BootsnAll Travel Network

The Roof of Africa

“Kilimanjaro is a snow-covered mountain 19,710 feet high, and is said to be the highest mountain in Africa. Its western summit is called the Masai ‘Ngaje Ngai,’ the House of God. Close to the western summit there is the dried and frozen thawed carcass of a leopard. No one has explained what the leopard was seeking at that altitude.”

– Ernest Hemingway, The Snows of Kilimanjaro, 1938


On the morning of July 29th, after 5 1/2 very long days of hiking and camping, I finally reached Uhuru Peak, the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro and the highest point in Africa. Uhuru means “freedom” in Swahili, and the name fits. One reason I’m even on this crazy trip is because I read an article about Mt. Kilimanjaro in a magazine last year and decided it would be fun to try. So there I was, after five months of traveling thousands of miles in several countries, stepping onto the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro and experiencing it’s awesome presence firsthand. It was a beautiful, breathtaking (literally), moving experience. And I felt truly free. I know now that I really am free to do anything I want, I only have to take that first step.

There were three other climbers in my group: Kristen, my friend from home who I climbed Mt. Kinabalu with in Borneo; Julie, a university librarian and mother of two from Milwaukee who competes in triathlons in her spare time; and Bob, a graphic illustrator currently working for the Cartoon Network who always has something funny to say. We all met as a group for the first time the evening before our climb, and Kristen and I could not have picked better climbing partners if we tried. We all got along great right from the start, and we quickly found our rhythm on the mountain.

The seven-day climb was long and tiring, but I didn’t find it to be especially difficult. Although it was tough at times, we hiked at an extremely slow pace, which helped us acclimate to the high altitude and have enough energy for the summit attempt on day six.

Our climb was led by Moshi Expeditions and Mountaineering (MEM), and they were outstanding. Donovan Pacholl, my friend and contact at BootsnAll, organized the trip with MEM, and thanks to his relationship with them we were assigned to their head guide, Jamaica. Jamaica has been a guide on Kili for 17 years, and it was apparent during our climb how knowledgeable and skilled he is as a guide. His father was also a guide on Kili, and he made his first trip up Kili with his father at age 14. He’s since made over 100 trips up Kili, and it was obvious that he is well liked and respected by the other guides and crews on the mountain. We were very lucky to have him as our guide.

The four of us were accompanied on our climb by a crew of twelve. In addition to our guide Jamaica, we had two assistant guides, Rama and Muhamud; two cooks, Abel and Ronaldo; and seven porters. These guys were amazing, packing all of our gear and equipment up the mountain ahead of us, setting up and tearing down camp each day, and preparing all of our food. The food on the mountain was beyond anything I’ve ever eaten while camping before. Coffee and tea with each meal, fresh made soups and bread, fried fish, roasted pork, pastas and rice, fresh fruits and vegetables, etc., all of it prepared right on the mountain and served to us by candlelight in a special dining tent complete with tables and chairs and a red and black checkered tablecloth. Like I said, these guys were amazing!

I’ve posted some pics below, but you can check my photo site for the entire set. Below is the day-by-day account of our climb:

Day 0, Sunday, 23 July 06
Meeting the group, and the pre-climb briefing

MEM Tours booked rooms for us at the Zebra Hotel, a nice mid-range hotel in Moshi Town. After relaxing most of the day, Kristen and I headed over to the Zebra at about 3:45 to drop off our bags and head over to the MEM office for our pre-climb briefing. As it turned out, Bob and Julie had both arrived early and had already checked in, so we got to meet them and get settled into our rooms as a group. MEM had told them they would be coming over to the hotel to give us our briefing, instead of us having to go to the office, and that gave us an opportunity to relax over a beer in the hotel lounge. Soon Jamaica arrived at the hotel, along with Valle, the MEM staff person assigned to our climb. The pre-climb briefing was short, basically just an opportunity to ask questions, talk about what medications we were or were not taking (anti-malarials, altitude sickness pills, painkillers, etc), and have Jamaica and Valle review our gear to see if there was anything we needed but did not have. Thanks to the instructions and information we had received from Donovan, all of us were well prepared for the trip, and we had no problems with our gear.

