The last and final day of the hike! Waking up in the morning around 6:30, we had all slept through the night without moving. Boy were we tired and exhausted! The worst however, was the pain in the knees from the steep downhill hiking. All the terrain and elevation we had gained in 5 days, we were able to undo in a total of 7 hours of hiking. This was the last time we were going to pack up our bags and it felt so nice knowing that a warm shower was coming soon! Before we headed off, Salim got the whole group together with all of the porters and we were able to take some pictures. They also gave their thanks to us for choosing their company and a big congratulations with making it all the way to the summit. After this fun celebration, we were on our way for the last time! Leaving at just after 8am we finished the 10km (6mi) 1400m (4593ft) descent to Mweka Gate in just under two hours. We were ready to get back!
On our way down, we were able to see the ‘Kilimanjaro Express’ in action. This is what we ended up naming the infamous ambulance system that was on the mountain. It consisted of a metal stretcher with a single wheel underneath that was powered by 2-8 porters depending on the terrain. This was the only way down the mountain if someone ended up getting hurt, injured, or bad altitude sickness. No helicopters are used and there is no medical aid up on the mountain besides what the guides bring and their knowledge. During our hike down between yesterday and today, we saw two people getting carted off in this manner. Our guess was from altitude sickness since they didn’t seem to be in too much pain or agony by the time they had started reaching lower elevations. The porters working the ‘Kilimanjaro Express’ would rapidly descend down the mountain practically running the whole way. It was quite impressive at the speed at which they were able to get people all the way down to the bottom.
Once we arrived at Mweka Gate, we had to sign the checkout book and then proceeded to wait for a short while. Salim had to finish some paperwork and we had to wait for our remaining porters to arrive since we had hiked down faster than we realized. We also couldn’t leave until our group proved that we had packed out all the trash from camp. For some reason the porters carrying the trash were a little behind us. Once everything was in order we were on our way back to Springlands Hotel. It was about an hour drive and small little villages filled the scenery along the way.
Arriving back at the hotel just before noon, we had made it in time for lunch. Boy were we happy to be back! After checking back in and gathering our belongings that were left behind, it was time for a shower and some food. We inquired about getting our clothes washed and between Lasse and I the hotel wanted $52!!! This was ridiculous and we ended up opting for our second option, hand washing in the sink. For the rest of the day it was time to relax.
We had successfully done it! Climbed Africa’s tallest mountain! Kilimanjaro is also the worlds largest freestanding mountain. The journey took 7 days, covered 62km (37mi) and a total elevation gain of about 4085m (13,403ft). This was such a fun adventure and hike! So glad I was able to do it with some amazing people and friends that were made along the way!