So we have finally finished trekking and are back in the luxuries of the Weru Weru River lodge where I am again sat relaxing by the pool under the hot African sun.
The walk down from the high camp where we spent last night was good, passing down through the tropical jungle that surrounds the lower slopes of Kilimanjaro. With each passing step people were starting to recover from the varying maladies that have been acquired as a result of the reduced oxygen levels of high altitude. Unfortunately the descent was tough as we lost 2,000m in about 9 miles, and following on from yesterday’s efforts it has caused havoc with people's toes and legs and at least one person has felt bits of toenail coming off.
Before we left camp this morning we had a presentation to thank the porters, guides and camp attendants and supporters for all their hard work because we all realise that without them and their Herculean efforts we wouldn't have got anywhere near Kibo. Led in his own inimitable way by Pascal, they again they burst into song and dance (the Kilimanjaro song will stay with me for a long time) and several of us happily joined in, the rest clapped and cheered along. One of the great things about this trip has been the rapport between the local guys who have looked like they were enjoying each other’s company.
After the continued descent, and the excited sighting of Colobus monkeys in the trees above us, we realised that we were back near the 20th Century when we came upon a jungle track (that was clearly used by 4*4's) before we finally arrived at the Mweka trailhead. Several of us headed down to Tom's shack just below the National Park gate for a cold drink/beer and were immediately set upon by a group of locals selling the kinds of tourist memorabilia that you would only buy when you are tired and not thinking properly; needless to say, all I brought was a t-shirt (my willingness to haggle seems to have improved since Kathmandu too).
We've just had our celebratory meal and leader Dave gave little pen pictures of each of us which made everyone laugh. We're now heading back to the Glacier bar for more beers and some African dancing :-)