Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa and one of the world’s largest volcanoes, is a significant challenge that requires physical and mental preparation, very careful planning, and a great deal of determination.
We spoke to Mustafa Arsiwala, a cloud engineer and member of the Melbourne community of Dawoodi Bohras, about why he and his friends took on such a demanding journey, and what they gained from their shared experience.
How did you come up with the idea of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro?
Our incredible journey began as a shared idea among three close friends from Melbourne – Hussain Khambati, Murtaza Parekh, and myself Mustafa Arsiwala – and culminated in our triumphant ascent of Mount Kilimanjaro.
The idea of trying to conquer Africa’s highest peak first took shape a few months ago during a casual conversation. We all have a desire for adventure, and a need to test ourselves, and felt that this would be a unique and physically demanding challenge. We wanted to experience the breathtaking landscapes and cultures of Africa while testing ourselves and pushing our limits. Kilimanjaro’s iconic status also held a certain allure that we could not resist. It was a dream that seemed distant at first but soon became a compelling goal that we were determined to achieve.
How did you prepare for such an arduous journey?
The planning and preparation phase was a whirlwind, with each of us contributing our unique skills and expertise. We trained together, researched tirelessly, and kept each other motivated, knowing that we were in this adventure together.
On September 30th, the day arrived when our dream became a reality.
What were the challenges that you faced on your climb, and how did you overcome them?
Our journey was a rollercoaster of experiences, testing our endurance, perseverance, and adaptability at every turn. We experienced a mix of physical and emotional highs and lows. And of course we faced significant challenges, such as coping with the demanding physical conditions at high altitudes, unpredictable weather, and the need for effective acclimatization to prevent altitude sickness.
Adaptability was our tool for navigating the ever-changing conditions and obstacles on our Kilimanjaro journey.
The mountain’s terrain is incredibly diverse, ranging from lush rainforests to rocky alpine zones, so we needed to adjust our approach to the changing environment. The weather conditions on Kilimanjaro can also be highly unpredictable. We faced everything from scorching heat to freezing cold, rain, snow, and strong winds, requiring us to regularly change our clothing, gear, and pace in order to cope. Of course, our altitude was changing significantly as we made progress on our ascent of Kilimanjaro. Acclimatization is vital to prevent altitude sickness, which can be dangerous. Adapting to the thin air, lower oxygen levels, and slower pace was essential for our safety and well-being.
Lastly, mental adaptability and resilience were crucial. We encountered inevitable moments of self-doubt and exhaustion, and being able to change our mindset to stay motivated and focused was key to overcoming these challenges.
How long did it take you?
Our Kilimanjaro journey took approximately 7 days from the start of the climb to reaching the summit and then descending back to the base.
Ultimately, reaching the summit was, as would expect, the undoubted high point in the journey, offering breathtaking views and an overwhelming sense of accomplishment. Kilimanjaro’s breathtaking landscapes and humbling moments bound us together. As a team, we faced every challenge head-on, supporting and pushing one another to reach the coveted summit.
What did you learn about yourself from this experience?
This experience has reaffirmed the power of friendship and shared dreams. I am grateful to all those who believed in us and were part of this epic adventure. Our Kilimanjaro journey was not just a testament to our individual determination but also to the unbreakable bonds of friendship. With an idea, unwavering determination, and friends by your side, even the highest peaks in life are conquerable.
I am committed to applying the invaluable lessons I’ve learned from the Kilimanjaro hike to enrich my daily life and any future challenges I encounter. In my daily routine, I’ll continue setting clear, achievable goals, drawing motivation from the summit of Kilimanjaro. Resilience, which I developed during the climb, will help me navigate challenges and setbacks in all aspects of life.
Adaptability is another key takeaway. I’ll embrace change and unfamiliar situations, as I did on the mountain, to approach life’s unpredictabilities with an open mind. Mindfulness practices will become a daily habit, helping me stay present and reduce stress.
Maintaining fitness and health routines is a priority. Engaging my community and seeking support, as I did with my friends on Kilimanjaro, will remain integral.
Lastly, I’ll keep the perspective I gained from Kilimanjaro fresh in my mind, reminding myself of what I can achieve and aiming higher in my personal and professional life.