Day 7: Another 5 hour walk down to the Mweke gate. The path turned hideously muddy and steep downhill, so the pace was very slow so we wouldn’t fall over and get absolutely covered in mud. Going downhill was more painful than uphill; your knees, toes, thighs ache with every steep, slippery step. We saw a lot of cute monkeys with very bushy tails, called Colobus monkeys.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity – the gate appeared. Many locals were along the path collecting twigs, logs and leaves. We registered our departure with the gatekeepers and then waited for Silvano to arrange a bus back. We expected a small bus like the one that took us to the gate, but Silvano managed to find one hell of a Jeep which ended up bumpier than Mr Bump in a ball pen.
It was sad leaving the beautiful mountain behind, but to be honest all I was thinking out was a nice hot lunch at the hotel, and more importantly, a hot shower. Due to being a bit late getting to the gate, we arrived at the hotel with only 30mins left for lunch, so had to eat immediately or risk not getting any food until 7pm. So we exhaustedly sat and ate the buffet looking like total wrecks. We were both covered in dirt, our hair not washed for 7 days (I hadn’t even taken out my plaits I’d done one day 1) and our clothes brown. We sat next to 4 female middle-aged Canadians who had permed hair, beautiful manicured pink nails and plenty of make-up. One looked horrified to see our appearances. After asking a few questions they told us they hired a porter to bring a portable toilet with them, and would “pay someone” to put up their tents as one had “a bad knee”. Hmm, not sure they really prepared for this. One even commented at dinner when I had had a shower that I looked “more normal now”. Geez, thanks old lady.
After a wonderful shower and a change into fresh clothes we sat out in the gardens and discussed tipping of the porters with Taryn and Lorena. The company gave out a guide to roughly what they should all get, and we ended up giving $200 each towards the tip. Silvano, Abell, the chef and the assistant chef Hatibo gathered together to hand over the tip, and discuss how we thought the trip went. This was awkward, us Brits don’t like sharing feedback so openly! In all honesty, they were amazing. The team were a great bunch of people and Silvano was especially helpful when I felt really quite ill. It was sad leaving, but I don’t think I’ll be back trying to get to the peak. Camping is not my strong point, and altitude sickness is really quite horrible. However, Tanzania is an amazing country. I would definitely go back to do a safari.
Goodbye Kilimanjaro, asante sana kwa ukarimu wako!!