Capturing Mount Kilimanjaro Experience Moved to Spring

February 23, 2023  |  by Heidi Wells, Global Campus

Robert Powell saw these monkeys while on tour in Africa with the guide company Follow Alice.

University of Arkansas instructor Robert W. Powell has more time to practice breathing exercises, do calisthenics, sleep on the floor and improve his nutrition habits before his next trip to Mount Kilimanjaro. It's all part of his plan to actively engage students in the hospitality management program.

He was originally scheduled to leave in February for his visit to the "roof of Africa," but unfortunate personal circumstances arose, forcing him to postpone until May the trip that he will document live for U of A students studying hospitality management online.

"On my first go-around, one of the hardest things to do was getting in and out of a tent after hiking so many kilometers a day," Powell said.

Taking care of a family member required a lot of Powell's time for most of November and December. With a few extra months to get ready for the grueling hike of more than 19,000 feet up the peak, Powell is dialing in aspects of physical fitness to enhance his experience.

"I've been going to parts of grocery stores I didn't know existed. I live in New Orleans and we eat lots of seafood but it's mostly fried. I'm buying frozen filets and eating three or four fish meals a week."

Robert W. Powell, University of Arkansas instructor, hospitality management
Robert W. Powell
Robert W. Powell

"In the past two months, I've been doing yoga and other activities that don't take large chunks of time," he said. "I had to be nimble in adjusting to the time I had available. I began working with nutrition folks with Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans and a high-altitude nutrition trainer in weekly Zoom meetings."

He's counting macronutrients – protein, fat and carbohydrates – as well as paying more attention to sodium intake.

"You don't realize how much food you need to eat in that physically demanding environment," Powell said. "You don't realize how much fat is in a normal diet. I've been going to parts of grocery stores I didn't know existed. I live in New Orleans and we eat lots of seafood but it's mostly fried. I'm buying frozen filets and eating three or four fish meals a week. It gave me an excuse to buy a new grill. I've never eaten grains and legumes before. It's all healthy and I'm mixing them into good recipes."

Powell teaches several online courses in the U of A's School of Human Environmental Sciences in the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences. He uses real-time travel adventures to help students imagine worldwide career opportunities in hospitality management.

Students can vicariously experience aspects of global tourism through Powell's excursions. They will log in to recordings or live broadcasts as he uses various technologies including 360-degree cameras, drones, gimbles, virtual reality goggles and satellite capabilities to describe the trip visually and show them what's involved if they want to work in adventure travel excursions. A GPS tracker will allow students to follow Powell along the way.

The trip to Mount Kilimanjaro will be wetter than if he had gone in February, although not drastically, Powell said. It's important to have high-quality rain gear, he said, which can be expensive.

"Wet weather can be dangerous," he said. "The best piece of equipment is a poncho because it's easy to throw on and it goes over everything on your back, including your backpack. The last two days it doesn't really matter, though; you're going to be cold, wet and tired, period."

The elevation creates its own climate, Powell said, and there's likely to be more snow higher up in the spring.

He carried too much equipment last time, items he didn't need, he said, so this time he's relying on less – but more sophisticated – technology, including a still camera and a video camera.

"The whole mission is to capture this and bring it back to my students," Powell said.

He's also planning a trip to Mount Everest base camp at the end of 2023.

Photo of Heidi Wells

Heidi Wells

Content Strategist

Heidi Wells is the content strategist for the Global Campus at the University of Arkansas and editor of The Online Learner. Her writing spans more than 30 years as a communicator at the U of A and a reporter and editor at Arkansas newspapers. Wells earned two degrees from the U of A: a master's in 2013 and a bachelor's in 1988.

Wells can be reached at or 479-575-7239.

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