Dubai: An Indian couple living in Dubai celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary atop Mt Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak.
The adventurous couple — Satheesh Murugan and Indira Satheesh, hailing from the Indian state of Tamil Nadu — reached the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro on July 8.
Indira said she and her husband have always loved hiking and so for their wedding anniversary, they decided to take their passion a notch higher -- literally. And so it was — scaling the gorgeous 5,895-metre highest peak of Africa on the day of their 20th wedding anniversary.
Speaking to Gulf News, Indira said: “To summit Mt Kilimanjaro was an incredible experience. We prepared hard for this venture.”
Indira, who works as a senior accountant for a private company, said the couple worked on their stamina and fitness levels. “We hit the gym every morning. At the gym, we would do step workouts, cycling, treadmill and weights. In the evening, we carried a backpack of five kilos and did 10 to 15km of walking. During winter, we did 16 hikes in Ras Al Khaimah, Fujairah and Sharjah.”
Satheesh, who works as an operations manager for a private company, said this helped the couple to build muscle strength. “It also helped their legs get stronger as this was required while climbing the peak.”
Indira said that while she coped better with the terrain and hike up the African peak, her husband struggled a bit. “He had headaches and was a bit nauseous, but we had a good guide with us. We also rested quite a bit in the nights. Daily, we hiked six to seven hours.” She added: “Kilimanjaro is no Everest or Denali — it’s the people’s mountain, capped by glaciers but surrounded by lush, inviting rain forests and requiring no technical skill from its climber.”
Satheesh said: “Trekking Mt Kilimanjaro is a real test and will undoubtedly push you beyond your comfort zone. But take comfort in the knowledge that every step along the journey will be worth it! Trekking to the summit of Kilimanjaro is a once in a lifetime experience.”
Satheesh said one of the things that kept him going was the beautiful scenery all around. “The lush landscape was so gorgeous. We were left spellbound despite the challenges.”
Why Kilimanjaro is accessible at any fitness level
Indira said that Kilimanjaro is a difficult trek. Yet, someone with even an average fitness level can still reach the summit. “You should, however, be in good health. The trek is strenuous. You will be on your feet covering tough terrain for five to seven hours a day. If you do not have time to go walking or hiking, then you should try to hit the gym for running or cycling sessions at least three to four times a week before the hike.
Indira said scaling the African peak has inspired her friends to do the same. “They want to hike with us regularly now, so they too can reach the African peak at some point of time. I’m so happy that we have been able to inspire others. In fact, we are building a community of hikers. It is always nice when you do an adventure with other like-minded people. Together we are stronger.”
She added that mental strength is as important as physical strength. “At the end of the day, it may look like an individual effort, but other hikers and guides also help you a lot along the way.”
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Satheesh said he and Indira were prepared for their next challenge. “For our next wedding anniversary, we hope to reach the base camp of Everest. We have already started preparations for that.”