I yelled at him to show me where we could possibly camp. He came over and we “discussed” a compromise. Wilson talked and I yelled and he finally said we could camp there. We had already paid $80.00 US to camp, which is far too much to begin with. I shook the guys hand after the said we could camp. Stan and I then set up camp, filtered water and cooked dinner. First came the soup then our usual post summit meal of mashed potatoes and gravy. The food was really good. As we were savoring our tea Wilson came over to discuss the trip, i.e. the tip. I sat there for about a half hour and told him what we thought and gave him suggestions for the future. He took them graciously. I told him to stop asking for tips early in the climb and to be better prepared.

August 18, Marangu route – Ashanti Lodge
Another long day is ahead of us. We have a 7-hour hike out today so we got up early and packed. We drank Tang and ate breakfast bars for a good start to the day. Clouds below us made for nice photos. The trail was a highway of people the entire way down. Almost all of them look out of place in the mountains unlike the French on the Machame route. This side of the mountain looks like it appeals to hikers, or those who haven’t summited many mountains. The side we came up has more of the nitty-gritty climber feel.

We walked around 3 hours and came to the Mandara huts. Before that was the rain forest. Mud, mud and more mud. I’m so glad we were going down and not up in this “chocolate” like goo. We saw some monkeys in the trees above us. Sections of the trail looked just like a Disney movie set or “Pirates of the Caribbean”. It’s crazy to relate something so natural to something so fake but that’s what it felt like. More mud and water. Lot’s of mis-dressed, ill-equipt people coming up. The Mandara huts are more of the A-frame metal and wood structures. This didn’t seem so ghetto like as the Horombo area. I think the huts have room for 4 people each. They have a solar panel on top to power lights at night. Other wise there are no windows. We passed the huts and went back in the jungle. More mud. Stan fell twice. Once after taking my picture in an area I thought looked like “Romancing the Stone”. The mud was very slick and seemed endless.

We crossed many bridges and creeks and after another 2 hours we reached the Marangu gate and ranger station. We looked like hell but we walked up to get our certificates that showed we summited Uhuru peak. We walked down and out of the gate where Lazarus was waiting for us. All the porters were there also. We climbed in the Landcruiser and headed for the hotel. There were children on the road yelling and waving at the truck. We got to the hotel and unloaded in back. The porters transferred the stored baggage to our rooms and we told them to wait a couple minutes and we would give them their stuff. We tipped the porters $20 each. The assistant guide got $20, a hat, watch, and water bottles. Wilson got $50, and wanted Stan’s long underwear, a book, water bag and bottle.

We paid $40 for the room tonight with dinner and breakfast included. That is quite a deal in these parts. Hot shower was the first order of business. They had the fire stoked under the water barrel and it was pleasantly warm to get all the mountain dirt off. Dinner was very good. Beef stew, carrots potatoes over rice with spaghetti and cooked cabbage. We had papaya and oranges for dessert. No electric halfway through dinner so we finished dinner by candlelight.

August 19 Arusha
We packed up and headed for the border. Thankfully we got through hassle free. We are spending more time in Africa, including a safari in Masi Mara.

As I look back on the Kilimanjaro climb, it was a great experience. If you are a mountaineer, or an advanced hiker I would highly suggest the route we took. The common route is the Marangu route.

It is easier, but extremely full of people. If you want a more peaceful, unique experience head for the Machame route.