By Matt Leedham @worldofleedham27 Oct 2017A group of Adventurous Australian Travel Agents set off over the weekend on the trip of a lifetime to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania with Bench Africa. The ‘Up for anything’ group, made up of agents and friends from all over Australia are being led by Bench Africa General Manager Martin Edwards, together with a crew of the African specialists’ on the ground guides in Tanzania. Mount Kilimanjaro or ‘Kili’ as it’s affectionately known lies in East Africa, on the border with Kenya and is the tallest mountain in the African continent and the highest freestanding mountain in the world. Told you this group was ‘Up for anything’. The actual ‘thigh burning’ climb to the summit at 5895m will see them take the Rongai Route up to ‘The roof of Africa’ and back in just 6 days. So how are the group feeling about the prospect of that ‘thigh burning’? KarryOn caught up with some of the plucky agents this week before they left to get their thoughts on preparing for this incredible life changing experience. Sean Skilton, Skilled Travel “I’m looking forward to conquering probably one of the most difficult challenges I’ve ever set myself. I like to win and succeed in everything I do and this is no different. I want to stand at the summit and feel like I’ve made a huge achievement! I have had a personal trainer for the past 5 months and she’s got me fitter than I have been in a long long time. The biggest challenge (other than how smelly we will all be!) is clearly going to be the summit day. I’m most concerned about that day. But standing on the roof of Africa will be worth all the pain.” Sean Skilton, Director, Skilled Travel Natalie Hudson, My Travel Group.Pic: Fairfax “I think the toughest thing and the thing I want to learn most about myself, is just how much mental strength I have. I know I will have people around me to inspire me, but I do think it will ultimately be a test of my own mental toughness. I am fearful about the hike. I have two young boys, so doing a trip like this makes me nervous for my health and safety, more for them, than me. Also, my Mum is worried about me and has heard some stories about Kili and how hard it can be. I’m looking forward to sharing this physical and mental challenge with some like-minded (ie. as crazy as me!) colleagues and trekkers. I can’t wait for Summit day. I think I will be emotional if and when I get to the top – so note to self – don’t forget the hankerchief (surely tissues will disintegrate, right?).” Natalie Hudson, My Travel Group Paul Rickard, Helloworld Caloundra “Sharing and completing this trip with my beautiful wife (Julie) and 19 yr old nephew (Riley) who lost his father (my brother, wayne) to cancer 3 years ago. A dying wish from Wayne was that if I ever had an opportunity to take his children anywhere on an adventure around the world could I take them, as he would never get the opportunity to do that. When I announced I was going on this, Riley asked if he could come and I told him sorry he couldn’t, as it was a ‘work trip’. A couple of months later when I was talking to Julie from Bench and told her my nephew asked if he could come (I told her the story above) she said, “we can’t say no to that…” Paul Rickard, Helloworld Caloundra Martin Edwards (L) GM, Bench Africa with Wildlife photographer Thomas Peschak “When I set off backpacking in 2001 for a year’s travel around the world, I spent four months travelling through Africa from Nairobi to Cape Town on public transport – an incredible experience in itself. It was back then that I first climbed Mt Kilimanjaro. So, 16 years later I find myself working for one of Australia’s leading Africa safari companies, and having climbed Kilimanjaro before, I know the biggest challenge will be the altitude. So I plan to take it very slowly, or pole pole as they say on Kili. The build-up and preparation for the trip has been the most life changing aspect. Setting a goal at the beginning of the year, working towards it, talking about it, and soon setting off to make it a reality. For me, as well as making it to the top, I want to witness the travel agents faces once they make it to the top after all their hard work and preparation.” Martin Edwards, Bench Africa This is the pic we want to see :) KarryOn will be following this legendary group to see how they go, so stay tuned for more pics and a report when they get back. And in the meantime, let’s wish them all the very best and leave them with this quote from the king of ‘Unexpected Journeys’ – Mr J.R.R Tolkien (Author of the Lord of the Rings) series. “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.” J.R.R. Tolkien Have you climbed Mount Kilimanjaro before? Would you?! Share your thoughts below. Other stories you may like Lindblad Expeditions is cruising back into Egypt Trump invited to visit Namibia, Africa’s number 1 sh#thole Were you at the AMAs with Discover L.A.? Or maybe you were spotted in North Queensland & more?