You are on page 1of 14

Kilimanjaro Trek

Friday 5 August
Boston to Amsterdam: Logan Airport to Amsterdam: Schiphol Airport
The flight left Boston in the evening for an overnight flight to Amsterdam. My son
Matt, Paul Vital and I settled in for our adventure. Sleeping fitfully and three
movies later, we arrived in Amsterdam. I recall seeing parts of each movie awhile
sleeping intermittently. A several hour layover in Amsterdam gave us time to get
something to eat. Schiphol Airport has a branch of the Amsterdam art museum,
just a few paintings, but it knocked off a half an hour.

Saturday 6 August
Amsterdam to KIA Airport: Schiphol Airport via KLM to KIA
The crowded KLM flight to KIA was once again a long haul of movies and snacks.
Sleeping was more difficult during the daytime flight. Flying down the spine of
Italy led us to Sicily. Mt Etna, recently active was visible from the plane. The
flight over the Sahara seemed endless. Sand as far as the eye could see.
Darkness prevented us from seeing Kilimanjaro as we neared KIA. There were
few lights on the ground as we approached the airport. We arrive about 9 PM, the
last flight of the day into KIA. The plane soon departed for Dar Es Salaam and the
airport closed for the evening. The few shops within the airport were closed after
we passed through customs. The Thomson Safari people gather us together for
initial introductions. We boarded several Land Rovers for the 30 minute drive to
the Moivaro Coffee Plantation. Matt and I get in a vehicle with Tina. The road is
good and the trip in the dark is uneventful. Paul headed off to the KIA Lodge
close to the airport.

The Thomson Trek Team


◇ Peter Leddy: 54 Teacher North Attleboro
◇ Matt Leddy: 28 Paralegal North Attleboro
◇ Paul Vital: 60 Teacher Norton
◇ Travis Allan: 35 Oil Industry Engineer Calgary, Canada
◇ Sarah Kilby: Librarian Calgary, Canada
◇ Dave Alexander: 53 Real Estate Philadelphia
◇ Will Alexander: 31 Unemployed (Dave’s son) Philadelphia
◇ Joe Kasnyik: 35 Flooring salesman Ohio
◇ Tina Lambert: 34 Teacher St Catharine's, Canada
◇ Gary Grimes: 69 Seed Salesman Ohio
◇ Roger Farnsworth: 70 Teacher Springfield
◇ Spears Mcallister: 50 Hospital Tech Tennessee
◇ Our Head Guide was a soft spoken man from Kenya named Jonas. It was
evident from the first meeting that Jonas was well qualified and an excellent
leader.

Saturday 6 August
Moivaro Coffee Plantation
Matt and I were the first to be issued keys to a bungalow. We quickly settled in
and headed back to the main lodge for a quick beer. We were met by Dave and
his son Will, and Travis and Sarah. Over a few local brews [Kilimanjaro,
Serengeti, and Tusker] we talked about the upcoming trek and what to expect.
Matt & I got lost on the way back to the bungalow ... not because of the beers,
but because of the absolute darkness and the many crisscrossing paths the
plantation. The accommodations were very comfortable and we enjoyed a good
nights rest after the long flight.

Matt and I wandered over to breakfast at our leisure in


the morning to find that we would soon be having an
equipment check and weigh-in. We were limited to 22
kilos each including our sleeping bag and air mattress.
We hurried through breakfast and rushed back to our
bungalow to organize and repack our gear. I had the
additional task of separating trek gear from safari
gear. Thinking we would be the last ones ready [not a
good way to begin the trek] we quickly stuffed our
duffel bags and took off for the main lodge. Jonas
talked about the guide staff, porters and cooks. In
total, we had one head guide, three assistant guides, a
cook and assistant, and 43 porters. In addition to
carrying much of our gear, the porters had to carry
food, the dinning tent and gear, as well as their own
gear.

