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Kilimanjaro: How it Began

Updated: Sep 16, 2020

I remember the day well. It was late July and we took the bike out in search of snow near the town of Ceres (close to Cpe Town). Our friends were musing about 'one day' driving from Cape Town to Tanzania and while there to climb to the top of Kilimanjaro. It struck a chord with us and barely one month later our plans were falling together - we had decided to make it a fundraising venture for the Sunflower Fund. Some local business were keen to support us and we managed to cover some of our costs from donations and pledges. Lisa went the distance and held a raffle amongst her colleagues for the privilege to shave her long hair down to a number one.

The local paper got hold of our plan. Now it feels real!


In March 2009, André & Lisa du Toit will attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro in a venture to raise funds for the Sunflower Fund.

“This excursion is not only an opportunity to do what we love but also to make a difference in the lives of others. Although Kilimanjaro started as just another adventure it grew into something much bigger. Travelling is enriching, humbling and addictive. We travel because there are destinations. We climb this mountain because it's there. If in doing so we can in any way contribute to a good cause that lies close to our hearts it will make it an all the more worthwhile experience.”

The Sunflower Fund carries the full responsibility nationally for raising the funds needed to meet the costs of all tissue typing of bone marrow donors for the purposes of increasing the South African Bone Marrow Registrar and has played a major role in enabling them to expand dramatically from 1 200 to over 64,000 donors over the past 7 years.

“Both of us know of and have seen the effects of cancer and we believe that if we, who are fortunate enough are able to give back we should. It personally will be self-rewarding to stand on top of Kilimanjaro and know that not only have we been able to complete a personal goal but at the same time been able to give back and recognise the cancer sufferers who are not able to be there.”

At 5895m, Mount Kilimanjaro is Africa's highest peak and also the tallest free-standing mountain in the world. Climbing Kilimanjaro does not require any technical skills or special equipment. However, the journey is not to be taken lightly. Kilimanjaro is a place of myth and folklore. Located just 325 km from the equator, the mountain defies logic with its glaciated peak. As Ernest Hemingway wrote, Kilimanjaro is "as wide as all the world, great, high, and unbelievably white in the sun."

There are six established routes to climb Mount Kilimanjaro - Marangu, Machame, Lemosho, Shira, Rongai and Umbwe. The Marangu, Machame, and Umbwe routes all approach from the south of the mountain (Mweka is used only for descent). The Lemosho and Shira routes approach from the west. The Rongai route approaches from the north. Andre and Lisa will be using the Rongai Route because it is the only route that approaches Kilimanjaro from the north (close to the Kenyan border), has low traffic and is the preferred route for those wanting a more remote hike.

The trip will last 9 days: the first day they will arrive in Moshi and get acclimated; the trek itself is seven days. The trek will be led by Bush Explores – a local Tanzanian trekking company. Though challenging, Mount Kilimanjaro is successfully climbed by thousands of fit people from 12 to some even in their 80s.

All funds raised will directly go to the Sunflower Foundation.

“I think that it is important to set goals in life but it is more important to actually achieve them."




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