Introducing Julius John “Whitey” White

The man behind the magic on Kilimanjaro

No Bucket List Company trek to Kilimanjaro is complete without our beloved Whitey. Julius John White is the Chairman of the Guides in the Tanzania Tour Office, Leader at the Kilimanjaro Guides’ Association, the official 2012 World’s Best Tour Guide, and one of the coolest people you’ll ever meet.

No stranger to trekking, Whitey’s climbed Kili hundreds of times, and even made it halfway around the world to our CEO Keith’s big birthday bash earlier this year!

So let’s get to know the king of the Kilimanjaro guides, shall we?

Whitey! Thanks for speaking to us. Tell us, how long have you been climbing Kilimanjaro?

Jambo from Tanzania! I’m around 35 now and I think I was 14 when I first made my way up the mountain. So about 20 years I suppose.

And how many times have you climbed the Roof of Africa in that time?

It could be 400 or 500 times that I’ve climbed Kili – I’ve stopped counting now! I’ve done all of the routes loads of times. Each one is so unique, but Machame is my favourite.

Wow! So what’s your best piece of advice for anyone thinking about scaling Kili?

There are five things that I always advise, and they don’t only apply to Kili, but all mountain climbing:

1. Train your body. Before your trip, learn to walk slowly and for a long time. Start with a slow 3km walk in both directions, with two breaks on your way. Then do 5km and back, and keep working your way towards longer treks from there. Stay safe always too!

2. Eat enough food. On the mountain, you might lose your appetite as you go higher but the more energy you can keep putting into your body, the further you’ll be able to keep going!

3. Drink lots of water. 3 litres a day, but don’t go near a teapot! Avoid coffee and juice too.

4. Walk slowly (or “pole pole” as we say in Swahili). There’s less oxygen at higher altitudes so you need to let your body manage its oxygen intake slowly. If you can’t talk at the same time as walking, you’re going too fast.

5. Don’t forget to rest. Whenever you get a moment on the way up, and obviously at camp too, don’t run around! Get your head down for some well-earned rest and take it all slowly.

Great advice. So what makes Tanzania such a great place to visit?

Ah well the Tanzanian culture is really friendly and respectful. We’ve got wonderful national parks, home to most of the world’s animals. Our parks hold some great world records too, like Lake Tanganyika being the deepest on earth, Lake Victoria the biggest and widest.

We’ve got the eighth wonder of the world – the Ngorongoro Crater (find out more on page 24), an active volcano (Mount Oldonyo) and the highest freestanding mountain in the world: Kili herself! With different routes that suit every preference, you’ll achieve what you wish for in Tanzania.

It really is one of the greatest places on earth. What else do you do apart from leading treks up Kilimanjaro?

Aside from climbing, I lead bike tours, walking tours, culture tours, town tours, safari tours… Any type of tour really!

As one of the amazing Kilimanjaro guides, you must have been out on hundreds of tours. Have any clients stood out in particular on those hundreds of tours?

There are many many clients that I’ve loved working with, but my absolute favourite was probably a lady from Scotland called Corinne. She has no legs or hands and has a problem with her lungs but still had this sort of beautiful, kind respect for the mountain. She climbed Kili with 12 of her friends and we all made it to the peak! It wasn’t the easiest of treks but, together, we did it.

Let’s wrap up by finding out what’s on your Bucket List.

I’d love to do the Sahara Desert trek in Morocco or a Machu Picchu trip with the Bucket List Company. And I’d love to visit Everest Base Camp in Nepal. But most of all, I want to keep growing my love and respect of nature!

Thanks Whitey! Amazing as always.

If you want to experience first-hand the amazing things that Whitey’s mentioned here, and maybe even meet the legend himself, head to thebucketlistcompany.co.uk/africa to book your trip to Tanzania!