After the briefing, the four of us went out for dinner and then spent the rest of the evening packing for the climb before hitting the sack early for a good night’s sleep.


Day 1, Monday 24 July 06
The warm up

We awoke this morning around 7:00 AM, which allowed us a couple of hours to grab breakfast and pick up some last minute supplies before MEM picked us up at the hotel. We walked over to the Tanzania Coffee Lounge for breakfast. (The TCL is a new, modern coffee shop which looks a little too much like a Starbucks.) The coffee is great and the food is good, so we figured we should treat ourselves to one more good meal before heading up the mountain. (Little did we know how well we were going to eat on the mountain.)

We arrived back at the hotel just a few minutes before MEM arrived, and we loaded up the truck with all of our gear and luggage. Anything we weren’t going to take up the mountain was packed separately and stored at the MEM office while we were climbing. After dealing with all of our gear, we settled back into the truck for a three-hour ride to the park gate. (We were climbing the Lemosho route, which is a little more remote than the other main routes, but which usually has better weather.) On the way to the gate, we stopped in a little village to pick up some food supplies and we had about 20 minutes to walk around and see some of the sights. Further up the mountain we stopped again to buy some potatoes from a local farmer, but we were turned away because the woman did not want to sell her potatoes to Wazungu (white people). While this seemed a little odd, it actually didn’t surprise me, and we just went a little further up the road to buy our potatoes from someone else.

We finally arrived at Londorosi Gate at about 1:30 PM, where we paid our park fees and registered for the climb. We were given a nice box lunch to eat while the crew sorted out the gear, arranged the porters, and weighed their loads. (The porter’s loads are not supposed to exceed 20 kg, not including their own personal packs, which usually weigh 5-8 kg.) After eating our lunch and getting registered, we drove another hour or so to the trailhead, finally setting off at about 4:00 PM. The first night’s camp was only about 2 1/2 hours away (hiking at a very easy pace) so we hiked until about 6:30, arriving at Camp Mti Kubwa (Big Tree) in the early evening. The camp was busy with lots of other climbers, and resembled a small city of tents. Some of the camps run by the higher-end companies were very elaborate, with large dining tents, portable toilets, and fake flowers for their dining tables. Our camp consisted of two sleeping tents for the four climbers, a dining tent, Jamaica’s sleeping tent, and a very large tent for the porters and crew to sleep and cook in. After getting settled into camp, I went into the porter’s tent to meet everyone and practice some Swahili. The porters were all very friendly, and seemed to be enjoying themselves, despite the long week of work ahead of them. (Often times, there is very little interaction between the climbers and the porters, mainly because the porters do not hike with the climbers. They have to stay behind to break down camp, and then will hike past you and ahead of you to get to the next camp and have everything set up when you arrive. And unfortunately, some companies actually frown upon any interaction between the climbers and the porters, preferring not to let the “hired help” mingle with the “paying customers.” Thankfully, this was not an issue with our company, and we were glad to get to meet our crew. We really appreciated how hard they were working for us.)

That evening’s dinner was an amazing meal of cucumber soup, fried fish fillets, roasted potatoes, fruit, bread, and tea. There was so much food, we couldn’t have eaten all of it even if we wanted to. After eating our fill and begging off the rest, we talked with Jamaica for quite a while about the week ahead, and decided to modify our climbing plan slightly to hike further the next day than originally planned. Hiking further on the second day would mean that we could have a shorter day of climbing on the day before our summit attempt. Our group had done fine on this first day’s hike, and everyone appeared to be in good shape, so we chose to skip the next camp and hike an additional four hours to the next camp instead. Knowing we had a long day ahead of us, we then hit the sacks early to rest up.

