By now, we all know that the coronavirus has had a profound and lasting impact on the world around us. Since the pandemic spread to a global level back in March, entire industries have ground to a halt, while numerous countries and regions have gone into lockdown. Naturally, the travel industry has been amongst the hardest hit, losing a projected $3 trillion in revenue and 121 million jobs worldwide.
Amongst those who are currently either without work or seeing very limited demand for their services are the porters and guides who operate on Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. As Africa’s highest peak—and a top adventure travel destination—the mountain draws thousands of visitors in a given year. But with travel greatly restricted, those numbers have been reduced dramatically, leaving local workers scrambling to support themselves.
Thankfully, one of the top travel operators on Kilimanjaro has come up with a novel plan to support those porters. One that will not only bring in some much needed funds, but also give us a goal to strive for while we wait for normal travel opportunities to resume.
Tusker Trail’s Almost Kilimanjaro Climb
For more than 40 years, Tusker Trail founder Eddie Frank has been leading treks to the summit of Kilimanjaro. Over those four decades, Frank has built what is arguably the finest guiding company on the mountain, offering a high-quality and truly unique trekking experience. Throughout his time working in Tanzania, he has also worked tirelessly to improve the lives of the porters, providing not only higher wages, but also top-notch gear, and comprehensive training programs too.
As a result of the relationships that Eddie has fostered with his guides and porters, many of Tusker’s Tanzanian workers have stayed with the company for years. This has created a bond that is evident to anyone who has taken a Kili trek with Tusker, as the feeling around the campsites feels more like a family rather than just co-workers.
With that in mind, Tusker has announced a fund raising program to help Kilimanjaro porters who are currently out of work. Dubbed the Tusker Trail Almost Kilimanjaro Climb, this virtual trek challenges participants to hike to the “Roof of Africa” without ever setting foot on an airline.
A Virtual Kilimanjaro Trek
This virtual trek is scheduled to begin on November 23 and challenges participants to cover the distance from Lemosho Glades to Uhuru Peak on Kilimanjaro over a span of 21 days. That’s a total distance of 26.7 miles (43 km), which can be covered by walking, hiking, running, or biking. The idea is to travel the same distance as a typical climb, but do so in your own neighborhood or on local trails.
Anyone who wants to participate can do so by signing up here. There is a $39 entry fee, of which all of the proceeds are going directly to Tusker’s team on the ground in Tanzania, many of whom have worked only sparingly since the pandemic began. When you sign up, you’ll also be given the link to download an app to your smartphone, which will track your progress throughout the challenge. Weekly leaderboards will show how participants are doing and add an extra level of competition to the whole affair.
Ultimately, the goal is to raise $12,000 for the porters, which may end up being a fairly modest number. The virtual climb hasn’t even gotten underway yet, and more than $2000 has already been raised.
Take an Actual Climb in Your Own Private Bubble
While a virtual Kilimanjaro climb may make for a good challenge, it doesn’t quite compare to the real thing. I should know, I’ve been on Kilimanjaro twice and have climbed to the summit with Tusker. The company contuse to operate during the COVID outbreak, although it is employing some unique approaches in order to keep Tusker staff and clients safe.
Right now, it is possible to book a private trek in your own personal bubble. What does that mean exactly? It means staying socially distant while at camp and on the trail. I also means private tents for each climber and additional medical checks to ensure everyone is staying safe and healthy. You can visit the Tusker website to find out more and to learn how Eddie and his team are keeping everyone safe during these unusually difficult times.
If you’re like most people, you’re probably content to wait out the pandemic before venturing out to travel the world again. Tusker can help you plan your post-COVID Kilimanjaro trek too, providing the best service imaginable on the mountain. Besides, now is the perfect time to plan that kind of adventure and begin training for a trek of your own.
You can starting doing just that by signing up for the Almost Kilimanjaro Climb here.
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