A Kilimanjaro journey with what3words

07/04/2017

5895. It’s an altitude I’ll never forget and my new favourite number. As Founder & Director of Hoteliyo (virtual hotel advisory firm), I’ve had my share of tough projects and mental challenges, but recently, what I knew was missing was a true physical challenge, a time out to recharge and rethink plans. Life beyond the comfort zone was calling. Routine was creating risk. What I really wanted was a physical test and being pushed to achieve it. So, what adventure would suit this?

Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. The 75km Lemosho Route.

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Situated near the border with Kenya, KJ’s a remote monolith 300 kilometres below the equator and Africa’s highest mountain. It’s location and lack of infrastructure means zero emails or phone calls, making it perfect for the purpose. You need local guides and an awesome team. Joining our ‘team’ was what3words, or more precisely, their App which works without mobile data.

This altitude based pursuit proved the perfect reminder for why such challenges matter. It’s the principle of ‘progressive resistance’ – the stronger the demand, the stronger the response (and if we’re not challenging ourselves, the opposite). I decided on KJ for sheer physical adventure, not realizing the incredible lessons (and stark reminders) it’d unearth for business and everyday life.

So, what were those lessons and reminders?

To conquer Kilimanjaro, you’re unavoidably required to keep it simple and keep momentum, daily.

Like our Guide’s Antipas and Emanuel said, ‘don’t think about the summit, take your next step and you’ll get there’. Sometimes in life, we seem to complicate things. Goals, milestones, sub-tasks and multiple ‘priorities’. Kilimanjaro very quickly showed the benefits of getting back to basics: building a brilliant team, mapping your itinerary, trusting and following guides, eliminating every distraction and ultimately, having a motivating goal and while seeing the summit, just reaching it step by step.

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On summit night, from 4673m at Barafu Camp to 5895m at Uhuru Peak, in pitch black darkness and minus 15° temperatures, the only viable and visible movement was each next step. The climb was tough, but on reaching Stella Point, the final plateau and the ‘Roof of Africa’, the value of the lessons the mountain taught was crystal clear. From there, after 1200m ascent, 18-hours of hiking and a brutal single day Uhuru to Mweka Gate descent, we reached our physical breaking point.

And we felt incredible.

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Along with those lessons, as a technology and tourism enthusiast, this trek highlighted the wide range of positive applications for what3words in super remote areas, from photo pin-marking to helicopter evacuations. From glacial melt tracking to clean water identification, to camp carrying capacity assessments and trail maintenance logistics.

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The journey unveiled not only what remote adventures can teach us, but what game-changing things technology could do for remote areas.

Michael Metcalfe. Founder and CEO of Hoteliyo

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