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Kgale Hill Baboons, Tears, Muscles and a ‘Big Engine’: My Epic Kgale Hill Climb Adventure!

Kgale Hill Baboons, Tears, Muscles and a ‘Big Engine’: My Epic Kgale Hill Climb Adventure!

A Journey of a Thousand Miles…….

If there are ever people born with a bone for exercise, shame on them for looting everything leaving us couch potatoes with nothing. Us, who have to wrestle with our own willpower, excavating mountains of motivation just to pry ourselves off the sofa and commit to a mere 2 minutes and 17 seconds of exercise.

Yes, we are the ones who  believe that merely hoisting ourselves out of bed deserves a gold medal in physical activity. Yep, that’s me, and sometimes I feel like I was destined for a life of lazy leisure, basking in the sun or strolling along the beach. That is, of course, until an unwelcome guest, a rogue lump of excess fluff, decided to join the ranks of indolence and camp out in all the wrong places. Oh, the audacity! Lounging in slumber and gazing dreamily at the horizon, lulled by the ceaseless symphony of food streams cascading into my belly. It seems there’s a never-ending relationship between these stowaway fat reserves and the tributaries within my midriff. And the crowd just keeps swelling.

Well, you get the picture, I’ve never been the exercise enthusiast, and any feeble attempt I made at physical effort was often the result of me coercing, sweet-talking, or even threatening myself into just moving a smidgen. So, you can well imagine the comical, self-inflicted banter that commenced when one part of my head decided we were going to venture into the realm of mountain climbing. You catch my drift, I’m sure.

After some globe-trotting adventures, it finally dawned on me that the mountain training regimen needed to kick off. I can still vividly recall that day. I woke up, summoned the whole family, and proudly declared my intention to take up mountain climbing.

Of course, my brilliant mom chimed in, advising, “You can’t just start with a big mountain, dear. Begin with the smaller hills first.”

I thought, “Brilliant idea!” Not only was I not failing to deliver on my own idea, but I was also making my mom ecstatic by climbing an anthill. I mean, who can’t conquer a little hill, right? So, with that mindset, I embarked on a quest to locate Gaborone’s favorite hill, something that I initially envisioned as child’s play.

Kgale Hill – Gaborone, The Sleeping Giant

Nestled within the heart of Gaborone, Botswana, Kgale Hill, known as “The Place that Dried Up” in Setswana, stands as a captivating testament to nature’s beauty and grandeur. Aptly nicknamed “The Sleeping Giant,” Kgale Hill reaches a summit elevation of 1.287 kilometers (0.8 miles) above sea level, making it a towering presence and believed to be the highest point in Botswana. This iconic landmark offers not just sweeping panoramic vistas, but a unique hiking experience as well.

Image Credit: Athena Lao –

Adventurers seeking to conquer Kgale Hill have a choice of three trails to climb, each offering its own challenges and rewards. As you ascend its slopes, you might even be greeted by the curious gaze of troops of baboons, adding an element of wildlife encounter to your hike. Kgale Hill isn’t merely a physical challenge or a scenic spot; it’s a slice of history and a testament to the bond between nature and urban life in Gaborone.

I found myself at the base of that hill, blissfully unaware that this was the beginning of an odyssey that would redefine me. There, I met Bra Lucky, the amiable guide who would soon become my guardian. He posed a question that would dictate the course of our adventure: “Which path, the easy or the hard?” Bra Lucky explained the choices. The easy route, he said, was a gentler, longer journey along smoother paved terrain. The hard path, on the other hand, involved conquering boulders and rocky terrain. The catch? Once you ventured onto the hard path, there was no turning back; it was an arduous ascent. As Bra Lucky awaited my answer, I stood there in silence. Time would tell.

Climbing Kgale Hill

As we embarked on the climb, a mere five minutes passed before I was already gasping for air. My chest burned, muscles ached, and pain enveloped every inch of my being. I was wheezing, drenched in sweat, and contemplating a retreat. My brain scrambled for excuses to persist, but the counterarguments for turning back grew stronger. Bra Lucky, impatient with my sluggish pace, had advanced far ahead. Casting a glance backward, I noticed a few baboons observing my languid progress, as if critiquing my performance. Their slow approach intensified my motivation to continue. I had heard unsettling tales of these creatures attacking women and making off with their bags. My backpack held a trove of food, and the last thing I needed was to become a baboon’s meal. Fear of being mauled by baboons became my paramount incentive to persevere.

After enduring a taxing 40 minutes of painstaking ascent, I eventually reached a flat resting spot where Bra Lucky awaited, an oasis of relief in my journey. However, my sense of achievement was short-lived as my eyes fell upon an unsettling sign painted boldly on a nearby rock: “33%.” It crashed over me like a relentless wave. Bra Lucky, perceptive to my exhaustion, cautiously broached the idea of turning back, expressing doubt about my ability to complete the climb. After all most people never made it past that point, he explained.

His words struck deep, acting as a stark reminder of my propensity for self-sabotage. The phrase “most people stop here” ignited an internal fire of defiance. I refused to be another statistic. I was not most people. With renewed determination, I shouldered my backpack and pressed forward. The die was cast, each step a testament to my newfound resolve. The path grew steeper, challenges mounted, but my will remained unbroken. No retreat, no surrender.

The Easy Trail or The Hard Trail?