Day 1 stats:
Lemosho Trailhead (1700 meters) to Camp Mti Kubwa (2500 meters)
Hiking time: 2.5 hours
Total elevation gain: 800 meters
Distance hiked: 4 Kilometers

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Day 2, Tuesday, 25 July 06
“Good Morning! Coffee or Tea?”

Rama and Muhamud, our personal alarm clocks, greeted us outside our tent at 6:30 AM with their soon to be familiar call of “Good Morning!” This was always followed exactly ten minutes later by “Coffee and Tea!” Each morning our assistant guides, Rama and Muhamud, would bring us coffee and tea to enjoy in our tents while we woke up and packed our gear for that day’s climb. Today was to be a long day of hiking, so we were up early. After a delicious breakfast of porridge, pancakes, omelets and fruit, we were on the trail by shortly after 8:00 AM.

The decision to hike past the next camp and camp at Shira 2 turned out to be a good decision, but man, was I tired at the end of the day. As usual, we hiked at a very slow pace, stopping every hour or so for a short rest. By mid-morning we were out of the forest and hiking toward the Shira plateau. We stopped for lunch around noon, and reached the first camp, Shira 1, just before 3:00 PM. We were all feeling pretty good still, so we pushed on toward Shira 2. Thankfully the weather was great, not too hot or too cold, and the sky was clear. It was just after cresting the hill past Shira 1 that we started to get our first good look at the mountain. It was a big, awesome mountain, and it was a little hard to believe that we were going to be hiking all the way to the summit. The further we hiked, the larger the mountain seemed to get, and after 8 hours of hiking I was ready to call it quits for the day. Unfortunately, we still had another two hours to go to get to Shira 2. We finally arrived at Shira 2 a little before 7:00, just as it was getting dark. I stopped to say hi to the park ranger at the camp, and he even asked why we had hiked all the way to Shira 2 instead of stopping at Shira 1. I think he thought we were nuts. Wazungu Kizsha (crazy white people)!

That night, we had another good dinner, but made it short and sweet, as we were all tired from the long day of hiking. I was asleep as soon as I hit the ground.

Day 2 stats:
Camp Mti Kubwa (2500 meters) to Shira 2 (3840 meters)
Hiking time: 10.5 hours
Total elevation gain: 1340 meters
Distance hiked: 16 Kilometers

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Day 3, Wednesday, 26 July 06
8 steps up and 7 steps down

Last night we had our first taste of what it was like to be camping on a cold mountain. The weather was really clear last night, and it was definitely cold. Sitting around in the dining tent was the worst, as the door was always being opened and shut, and we weren’t generating any heat just sitting there. Sleeping in the tents was much better, and once I was in my sleeping bag I warmed up quickly and slept soundly. Bob didn’t fare as well, however, as he had developed a case of sun sickness. The sun can be dangerous here near the equator, and it’s even worse up on the mountain. The sun had taken its toll on him, and he spent most of the night sleeping on top of his bag with a high fever. He wasn’t sure if he was going to be able to continue the hike, but by this morning he had snapped out of it, and after talking with Jamaica he decided he would be able to keep going.

Today was to be an acclimatization day, and the plan was to hike up to Lava Tower at 4600 meters, and then back down to Barranco Camp at 3950 meters. This meant hiking another 8 hours, with only a 110-meter total elevation gain at the end of the day. The point of this was to see how well our bodies adapted to hiking at that elevation, then going back down to allow our bodies more time to acclimate. Since our last camp before the summit attempt was also at 4600 meters, this would help us know what to expect. The weather today was again clear and sunny, but we had strong winds most of the day, which made it very cold. This gave me a chance to test out my cold weather gear, which worked out great, and I felt pretty good about the layers I had packed for the summit. I had packed very light, only one small bag of clothes, and my entire duffle was less than 10 kg, so I had to wonder if I had packed enough.

The hike up to Lava Tower was great, with the summit of the mountain looming in front of us the whole way up. Thankfully, I wasn’t feeling any bad effects from the long day of hiking the day before. After arriving at Lava Tower, we began a long steep descent back to Barranco Camp. It was here that things started to get difficult, as the downhill hiking really gives my knees a pounding. My big toes were taking a beating too, since the two toenails I lost playing ultimate frisbee last winter still haven’t completely grown back. After a short while I stopped to tighten up my boots, and that helped keep my toes from being pulverized further.

