Published on : Friday, March 3, 2017
Exodus Travels is celebrating some of history’s boldest female travellers: explorers, trekkers and pioneers who have changed the way we see our planet, having navigated wide oceans, made tracks through barren deserts, broken records and smashed preconceptions. Even with the odds stacked against them, these tenacious ladies made history.
Along with them, Exodus celebrates some of their own who are changing the face of travel: their female team of porters on Kilimanjaro, and renowned leader and high altitude trekker Valerie Wilson.
Exodus’ Female Porters on Kilimanjaro
Exodus is proud to have set up and continued to support their own Porter school in Arusha, providing essential training for those wishing to work as porters on Kilimanjaro and to progress to more senior roles. Unusual for Tanzania, the school accepts both men and women, with female porterage and guiding forming a vital component on Exodus treks.
“These women work alongside their male counterparts, doing the same work and earning the same money. It offers them a real independence,” says Responsible Tourism Manager, Megan Devenish. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for women in a traditional patriarchal society to earn a living. Exodus has both female assistant guides and porters regularly working on the mountain, providing them with a good salary for their families. The money often goes towards their children’s education.”
This isn’t anything new for Exodus. The tour operator has been employing female staff on the mountain for well over a decade and what used to be rare is now changing. The progress that has occurred over the years of running the porter school has been astounding, and the standard of English and understanding of the tourism industry has improved tremendously.
Valerie is a renowned Exodus leader and high altitude trekker with 30 years’ experience leading groups in the Himalaya. She is known rightly as an “Exodus Legend,” having spent more than 50% of her life amongst the most magnificent mountains on Earth.
The first British woman to summit Manaslu (8,163m), the eighth tallest peak in the world, without supplementary oxygen, to say Valerie is an experienced trekker is an understatement. She has led the ascent of Stok Kangri more than 20 times and spent at least 14 Christmas days trekking to Everest Base Camp. In 2009 (as a 50th birthday present to herself!) she attempted to summit Everest and (despite running out of oxygen and getting frostbite) successfully reached the South Summit at 8,761m. She has been instrumental in setting up and managing Exodus’ various Responsible Travel projects in the Himalaya.