The day after sumitting could be described as an anti-climax, but we were looking forward to another day in the rainforest zone, with the enormous amount of incredible plants. I wish Dave wasn't such a plant-geek, but everyone has their faults.
The effects of yesterday were pretty clear to see on my very swollen, sunburned face. The one thing I had forgotten in preparation for the summit was my suncream.
Dave and I with Jeremy, our waiter for the trek. What a nice guy, very little English, but easy to get along with. He thought Dave was 'very strong, very, verrry strong'.
One of the tamest ravens we'd encountered came right up close whilst we ate breakfast outside the tent.
Before we commenced our final days walking, there was the small/big matter of the tip giving ceremony. Dave and I had had many discussions about tips on the trip, not all of them in a calm and friendly manner! We'd finally decided on what we thought was a fair amount for everyone. Without warning, the porters and guides had gathered near the tents and then the fun began...
Hopefully this video gives a good account of the singing. The 'Lead' singer was a porter called Felix, who reminded me very much of the little guy in Cool Runnings! Quite a character.
Tips were then handed out to each member of the crew individually and most of them seemed pleased. We were told by the guides the following day that all the crew were very pleased with our tips, which was a nice feeling because they deserve every shilling they earn.
After that, the guides and I headed south through the remaining heather and moorland towards Mweka Hut, and then onwards to Mweka gate.
Mweka Hut Campsite appeared in no time at all. It was the best hut we'd seen. We signed in for the final time and took a photo each before cracking on.
Dave is actually half Hobbit and was the first mixed species climber to make it to the summit. We tried explaining this to the Ranger in an attempt to get it officially noted for the records,but we just received a vague look in response.
Note my severly swollen face!
The forest track down to Mweka Gate was so similar to the one leading up from Machame gate - no surprise there. The flora was similar as well but we did see some great stuff like this enormous Camphor tree
Large Cyathea manniana (treeferns to you and I)
Just before we got to the Mweka gate one of the guides pointed out monkeys in the trees above. Despite the guidebook mentioning this possibility, the guides insisted that we were lucky to see them. There was a blue monkey that was barely visible some way off, and a couple of Colobus Monkeys. The Colobus were closer yet very high up. They are arboreal and spend their whole lives in the treetops.
Arriving at Mweka Gate, we were ensconced by two hungry hordes. The first being a crowd of German Tourists, not trekkers, who were filming us as if we were Stanley Livingstone and Ranulph Fiennes. The guy with the video camera eagerly showed Dave the footage of us walking down the track, and proclaimed us to be 'great adventurers'. Obviously mixed us up with someone else? The other horde were the locals who try to sel you anything and everything with a Kilimanjaro theme. Knives, spears, masks, books, maps. You name it. We signed the final register and made our way to the minibus where the porters had stowed the gear. One 'hawker' insisted on trying to part with a Kilimanjaro book that had caught my eye and my weakness had been revealed. In the end, just before the minibus door shut, as a final gambit, he offered to swap it for my watch, an £8.99 casio jobby for running. I immediately agreed and handed him the watch for the book. A great deal I thought, it just meant that Dave and I had no way of knowing the time for the next two days! Top tip - take as many watches as you can fit on your arm when travelling to Africa. Great bargaining tools.