Day 6 - Horombo Hut to Marangu Gate
Trip Start Feb 15, 2008
9Trip End Feb 25, 2008
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This morning after we have breakfast and pack up our gear, there is a tip-giving ceremony for our guides and porters. The Kilimanjaro tipping process is rather complicated, and instead of us simply handing over our collective tips, we need to divvy up the money up into the amounts we think appropriate for head guide, support guides, cook, porters etc etc. For most of them, the tips are their main source of income, and we want to make sure we don't underpay anyone.
Once we've worked it out, everyone gathers around in a circle and Emma is nominated to hand out the tips.
In a not-very-British-like fashion, the amount of tip each person is receving is announced to the group and then given to them. The guides and porters then sing the 'Kilimanjaro' song for us which is all rather touristy, and we get the feeling they are a little tired of performing it.
After the ceremony is over, we hit the trail for what will be our final day of walking. By this point, everyone is super-keen to get back to the hotel for a hot shower and a cold beer. It's now been 6 days since we last had proper wash and clean clothes so we're all feeling a little grubby.
What a treat to be walking downhill again - no more 'pole-pole' today! The trail is very pleasant, much of it through rainforest and therefore out of the sun. We stop for lunch at Mandara hut which is on the popular Marangu Route, and empathise with the climbers heading in the opposite direction on what is day 1 of their trek.
By early afternoon we are back at the gate - hurrah! I had expected there to be a throng of vendors selling souvineers and the like but am surprised to find the area very quiet.
Before we're allowed to leave, everyone has to sign the official register and wait for them to write up our certificates. Boy do they love paperwork in Africa.
There's a shop selling cold softdrinks and beers which is most exciting so we all get stuck in while we wait for our transfer. I tell you Fanta has never tasted so good - by this point I think I would have happily paid £5 for a bottle!
A short ride in a truck, and we are soon back at our hotel. Oh my god it feels so good to have a shower! I stand under the water for an eternity, or at least until the water coming off me is no longer brown from the dirt!
I also see myself in a mirror for the first time and it is not a pretty sight. The effects of yesterday's wind and sun burn have really taken their toll on my face and I am puffed up like a blowfish! My entire top lip is swollen from where my nose was running all night, and its already starting to peel. Nice.
Leaving some clean clothes at the hotel was a very smart move as everything in my bag is absolutely filthy and covered in dust.
When everyone's showered and clean, we head to the bar for many, many celebratory beers and some proper food. We also receive our certificates - official evidence of our achievement.
Around midnight, we're struggling to keep our eyes open, and its time to head to bed. We're all totally exhausted, but very pleased with ourselves. Most people are heading home tomorrow and we can hardly believe our adventure is over already.
So in retrospect, am I glad I did it? Absolutely. Would I ever do it again? Probably not. But ask me again in a year's time and I might have a different answer.....