MEET OUR Mountain Guide:
Yusto Peter Mhina

Tanzania - yusto mhina standing - yusto mhina
Position: Mountain Guide
Date of Birth: 12th April 1995
Place of Birth: Moshi, Tanzania
Language Spoken: English and Swahili
Number of years in the travel industry: 10 years, three years as a porter, seven years as a guide
Number of years working with Easy Travel: Since 2014

About Yusto

I was born in Mawenzi in the Moshi District of Tanzania and lived with my parents, my two elder sisters, and one younger sister in Boma Ngombe Hai, in Kilimanjaro. I studied first at the Uhuru Primary School and afterward at the Kibohehe Secondary School. After I finished school, I started two small businesses to help support my family. These involved selling everyday groceries and running a small chicken farm from home, which involved selling chickens or their eggs. After that, I attended the Pasiansi College in Mwanza (far from my home), where I took a three-month ranger course. Unfortunately, I did not get to complete this course due to a lack of funds to pay my fees.

After that, I returned home and initially continued with the chicken farm. I then got a job opportunity with Easy Travel to climb Mount Kilimanjaro as a porter on the Machame Route, lasting six days. This was my first climbing experience, and it was very challenging because I was not yet ready for this tough climb. Most porters get experience until the last base camp, and some porters are then scheduled to escort trekkers to the summit. I got experience trekking all the different routes of Mount Kilimanjaro and then became a summit porter with the job of escorting trekkers to the top of the mountain.

I moved from Moshi to Arusha City because I wanted to study while at the same time continuing to trek and get more and more experience of the climb. At this time, I was studying on a tour guide course at the Professional Tour Guide School. After finishing these studies, I attended a Mountain Guide Course at the College of African Wildlife Management, Mweka, and on completion, I was granted my mountain guide license. This meant that at Easy Travel, I was promoted from my position as a porter to a mountain guide.

I live in the Sanawari area of Arusha City with my wife and two daughters. The elder one is called Highness, and the younger one is Evelyn. Living in Arusha City is convenient, as this is where Easy Travel & Tours has its headquarters. From my first experience as a trainee porter until now, I have learned many things at Easy Travel. I have been lucky enough to work with many experienced mountain guides at the company, and from them, I have learned a lot about being a mountain guide and ethics.

Favorite Park in Tanzania

My favorite park is Kilimanjaro National Park because this park is where you’ll find the highest freestanding mountain in the world and the highest point in Africa. Also, I feel very proud to earn my living among the mountain guides working in the Kilimanjaro National Park.

Favorite Route

My favorite route is the Machame Route, which trekked over six days.

Favorite Food

My favorite food is a banana stew, a tribal meal of the Chaga tribe. It consists of bananas, beef, capsicum, carrot, and onion. My mother used to cook it for me all the time!

Favorite Hobby

My favorite hobby is cycling around Arusha, especially in West Kilimanjaro. I particularly like cycling in an area called the Enduiment Game Reserve. Once, I cycled from Moshi to Rombo, Rongai, Kamwanga, and Lake Toktok to West Kilimanjaro.

Favorite TV Show

My favorite TV show is watching sports channels. I am a football fan of the Chelsea team in the English Premier League. This is because I used to watch football at a young age with my father – who was also a Chelsea fan!

Favorite Singer/band

My favorite singer is Boaz Danken, who sings Gospel music, which I love listening to.

14 Questions and answers with Yusto Mhina

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that involves much planning. It is also the dream of many people to get to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and reach the summit. The trekkers are excited about seeing the incredible scenery and reaching the summit.

The different attractions of Mount Kilimanjaro include the many different species of birds in the forested zone. Some examples are the Hartlab Turaco, Mountain White-Eyed, and the White-Napped raven. There are also different species of animals, such as the black and white Colobus monkeys, the blue monkey, the red duiker, the common duiker, and the jackal. There are fascinating flowers with great names, such as the Impatiens Kilimanjarika, Red hot poker, Gladiolus Watsonioides, and Giant Senecio. Also worth seeing are the permanent waterfalls on Mount Kilimanjaro, whose waters come from the melted ice, the glaciers, or simply from rainfall.

My favorite route is the Machame Route, which I walked for six days. I like it because it takes fewer days and has a high summit-success rate. On this route, you can get the chance to see the sunset and a view of Mount Meru (which is a neighboring mountain and the second-highest mountain in Tanzania). You can also view Kilimanjaro’s three peaks, namely the Shira, Mawenzi, and Kibo peaks. Kibo is also called Uhuru peak, and it is the summit. This route also meets three other routes: Lemosho, Londrosi, and Umbwe.