This trip is the first time that I’ve hiked with trekking poles, and although they took some getting used to, I’m sure they helped make the hike easier. The pole lengths were adjustable, and they helped me to plant my weight and lessen the impact when hiking downhill. Going uphill, they allow you to use your upper body to help push you along, lessening the load on your legs. I’m definitely going to invest in a pair of these when I get home.

The hike from Lava Tower down to Barranco took around 3 hours, and it was tough going, especially after the long day yesterday. We eventually made it to Barranco around 5:30 or 6:00, and boy were we glad for the rest. Both Bob and Kristen were feeling somewhat sick, and I was also battling a nighttime cold that had suddenly appeared the night before making it tough to rest. Jamaica told us that Barranco Camp was the camp where the most people get sick, and he was fully prepared with a wide assortment of cold medicine, painkillers, antacids, and the works. From here on out, dinner was served as usual but was always accompanied by a nice variety of drugs for dessert.

After two long days of hiking, we now get two easy days before our attempt at the summit.

Day 3 stats:
Shira 2 (3840 meters) to Lava Tower (4600 meters) to Barranco Camp (3950 meters)
Hiking time: 8 hours
Total elevation gain: 110 meters
Distance hiked: 12 Kilometers

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Day 4, Thursday, 27 July 06
Easy Day!

Got to sleep in today until 7:30! Today’s hike was fairly short, only about 4 hours. But first we had to hike up the Barranco Wall, a steep rock face that required some scrambling in places. We topped the wall after about an hour and a half, and were greeted by a small plateau with a stunning view of the mountain. (The group photo above was taken atop Barranco Wall.) We ran into several other groups atop the Barranco Wall, since our route, Lemosho, and the more heavily traveled Machame route had joined together at Lava Tower yesterday.

After resting a while at the top of the wall, we then set off for two more hours of hiking down into Karanga Valley and then back up to Karanga Camp. The weather at Karanga Camp was much different, and the entire camp was completely engulfed in clouds. We rested for a bit, ate our lunch, and then set off for our “afternoon walk” which was another hour and a half of easy hiking up the hill. We hiked without our packs, carrying only our water bottles, again to gain some extra altitude to help us acclimatize.

After the hour’s hike up, we returned back down to camp to rest a bit before dinner. When I finally got up to go to the dining tent for dinner it was already dark, and even with my headlamp I could barely see more than 10 feet in front of me due to the clouds. It was like trying to drive at night in the thick Willamette Valley fog. Unfortunately, I hadn’t paid enough attention to our camp’s tents when we arrived, (there were probably 40-50 tents at this camp) but after a little bit of wondering around I finally found my way to the dining tent. We all wolfed down our hot meals, took our assorted drugs, and returned to our tents for another night’s sleep.

Day 4 stats:
Barranco Camp (3950 meters) to Karanga Camp (3963 meters)
Hiking time: 4 hours
Total elevation gain: 13 meters
Distance hiked: 4 Kilometers

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Day 5, Friday, 28 July 06
The summit looms large…

We had another easy day today, and the last day of hiking before our summit attempt. We will set off for the summit at midnight tonight, and today is where we reap the benefits of the 10 1/2 hours of hiking on day 2. Today we hiked from Karanga Camp to Barafu Camp, across a plateau and past some awesome rock fields and towers, and I wondered aloud if this is what walking on the moon must be like. After a quick rest stop and a short, steep, uphill climb, we arrived at camp around 1:00 PM. Our early arrival left us with plenty of time to eat and rest up, and of course take another “afternoon walk” before we set off for the summit later tonight. The camp was pleasant, and the weather was much better than the previous night at Karanga. From the looks of things, we’ll have a clear night for the summit attempt.

