Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Day 06 (Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate)
I woke up at 05:59 today, was treated to tea, porridge, a fried egg, thin pancakes, and mango slices for breakfast; I then packed my bags and was ready to go by 07:00; shortly after, my guide was ready to go, and we hiked down the ridge from Mweka Camp to the park gate. As we climbed down in altitude, the Ericas in the forest grew in height, until we were surrounded by Giant Heathers (Erica aborea), each covered in moss from the roots to the topmost branches. After passing through the Erica forests, we reached the rainforest, with its tall canopy and splendid Cyathea ferns. It was a steep descent in some places and the trail was built with steps to accommodate hikers, although I still slipped in several places and even bent one of my trekking poles during one fall; I tried to bend it back, but the metal gave way and snapped; I was now down to one trekking pole. We continued through the humid rainforest and eventually the trail turned in to an emergency vehicle dirt road; just like the one I had started the hike on six days ago. After hiking for about two hours, we came to Mweka Gate; I signed out on the park ranger’s register book and then waited around for our ride to arrive. While waiting, I met some of the other hikers I had journeyed with during the entire six days, including the South African guy, Canadian gal, and the Polish man; we talked for a while near the gate in the tourist pavilion and we could see the numerous guides and porters washing themselves in their designated bathroom. Finally, at 10:00, my guide, porter, and I were ready to go and we got inside the car and our driver took us down to the tour operator’s office in Moshi. We drove through a small village with many locals walking on the dirt road to church in their Sunday’s best and then through a large coffee plantation, with wonderful views of Kilimanjaro behind us. In less than an hour, we were in Moshi Town; we dropped the rented gear (tents, sleeping bag, down jacket, etc.) off at the gear rental building and then drove to a nearby bank where I was able to draw enough cash to tip the porters, cook, and guide; we then went to the office and I waited there while my successful summit certificate (that was issued by the park department at Mweka Gate) was laminated. Next, my guide traveled with me back to the hotel and after unloading my bags, I tipped him and gave a generous amount of money to be given to the three porters (I only ever saw one during the entire hike) and cook. we then said “goodbye” and I checked back in to the hotel. Next, I received my bags from storage, took a much needed shower, and then turned in my dirty laundry to be cleaned. After all my necessary business was taken care of, I walked down to the hotel restaurant to grab some food, but since the staff was too slow and I had waited twenty minutes, I decided to enter in to Moshi for food. I didn’t find any pleasant looking restaurants, but I did find a supermarket and I stocked up on beer, wine, and juice. I then walked back to the hotel in the glaring sunlight and made it up to my room. Once there, I proceeded to drink several beers and have a gay old time listening to music on my external hard-drive. I never did get around to eating any food (other than some roasted peanuts I had bought at the supermarket) and ended up falling asleep on my bed shortly after 18:30. I slept a good while until about midnight, when I woke up, read some of Hemingway’s short stories, and tried to go to sleep again, which I managed to do, after 03:00.