As it turns out, Gary and Roger were still seated at the breakfast table, they had
not started to pack and in fact were unaware of the meeting. Their tardiness left
us all waiting. Eventually, Jonas got everyone together for the meeting. Jonas
covered the pre-climb brief and issues of safety and packing. At the weigh-in, our
bags were well under the limit. It appeared as if other bags were over, but no
one seemed to say there was a problem. Eventually we climbed into the Range
Rovers for destination unknown. We only knew that we had one more day of
relaxing before the climb.

Sunday 7 August
Ndarakwai Ranch [Maasai Village] [Day and Night Safari]
After driving about three hours, mostly on dirt roads
we arrived at the Ndarakwai Ranch. We were met
with warm towels moistened with eucalyptus. After
the long dusty ride, it was quite relaxing. The ranch
porters brought us to our “tent” cabins, they were
quite luxurious. The beds were very comfortable and
the tent also had a toilet and a shower. The shower
was gravity driven and had to be filled by hand. The
toilet was the type often found on boats. The ranch
was very comfortable. We took both a day and night
safari. We saw a few animals on each ... mostly
baboons and giraffe ... at quite a distance. It was
never the less an exciting start. After a restful night
and a great breakfast we went to pack our bags for
the first day of hiking.

Monday 8 August
Londorossi Gate 7382’ [2,250m]
After several hours in the vehicles along deeply rutted
roads we arrive at the small village of Londorossi. The
town consists of several dirt roads lined with wooden
shacks. Londorossi sits at the end of the road at the
entrance to Kilimanjaro National Park. There were
several treks leaving and there was much chaos.
Many of the men in town were attempting to gain
employment as porters. All of the trekkers were
nervous as we prepared to hike. As it turned out,
Londorossi was not the start of the trek, it was the
park headquarters where we had to officially sign-in
and pay our fee. Soon we were back into the vehicles
for an hour-long ride on steep and rutted dirt roads to
the trailhead.

Monday 8 August
Lemosho Glades 7,840’ [2,390m]
Upon arriving at Lemosho Glades (the car park at the trailhead), we once again
went through the nervous activity of preparing our packs ... only to find that an
aluminum folding table and chairs were being set up for our lunch. Lunch
consisted of sandwiches and fresh fruit and breads and jelly and tea or coffee,
lots and lots of tea. Hydration was critical.

The porters took off long before us and we did not see them again until we
reached the first nights campsite. Finally we were off and trekking! It was not
much more than a “walk in the woods”. The pace seemed painfully slow, but paid
off in the long run. The guides were teaching us “Pole...Pole” ... slowly ... slowly,
the best way to reach the summit. There was much jockeying for position among
the trekkers. Most of the trekkers wanted to be up at the front of the pack. Matt
has been leading our hiking since he was six and he was not about to follow on
this trek. It soon became apparent that Matt wanted to be at the front and the
others were kind enough to let me step in behind him. That became the order for
the entire trek. The trail rose and fell but over several hours we gained about 500
meters of elevation arriving at “Forest Camp”. We were very fortunate with the
weather, particularly when you consider that we were trekking through a rain
forest. We hiked mostly in the shade of the trees.

Monday 8 August
Mti Mkubwa - Forest Camp [Big Tree Camp] 9,160 [2,792m]
I was somewhat surprised when
we arrived at Forest Camp. It
seemed that we had not been
hiking for more than a few hours.
Big Tree Camp is an appropriate
nickname for Forest Camp. There
is one very large tree in the
center of the camp and its
branches provided shade for
many tents. It seemed as if our
group [one of several at Forest
Camp] had the best location for
our tents. This would prove to be
the case at all of our campsites.
Matt and I selected a tent under
the “Big Tree” and set about
organizing our gear. After signing in at the park hut, Jonas collected the group for
lecture on the proper use of the camp toilet. It was quite a bit of fun and we all
had a few laughs. The mess tent was set up for tea, popcorn, and warm peanuts.
Dinner was a delicious stew, bread, fruits, and tea. We all sat around and filtered
water, talked and played cards. The mess tent was to become the porters
sleeping quarters but the never complained. We all hit the sack late on the first
night, but it got earlier and earlier as the trek progressed. Matt, used to the late
nightlife of NYC, agreed to hit the rack early only because everyone else had
gone off to their tents.