Unfortunately, Bob is still sick and hasn’t been getting much sleep due to sleep apnea, so he skipped the afternoon walk in hopes that he could get some rest before tonight. A couple of us had been battling headaches, due to the low oxygen levels at this altitude, so once again Jamaica brought out the drugs and suggested we all take a half dose of Diamox. I had been fighting a headache all day, so I had actually started taking Diamox that morning. Julie’s the only one who hasn’t been sick, as Kristen’s still feeling sick, and I’m still suffering from a nighttime cold. (Thankfully, the cold and congestion go away once I get up and start moving around.) I’m feeling pretty confident about reaching the summit, but we still have 1300 meters (~ 4,300 ft) to go and anything can happen. Barafu Camp is only about 15,200 ft, and from what I understand, it’s above 15,000 ft that the air really gets thin. All we can do is go for it, and hope for the best.

Day 5 stats:
Karanga Camp (3963 meters) to Barafu Camp (4600 meters)
Hiking time: 3 hours
Total elevation gain: 637 meters
Distance hiked: 3 Kilometers

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Day 6, Saturday, 29 July 06
One step at a time…

We awoke at 11:00 PM, put on every layer we had, had a small breakfast and at 12:25 AM we headed off in search of Uhuru Peak. The midnight departure serves two purposes. First, you arrive at the summit in time to see the sunrise over the horizon. Secondly, you have enough time left in the day to hike all the way back down to Mweka Camp at 3100 meters. (There are climbers who will hike to the summit in the afternoon, but that requires camping overnight in the glacier and hiking down the next day.)

Overall, the group seemed to be feeling well. Bob had resorted to taking a sleep aid the night before, even though we weren’t sure if it would be safe to take with sleep apnea. But he knew if he didn’t get some sleep, he wouldn’t be able to even attempt the summit, and he didn’t want to go home knowing he didn’t at least try.

It was dark and clear when we set off, a beautiful night for hiking. We were all quiet as we started climbing off into the darkness, none of us really sure what lay ahead. Jamaica had told us yesterday that another reason we hike to the summit at night is so that we can’t see how much farther we have to go. All you can do is keep putting one foot in front of the other until either you reach the summit, or you are unable to keep going, whichever comes first.

On our summit attempt we were accompanied by Rama and Muhamud, our assistant guides. We continued our quiet ascent for about an hour, at which point Jamaica stopped us and split us up into two groups. Bob and Kristen stayed with Jamaica and Rama, while Julie and I went ahead with Muhamud. Julie and I had been feeling fine, and Jamaica thought we could push ahead at a slightly faster pace. I was a little nervous leaving Jamaica and going ahead with Muhamud since we’d been hiking all week with Jamaica and hadn’t hiked with Muhamud at all. But safety dictates that the head guide always stays behind with the slower group in case anyone has trouble. I also hated to leave Kristen and Bob behind, as we’d been at each other’s sides all week. I was worried that if Julie and I went ahead without them they might not be as eager to continue. But by now we’d all gotten to know Jamaica and trust his years of experience. I knew that safety was the top priority and that he would do everything he could to get them as far as he could. So Julie and I anxiously pushed on ahead with Muhamud, knowing that even though we were a group, it was up to each of us as individuals to conquer this mountain.

Julie and I continued on for another hour and then stopped for a bite to eat. It was slow going, but we kept moving, stopping to rest every now and then. It was getting colder as we went, and the wind was starting to pick up a bit, but I think we both had prepared well and the weather wasn’t a problem. After a while though, I noticed that despite being insulated, the hose on my camelback had frozen. I tucked the hose inside my jacket and eventually it thawed out. I decided that after every drink I would try to blow the water back into the bladder and empty the hose so that it wouldn’t freeze. It seemed to do the trick.

