MEET OUR Mountain Guide:
Barakaeli Wilfred Mollel

Tanzania - barakaeli wilfred mollel standing 1 - mountain-guide barakaeli-mollel
Position: Mountain Guide
Date of Birth: 12th December 1997
Place of Birth: Arusha, Tanzania
Language Spoken: English, Swahili, French, and ‘Maasai’ language
Number of years in the travel industry: 7 years, two years as a porter, and then five years as a guide
Number of years working with Easy Travel: 10 months (May 2022 – present day)

About Barakaeli

I was born in 1997 in Arusha at the Mount Meru Hospital in Tanzania. My early years were spent in Ilboru village, living with my parents, five brothers, and two sisters. I come from a family earning a living from agriculture and other businesses. This enabled them to pay the school fees and get our education, while my parents could also pay for our accommodation and give us a comfortable life. By origin, I am from the Maasai tribe, which is why I can speak the Maasai language.

My primary school education occurred at the Oldonyospuk Primary School between 2007 and 2013. I then attended the Bishop Dani Secondary School in Arusha until 2017. My first experience of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro was as a porter in June 2016. I was 20 years old, very young for a mountain crew member. The main reason I climbed at this young age was to earn some money for my school fees. This first experience was very tough because it was my first time climbing a mountain. Although young and inexperienced, I still had to carry 20kgs, like the experienced porters. I asked the head guide if I could also summit with the trekkers, and after checking my health, he allowed me. It was a successful summit, but only with the help and advice the other guides gave me. I can say that coaching and motivating are very important roles in making it to the summit.

I enjoyed working in this profession, so I attended the Wildlife Management Course at Mweka College when I completed my secondary education. This I did from 2018 until 2019. This was to let me pursue my dream of becoming a mountain guide. While studying in college, I also worked as a trainee mountain guide. I was a tent crew member or porter at the start of my career. I lived with my mother, a pastoralist and entrepreneur, during my college education. My siblings had all left home to work or to get married.

I received my mountain guide license when I completed my course at Mweka College in 2019. From that point, I continued to work with different companies to gain a better understanding and increase my experience. I then heard about Easy Travel and Tours, located in Arusha and one of the biggest companies. After hearing that the company was recruiting mountain crew, I applied and was accepted as a mountain guide in May 2022. My time so far has been amazing, and I am proud to be part of the Easy Travel Kilimanjaro team.

During my free time, when I am not trekking, I also have a taxi business and run another small business. 

Favorite Park in Tanzania

My favorite park in Tanzania is Kilimanjaro National Park because it is famous as the home of the highest free-standing mountain in the world and the highest mountain in Africa. That – of course – is Mount Kilimanjaro! I enjoy the views and being above the clouds at high altitudes. It is where I earn my living, and it feels like home.

Favorite Route

My favorite route is the Machame route; I walked for over six days. 

Favorite Food

My favorite meal is ‘ugali’ or ‘wali’ with green beans. Ugali is made of maize flour which you boil with water and keep mixing until it becomes hard. ‘Wali’ is also known as cooked rice. This meal keeps you healthy and helps your body stay warm in the climbs. 

Favorite Hobby

My favorite hobby is reading different books such as narrative and story books. Reading stories helps me to improve my language skills. It also relaxes me. I also enjoy watching and playing football during my free time – this helps my body remain stress-free.

Favorite TV Show

My favorite is America’s Got Talent because I enjoy watching and learning about people with different talents. It makes me realize that everyone has something unique and special about them.

Favorite Singer/band

My favorite singer is Harmonize, who sings Bongo Flava music. My favorite song, ‘ Never give up, is about overcoming life’s hardships. 

14 Questions and answers with Barakeli

It is a trip of a lifetime because of the uniqueness of the mountain itself. It is the highest free-standing mountain in the world. There are different, fascinating landscapes you come across on Mount Kilimanjaro.

Mount Kilimanjaro has five different zones, meaning there is a great variety of flora and fauna as you ascend and descend. For example, you can see the white colobus monkeys in the Montane Forest zone, different birds, and seven species of flowers unique to Mount Kilimanjaro.

Mount Kilimanjaro is renowned for its astonishing glaciers, even though the equator is far away. The amazing sunrises and sunsets add to the incredible climbing experience.

My favorite route is the Machame Route, which walked over six days. This route allows people to acclimatize, but in a fairly short time. You can ‘go high and sleep low.’ You can be above the clouds and enjoy the views of Mount Meru, the second-highest mountain in Tanzania, and Oldonyo Lengai, which is close to Lake Natron. I can do two or three treks per month on this route, as it is short. 
Easy Travel is the best service-orientated company and is very well organized. Easy Travel works hard and is committed to creating happiness throughout the community. It cares a lot about all its crew members, trekkers, and the people outside the company. It supports local businesses by purchasing supplies in the markets. These might be rice, maize flour, vegetables, fruit, and meat. Easy Travel is also committed to proper and continuous training for all crew members (cooks, mountain guides, and porters). 

