Jo Morgan (26) tells us how she took on the challenge of a lifetime with a group of strangers – and would recommend it to anyone!

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Jo about to embark on the challenge of a lifetime

 

I was a student at UWE in Bristol, meeting lots of different people with amazing stories of their traveling, I developed a longing for challenge and adventure. So at the beginning of my second year I decided that I was going to sign up for something. It couldn’t be just anything as I had done half marathons and the like before, this had to be BIG!

This was what I wanted to do, but I soon found out that my friends were either without the funds or the belief in their fitness level to want to sign up to do anything with me. So I begrudgingly put the idea on the back burner and thought, ‘maybe next year’. This was gutting to me, as I had started university at 21 and felt I had missed out on some years of adventures already, but I didn’t feel I could go off on my own abroad at this stage!

I went home for Christmas and New Year’s celebrations, and talked about how I had really wanted to sign up to something this year to any family member or friend who would listen. It just so happened that my uncle, who had come to visit and who had got remarried a few years before, had a step-daughter who had just signed up to climbing mount Kilimanjaro with her boyfriend and a group of people, and she gave me the contact number to get in touch with the lady organising it all.

Signed, Sealed, Delivered

I nervously rang the number, wondering if they would think me wanting to tag along would be weird, but I was soon put at ease when it was explained that most people knew the planner, but not each other and that they were all in her opinion lovely! All of a sudden everything was so exciting, I had an email through explaining the trip and the charity involved, I was added to a facebook group so we could all chat to each other and share advice or concerns, and by the time I returned to uni I had booked my flight to Africa! (Although I had travelled a lot, this was the furthest I had ever been!)

It was hard work getting the charity money together, but I knuckled down, put on gigs in a few local bars with different bands from uni, which were a great success. I also put on a pub quiz in the pub I worked in, and did a bake sale in my student halls of residence. Then I had to work quite a few hours at  my job to buy journey tickets, equipment and the experience itself, and finally after all that  I had to fit in a bit of training for the actual climb! This seemed hard at the time but I now work as an event and wedding planner because I loved planning the fundraisers so much!

Jo (centre) with some of her fellow climbers

To the Tallest Peak in Africa

Then came going to Africa with all these people I didn’t know… I wasn’t too worried, but there is always that dreaded fear that you’ll be the one left with no tent buddy when you get to the mountain! All of the group we met up with in Africa, and I had already made friends with a ‘copper’ from London who turned out to have the same weird sense of humour as myself (this became very clear in the long waits at the airports)! Everyone met, talked, laughed and explored the local area… then we climbed Kilimanjaro!

The climb was the hardest thing I have ever done mentally, it was difficult to wake up after sleeping on a rock surface, feeling cold and worn out and, for me personally, not being able to shower. Seriously, I don’t know how I would have got through to the end if the people that were on the trip weren’t there, these people I had only just met… They had me in fits of laughter (which is hard when there little oxygen!) and there was always a song being sung which you always ended up joining in with. I did my bit too and tried entertaining everyone now and again with some strange, original versions of fairy tales (as I was studying English Literature at uni).

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Cold and tired – but what an achievement!

The feeling as everyone came out of their hotel rooms having finally used the showers, and we all heading to the bar once we were off the mountain was incredible. We drank Konyagi , played limbo and went out to a local restaurant for dinner to celebrate. The sense of the group’s achievement was plain to see! It was the best experience of my life, and I still speak with, and meet up with some of the group now, three years later. It is strange to think that I might have missed out on this experience if my uncle’s, wife’s, daughter hadn’t been going on this trip… pure luck! A website like this is a fantastic idea and if you’re thinking about signing up to do something BIG, doing it with a new group of people is definitely the way to go! Have fun!