Exclusive: Former Strictly star Anita Rani opens up about her biggest challenge yet

And it's all for a very good cause...

When Anita Rani joins a host of celebrities climbing Mount Kilimanjaro for Comic Relief next week, she will have a secret weapon in her backpack – "a bottle of chilli sauce", she reveals to HELLO! during an exclusive shoot and interview. "I don't know what we’re going to get fed on that mountain, but everything tastes better with chilli sauce right? So that’s on my rider." The intrepid BBC Countryfile presenter will be embarking on the eight-day trek up Africa’s highest peak, which stands at 19,340ft, with Strictly Come Dancing head judge Shirley Ballas, BBC Breakfast's Dan Walker, Pointless host Alexander Armstrong, Little Mix singers Jade Thirlwall and Leigh-Anne Pinnock, former Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls, sports pundit and former American football star Osi Umenyiora and Love Island's Dani Dyer.

Anita Rani will be climbing Mount Kilimanjaro for Comic Relief

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She's feeling understandably nervous, not least because she only found out ten days before our photoshoot, while on holiday with her husband Bhupi Rehal, that she was going on the trip. "I was sitting in the Maldives on the beach with a piña colada in my hand, checking my email, when I found one saying I had been asked to join the team climbing Kilimanjaro. I was like: 'Hell, yes!' But then I was like: 'Do I put this drink down? Do I finish it?' Let’s just say, training-wise, I’m going to have to do a lot in a week.  Camping in basic conditions with night-time temperatures below freezing, and facing the ever-present risk of altitude sickness, the group will need to be ready for the challenge."

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Anita is getting in her trek prep whenever she can, even walking to today’s photoshoot from her East London home. "I’ve been walking everywhere. Unfortunately there aren’t many hills in East London!" she says. But she’s "itching to get up there", and adds: "I think I’m quite adventurous and I love mountains, but I’ve never done anything like this. Kilimanjaro is quite a feat. That kind of pressure and endurance test I’ve never done. The last endurance test I did was probably Strictly."

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Anita Rani spoke to HELLO!

To read the full story, pick up the latest copy of HELLO!, out Monday 18 February 

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