There is something to be said for those of us who make our childhood dreams come true. For Gabriele Brown, her lifelong goal of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro came true on Jan. 1, 2013.
“As a young girl born and raised in Germany, we learned about German colonies in Tanzania and that the first person to climb Mount Kilimanjaro was from our country. I guess that’s when I started dreaming about climbing it too,” says Brown.
After a long worldly list of places traveled, Brown and her husband Kenton made plans to visit Tanzania and complete the hike. It had always been on their bucket list, but raising children and dealing with their company business prevented them from doing it sooner. Sadly, by the time they could go, Kenton fell ill and was unable to make the trek. When it appeared that he would not get better, he made Gabriele promise that she would go on without him, and that his ashes be released off the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.
“He wanted it to be his final resting place, but I think he wanted it that so my dream of reaching the summit would come true,” Brown admits. “It’s very spiritual for me. I get to go back and visit him often.”
After Brown’s first climb and weeks spent in Tanzania, she fell in love with the country’s terrain, animals, and most of all, the people. She realized that although the country was rich in nature, the society itself was poor. That’s when the idea for Urth Safari came to be. According to Brown, tourism is high on the list of income sources for Tanzania, and she wanted a way to spread awareness of how beautiful and fulfilling the climb can be and provide jobs for the people living there.
“Fifty thousand people climb that mountain a year,” Brown says. “I just want to be sure they are appreciating how amazing Tanzania is, and that the country’s people are benefitting from it.”
Thus, Brown paired up with Jacob Tata, a climbing expert in Tanzania, and together they created Tata Urth Safari. This trip provides anyone with a sense of adventure a chance to reach Mount Kilimanjaro’s summit. Although it only takes 12 days to do so, Brown recommends planning a 3-week trip so that all of Tanzania’s wonders can be enjoyed.
“I feel very privileged that I can continue to return to Tanzania and share this climb with others,” Brown says. “It is attainable for anyone who loves the outdoors.”
When it comes to accommodations, Tata Urth Safari did not skimp. Their team includes a guide for every two people hiking, a chef who prepares well-balanced meals for the climb, and other amenities to make the experience as accessible as possible. Every guide must be a first wilderness responder, have years of climbing experience, and be registered with the Mount Kilimanjaro National Park. Tata Urth hires only from Tanzania.
“Tata Urth Safari was officially recognized by the Mount Kilimanjaro National Park this year, which was a huge step for us,” Brown says. “There’s not a step we skipped, all to benefit the climbers and the Tanzanian people.”
Brown, who resides in Austin during the off seasons, is ready for her return to Tanzania in January for her next climb. To stay in shape and prepare for each climb, she runs every morning and stays active in the city. If you plan on climbing with her, you certainly have to be prepared physically. She recommends beginning training at least four months before your climb.
For Brown, it’s not just about crossing an item off your list or seeing a new place. Her hope is that once people visit Tanzaniaand experience the culture and indulge in everything it has to offer, more help and awareness will follow. “Tanzania and Mount Kilimanjaro have so much to offer,” Brown says with conviction in her voice. “Everyone needs to experience the journey at least once in their life.”