Hi, my name is Dana Wentzel. I am the Managing Partner at Kilimanjaro Sunrise. I’d like to tell you a little bit about myself and why I decided to start Kilimanjaro Sunrise.
First off, I am an avid outdoorsman. I live and breathe the outdoors. Over the years I have engaged in numerous outdoor pastimes: hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, snowboarding, mountain biking, ice climbing, kayaking, caving, etc. But none have kept me as engaged as my favorite hobby: canyoneering or canyoning.
Maybe what sets canyoneering apart is the camaraderie; knowing that, like the Marine Corps, your canyon team has your back. Perhaps it’s the problem solving. Maybe it’s just the thrill of it all; the sound of the carabiner’s metallic chiming, the rush of going where few people have ever gone—the remoteness of it. Whatever the reason, it has kept my interest for close to two decades.
Yet, at this point in my life, I find it more rewarding to take new people through their first canyon and revel in their enthusiasm. I love teaching them how to use the equipment and watching them overcome their limitations. It is rewarding to see them experience the same joy and excitement that has kept me going back into canyons year after year.
Over the years I have started a few outdoor companies, yet none of them were as close to my heart as Kilimanjaro Sunrise. Like canyoneering, I want to share what I have learned with others. I want them to know the exhilaration and feeling of accomplishment when they reach the summit of Kilimanjaro, to feel the rush while on safari as they watch a lioness teach her cubs to hunt, or to celebrate life with the wonderful people of Tanzania.
It may come as a surprise that climbing Kilimanjaro was never on my bucket list, but once I climbed it I was hooked. For me, it is like the Grand Canyon. I have traveled to every corner of the Grand Canyon from well-worn, popular trails to remote tributary canyons on rope. I’ve camped below the rim and pack rafted down the Colorado River to incredibly treacherous exits. Every time I go, I train for months beforehand, but it always manages to kick my butt and I swear it’s the last time. Despite this, I continue to go back because there is a mystical draw to the place.
The same can be said of Kilimanjaro. I’ve climbed it a couple of times and each time I couldn’t wait to go back. Just like in a canyon, the pain is temporary. Maybe I just have dissociative amnesia, but I can’t wait to return.
What truly makes everything I do have value are the people, and the people of Tanzania are no exception. They live in one of the poorest countries on earth and yet they are happy. They are always willing to help and they do it with a smile.
For all of these reasons (and probably some I forgot), I started Kilimanjaro Sunrise. I don’t expect to compete with the big companies. I just love the country and the people. Tanzania is truly a magical place and I hope you get to experience its wonders at least once in your life.