After about 4 hours, it became obvious that Julie was getting really tired and maybe even a little wobbly. We stopped for a rest and she ate a bit more, but I knew she was pushing herself close to her limits. We kept going, resting as often as needed. Eventually my camelback froze up again, and I knew I would have to make it to the summit without any more water. Also, the cold had seeped in through my boots, and both my big toes were freezing. I had been hiking all week with some special insoles to give my feet more support, but in hindsight I think I may have sacrificed some insulation by taking the original insoles out. I began to worry some about frostbite, but decided that as long as I could still feel my toes and wiggle them I was ok. Overall, I still felt good and hoped the cold and lack of water wouldn’t be a problem.

I kept my eyes on Julie, as she was really having a hard time keeping going. About 30 minutes or so from the summit she took a turn for the worse. She had to stop briefly when the nausea overtook her and she had to vomit. I was starting to get worried at this point, but Muhamud assured her that she would feel better soon and that she could keep going. I wasn’t really convinced and continued to worry about her, but went along with Muhamud’s decision. After all, he’s the guide and knows what’s best. I was still feeling fine, but was starting to develop a slight headache since I hadn’t been drinking my water.

Over the horizon, I could see the daylight starting to break, and knew that meant it would soon be getting warmer and I could drink again soon enough. We kept pushing toward the top, and shortly after 6:00 AM we reached Stella’s Point and the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro. It was a great feeling, and a relief to be at the summit, but we weren’t done yet.

The highest point of Mt. Kilimanjaro is Uhuru Peak, and to reach Uhuru we had to hike a ways around the rim of the crater. Julie was exhausted at this point, and wanted to sit and wait while Muhamud and I continued on to Uhuru, but Muhamud kept encouraging her to keep going. The terrain had leveled out considerably on the summit, and with Muhamud’s help she was able to make her way up to Uhuru Peak. Muhamud carried her pack and walked with his arm around her, guiding her the whole way. After another hour of hiking, we saw the familiar signpost marking Uhuru Peak just ahead of us, and we knew we had made it. We were both exhausted and exhilarated at the same time.

During the hike around the crater the sun had risen and it was daylight when we reached Uhuru. The summit was much less crowded than I had anticipated, and during the hike it had warmed up considerably. We spent nearly an hour at Uhuru, soaking up both the sunshine and our success. The summit was encircled by a layer of clouds, and the views were breathtaking. The sun shone off the famous Kilimanjaro glaciers, and the crater was both snow white and sulfur gray. It was beautiful in an eerie kind of way.

Unfortunately, we could bask in the glory for only so long, and it was soon time start our descent back to camp. We hiked back around the crater to Stella’s Point, where we had a quick bite to eat and adjusted our gear. We saw no sign of Bob or Kristen, and I knew in my gut that they had not made it. I felt bad for them, but knew it was for the best. From Stella’s Point we descended straight down the mountain’s face through several hundred meters of loose scree, rocks, and dust. The soft terrain made the descent easier on the knees, and had we not been so tired it might even have been fun. After taking 7 hours to hike up from Barafu to Uhuru, it took us only two hours to hike back down. We arrived within sight of Barafu Camp just before 10:30 AM, and we could see Jamaica watching and waiting for us.

When we got to camp we were congratulated by Jamaica and we briefed him on our morning. He also told us about Bob And Kristen, and that he had sent them both down early, knowing that the altitude was too much for them. Bob had made it to 4900 meters, and Kristen to 5200. They had returned to camp much earlier than us, and when Julie and I got there Bob was already on his way down to Mweka Camp with Rama. Kristen was sleeping and would be leaving shortly. That left Julie and I to have breakfast and sleep for a while before we set off again on our descent to Mweka Camp.

Once we set off for Mweka, we had regained some of our energy and enthusiasm, and the 3 1/2 hour hike down was quite easy and uneventful. We hiked at a leisurely pace, talking most of the way, and it was almost as if the difficult morning had never even happened. (It’s amazing what a little oxygen will do for a person. 🙂 ) We arrived at Mweka Camp at about 4:30 PM. I went to my tent and caught up with Bob, who was obviously feeling much better. Kristen was sleeping soundly, and I wouldn’t see her again until breakfast the next morning. Again we rested and had a great dinner, knowing that by this time tomorrow we’d all be back at the hotel and enjoying a hot shower.

