When a lifelong dream becomes a reality, I believe that one of the best ways to preserve those precious memories is to put the experience down in words. A diary, a notepad, or in this case, a blog, are great tools for remembering, sharing and reliving those highs and lows that come with an extreme adventure, and as we share our Kilimanjaro Climb story over the coming days, we hope it encourages you to share your own.
Day 8 – A Long Way Down
One thing I had never thought about during our entire Kilimanjaro adventure was getting down the mountain! But of course, what goes up must come down, and after around 30 minutes at Uhuru Peak, we began our decent back down to Barafu Camp.
As we headed down the steep and slippery scree, we encountered several climbers who had not yet made it to Stella Point, and from the looks on their pained faces, I think they probably never made it. Mathew told us that up to 30% of Kilimanjaro climbers fail due to altitude sickness, and I can only imagine how heartbreaking it is to be one of those who turn back.
We seemed to descend at an incredibly fast pace, and by the time we got back to base camp some three hours later, filthy and exhausted, I was very much looking forward to a hot cup of tea and one of Kelvin’s super tasty lunches!
After a lunch of zucchini soup, chicken, chips and salad, Mathew gave us the choice of base camps for the evening, Millennium camp a mere 2 hours walk away, or Mweka Camp that would take about 5 hours to reach. For me it was a no brainer, after being up all night and a 10-hour hike; Millennium camp would do me just fine! We reached the camp by late afternoon, and had a couple of hours in the tent to freshen up and rest before dinner.
Dinner tonight was a celebration, and we had a wonderful evening with the entire crew! We enjoyed our usual soup, a beef dish, mashed potatoes, vegetables, and the last of the fruits, before Mathew told us to get our cameras ready for a surprise!
All of a sudden, the crew went outside, and before long, we heard them singing “Cakey, O, Cakey” Then, our amazing chef Kelvin appeared in the mess tent in his immaculate white chefs outfit complete with a fully iced cake with the words “Congratulations Wendy & Ingo”. This amazing man had cooked a delicious sponge cake atop a gas stove, and had iced it sitting on the edge of Mount Kilimanjaro – if we didn’t have photo’s to prove it, I am sure no one would believe us!
The perfect end to a perfect day, we shared the cake amongst the 14 of us, and chatted for a little longer before retiring for the night.
The following morning, after a final mountainside breakfast, we headed down the steep steps to Mweka Gate. As usual, the crew had gone ahead in front of us, and by the time we arrived at the gate some 4 hours later, they were there to greet us with a garland of flowers, an ice-cold beer, and of course, a couple of Tanzanian songs!
From the gate we made our way to the office to pick up our Kilimanjaro certificates, only to find a beautiful buffet had been prepared for us all, complete with DJ, and a hand-painted sign congratulating our successful climb – Big Expeditions had thought of everything!
A great chance to spend a final few hours with our crew, this was a really wonderful surprise, and helped make our Kilimanjaro climb one of the greatest experiences of our lives – Asante Sana Big Expeditions, Asante Sana Kilimanjaro!