How Macon, a 63-year-old American summited Mt Kilimanjaro 50 times

The government of Tanzania recognized America’s Macon Dunnagan’s unselfish efforts to promote Tanzania and appointed him an honorary Tanzania tourist ambassador to the United States of America in 2012.

I was a young man in his early 20s when I decided to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in the year 2010.

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My entire life, I have been a proud and consistent gym-goer, and I have always been physically fit. Although the ascent to the peak was both fascinating and difficult, I am proud to say that I have successfully reached the highest point on the African continent, and I have photographs to prove it.

Tourist on Kilimanjaro Charity
“It was no small feat, that is until I met a 63-year-old American who has summited Mt. Kilimanjaro 50 times, that is 50 times going through the tortuous ascent under the burning sunlight and chilly nights as you reach the top,” says Macon Dunnagan, an honorary Tanzanian tourism ambassador to the United States. Dunnagan is an American national who had previously served as a tourism ambassador for Tanzania.

During this chilly morning at the Zara tours headquarters in Moshi, Mr. Macon came up to me and my cameraman and shook my hand in a rather firm manner. I was sipping my tea at the time.

“Sir, had you ever served in the military before?” I inquired about him. Indeed, I was anticipating a positive response in the form of confirmation. Then, as he sat down, he responded, “No, I have never served.”

Macon is an honorary Tanzania tourist ambassador to the United States, which is a very astute move on the part of whoever in Tanzania’s government made the decision to award that position upon him.

There is no doubt that he has made a significant contribution to Tanzania’s tourism industry, particularly at a time when inventiveness is desperately required to convince tourists to select Tanzania as their vacation destination rather than other countries.

It would be fitting for him to serve as our tourism ambassador, Macon. It is quite possible that any individual who is capable of climbing that mountain fifty times will be able to persuade Americans to travel to Tanzania for an experience that they will never forget.

Macon, who lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, was fortunate enough to win a trip to Cape Town with South African Airways in 1999. This was the first time that he had ever travelled to Africa to visit the continent.

When he was offered the opportunity to select a second destination, he decided to travel to Tanzania with his wife. This decision was made 23 years ago. During his initial journey to Tanzania, he climbed Mount Kilimanjaro using the Marangu route, which took him all the way to Gilman’s point, which is situated at an elevation of 5685 meters above sea level.

According to Macon, “It was a beautiful experience even though it was very challenging.” His insistence was that climbing Mount Kilimanjaro would be the most difficult mental and physical task you would ever deliberately undertake in your entire life.

However, Macon continued to return, and on his second visit, he brought a friend with him to climb with him. This revelation was truly remarkable.

On his third visit, he was accompanied by two companions, and he continued to climb to the summit by utilizing a variety of alternative routes.

“They told me that there are more routes than just Marangu,” he tells. “So after six months, I came back and used the Machame routes,” he says.

It is now too late for him to take any of the accessible routes.

Macon Dunnagan Uhuru Peak
Macon Dunnagan standing on Uhuru Peak

For the purpose of getting himself ready, he engages in physical activities. He also has a gym in his garage and is a member of the well-known Planet Fitness gym that is located in the United States.

He never had in mind the goal of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro fifty times, but it just happened. In spite of the fact that Macon has undergone two operations on his shoulders and a hip replacement, he has not been slowed down in the least.

After reaching this significant milestone, Mr. Macon will return to climbing for the 51st time on February 12 of the following year.

In 2002, he published a book titled “Sons of Kilimanjaro,” in which he discussed his experience ascending the mountain for the first time.

The government recognized his unselfish efforts to promote Tanzania and appointed him an honorary Tanzania tourist ambassador to the United States of America in 2012.

His job entails promoting Tanzania as a preferred tourist destination, and he does travel shows all over the world, beginning with his own country and traveling to a number of locations, including New York, Chicago, and Atlanta.

Surprisingly, Macon encounters many who continue to believe that Mount Kilimanjaro is located in Kenya, and he is able to correct them precisely in these instances.

