Walking is hard at 5,000 metres above sea level. The wind is up, the oxygen is thin, and temperatures have likely plunged below zero. You’ve been trekking for hours through the night, slowly zigzagging up a scree slope by the light of your head torch. Your breathing is jagged, your legs are sore. It’s all you can do to keep going, to shift one foot in front of the other.
You’re still hours away from Uhuru Peak, the summit of Tanzania’s mighty Mount Kilimanjaro, and you’re wondering why on Earth you came. Then, from out of the darkness, you hear a song – not an epic ballad booming from the heavens, but something closer, more human, sung on repeat in a lulling loop. You fall into rhythm and push on.
Samuel, the Mountain God
Africans have a habit of breaking into song – even on the slopes of their highest mountain. Guides, porters, cooks and travellers will crack out a tune in celebration or to encourage each other when the going gets tough. Just ask Samuel Kusamba (aka ‘Mountain God’), an expert Intrepid guide who’s climbed Kili over 500 times. Yep, that’ll earn you godly status in our mind.
When he needs to motivate his climbers, Samuel sings a beautiful, traditional Swahili song. Hit play below to hear it for yourself – and to learn what it means (hint: it involves snakes). Take it away, Samuel:
Ready to take on the mountain? Check out our expertly guided small group treks up Mt Kilimanjaro.