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Friday 24rd February 2012    Day Nine

This was the first day I could have easily stayed in bed and we definitely weren’t looking forward to our 19 kilometre walk down the mountain.  It should take us around 6 – 7 hours!  It’s all downhill and is actually part of the Marangu Route.

Everything is packed up for the last time and before we leave we present our tips and say thank you to the porters. 

Richard made an excellent speech on behalf of us all and stated how much and to whom we would be giving our tips.  We all gave the maximum recommended as they all do a fantastic job and deserve every penny.  They work extremely hard, carrying huge loads to all the different camps, to then rig everything up for us, cook for us and even clean the toilet for us!  Along with all this they are always pleasant, polite and helpful.  We absolutely could not have done this without them.  Terry also donated lots of his kit that he won’t use back home to our particular favourites.   The porters showed their appreciation by singing some of their traditional songs about the mountain and after photographs were taken of everyone together we made our way down away from the mountain.

 All went well for a couple of hours, we were walking at a reasonable pace as we were going downhill and then Terry’s knees started to hurt (Downhill is 1000% worse than going uphill).  The further we went the worse they got.  He tried using his poles which helped but then his hands got sunburnt and he had to wear gloves.  We were going really slowly and the others had gone way off ahead.  Chaz decided that once we got to Mandara Huts he would have us taken the rest of the way by car.  We were going so slowly it would have been dark by the time we got down otherwise. 

At the huts Chaz organized our lift and we then had a short distance to walk to the road.  This path was lots of wooden steps which were painful on Terry’s knees but we were now in forest and the scenery was gorgeous.

As we were walking along a runaway cow came ambling towards us and had to be chased away before it mowed us down.  There were a couple of locals trying to catch it which really amused our guides because they knew how big the forest was and how futile their attempt to trap the cow was.  

 Eventually we walked across a bridge and came to the road.  Our truck and driver were waiting for us and within 15 minutes we were at the park gate. 

Here we signed out and Chaz awarded us our certificate for completing our climb of Kilimanjaro.  They will be framed and have pride of place somewhere in our house for everyone to see!

Our car was waiting to take us to our hotel and after collecting our bags and saying our final farewells to the porters and guides we were off and our Kilimanjaro mountain climb was over.  We were a bit disappointed that we didn’t get chance to say goodbye to the others in our group but we were told they could easily be another hour or more.  It was a shame because they were nice people and we made a really good group.  We’d called ourselves the ‘A’ Team and I think we all did a pretty good job of living up to our name. 

A quick 20 minute drive to the Kilimanjaro Resort Hotel to pick up our belongings and valuables, then we had a roughly two hour drive to our new hotel in Arusha.  It was called the Mavoiro

and was everything we wanted (Especially the Bar) after being on the mountain for seven days.  Our room wasn’t quite ready and so without any hesitation we headed for the bar where we ordered cold beers that hardly touched the sides.  I’m not a beer drinker but one has never tasted so good!  One more later and our room was ready and time to get clean.  They had loads of hot water and I lay in the bath until I shrivelled and then had a shower on top of that.  It felt wonderful to be clean and after a quick repack and putting all the gadgets on charge it was off to dinner and a few more drinks.

 It was very crowded so we chose to eat in the bar area.  The food was lovely, very civilized, just what we wanted.  I had the Greek salad, roast pork and fruit salad and Terry had the tomato mozzarella, roast pork and crème caramel.  All washed down with a lovely bottle of wine.

A few drinks later and some banter with the two Manchester United supporting barmen at the question mark bar we were off to bed in a comfortable room and bed with a pillow for our first nights sleep off the mountain. 

 In summary it was a truly amazing trip from start to finish.  I would like to thank the American Walking Company who organized our trip from end to end.  It all ran very smoothly with no hitches and their staff looked after us wonderfully well.  I would recommend them to anyone considering climbing Kilimanjaro as they were extremely efficient and professional.

 We have plenty of photographs to remind us of our adventure and of course this epic journal that I kept along the way.  It was definitely a trip of a lifetime and extremely enjoyable, although I must confess I never want to climb another mountain again!