We awoke to another beautiful day and were greeted with warm tea and a warm
bowl of water with which to wash up. Wake up, breakfast, and the daily trek all
started about the same time each day. Generally, we were awake by 6:00 and on
the trail by 7:30. Breakfast considered of eggs some “mystery” meat, bread and
jellies, and of course tea. This was usual fare in the morning. It was early in the
trek and thus we were still getting fresh eggs and fresh fruit.

Our group was the last out of camp as we left the porters behind to break camp.
We were on the trail over a half hour when the porters passed us like we were
standing still. This would become the ritual after breakfast and lunch. As a rule,
the assistant guide Renaultis led the trek on a daily basis. Matt was very
interested in learning some of the language and was assisted by Renaultis and
the assistant cook David. He became quite proficient in the words we needed to
know in Tanzania. He also made a concentrated effort to learn the songs the
porters and guides led us in before dinner each evening. Hakuna Matata ... no
worries.

Tuesday 9 August
Shira 1 11,500’ [3,505m]
The trek to Shira 1 was up and down for hours. We hiked out of the forest
relatively quickly and then started trekking though grassland. The sun was warm
and intense and thus most of us were dressed in long sleeves and wearing wide
brimmed hats. We descended into a deep valley for lunch to find the table and
chairs set up and lunch all prepared. At the conclusion of lunch Matt took out a
gift for me as it was my 54th birthday. He had brought some “space ice cream”
all the way from NYC and we all shared in my birthday cake and ice cream.

Since we had descended into a deep valley for lunch, we had to climb up and out
of it after lunch. Then we took the trail along the ridgeline toward the Shira
Plateau. Shortly before we arrived at camp, we rounded a ridgeline and got our
first view of the summit of Kilimanjaro. We had been in country for several days
including two days of hiking, finally, we felt we were on the mountain, as the
summit of Kilimanjaro rose up over the plateau.

When we arrived at the campsite, it was a cloudless windy day. I attempted to


“wash” some clothes. I was surprised and disappointed that my clothes did not
dry. Also, the wind knocked my clothes to the ground and they dirtier than before
I washed them. That was the last time I tried to clean clothes. In fact, since the
weather was so good and dry that the trail was dusty and everything we wore
picked up the fine gritty dust. It was easier to put on the same outer clothes
every day ... why get more clothes dirty. There was also the possibility of rain
and a set of dry clothes would be very valuable.

After dinner each night, Jonas and the assistant guides came by for a “severity
check”. We were all asked how we felt and to rate our level of energy on a scale
of 1-10. Early on, everyone felt good. Matt even rated himself an 11. Others
were in the 7-8 range ... but looked lower. I always felt good and went no lower
than 8 at Crater Camp. Each morning, Jonas would also make a point of saying
hello. It was obvious that Jonas wanted to do more than just pass pleasantries.
He was checking everyone's eyes and overall demeanor to determine how they
were dealing with the change in elevation.

