I recently had the opportunity to talk to one of iExplore's past travelers - Thomas Laussermair - about his trip to Mt. Kilimanjaro. Thomas and his wife, Jill, traveled with iExplore to climb Kilimanjaro, followed by a week long safari in the Serengeti.

I am thinking about climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro but am worried about getting in shape. Can you tell me how you prepared?

I am a pretty active guy and I ride my bike year round. Also, I go to the gym 2-3 times a week, so physical fitness was not really a concern for me. That said, you really do not have to be a super athlete to climb Kili. In fact, slightly overweight, less fit people do well in a high altitude!

I know that photography was an important part of your trip -- can you tell me more?

I used an Olympus 570 camera with a really large zoom lens that we purchased just before we left. I think the most difficult shot I took was at 1 am the day we were going to summit. It was a very cold morning and the sky was extremely clear -- we hiked by another camp and saw the dome shaped tents that had lights on. The tents look like they are glowing orange against a blue/ black sky. It was such a cool site that I immediately got out the camera and the tripod.

What were some of the best memories of your trip?

I think one of the most interesting aspects of climbing Kili is that you pass through five climate zones as you make your way to the summit. At the low altitudes, it is very dry and arid and then as you climb a bit higher you go through the rainforest. At about 10,000 feet it is alpine vegetation, followed further up by barren land. Once you reach the summit, it is a glacier. It definitely makes packing a challenge! And I think it keeps the trip really interesting as every day you are experiencing a new climate zone.

Reaching the summit is another one of my favorite memories. However, it was cold and cloudy that day, so we did not get to explore the glacier as much as we would have liked. I will say that I told my son, age 11, that if he wants to see snow on Mt. Kilimanjaro he better hurry up due to global warming!

Thomas is now off on another great adventure -- Panamerican Peaks. He is riding his bike from Alaska to Patagonia and climbing the highest peak of every country along the way! Check out his blog to see where he is and find out how he is doing.