When I signed up to produce a commercial video of my hike to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro – followed by a luxury safari and a beach vacation – I had no idea how much people pay for this kind of adventure… and how truly life-changing it is.
I climbed Kilimanjaro via the Rongai route, so we had six days to get to the peak. The incredibly fit porters carried most of our luggage, and still it was an immense challenge to get past the altitude sickness. Only 70% of us made it to the top. I had been mostly looking forward to the luxury safari in neighbouring Kenya. But the challenge of hiking up this majestic mountain and being surrounded by the African savannah was one of the most unforgettable experiences I’ve had the privilege to experience. (Cost to other travelers: $2,000. My hike: Free.)
After, I took a six-seater plane to one of three Porini camps where we stayed in luxurious mobile tents. We were greeted by traditional Maasai warriors who showed us their ritual dances. For four days, we ate, drank, slept, and lived the safari life with animal spottings at dawn and dusk and campfire tales each evening. (Cost to other travelers $3,000 per person. My meals, transport, and accommodations: All free.)
Of course, we got to see the Big Five, but my personal highlight was a leopard walking up a tree, because they are so incredibly elusive and rare to film.
I then took a plane to the next Porini camp, where I got to see a cheetah hunt and play with its four cubs. Because I was filming, I was taken out in a private Jeep and didn’t meet a single tourist. (A $500/day value.)
The final camp required another flight, and here I saw an amazing number of elephants with their young, playing in a water hole. Simply incredible! I calculated that my virtual pay-check had already been $10,000 for climbing Kilimanjaro and visiting three different Safari camps, but I still hadn’t come to the end of my trip.
Next I was taken to Mafia Island where we stayed in tree houses. These were luxurious tree houses with running water, and this part of the journey included a trip to a private beach on a sandbank that disappears every afternoon, followed by a romantic dinner in a candle-lit ruin surrounded by palm trees.
The next day, those with a diving certificate could dive in the stunning coral reefs teeming with life. I then moved to a more traditional luxury cabin on the beach, where I spent another three days mostly lying in a hammock under the palm trees … and occasionally doing some filming. I had just banked another $5,000 of virtual money. The cost to me was zilch.
But the best was yet to come. I took a ferry to Zanzibar where I stayed at an exclusive resort with an infinity pool and view of the nearby white-sand beach. The next day we went on a spice tour before I moved to Chole Island where I filmed more cabins by the beach and myself getting a massage. Thank god for tripods! All of this was worth another $5,000, bringing my total to $20,000 worth of travel perks.
At that time, I only earned about $500 per video, but that also added up to $4,000, since I created eight short videos for all of those trips.
So in total, I just had a $20,000 vacation that paid out $4,000 dollars for going home and editing eight two-minute travel videos.
Not a bad way to “work,” right?
Note: You don’t need much extra gear to get started. I tell you exactly what you need here.