We sat outside and looked at the mountain, wondering how we would ever get up
the steep Western breach. The elevation combined with the cloudless skies led to
a very cold evening and night. We woke to frost on the tent. I tried to use some
of the chemical warmers to warm my feet in the sleeping bag, but since they are
activated by oxygen and we were over 12,000 feet above sea level, they were not
very effective. However, they did provide a bit of warmth, allowing a restful
sleep. It was so cold that pee bottles froze over night.
Wednesday 10 August
Shira 2 12,600
[3,840m]
The trek to Shira 2 was
short, both in time and
elevation gain. The days on
the Shira Plateau consisted
of gently sloping trails
marked by rock cairns.
About midway through the
morning hike the group split
up. One group went off to
climb the Shira Needle,
while the other group
headed to camp. I was
among the group that
headed to camp. I still had
wet clothes that need time to dry and the other route was not any more difficult,
just longer. After we arrived in camp, we had lunch and set off on an afternoon
expedition. The purpose of the afternoon hike was to gain some elevation. The
rule is hike high sleep low. Each day we tried to follow that rule. In the end, the
group that hiked directly to camp actually climbed higher than the Shira Needle
group. We covered a section of the trail that we would follow to Moir Camp. The
Shira Needle group did not believe the distance and elevation we had gained on
our afternoon trek. Never the less, we were able to point out the exact cairn at
which we turned around.

On route to Shira 2, we crossed over a dirt road used for emergency evacuation
and resupplying rations. Thus, we were still able to get fresh eggs and fruit high
on Kilimanjaro.

We were still a long way from from the summit cone of Kili, but getting closer. It
was still difficult to see a route on the Western Breach. The legend of Babu was
born on this hike. The group that chose to go directly to camp included the
“older” trekkers. While taking a break along the trail, a fast moving porter
referred to me a Babu ... grandfather. We all knew he meant “old man”, but
since I had become a grandfather less that two weeks before, I took the nickname
as a compliment. Thus, the older trekkers all became Babu. Roger in particular
took to the nickname. He became Babu Fonsu. His tales at the dinner table,
some quite tall, were quite fun. His description of the daily trek left us all asking
if he had been on the same trail. At one point we crossed over a small stream,
which became a crevasse in the story telling in the dining tent. From that point
on the “Legend of Babu Fonsu” grew to Kilimanjaro heights.
Thursday 11 August
Moir Camp 13,800’ [4,206m]
The hike Moir Camp was very similar to the hike to Shira 2. A slow but steady
increase in elevation through rock and scrub. As we approached the camp, we
took a steep descent on to the floor of a valley. Bones from a lost elephant were
located in the center of camp. There was at one time a hut at Moir Camp used for
sleeping, but it was in serious disrepair and we continued to sleep in our tents. I
had brought an air mattress with me but had not used it to date. The Thomson
staff supplied half-inch foam mattresses and that was doing a fine job. Also, I did
not have to unpack and repack my air mattress. It wasn’t until Crater Camp that I
used my air mattress, and then primarily for insulation from the cold.

After lunch, everyone went to scale a nearby volcanic neck again following the
hike high sleep low rule. We had great views from the summit. Near the peak
there was essentially an “art rock garden”. We all took the opportunity to add to
the artwork present. Somewhat like cairns made out of flat rocks positioned at
odd angles.

Friday 12 August
Lava Tower 15,000’ [4,572]
The trek to Lava Tower was more of the same across the Shira Plateau. Dusty
trails marked by cairns. We did pick up more elevation and ended up at one of
the best campsites on the trek. Along the path, we passed several groups who
were unable to get a campsite at Lava Tower itself. Our
tents were pitched at the base of the tower hard by a tall
rock wall.

After lunch, most of us headed over to scramble up Lava


Tower itself. Again, the hike high sleep low rule was
being followed. Lava Tower was the most difficult
climbing of the trek. There was some scrambling and
stretching across very narrow paths. It was worth the
effort, the weather was perfect and the views from the
top were great. Matt fashioned a kite out of a plastic bag
and a few sticks and set it flying from the top of Lava
Tower.

Since most of us were climbing the tower, no one was watching the camp and we
returned to find our camp toilets overflowing. Despite the sign indicating that the
toilets were for Thomson Trekkers only, others had used them. Fortunately ...
and unfortunately, there were pit toilets onsite available for use. They were foul!

