Planning the Next Big Trip

My list of places to go, things to hike, and pictures to take is extensive. Over the past year, we have been planning and preparing for our biggest trip to-date. In February 2018, I am heading to Tanzania to climb the Lemosho Route on Mt. Kilimanjaro with a friend for 8 days.  I am then going to meet my husband and venture out on a 5 day Safari though the Tarangire National Park in the Serengeti. We will also visit the Ngorongoro Crater. Finally, we will spend a week seeing the sights in The Netherlands and Belgium. This trip will have epic opportunities for photographs, and offers unforgettable climbing and hiking.  It will truly be a once in a lifetime experience.

After the initial decision was made to climb Kilimanjaro, the tallest free standing mountain in the world, our preliminary planning had begun. There were a lot of logistics that needed to be figured out. The trip timeline needing fleshing out. Resources needed to be defined. After surveying all that needed to be done, it was time to move on to the organizing stage.

I came up with some basic questions to help plan to make it to the top, and think through the overall trip.

  1. What do you want to do? Primarily Climb Kilimanjaro, and then go on Safari .

  2. Why do you want to do it? Since I started climbing in 2010 I had wanted to climb some, if not all of the Seven Summits, and Mt. Kilimanjaro is on that list. Also, going to Africa, has been something I had wanted to do since I was young.

  3. What are the steps that will be required to reach your goal? I knew that training was going to be at the top of the list, the better in shape you are in on the trail, the more enjoyable the experience. Also, we needed to save up as much money as possible, had some idea of the costs, and there were some assumptions made, but we knew that it was going to be expensive.

  4. Is there a reasonable amount of time to achieve what you want? We gave ourselves a little over a year and a half to get everything pulled together. Training, money, and planning were the primary keys to success.

  5. Possible obstacles that we might encounter?

    Work vs. Goals If you figure you have to work at least 40 hours a week, and in my case some weekend and on-call shifts, work definitely had the potential of getting in the way of my goals.  Considering I needed the weekends to go hiking. Luckily, I was able to work it out. Every time there is a change at work I have to consider how that may impact what you are trying to do.


§  Money: is if often one of the biggest obstacles, due the scale of this trip it was going to require a lot of planning

§  Time: When the decision to go on this trip was made, I was getting ready to start a new job, and there were a lot of unknowns around getting the time off work or accumulating paid time off. We decided that in the worst case, I would quit my job before the trip and get a new job when we got back. But since then, things have worked out better than expected. The lesson here is just go with it. Chances are it will work out in the end.

§  Gear: What camera gear, hiking gear, traveling gear will be necessary to make this a successful trip?  I knew that I would need to upgrade or replace some of my hiking and climbing gear, so that wasn’t going to be an issue. I also knew that we would need some additional traveling necessities.

The potential obstacle was that I wanted to upgrade my camera gear. At the time, I was shooting with a Nikon D5200 DSLR. It had been a good starter camera.  It had been a good camera to learn with and fall in love with photography. It wasn’t ideal for a Safari in Africa! Ultimately, this was a major money issue as a camera upgrade was going to be a significant cost.   

I was waffling on the decision, and my husband helped me see that it was time to upgrade. Since getting the new camera, I have had no regrets. I look forward to the pictures I will be capturing. I will talk more about my camera gear in an upcoming post.

Take away…

Apart from all the logistics and planning, the two most important things I can be doing to prepare for this trip. First, training for the climb is paramount.  Second, make sure to learn and practice the photography skills I will need to get the best pictures possible.

My weekly training schedule consisted of: hikes with my camera, trips to the gym, cardio, and even more hiking. All of these small things were going to add up to create success.

4.15mm, 1/2200 sec f2.2, ISO 25, iPhone 6s, Handheld

4.15mm, 1/2200 sec f2.2, ISO 25, iPhone 6s, Handheld

Post Picture, Speed Hike

In my book Backpacking and Camping Essentials, I talk about speed hikes. This is my version of the best possible training option for my body type.  On one of the hottest days of the summer, I ran to the top of King’s Mountain, in Tillamook State Forest. After I had caught my breath, I took this picture with my iPhone. On speed hikes, it’s not ideal to bring a 10 pound DSLR. Far from an award winning picture, knowing that I made such good time getting up the mountain to take these photos makes me know that I am on the right track to reach the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Catch you Monday!