Kilimanjaro 4 – Final Descent To Marangu Gate
Kilimanjaro 4 started with Sonani greeting us with his usual ‘Helloo’ and a warm drink at 07:00 hours. After breakfast, first on the agenda today was to be the traditional tipping ceremony, when all the crew were rewarded for their excellent service while we were on the mountain.
They sang the ‘Kilimanjaro Song’ in Swahili, which we only grasped part of, and then it was time to distribute the tips. My son gave a short speech of our appreciation for all their efforts during the trip. Then the various envelopes were distributed. First to the porters, then the helping porters, the cook Meshack, the guide Sonani, who also doubled up as our waiter, then Damas and finally the chief guide Charles.
We had been given guidelines on how much to tip, a minimum to a maximum, but we exceeded the maximum as we felt so grateful for the way we had been looked after by all the crew. After the ceremony and all the tents and equipment were packed up, the porters disappeared, hurrying down Kilimanjaro to rejoin their families.
We then started on the 14 mile descent to the national park entry point at Marangu Gate. This was our final walk on Kilimanjaro 4 and it took around 7 hours. We descended through the high desert, the alpine desert, the moorland and stopped at Mandara Huts for the packed lunch Meshack had prepared earlier for us. The scenery now changed and we entered the forest which was covered in low cloud.
It was damp and we seemed to be in the rain forest for a couple of hours before finally reaching the finishing point at the Marangu Gate. After signing in we had a welcome beer with our three guides Charles, Damas and Sonani. Meshack was also there to greet us and joined in with a beer. Charles presented my son, daughter and daughter-in-law with their certificates of completion. Then it was time to say our goodbyes forever to our excellent crew. We were then off back to our hotel for the evening.
At the hotel more beer was consumed together with a bottle of the local spirit Konyagi, which smells like gin but is actually made from sugar cane. After all that climbing it was very welcome as well.
So what did we take from our Kilimanjaro trip? Well as mentioned in Part 3 previously, it was certainly the hardest thing any of us had ever done. It was also quite an experience dealing with altitude sickness and I, who suffered the worst effects, certainly wouldn’t want to experience it again. Our crew from The African Walking Company were some of the most cheerful people we had ever met and at the same time the epitome of professionalism. We will certainly remember them for their friendliness and good humour while doing an extremely difficult job.
The most important thing, for me anyway, is my pride in what my son, daughter and daughter-in-law achieved on their trip to Kilimanjaro.