During the night it got cold again and the wind was intense. Our campsite
positioned between the tower and a rock wall created a perfect wind tunnel. The
tents threatened to take off during the night. The “severity check” numbers were
well down from previous days as people felt the effects of the elevation and the
climb to the top of the tower.
Saturday 13 August
Arrow Glacier 16,100’ [4,907m]
From Lava Tower, we could see the trail snaking its way up the base of the
Western Breach. Once again we left camp long before the porters and they flew
by us about an hour out of camp. The porters were still carrying fresh eggs. How
do they hike without the eggs breaking is a mystery. The trek to Arrow Glacier
Camp started off down out of Lava Tower Camp and then went right up toward
Arrow Glacier. Thus, we covered more ground than the elevation differences
indicate. “Pole Pole” began to really pay off on this trek. The pace that seemed
so incredibly slow earlier was now beginning to make sense. It kept me from
feeling winded. Several in the group were starting to feel negative aspects of the
elevation. Nausea and headaches as well as a loss of appetite swept through
most of the group. The guides spent more time talking to us to check our
physical and mental condition.

The view back toward Lava Tower was


spectacular just as we crossed a ridge as we
descended into Arrow Glacier Camp. Arrow
Glacier was the rockiest campsite on the
mountain. It seemed as if the porters must
have had a difficult time finding sites for the
tents. It was difficult to walk around camp
with all of the foot high rocks. There were
no real paths within the camp. There was a
small peak within a short distance that Matt
and I climbed before lunch. This was the
first time we felt the effects of elevation and
the lack of oxygen.

After lunch we all took another trek to “hike


high and sleep low”. We followed the guides
over the “trail” such as it was. Jonas knew
where he was going although we could not
discern a trail. We just followed along. A
few stayed back in camp for an afternoon
figuring that a short nap was more valuable than “hiking high and sleeping low”.

We later learned that a trekker from South Africa had been killed in a rock fall at
this camp. The camp had been moved and we were directed around the site
when hiking. In December, of 2005, three trekkers from the US were killed in a
rockfall as they were hiking out of Arrow Glacier Camp.

The Sun set beneath the clouds below us, and the summit of Kilimanjaro
stretched out toward Mt Meru. Everyone took to their tents early in anticipation
of the trek up the Western Breach.

Sunday 14 August
Crater Camp 18,750’ [5,715m]
The Western Breach. This was the
toughest climb of the entire trip. The
trail was very steep and the day was
long. We started early in the semi-
darkness caused by the shadow of
Kilimanjaro hanging over camp. This
hike required much “four point” hiking. Nothing technical, just hands and feet
attached to the rock. The team spread out over the rock wall as most everyone
kept to their own pace. We broke for a mid morning snack along the trail with
everyone choosing a rock to rest upon. Later, lunch was served up on the only
flat section on the trail. The cook staff placed a tablecloth on the ground and
supplied us with sandwiches, hot tea, and a candy treat. The chocolate was
particularly welcomed. Just as we sat for lunch, the clouds rolled in for the
afternoon. It did not rain, but we were socked in by fog blocking the Sun, which
caused the temperature to drop precipitously. It felt good to begin the trek again
after lunch to ward off the cold. Again, the group split up on the trail up the
Western Breach. The trail description indicated that we would find gentle
switchbacks on this section. The switchbacks were quite different than the
switchbacks we find in the US. They were much shorter and thus steeper.
Reaching the crest of the Western Breach was an exhilarating moment. We
arrived alongside the Furtwangler Glacier, one of the remnants of ice, which once
covered the entire summit. Global warming has caused most of the ice to
disappear. It is expected to completely disappear by 2015.

It was a relatively short walk to Crater Camp over an ash field, which felt like
beach sand. Camp was positioned alongside the base of the crater rim to the
summit. We could actually see the summit sign from the crater floor.

