15 Countries You Should Visit Before You Die


Why to go when you’re young: To climb Kilimanjaro, the tallest mountain in Africa, you need a good set of lungs on you.
Where to head first: Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO). All the tour operators are located in the nearby towns of Arusha, Moshi, and Marangu. Do some research before you choose. You’re looking at safety record, summit success rate, and proper treatment of porters and staff.

Unlike Everest or Denali, conquering this summit doesn’t require you to buy up half of REI or risk losing your Tinder-swipers to frostbite. You can actually hike all the way to the top of Kilimanjaro, which takes five to nine days depending on the route. Anyone in decent condition can do it, but having the mad physical resilience and stamina of your 20s is a distinct advantage. It also helps not to have developed an «I’m too old for this shit» attitude. Why? Because you can count on walking in the rain, camping in the snow, and getting the runs in a bathroom that consists of a hole cut into a concrete floor. The latter is one of the many wonderful symptoms of altitude sickness, which gets more acute as you go higher.

On «summit day» you do one big push to the top (usually six to eight hours; it took me nine) and then come straight back to base camp (another two or three hours). You embark at midnight, when it’s so dark that you can’t tell if the specks of light further up are stars or the headlamps of distant climbers. I’m not being poetic — you’re so high that the stars aren’t just above you, they’re also around you. For the next four or five hours the temperature and your psychological state both plunge below zero.

Eventually a gradual lightening in the sky signals you’re about to witness something amazing: a sunrise viewed from above the cloudline. It’s like you’re in a plane, except that you’re hiking — through snow, past glaciers, and eventually to a rickety wooden sign. It congratulates you for reaching the top of the world’s highest free-standing mountain and Africa’s highest point: 19,341ft above sea level. It feels phenomenal, as do your first shower and beer once you get the fuck back down.