My favorite month of the year to climb in July. This is during the dry season when I and all trekkers can best enjoy the views of the mountain. I recommend all trekkers to summit during the dry season. Sunrise and sunset views are incredible during this period. There are open, clear skies and fewer clouds or mist. Rainfall may occur during the dry season but is very rare.

Most mountain crew members prefer to climb during the dry season because it is difficult to explain to trekkers the many different attractions – it is difficult to make yourself heard – when it is raining. You don’t want to stop and explain when it is raining!

My favorite part of the mountain is the Montane Forest zone, between 1800 and 2800m of altitude. Here, you can enjoy the sounds of birds such as the turaco. If you are lucky, you can see some animals like the blue or colobus monkeys. There are also unique flowers, such as the Impatiens Kilimanjaro and Drakaena Afromantane, and huge trees like the podocarpus. Also, this zone is very green and is a natural forest. 
Many people do not expect to see glaciers at the top of the mountain, especially as this mountain is located in an equatorial region. Sometimes it may even snow. Flowers can grow in different zones and at altitudes as high as 4500m. There is freezing weather during the night when you summit on the last day. People also do not expect to climb by having to ‘hug’ the Barranco Wall, a challenging landscape you must overcome. This is one of the most difficult features, which needs you to be careful and listen to your experienced guide.
The Maasai are the most famous tribe in Tanzania. They live in the northern part of the country. I am a descendant of the Maasai tribe, and I like that they feel humble and believe that all cattle, like sheep, goats, and cows, belong to them. The Maasai migrate by moving from one place to another, searching out green pastures for their cattle. They care very much for the cattle, no matter what, and they always ensure that nothing happens to them. 

‘Jambo’ or ‘Mambo,’, which means ‘hello’ or ‘how are you?’

‘Pole Pole, ‘which means ‘slowly, slowly

‘Asante,’, which means ‘thank you.’

They will be interested to learn about the Maasai tribe and their culture. For example, the way we dress in different colored material, the way we build a fire from just a piece of wood and rub it in the palms of our hands, that we live with wild animals found in the national parks, with no fear. The Maasai’s main diet is based on meat with maize flour that is mixed with local medicines. They also have dry maize boiled and mixed with thick milk.
I would advise trekkers to prepare well by packing the right clothing, equipment, and footwear suitable for hiking. Also, proper hiking gear such as sleeping bags, fleece, rain gear, a mattress, and walking poles. Having the right gear ensures a trouble-free trek. I also recommend the five golden rules that every trekker must follow—walking slowly, drinking 3 to 4 liters of water a day to have enough oxygen in the blood and stay well hydrated, keeping your crew well-informed about your health, listening to the head guide’s advice and that of their assistants and ensuring that you are always warm in the correct warm gear. 
As a guide, I have climbed Kilimanjaro more than 50 times. My first experience as a guide was in June 2019, when I climbed using the Machame Route with 23 trekkers and almost 70 members of the crew. They all managed to reach the top and summit successfully. My first experience as a guide was very hard because of the wind and the glaciers on the mountain.

The main challenge of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is heading to the summit from the base camp because most trekkers feel exhausted. The weather during the trek can cause a challenge to both crew and trekkers. Sometimes there are very strong winds and snow on top of the mountain. When it is snowing, it isn’t easy to walk without crampons. It can also be very cold during the rain, wind, or snow, and if you do not have the right warm gear, it can be a challenge.

Some parts of Mount Kilimanjaro are hard to climb because the terrain is rocky or steep. This becomes more difficult if you do not have an experienced guide and do not have the proper gear, such as shoes or walking poles.

Elevation can cause a challenge from 4600m because most trekkers have not experienced such a high altitude. They can become sick, with a headache, nausea, or vomiting. Climbing high and then sleeping low helps with adjusting to the elevation.

I would advise them to acclimate properly, reach a high elevation, and then sleep at a lower one. The altitude or a lack of oxygen can cause mountain sickness. Your body can adapt to the changes by climbing high and sleeping low. Crew and trekkers must drink much water, between 3 and 4 liters a day. Eat well during mealtimes, especially hot/warm food. Healthy foods which digest quickly and give you energy are recommended. Avoid thinking negatively and always feel positive. A positive mindset can take you far without dwelling on your challenges! 

I met challenges as a mountain guide, mainly when crew members or trekkers suffered from mountain sickness. Unfortunately, feeling tiredness, headache, and vomiting are normal things that can happen on the hike. The best solution is to understand your feelings and share this information with the mountain guide. Sometimes those suffering from mountain sickness need to drink more water, eat well (especially sugar-based foods or chocolate bars for energy), or rest better at the camps.

Some trails are difficult to pass through because of falling rocks. This is especially true when heading to Gilman’s Point at an altitude of 5756m. Normally when facing this challenge, we walk slowly and carefully together.


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