Once everyone arrived in camp and rested for


a while, a few of us hiked to the actual crater.
There was some aroma of sulfur and smoke
rising from the inner crater wall. The trek to
and the return from the crater took its toll. For
the first time, I was truly tired and felt less than
a 10 on the nightly severity scale. Sitting
around the camp table a few of us took our
resting heartbeat rates. Mine was 110. I am
usually in the range of 60-70 beats per minute.
There was no feeling of shortness of breath,
just a very high heart rate. The warm peanuts
and hot tea was a refreshing treat. Tina did
not fare well on the hike today and was forced
to head down to Barufu Camp 600 feet short of the summit. She was too sick to
carry on. We met up with her the following day and she reported that she felt
fine as soon as she descended. Her disappointment at not summiting was
evident.

The Sun broke through the clouds just as


the porters and guides began to sing and
dance before dinner. They were singing and
dancing when the rest of us were eking out
every atom of oxygen out of the
atmosphere. At dinner we all sat around the
table in a state of exhaustion. I took a short
video, which clearly showed how exhausted everyone was. There were no 10’s
on the “severity check“ this evening.

It was cold all through the evening and into the night. It was the coldest night on
the mountain. Our pee bottles froze solid early on in the night. Sleeping was
very difficult. The sleeplessness was exacerbated by the cold. I had to take a late
night trek to the toilet tent, as I stepped out of the tent I was struck by the sight
of the moonlight reflecting across the glacier. It looked like a giant fluorescent
lamp lighting up the camp. No one had much sleep this night. It was just too
cold. The chemical foot warmers were essentially useless due to the lack of
oxygen. Even bundling up in extra clothes and wearing a balaclava did not ward
off the cold. It was a long cold night.

Monday 15 August
Uhuru Peak 19,340’ [5,895m]
We woke before dawn to
prepare for the summit. It
was very cold. After
breakfast we packed our
gear for the hike to the
summit. Jonas gathered
everyone and we were off,
600 feet to the summit.
Jonas led the hike this day,
Matt stepped in behind him
and I followed right along.
Most everyone was still
suffering the effect of
altitude and the trekking
was slow. The group
quickly spread out on the
route up to the ridgeline.
Paul later told me that at
one point he looked up and
saw us moving so slowly ... but he couldn’t catch up. There seemed to be no trail
as such, but Jonas knew the way. The Sun rose shortly after we began hiking and
the temperature warmed up.

Jonas, Matt, and I stepped out onto the ridgeline first and walked along the ridge
to the actual high point of the mountain. As we trudged along, we passed some
prayer flags in route to the sign. There were about 15-20 people at the top by the
time we arrived. They came up from one of the routes on the eastern slope. They
had begun their summit climb about midnight and had hiked all through the
night. One of the main reasons we had chosen the Western Breach trail was
because the summit climb was a daylight hike. Matt and I were at the summit 20-
30 minutes before the other cam straggling up. Jonas and the assistant guides all
congratulated us on reaching the summit. It was really great to be able to share
this accomplishment with Matt. We took the obligatory photos and some short
videos. Although I did not feel it at the time, my labored breathing could be
heard on the video. Dave had promised many people that he would hold up their
sign, banner, newspaper etc., so he stood under the sign for photo after photo.
Roger stuck an EMS sticker to the sign and had his photo taken. He hoped that
EMS would offer him some free clothing upon return. Soon our time at the top
came to and end and descent commenced.

Once again Matt and I took off first with Renaultis leading
the way. We met many people heading up to the summit
on our way to Gilman's Point. A few people were sprawled
out on the trail a few hundred feet from the summit ...
unable to go on. At that point they had been hiking about 8
hours and had at least 8 more hours to Mweka Camp. Most
of the trekkers on this trail were suffering far more than
the people in our group.

We took a break at Gilman's Point and Will and Joe caught


up to us. We then took off over the skree. The best way to
get down through the skree was to run and jump. An
activity we called “skreeing”. This was great fun and we
covered a lot of ground with each jump, but it was hard on
the knees. Although I would pay for the fun with sore
knees the rest of the hike, it was still great fun.

