Summiting Kilimanjaro - The Roof Of The World

By: Ofer Zur, Ph.D.

Having finished my latest (fourth) book on Boundaries in Psychotherapy in early 2007, the perennial question, “What’s next for me?” returned. I had been searching for what gives me joy and meaning at this stage of my life.

As is apparent to those who are close to me, the questions about my joy, calling and meaning are often closely related to critical thinking and challenges around boundaries issues. The question of meaning is also closely related to my relationships with colleagues, clients, friends and family.

My history seems to indicate that my various challenges at different times in my life have revolved around the question of what boundary I should consider crossing next.


Watching the movie Motorcycle Diaries threw me deeper into an “existential funk” and further into questioning my calling. Upon reflection, I came up with two responses: The first is to go (part time) back to my old stomping grounds in Africa and see how I can apply myself for the good of humanity. Secondly, to challenge the boundary of air and oxygen by daring to climb with my son, age 14, and our very close family friend Sarah, 24, the awesome 19,300 feet of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, also known as the “Roof of Africa.”

Mt. Tam



Climbing Kilimanjaro with my older son has a special meaning,
it is a metaphor for our lives as it involves:


  • Envisioning the goal: Quite a high goal in this case. Kilimanjaro is the tallest free-standing mountain and the largest volcano in the world.
  • Understanding or constructing the meaning of the challenge and the metaphor or symbolism of the journey: Kilimanjaro provides several metaphors and symbols for us to ponder. It was created by fire and is crowned with ice. Perhaps the most awesome metaphor for the perspective that the mountain provides is that one can see the curvature of the world from the top.
  • Evaluating the Goal: Appraising its merit, meaning and how attainable it is.
  • Planning how to reach it: Big steps, small steps, sequence and much more.
  • Considering different options and outcomes: My son and I remind ourselves repeatedly that “Life is a series of plan Bs”
  • Training: While physical training is obviously important, emotional, relational and spiritual aspects of the training are much more important.
  • Executing: This phase involves doing our super best to reach the peak and, at the same time, surrendering and being present to how things will unfold.



Mt. Kilimanjaro Photos

We left for our trip on June 13th, 2007 and took the Rongai (northern) Route over seven days. If you are curious about how such an expedition is organized, you can go to Zara Tours and find out. We followed the climb by going on Safari at the spectacular Serengeti and the Ngoro Ngoro game reserves.

Zara Tours, the company we chose to take us up the mountain and on the Safari, was instrumental in the success of the trip. They were very organized, knowledgeable, responsive, and extremely helpful from the day we contacted them to the day they dropped us off at the airport to fly back home. I, for one, have no doubt that I would not have made it to the top without the assistance, guidance and care of our highly experienced guide, Bruce and his assistant, Living. Needless to say, I am grateful to them and highly recommend them.

The e-message I posted online as soon as we came down from the mountain 6/22/07


Click To Enlarge

Our Kilamanjaro Climb      Our Kilamanjaro Climb      Our Kilamanjaro Climb      Our Kilamanjaro Climb

Our Kilamanjaro Climb      Our Kilamanjaro Climb      Our Kilamanjaro Climb      Our Kilamanjaro Climb


Photos From Our Safari In Lake Manyara, Serengeti And Ngorongoro Creator

Our Safari      Our Safari      Our Safari      Our Safari

Our Safari      Our Safari      Our Safari      Our Safari

Sign up for topical updates and invitations to participate with Dr. Zur