Berge Naz Iliev (Turkey) – Successful summit on 1 January 2017


Dear Nikki,

We are Ivo and Berge and we successfully summited Kilimanjaro’s highest peak during the sunrise of 1st Jan 2017.

It has been busy three months since then, yet we still reminisce over the experience. We often go through the photos taken there. Many everyday situations we would equate to similar challenges that we overcame in The Mountain. It was a tough and disciplined experience, yet well worth it.

During the week of the climb we realized that The Mountain has rules and life of its own, especially during the December – January period. And who better to introduce us to that life, than the Mountain Man himself – Harold (or Eldaima, I hope that’s how his African name is spelled) and his crew.

As our hike through the Lemosho route started, we were scrolling through the wet rain forest. Harold was asking us questions, probably in an attempt to learn more about us, as we would be his responsibility for the week to come. We, being a slightly tough breed of a traveler family ourselves were also asking him questions trying to figure out more about our guide, as we’ve heard Killi is not to be taken lightly. In a short period of time Harold earned our trust. We felt lucky and safe with this man of a few words and more than a decade of experience in the Mountain.

In the days to come we enjoyed the beautiful scenery and breath taking landscapes. Our favorite place in The Mountain is Baranco Valley, probably because of its unusual extra-terrestrial like nature.  On the day we got to the camp – the weather was favorable and there was a huge rainbow passing right through the Valley.

We were waking up every day with a cup of ginger tea handed by our waiter. The crew was filling our water bladders. Every time we got to a camp our sleeping tent, eating tent, toilet tent would be set up. The organization was spotless. After a few days we took that for granted. Harold would often check on us and give us advice, considering the information that we had given him. We thought it would be best to follow his advice and instructions and that worked to our advantage.

We felt that the crew liked us and wanted us to complete the summit. There were many occasions when members of the crew went out of their way to assist us. On the night of the summit, Harold showed his compassionate and encouraging side, when my wife felt nauseous. Between the two guides, they carried my wife’s day-pack. Following the two guides’ instructions my wife managed to summit successfully. I was OK during the summit, mostly concerned about my wife. As we descended our waiter was waiting a kilometer before Barafu camp with some fruit juice and snacks. The crew congratulated us on the successful summit. My wife felt better as we descended.

What an experience!

As we descended the crew sang us more songs and we danced. The mood was more relaxed.

During the summit I observed people. I looked at their faces and would often greet them and smile. Not everyone was greeting back. Many people were feeling nauseous. Others were becoming frustrated and arrogant. Some would just turn back in the cold night. I noticed that many of the other guides of the summit night were managing their groups in a “mechanical” manner, e.g. asking one by one members of the group “Do you have your socks? Do you have your socks?…” in order to check their state of mind. I was happy again that we had a pragmatic and involved guide who was on top of the situation on the summit night. I do wander whether we would have been able to summit successfully, had we been in a big group with other people or had we been with another more “mechanical” type of guide.

We miss our crew and Harold, their toughness, calmness and strength. Hopefully, we will keep in touch via social media or one day we will see each other again.

Being a family with two kids, living in a busy city like Johannesburg with many responsibilities, we finally find the time for more hiking this April with our kids in the Magaliesburg and Drakensberg mountains. We have other friends and families joining us for hiking, from our friends group, work group and travel group, inspired by our experiences. We will proudly wear the Climbing Kilimanjaro cover on our backpack as we hike and share our story.

Thank you!

Berge and Ivo

P.S. The cook makes the most awesome cucumber soup ever!