As the crossroads of the easy and hard routes loomed once more, Bra Lucky’s explanation took on a more urgent tone. “Which way?”

I recalled the book I had recently read, “Burn the Boats: Toss Plan B Overboard and Unleash Your Full Potential” by Matt Higgins. To conquer this mountain, I had to discard my own “Plan B” – the option to turn back whenever I felt overwhelmed. There could be no turning back if I was to succeed.

I inquired, “Which way is the hard one?”

Bra Lucky pointed to the left. My eyes met a daunting landscape of boulders reaching the sky. Without hesitation or room for second-guessing, I took the left path, scaling a few rocks before looking back. The steepness was undeniable. It became clear there was no turning back without breaking a bone or three.

Climbing on all fours, hands, feet, and belly working in unison, I felt like an animal in ascent. The pain intensified, my chest burned, but I kept repeating, “I can, I will, and I must,” recalling motivational videos reminiscent of ET’s inspirational speeches.

Around the 65% mark, the pain reached an unbearable climax. There was no break, no avenue for retreat. If an easy descent had been an option, I would have taken it without hesitation. Every fiber of my being clamored for a break. I was depleted, physically and mentally. Every ache, every discomfort was amplified. Yet, I pressed on, one rock at a time, one step following the other. I couldn’t even glance back – a challenge in itself as I have an intense fear of heights. But there was no turning back.

In this trying juncture, my phone and earphones became my steadfast companions, delivering a lifeline of motivational words. I continued, step by grueling step, drawing strength from each minor triumph, one rock at a time. Suddenly, I found myself at the summit – a breathtaking moment, and I had scaled it one rock at a time.

The joy, the exhilaration, the fresh breeze at the peak were intoxicating. The pain faded into the background amidst the beauty. Yet, as I reveled in the view, Bra Lucky delivered another revelation: I needed to climb again the next day to prevent my muscles from stiffening. So, I returned, taking the hard route once more, and climbed again, braving the pain. Fearful of soreness, I limped home, but the next day, I was back, and the day after, and the next, until two months had elapsed, with me climbing every weekday.

Meeting Muscles and Embracing the Big Engine

From that transformative day forward, I didn’t just become your run-of-the-mill hiker; I evolved into a daily hiking enthusiast, unwavering in my resolve to ascend until the pain surrendered. Today, as I stand at the summit, I wish this hill were two or three times taller. My days settled into a comforting rhythm, a pledge to navigate the challenging path. Amidst the strenuous climbs, I cherished the moments of serene solitude for meditation, writing, and contemplation that this hill generously offered.

One of the intriguing facets of my daily hikes was the chance encounters with fellow hill-goers – athletes, fitness gurus, and other enthusiasts. Most opted for the easier trails, avoiding the rugged ascent. However, one day, as I embarked on my hike, I encountered an extraordinary individual descending the hill. My breath caught as I beheld his physique, seemingly plucked from the pages of a fitness magazine. Drenched in sweat, his shirt seemingly fused to his skin, it was evident that he had tackled both the uphill and downhill stretches with an unmatched intensity. I hoped my staring hadn’t given me away, but before I could overthink it, he broke the silence.

Summoning my most composed demeanor, I greeted him and inquired about his hike. After a brief exchange, we delved into discussions about the various trails on the mountain. He confided that he had taken the easier route, admitting that, despite his years of conquering Kgale Hill, he had never dared to venture upon the rocky path. According to him, the rocky route demanded a “big engine” for conquering – whatever that meant.

I chuckled, bidding him farewell as I continued my ascent. That casually delivered compliment struck a chord deep within me. It made me realize that while I had spent months ascending the challenging path, I had done it without a so-called “big engine.” My reservoir of determination, combined with an unwavering commitment to persevere in the face of adversity, and a steadfast refusal to surrender, was my very own “big engine.”

I remember making a promise to myself that day – nothing would stand in the way of achieving my goals, regardless of how daunting they might seem. It didn’t matter if I was the least knowledgeable person in the room, the least educated, or the one with the fewest skills or muscles. Armed with my unique version of a “big engine,” I could shatter boundaries beyond the reach of even the mightiest.

Lessons from Heights and Hope

So, what initially appeared as a choice between the easy and the hard paths on Kgale Hill turned into a profound journey of self-discovery and empowerment. This hill became a mirror, reflecting back to me the hidden strengths I didn’t know I possessed, a living testament that our limits are not etched in stone.

As Kgale Hill fades into the annals of my memory, it leaves behind a narrative of triumph. Its challenges, once seemingly insurmountable obstacles, now stand as symbols of my empowerment. The memory of that breathtaking view from the summit serves as a perpetual reminder that determination possesses the power to conquer all. The path, whether rugged or smooth, offered invaluable lessons and kindled hope within me.

Within the winding trails of Kgale Hill, I unearthed a better, more resilient version of myself. It was here that I came to recognize that I, too, possessed a “big engine” that could propel me forward, no matter where life’s journey led. Little did I realize that this wisdom from the mountain would serve as my guiding light, not only on future outdoor adventures but also in the realm of business. For, as I would come to discover, entrepreneurship is its own formidable mountain, laden with its unique set of challenges. If anything demands a “big engine,” it’s the process of starting and running a business, especially given the considerable hurdles entrepreneurs face each day.

Empowering Entrepreneurs to Bounce Back and Level Up

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