Wings of Kilimanjaro

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I’ve wanted to climb Kilimanjaro for ages… & so when I heard about this project – ‘To climb and fly from the roof of the world, raising lots of money for charity too’ it grabbed my attention.

Wings of Kilimanjaro, originally Kili20twelve, was the fantastic and bold idea of Adrian McRae who first climbed Kilimanjaro in 2003. He began paragliding in 2008 and a couple of years later came up with a challenge – a group of adventurers from every corner of the globe will come together for a once-in-a-lifetime, world record-breaking event to climb and fly from the “Roof of Africa” – Mt Kilimanjaro, the highest free-standing mountain on the planet (5,895m), and in doing so will raise over a million for charity.

The three charities that are being supported are –

Plant with Purpose – Plant With Purpose works with 38 different communities in the regions surrounding Mount Kilimanjaro to create alternatives to deforestation, and share the tools needed to empower local people replenish the land and improve their lives. Working with a local staff of dedicated Tanzanian foresters and agronomists, Plant With Purpose also promotes the use of wood-saving stoves, soil conservation techniques and water conservation. So far over 2,000 families have begun improved vegetable gardens and together planted over 1,000,000 trees in farming and reforestation efforts. As a result of these efforts, forests are being preserved and restored and rural communities have hope for a better future for their children.

The ONE foundation – The One foundation will be working to provide sustainable and community led water and sanitation programmes in Tanzania in 2013. We will work through local implementing partners to ensure that the most appropriate and lasting solutions are implemented in the communities most in need. As with all of our programmes, we ensure that every penny is spent in a transparent and accountable way, that has the greatest impact. ONE will also identify schools in the Kilimanjaro region that are in need of resources, skills and infrastructure and deliver upon these needs accordingly.

Worldserve – WorldServe International is a community development Charity working in close cooperation with Maji-Tech, a social enterprise it founded in 2002. Headquartered in Arusha, near the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Maji-Tech specializes in safe water projects requiring deep Borehole drilling and the installation of water pumping, storage and delivery systems. “Maji” is the kiswahili word for ‘water’

I was very interested in this project but also hugely aware of the reality of making this happen. Attempting to take a group of 200 people to the top of a mountain is a very big ask, let alone those numbers attempting to make a flight from the summit. I stood back from the project for a while and then began asking lots of people lots of questions.

The biggest issue and concern is obviously safety and so that is where my focus and questions have been. When climbing a big mountain and organising a large scale paragliding event you basically need to know that the preparation, planning and safety are the number one factors and that there is an experienced team who know what they are talking about. Having said that as a paraglider and a mountaineer I believe that ultimately you must make your own decisions. It’s great to have a team, someone who you can discuss things with/take advice from but at the end of the day it’s your call.

In two weeks time I’m going to Africa, I’m going to meet Adrian and some of the team who are doing a final reconnaissance expedition to finalise logistics. I’ll be climbing Kilimanjaro with them and learning more about this fantastic project, I thought it was too much of a cool idea not to check it out properly! There will be no flying this time though, that’s for the main event – which will be in January 2013.

Hoping to meet these two tall chaps while I am there too!

I’ve since been on the climb and you can read about it here!