The Man Who Runs a Spiritual Tour on Mount Kilimanjaro

The Man Who Runs a Spiritual Tour on Mount Kilimanjaro

A climb up Mt. Kilimanjaro before the storied snows turn to dust. In Kenya’s Serengeti, you walk through vast open plains of acacia and gazelle grass before arriving at the towering makuti, or acacia tree, where herds of zebra, gazelle, and the rare big eland all live by the river. The path runs around the tree, eventually coming to a junction with a muddy track that continues down to a watering hole. Your guide takes a shortcut through a nearby patch of scrub that leads to a waterhole called the spring of the elephants.

When I met with the man who runs the tour, I was struck by his unselfconsciousness, his quiet, dignified bearing. He was dressed casually in jeans and a green plaid shirt. He told me he had traveled all over Africa—Kenya, South Africa, and Tanzania. He was a retired teacher and had lived in Nairobi for many years. He had taken up running the tour to help his ailing wife.

We found a shady spot on the lawns of the Kenya Wildlife Conservancy Headquarters that overlooked a broad valley, and talked about his life and his work. In 2002, he ran a group of people from across Africa through the Serengeti. He had heard of a “spiritual” run on Mount Kilimanjaro, but, like me, he had never done it himself. His wife, he said, was a trained spiritual guide, and he wanted to get her out there, doing something that she enjoyed. She would never go on a mountain run alone, he told me.

“For six months,” he said, “I did the Kilimanjaro trip with two women who were very serious about it. They had been to Nepal. They had been to Tanzania and Kenya. They were very experienced. During the walk I would listen to them talk about what they wanted to see, what they wanted to learn, what their spiritual path was.” He looked at me and said, “These are not run-of-the-mill tourists. They are the best trained, the best educated pilgrims in Africa.”

His wife took him out to the Kilimanjaro peak and pointed out the various paths, the different sites they wanted to visit.

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