Belagavi girl Neha Doddanavar scales Mt. Kilimanjaro

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Neha Doddanavar, daughter of Dr. Ramesh and Dr. Savitri Doddanavar of Belagavi, successfully summited Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania on 25th January 2024. Neha completed her education at St. Joseph’s Convent School, Belagavi, and then graduated from Bharatesh BBA. She completed her MBA in Strategic Marketing from Greenwich University, UK.

Neha has always been a fitness enthusiast. She and her friends, (who are also from India) had ventured into mountaineering for quite some time now. They started 3 years back with local charity walks and local Hikes around the UK. They peaked almost all mountains in England and then the aspiration was to summit higher peaks elsewhere. That is when Mt. Kilimanjaro popped up in their minds. Neha started with a variety of physical fitness practices in yoga, cycling, and walking and is now into hiking. She also encouraged her husband Bharath to continue his journey in marathons. In the days to come, she plans to peak more mountains all over the world.

Speaking from Aylesbury – Buckinghamshire (UK) where she lives with her husband Bharath and daughter Diya, Neha had plenty to share with

What kind of preparations did you make for your climb?

In preparation for Mt. Kilimanjaro, I trained for over 6 months with a lot of dedication and determination which helped in achieve my goal. I trained with weights, climbing uphill and downhill, aerobics with weights, lunges, squats, Yoga and more to increase my stamina naturally. Regular practice of cold showers and ice dips increases the body’s ability to absorb more oxygen. Yoga exercises to inhale and exhale deeply also help in climbing.

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Did you make use of oxygen cylinders?

No, I didn’t use oxygen but practiced slow breathing techniques. We would slowly inhale- take one step, another inhale, take another step and so on. This technique helped us in conserving stamina and climbing.

How was the terrain en route to the peak?

Mt. Kilimanjaro is breathtakingly beautiful. In all of the 7 days of our trek, we could see all the different vegetation of the mountain including Human Civilization (1800mtr), Rainforest (1800 to 3000mtrs), Moorland (3000 to 4000mtrs), Alpine Desert (4000 to 5000mtrs) External Ice Glacier (above 5000mtrs- with temperature up to -20). During our climb, even if it was summer in Africa, the temperatures were around -18 degrees. However, with adequate care and proper gear, one cannot feel the cold as much.

How was the actual summit?

We had chosen the longer Lemosho route because it allowed us to slowly acclimatize our body for the steep ascent. Long trek hours, long distances of walk, steep inclines and decent, extremely high altitude with high UV rays and wet and slippery forest conditions make the trek very difficult. To avoid the extremely high ultraviolet rays of the sun (Mt. Kilimanjaro is a volcanic mountain), we decided to summit at night. So we started at 11 at night and walked all night for 7 hours straight to summit before sunrise. It was one of the hardest climbs to summit with low oxygen. We had to keep ourselves hydrated by drinking 3-4 litres of water and having candies and sugary sweets to keep the energy levels. Lack of sleep disturbs sleep patterns. High altitude causes changes in taste buds as one don’t want to eat because you cannot experience taste. However, we have to force ourselves to eat.

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How did you plan for the trek?

Many companies organize treks to Mt. Kilimanjaro. We had also booked through one such company. They provide the porters, cooks and helpers to assist with carrying over 15 kgs of luggage and guiding us through the terrain. For all their help, we have a Tipping ceremony when we reach base camp and they sing and celebrate the climb with us.

Who issues the completion certificate?

The office at the base camp of the Mt. Kilimanjaro National Park is notified by the guides of the company about the completion of the summit. Then the office issues a certificate of completion which is a cherished memorabilia indeed.

What was your takeaway from this success?

After I came down the mountain I cried with joy, such is the experience of overcoming all odds and climbing the tall mountain. It makes you humble in many ways. I would say anyone with grit and determination and with lots of preparation, can scale mountains.

(Mount Kilimanjaro is a dormant volcano located in Kilimanjaro Region of Tanzania. It has three volcanic cones: Kibo, Mawenzi, and Shira. It is the highest mountain in Africa and the highest single free-standing mountain above sea level in the world: 5,895 m (19,341 ft) above sea level and about 4,900 m (16,100 ft) above its plateau base. It is the highest volcano in Africa and the Eastern Hemisphere.)

14 thoughts on “Belagavi girl Neha Doddanavar scales Mt. Kilimanjaro”

  1. Hearty Congratulations! Neha. Your determination and hardwork towards your goal is commendable inspite of taking care of your little daughter.I have been following you for the last few years and observed the effort that you have put in to reach this level is admirable. Wish you success to many more such treks.

  2. Neha, our Bagi Family has yoga and fitness running from almost 50 years..your achievement is beyond comparable..your pursuance and dedication is ultimate..
    Proud of you…Aunt Bharati

  3. I am reading it from Tanzania and couldn’t help but also “cry with joy” because of how the girl retells the story. It is so touching!

    Congratulations to lovely Neha!

  4. Belgavi by it’s virtue of such versatile people is making a land mark. Woman of such tallent will definitely make the community great. Feeling very proud. Kudos

  5. Congratulation Neha, am glad you made it and am very proud of you. I did the same adventure in 2023 with Kilimanjaro ASAP and it was incredible experience.

  6. Congratulations Neha on your big achievement. I am very proud of you.

    I can relate to each part of your journey because I too managed to accomplish this great adventure in early 2022 via Lemosho route.

    Reading your story brought back the memories and it felt good.

  7. I m Mrs.Renuka Nannoji working as HOD social science dept in KLE’s international school belgaum…Congratulations Neha.Belgaum is very proud of you…you are a source of inspiration for all students and residents of Belgaum


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