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kilimanjaro playlist

I was a little torn between bringing my iPod on Mount Kilimanjaro with me or leaving it at home.  Some people firmly believe in unplugging from technology on vacation, especially if that vacation includes communing with nature on the tallest mountain in Africa.  But I also knew how challenging this climb would be for me and that I might need something to help motivate me to keep hiking when all other methods failed.  So along came my old, outdated little iPod and a comfy set of headphones.

It was SUCH a lifesaver.

I didn’t use my iPod at first but by Day 4 I needed that extra motivation and was using it a few hours a day.  By summit night I was using it purely as a distraction.  Since we were hiking in the middle of the night, hoping to reach the summit at sunrise, there was nothing to look at.  The boots of the person directly in front of me became my view for 8 solid hours.  There were plenty of times when I just wanted to quit.  For five days I wanted nothing but to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro but on that last night of climbing I had no desire to keep going.

It was my upbeat and inspiring music that got me through the worst of it and I’m glad I created a playlist just for this climb.  Here’s a list of my 20 favorite songs from my custom Kilimanjaro playlist.  Guys, you’ll notice it’s a little heavy with female singers but there’s a few songs in there that are worth adding to your manly playlist.  Enjoy!

“Africa” by Toto

Since I’m a little Type A this song will probably always appear at the top of my playlists because I insist on everything being in alphabetical order.   You can’t be climbing Kilimanjaro and NOT have this song on your playlist.  Even if you don’t like 80’s music, stick it on there anyway.  You’ll thank me later.


“Anyway” by Martina McBride

Fair warning, I have a couple country songs on here.  I realize not everyone likes country music but I enjoy all genres.  It’s also a pretty slow song but that’s okay. Not every song in your Kilimanjaro playlist should be fast and upbeat.  Your pace on the mountain is going to be slow and steady and most of your music should match that cadence.  This song is for reminding you why you stepped foot on the mountain in the first place: to follow your dream.

“You can chase a dream
That seems so out of reach
And you know it might not ever come your way
Dream it anyway”


“Beautiful Life” by Nick Fradiani

Here’s a more upbeat song but still not one you’d expect to find on a traditional exercise playlist.  Just keep in mind that the playlist you’re making is not for exercise, it’s for getting to the top of a mountain.  I love “Beautiful Life” because it reminds me to cherish every single day.


“Best Day of My Life” by American Authors

This is one of my favorite travel/road trip songs which is why I had it added to my playlist for Kili.  I just love the lyrics!


“Brave” by Sara Bareilles

This song has been on my workout playlist for a while.  It’s a good tune for exercising but the music video is also REALLY awesome and inspiring.  Check it out.


“Can’t Hold Us” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

I love Macklemore and this is a good upbeat song for adding to your playlist.  It’s also good for dancing to on the trail.  Not that I would know about such things.


“Chariots of Fire” by Vangelis

Summit song!  This iconic tune has to be playing as you slog your way to Uhuru Peak with the sun rising in the distance.  Perfection.


“Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor

This is another song that I’ve had on my workout playlist for years that made its way onto my Kilimanjaro playlist.  It’s a well-known classic and for good reason.  Such a motivating song!

“Rising up, straight to the top
Had the guts, got the glory
Went the distance, now I’m not gonna stop
Just a man and his will to survive”


“Fight Song” by Rachel Platten

I’ll share a secret with you about Mount Kilimanjaro.  It’s an emotional journey to the top.  SO many tears are shed on the way up that mountain and chances are that you’ll have that one song on your playlist that’s guaranteed to make you cry.  This was that song for me.  But “Fight Song” was my ultimate motivator and my favorite song on my playlist.


“Girl on Fire” by Alicia Keys

Another tear-jerker song for me.  I love this song because of the lyrics and because it’s slow enough that I can match my pace to the tune.  Sometimes I would just put this song on repeat because it was so easy to walk to.

“Looks like a girl, but she’s a flame
So bright, she can burn your eyes
Better look the other way
You can try but you’ll never forget her name”


“Go Big or Go Home” by American Authors

This is such a versatile song! I’ve got it on my travel playlist, my workout playlist and my Kili playlist.  The title of the song is pretty much my motto.


“I Lived” by OneRepublic

This is a song with a powerful message that really resonates with me and the music video is so incredible and emotional.  It’s a song that reminds you to live your life to the fullest.  Just having the ability to walk up a mountain like Kilimanjaro is a great privilege, don’t take it for granted.


“I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor

I added this song to my playlist just a couple weeks before my trip so I didn’t have a chance to train with it on my iPod but it was a good addition because I honestly felt like I was barely surviving that trek up the mountain. #Survivor

“I will survive
Oh as long as I know how to love
I know I’ll stay alive
I’ve got all my life to live
I’ve got all my love to give
And I’ll survive
I will survive”


“On Top of the World” by Imagine Dragons

I had grand plans to use this song to make a video montage of my Kilimanjaro hike but the video I managed to take on the mountain was crap.  All 3 minutes of it.  Maybe next time?


“Pumpin Blood” by NONONO

Brandon thinks this song is pretty weird but I like it.  It’s one of my favorite exercise songs and just a feel-good song, despite the strange lyrics and the even stranger music video.

“It’s so magical feeling, that no one’s got a hold
You’re a catalyst to your own, happiness you know”


“Ride” by Martina McBride

What can I say, I was a born a country girl.  This is an AWESOME song but I don’t want to subject you to a music video with Martina’s terrible dancing so here’s some of my favorite lyrics.

“Life is a roller coaster ride
Time turns the wheel and love collides
Faith is believing you can close your eyes and touch the sky
So shine while you have the chance to shine
Laugh even when you want to cry
Hold on tight to what you feel inside and ride”


“Stronger” by Kelly Clarkson

I love love LOVE this song and it was such a great a motivator for me on the mountain.  What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!


“Till I Collapse” by Eminem

There’s some explicit lyrics in this song but it’s GREAT for Kilimanjaro because it’s another slow paced song that’s good for walking to and because the song is a reminder to keep going, even if you feel like you want to collapse.  This is another song I used to put on repeat when hiking.

“‘Cause sometimes you just feel tired, you feel weak
And when you feel weak you feel like you want to just give up

But you gotta search within you, you gotta find that inner strength
And just pull that sh*t out of you and get that motivation to not give up
And not be a quitter, no matter how bad you want to just fall flat on your face and collapse”


“You Gotta Want It” by Jordin Sparks

This is a pretty popular song at sporting events and is another favorite exercise song of mine.

“Now this is the time to attack and stand tall
Together for one and one for all
The fight of your life is before your eyes
There’s no room for second, this is do or die”


Songs With Special Meaning

Add a few songs to your playlist that have special meaning to you.  For me that was “Daddy’s Hands” and “Ol’ Red” in memory of my dad and “Haven’t Met You Yet” for Stink.  Just don’t pick songs that will make you cry.  Climbing the mountain will be emotional enough without having to listen to a song that makes you depressed.  In hindsight I should have left “Daddy’s Hands” off my playlist for that very reason.

Hopefully these songs have rounded out your Kilimanjaro playlist nicely as you count down the months and weeks to your climb.  Remember that Kilimanjaro is almost as mentally challenging as it is physically.  You can do it!

20 Motivating Songs for Your Kilimanjaro Playlist, by Travel Fearlessly

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  1. I signed up to do Kilimanjaro with WHOA thanks to your previous posts. This playlist is awesome and I’ll definitely be adding on to my own now. Thank you!!

  2. Thanks for this playlist and the packing list. My sister and I hike the Lemosho Route this July 🙂

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