Mount Kilimanjaro, Day 7: Mweka Gate (1640m)
The next day, we had to descend all the way to the Mweka Gate at 1640m. If you do the math, in under a day and a half, we descend 4255m (~14,000 feet). In case you’re struggling to compute how this is even possible given the 5.5 days it took us to reach the summit, we took a different route down that’s a straighter path, instead of going around the mountain like we did on the way up. What was special about this descent was getting to once again see all the layers of the mountain, now condensed into a brief time period. First, we came into the green spaces, which felt so different from what looked like the moon up top. Then, we started to get back into the forest. We were reminded by the existence of clouds by getting stuck in a rain storm. My poncho (one of the items I’m most glad I packed) kept me dry down to the knees, but the downpour saturated my lower legs and boots. Such moisture would have been much more disturbing early in the hike when I still needed those socks and pants, but at this point it felt more like a very welcome shower. Eventually we found ourselves near some black and white colobus monkeys, which have the fluffiest tails of any primate I know.
I was particularly struck by this lovely little flower. For the last few days, as you’ve seen through my lens, we were surrounded by vast, majestic, awesome beauty. And yet, something about the simplicity and calm of this flower was also deeply beautiful to me. It reminded me that we can find beauty in both the very big and the very small; if we lose sight of one of those then we won’t be fully experiencing an adventure, a place, or even a conversation. I’m reminding myself of this as I get back into the grind.
Back at the hotel, we had a ceremony where we gave all our porters and guides their tips, which is a beautiful setting for it. As you see, it was no small group of people. It was nice to all be together for a few minutes to just be, without them needing to work. At the end they sang to us in Swahili. The first part of it was the song we sang all the way up as they taught it to us, though they added additional content to describe all the places we went on the journey. Then they sang something else which sounded fun but I couldn’t really interpret.
And thus ends this adventure. We all slept very well that night, and the shower was amazing after not bathing for a week. I think I can say confidently that this was a life highlight for all of us, and we were very grateful for the amazing sights, amazing group, and spectacular guides and porters who made it all possible. Thanks for enjoying it with us.