Easy Travel is the best choice for climbing Mount Kilimanjaro because it delivers exceptional service, and the trekkers’ expectations are nearly always exceeded. Easy Travel has experience over 35 years to arranging Kilimanjaro climbs, so it is very well-experienced in handling these Kilimanjaro climbs. It prepares every trekker properly and gives them great advice about climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and which route to take.
My favorite month to climb Kilimanjaro is December because many trekkers want to summit during the festive holiday of Christmas and New Year. This is a dream for most trekkers, and I like to be part of the experience of those who accomplish their dreams on this trek. December is during the high season and is also the wet season, although the rainfall is unpredictable.
My favorite part of Mount Kilimanjaro is the summit. The day you arrive at the summit, you have achieved the main purpose of the trek. The summit has ice, glaciers, and snow; no living things exist. You can usually spend a maximum of 30 minutes at the summit due to the lack of oxygen, but this depends on the health and condition of the individual trekker. This is the most challenging part of the trek.
People do not expect Mount Kilimanjaro experiences such cold weather. Most trekkers come from cold regions but assume it will not be so cold on Kilimanjaro. Trekkers have to handle the cold for many hours, which is unfamiliar to many trekkers who would not spend so long outside in their own countries. On Mount Kilimanjaro, especially during the summit day, you must spend 8 hours in the cold. Not everyone expects this!

There are more than 125 tribes in Tanzania, which is fascinating, especially as Tanzanians live together like friends and are generous towards all people, whatever tribe they are from. We Tanzanians live in harmony together.

‘Chaga’ is the tribe that my mother comes from. This tribe lives in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro. They are mostly farmers that plant coffee, bananas, and maize. The native language is Chaga, and the people can be found in various geographic locations, such as Machame, Kibosho, Marangu, Old Moshi, Sia, and Rombo. All these people are Chaga, but their language will vary slightly according to location.

‘Jambo’ which means hello.

‘Asante’ which means thank you.

‘Pole Pole’ which means slowly slowly.

Guests will be surprised that I always smile, no matter where I am. My job is surprising because it is physically tough. But from my years of experience, I can handle the challenges. Trekkers might also be surprised to learn that I am half ‘Chaga’ and half ‘Kizigua.’ I know much about these tribes, as I am descended from them. I would love to share my knowledge of these tribes with all my trekkers! Trekkers are surprised I can greet them in German, Russian, French, Spanish, English, Swahili, and my native Chaga and Kizigua.

I advise trekkers to listen to their mountain guides whenever guidance is offered because they have all the experience and understand all the conditions and challenges that every trekker comes across. Listening to this advice will help trekkers to increase their chances of summiting. Ensuring you have enough of the right gear and equipment is crucial because you must be prepared for weather conditions or landscape changes. For example, when it’s windy, you need to have windbreakers. For rainy conditions, rain jackets and ponchos are essentials.

I have climbed Kilimanjaro 168 times as a mountain guide. I have climbed using all the routes of Mount Kilimanjaro. I prefer the Machame Route, as it does not have steep and dangerous trails. The most challenging route I have faced is Umbwe Route. This route has steep and risky trails.

The weather on Mount Kilimanjaro is unpredictable. It can change from sunny to rainy or cold in a few minutes. There is a strong wind at an altitude of 3000m and above. Proper gear and equipment are vital. Insufficient gear, or gear not of good quality, can prevent you from achieving your dream of summiting Mount Kilimanjaro. More than 90% of trekkers who climb Mount Kilimanjaro have never been at a high altitude as they will experience on Mount Kilimanjaro. We advise every trekker to go slowly because their bodies have not adjusted too high altitudes. This slow pace helps them to adjust and adapt to the high altitude.

The summit is another physical and mental challenge because you spend between 7 and 8 hours walking (depending on the trekker’s pace and health). This is perhaps the highest altitude you will have experienced, and you face low oxygen levels. Being cold and tired are real challenges, and there is a period when you can question why you are even doing this! So, endurance, self-commitment and positive thinking will help you reach the top.

I advise ensuring that you eat despite feeling a lack of appetite. It would help if you had the energy for the trek. Even if you have nausea or vomiting, some food will remain in your stomach, which can help you. Carbohydrates are easy to digest at high altitudes, which may improve your oxygen intake. Ensure you drink enough water (3 or more liters a day) to hydrate well, even if you do not feel thirsty. I advise trekkers to ‘climb high and sleep low for successful acclimatization.’ Your guide will explain to you what this means. I recommend ascending gradually to let your body adjust to the elevation. However, this depends on your health, walking pace, or climbing area. Your mountain guide is always there to assist and advise – listen to him!

The challenges I have faced on the mountain are mainly the weather conditions affecting the trekker’s health. Altitude sickness is the one that often affects the trekker. If this is severe, they are returned to a lower elevation so their body can adjust to normal. Guests also suffer from hypothermia caused by the body losing heat in cold weather. If this occurs, we add warm clothing and cover them with a survival blanket. This is made from a special foil material that keeps the trekkers warm.


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