In 2018, Alma Lopez was less than a thousand feet from reaching the top of Mount Kilimanjaro.
“I think if I would have had another 45 minutes, I would have made it to the summit,” she shares. But weather conditions—the beginning of a snow blizzard—were not in her favor, and she was witnessing people around her suffer from altitude sickness; one person even had to be rescued by a helicopter. Her traveling group was told that if they went further up, there would be no rescue at the top.
The Latina business owner is now determined to complete the hike one day—and, with the help of her travel company, Alma Explores, she’s determined to bring other women along with her. Hiking Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak and the sixth tallest in the world, is a feat not many accomplish: Reportedly, only two-thirds of the some 35,000 people who hike it every year are successful.
But Lopez is no stranger to challenges. Lopez founded Alma Explores three years ago—right before the pandemic—after an extensive background working in the advertising industry and a persistent love for traveling. Lopez adds to the demographic of Latino entrepreneurs that are starting businesses at a faster rate than any other group in the country. She also joins a growing number of organizations like Latino Outdoors and Reclama that are advocating for more Latino representation in travel.
Alma Explores now leads and curates private and small group trips where Lopez wants everyone, especially other Latina women, to feel welcomed. Lopez says her business thrives on converting travelers who don’t usually pursue new adventurous experiences. Several of her most recent curated trips included a Kayaking & Camping trip in Loreto and a Girls Trip to Valle de Guadalupe in Baja California, Mexico.
Among the new destinations Lopez plans to take travelers on—including Morelia for the Day of the Dead celebration—is Mount Kilimanjaro, which is added to the itinerary for August 2023.
“I would really love to travel with a group of women who want to challenge themselves in Mount Kilimanjaro,” says Lopez.
For this trip, Lopez outlines what travelers can expect on the eight-day hike, including lodging accommodations, a packing list, park fees, information on guides and mountain crew, and meals. But she shares that much of what travelers will take away from the experience can’t be expressed in an itinerary. “The reason why I did it was because I heard it was more of a hike, not so much of a climb, and I wanted to really challenge myself physically,” says Lopez, detailing how her preparation for the trip also helped her address her past struggles with her weight.
Her quest to reach the top of Mount Kilimanjaro continues to be symbolic of the work she’s putting into her business and herself. “I am not going to stop until I reach that summit,” Lopez says.