very slowly, but the reward was that everyone could stay together and summit together.

We all felt proud that we were part of a team that made it to the top! And my daughter, Julia, and I shared an experience that we’ll never forget.

It was a great trip.