He cracks a chuckle and says, “I always tell them no, it is in Tanzania.” “You can never stop marketing Tanzania,” he insists. “We have to market Tanzania every single day, every single day.”


Tourism destinations in Tanzania should be promoted.

In order to market Tanzania’s tourism to the rest of the world, he is a staunch believer in the importance of evolving and trying new things.

According to him, “You cannot assume that the world is aware of what you have to offer. “You always have to come up with new ideas, which is why I am so in favor of having Tanapa (Tanzania National Parks), TTB (Tanzania Tourist Board), and other tourism stakeholders meet down and come up with new ideas,” he continues.

According to him, the agencies have a responsibility to promote Mafia Island as well as the scuba diving and whale shark diving activities that are currently gaining popularity on the island.

Due to the fact that tourists are able to go snookering with the great whales at Pole Pole Bungalows in Mafia Island, where you get to swim with the whale sharks, whale shark diving is becoming increasingly popular among tourists. This is an experience that would captivate any person who is looking for an exciting adventure.

It was stated by Macon that Selous National Park is the finest place for those individuals who are looking for a more secluded experience that is also less populated and has less traffic.He remarked, “Selous is a very quiet person.” People were often pleasantly surprised when he would inform them that Zanzibar offers scuba diving, and he would invite them to try it out. He would also invite them to try it out.

He has played this role in progressively introducing Americans to what Tanzania has to offer, which goes beyond the well-known mountain ranges of Kilimanjaro and the Serengeti, which are both located in Tanzania.

Traveling to Tanzania is an exciting experience. “We are able to provide whatever it is that a tourist desires to do,” he stated.

Macon is currently promoting Tanzania as a destination for honeymooners, and he is already advertising in wedding magazines in the United States, targeting the wedding market. All of this is being done with the intention of attracting a large number of people to Tanzania, with packages that will cater to a variety of desires that the newlywed couple may have.


With so many middlemen who work as tourist agents and contribute their commission, the cost of vacationing in Tanzania needs to be reduced in order for us to fully fulfill our potential in terms of increasing the number of tourists who visit our country.

A tourist from the United States who travels to Tanzania winds up paying a fee that is more than the actual expense of spending a holiday in Tanzania.

When it comes to this matter, Macon requires tourists to be vigilant. Additionally, because the internet is readily available, a traveler can arrange his or her vacation to Tanzania directly from a Tanzanian tourism company, thereby avoiding the need for any intermediaries and saving money in the process.

Putting an end to false information

On occasion, when civil upheaval or infectious disease is detected in a neighbouring country or any African country for that matter, Macon, in his capacity as a Tanzania tourism ambassador, is confronted with the challenge of dealing with some disinformation.

At the same time, it has an impact on the tourism industry in practically all African nations. This is due to the fact that visitors from the West who have never been to Africa have the misconception that Africa is a single country. Mr. Macon needs to educate these tourists in a courteous manner about this misconception.

In the midst of the Ebola outbreak, Mr. Macon was required to present them with a map of Africa in order to demonstrate the distance that Tanzania is spread from the infection.

He explained, “I had to demonstrate to them that even if you wanted to fly to that country from Tanzania, it would take you seven hours to get there, and they would always call him to seek his advice on how to travel.”

With the assistance of social media, he has been able to educate a large number of potential visitors and assist in reducing the amount of misinformation that would be detrimental to our tourism industry. He has all of the social media accounts that are available to assist potential tourists.

The tourism authority of Tanzania is aiming to attract tourists from the Macon demographic, which consists of Americans who have discretionary means and are able to travel to Tanzania for vacation.

In addition, the objective is to convince Americans to remain in Tanzania for an extended period of time, preferably for a month, and the implementation of this project is still in its early stages. The longer you remain, the lower your bill will be. This is the goal.

He stated, “We want Americans to stay here longer and not just for two weeks but for a month,” and he went on to say, “If I can climb Mount Kilimanjaro fifty times, you can come to Tanzania and climb it once.”


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