We arrived Barafu Camp 15,092’ [4,600m] about an hour before lunchtime. The
porters who had skirted around the summit had set up the dining tent and
aluminum chairs available for us to relax. It would have been nice to been able to
stay in Barafu overnight, but we still had several hours of trekking before we
could rest for the day. My knees were sore and thus it was good to rest. Barafu
Camp was positioned at a crossroads in trails to and from the summit. There was
much activity as Barafu was a permanent campsite and several other trekking
groups were staying overnight.

We hung around for almost two hours waiting as others strolled into camp for
lunch. We enjoyed soda and candy bars while waiting for lunch. Just as Paul and
Roger arrived for lunch, we were getting back on the trail to Mweka. Roger was
feeling the exhaustion of the hike and Paul’s
knee was acting up.

The trail was well defined but a little rutted. My


knees too were acting up as we descended to
Mweka Camp. As we got closer to Mweka, the
vegetation slowly rose up over our heads.
Eventually, we entered into the rain forrest. We
entered Mweka Camp 11,000’ [3353m] in the
afternoon. This camp was the first time we felt
crowded as there were many groups were
camped over night as at this point we were on a
down only trail. We tossed our gear in our tents, washed up and headed over to
the camp hut to buy a few beers. “Kilimanjaro Beer” was the perfect beverage to
celebrate our accomplishment.

About 8 PM there was a call over the radio to our assistant guides and several of
them jumped up and headed quickly up the trail. We soon learned that it was a
distress call to help out Paul and Roger. They were going so slowly that they
would not make it to camp until very late at night. The guides took turns giving
Paul and Roger a lift into camp. I had never seen two more exhausted individuals
when Paul & Roger arrived in camp. I went to the camp hut to buy a few Coca-
Colas for them. Warm soda was never so appreciated.

Tuesday 16 August
Mweka Gate & Kigongoni Lodge
After a restful night we rose to complete our
Kilimanjaro Trek. Again the trail was well
defined but steep. We met a “rescue cart”
being brought up the mountain as we
descended. A trekker from Great Britain
had had an accident and had to be hauled
down the mountain. The rescue cart was
nothing more than a gurney on bicycle
wheels. It must have been a perilous trip on
the cart itself.

Hiking though the rainforest ... it was natural that it began to rain. The trail
became very slippery and I took two slips. I had stepped on wet muddy roots and
went down in an instant. Fortunately, I had a soft landing on my backpack. As
the rain got steadily heavier, we stopped to cover our packs with rain covers. The
trail became thick with ankle deep mud. The trail widened into a road as the rain
slowed. We knew we were close to the gate when we came across two young kids
selling T-shirts. We rounded the bend and headed into the park gate area to
much fanfare. Congratulations all around, as six of us stumbled into the camp.
After cleaning up the best we could we officially signed out of the park and
settled in for lunch and of course a celebratory “Kilimanjaro Beer”.

Since we were on somewhat of a deadline, Jonas sent the Land Rover up the dirt
track to meet Roger and Paul. The mud was so thick that the Rover got stuck and
almost overturned. Paul and Roger passed the vehicle into camp. Once again the
porters and guides came to the rescue. About 30 of them rushed up the trail to
free the Rover.

The celebration ended with the porters and guides singing one last time and we
all joined in the celebration. Well deserved tips were given to Jonas to distribute
to the support team.

We packed ourselves, and our gear into the Land Rover for the motor trek to the
airport (Matt was heading home) and then onto the Kigongoni Lodge for the rest
of us continuing onto the safari. The drive through the coffee plantations was
picturesque and restful.

The Kigongoni Lodge, situated on a mountainside, was to be our accommodations


for the evening. Paul and I shared a a bungalow well down on the hillside. There
were over 200 steps up to the main lodge for afternoon libation and dinner.

We all gathered in the bar to recount our Kilimanjaro experience as the sun set. It
was the perfect ending to our journey.