Day 6 stats:
Barafu Camp (4600 meters) to Uhuru Peak (5895 meters)
Hiking time: 7 hours
Total elevation gain: 1295 meters
Distance hiked: ???

Uhuru Peak (5895 meters) to Barafu Camp (4600 meters)
Hiking time: 2 hours
Total elevation lost: 1295 meters
Distance hiked: ???

Barafu Camp (4600 meters) to Camp Mweka (3100 meters)
Hiking time: 3.5 hours
Total elevation lost: 1500 meters
Distance hiked: ???

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Day 7, Sunday, 30 July 06
Mud, Mud, and more Mud

We all had a good night’s sleep and a great breakfast on our last morning at camp. Once we had eaten and gotten all our gear packed for the final leg of our trip (some of us took a little longer than others as the picture below will attest 🙂 ), we all gathered as a group to say thank you and goodbye to out porters and crew since we wouldn’t see most of them again. The entire crew got together, sang a couple of songs for us, and posed for a group photo. We then set off on the hike down to the park gate.

The bottom part of Kili is mostly rainforest, and although it wasn’t raining, everything was dripping wet and the trail was nothing but mud. After the first hour of hiking, I quit trying to avoid the worst of the mud and was actually looking for the biggest and best mud holes to stomp in. We were all pretty full of energy, actually running down the trail at some points just to be moving fast and having fun. After the long week of hiking at a snail’s pace, this was a welcome change, and I think we were all anxious to get to the gate and get back to town. We made it to Mweka gate around 11:30 AM, where we were eventually met by our driver from MEM for the ride back into Moshi.

The Mweka gate was full of activity. We had to sign in at the gate to show we had completed the trip, and those of us that summitted were given a certificate. The porters were gathering up all the gear, and there was a special building for the porters where they could shower and put on clean clothes. Several other people were milling about the gate, selling t-shirts and souvenirs, and there were even people on hand who would wash your muddy boots for you. After an hour or so, we had the truck loaded up again and we started the drive back into town. On the way, we stopped in a small village to buy some Mbege, or banana beer, which is a common drink for the Chagga tribes that live around Kilimanjaro. It’s definitely an acquired taste, kind of like a cider. Rama and Muhamud are used to it and seemed to like it, but the rest of us weren’t sure. I thought it was ok; and it would probably be good for breakfast. During our stop, Kristen made friends with an older villager who had obviously been enjoying his mbege that morning as well. He even asked her if she wanted to get married, in almost perfect English, and we all got a good laugh out of that. When we finally arrived back into Moshi we then stopped by the MEM office to pick up our left luggage and give our tips to our porters and guides. Then it was back to the Zebra Hotel for a hot shower and good night’s sleep as tomorrow we leave on a three-day safari.

Day 7 stats:
Camp Mweka (3100 meters) to Mweka Gate (1828 meters)
Hiking time: 2.5 hours
Total elevation lost: 1272 meters
Distance hiked: ???

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No Responses to “The Roof of Africa”

  1. Laura Says:

    who’s the white guy with the dark beard? 😉

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  3. Jess Says:

    Way to go Tim!
    We were just talking about you this weekend and wondering where you were in your travels. Sounds like your still having a great time. And see some amazing sights. Keep up the great work on the blog, I love it.

  4. Posted from United States United States
  5. Daniele Says:

    Hey Tim –
    Man what an exciting time you must be having and such accomplishments!! Just by reading your blog I feel a little like I am there with you (well not quite) 🙂
    Continue to have fun. Hey, and tell Kristen hi for me.

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  7. Laura Says:

    btw – I’m going to Colorado this week to hang out with a friend. We’ll be climbing some 14’ers and do a lazy float trip down a river somewhere… not nearly as exciting!!!

  8. Posted from United States United States
  9. nat Says:

    Tim you have a great blog-it’s so well written and has made me more determined to make the climb. If you have an training/ physical fitness tips I would love to hear them.

  10. Posted from United States United States