This is day five of the my first expedition on Kilimanjaro Mountain. In the last post, I had just described the scene of reaching the summit on Uhuru Peak. It was a great adventure and was every bit the way I had imagined it. In fact, it was much way better than I thought it would be.
So what do you do when you say you’ve accomplished your mission but you are still 5,895 metres above the mean sea level? You must come down. One cannot stay at the peak for a long time. We were only given 15 minutes to take photos and absorb the moment as much as we could. Of course, we extended the stay due to excitement. Fortunately, our guide was very experienced so he was still monitoring the situation with a keen eye of a mother eagle.
After taking photos it was time to go. There were beautiful glaciers that surrounded the peak. Some were reflecting blue off the pools that formed from the waters that had melted at their base. It was a picturesque sight. There were tiny columns of snow standing on the ground on either side of the trail to the summit. We bunched up on the group, Hilary knelt, we posed in the best way to say to God, “Thank you!”. After all the drama we started off for Stella Point. This is the first point you earn a certificate when coming up Kilimanjaro Mountain. We did not need this certificate as we had just earned a better one by reaching the summit.
Before I could reach Stella Point I stopped in my tracks. I could not move anymore. Just like before I had reached Stella Point when ascending, my legs refused to move. Coupled with the excitement that had drained my energy reserves, I felt like sitting down. That would have been a terrible mistake. That would have been the last thing to do up there. You don’t sit down here. Anyway, not for long. You have to be on the move. Get the blood to circulate in your body. That feeling of taking a long rest, or a nap is nature alluring you to your certain death.
David, the guide, once again came to my rescue. We started moving, but slowly this time. We reached Stella Point and took our photos. Kelvin took off with the Summit Porter. There was no need for emergency oxygen at this point. I think Hilary went with Kelvin, because much later on, when Ronald the assistant guide joined us, it was just the three of us coming down.
Later that day I got to the Base Camp with David the guide on one side and Ronald the assistant guide on the other side. Together, they had led me successfully to summit Kilimanjaro Mountain. I cannot express enough gratitude to this pair and their supporting porters.
My friends played even a bigger role. Keeping me company, inspiring me, giving me a push. Kelvin linked me up with his cousin Ulomi who owns Professional Kilimanjaro Adventure. All this started playing up in my mind when I came down from the peak.
Then I thought of my family back home. My wife Cathy was waiting for me with our three boys, Pempho, Uchi and Kuwala. I thought of my mum and dad. I thought of uncles, aunts, and cousins. I thought of my dear friends. I thought of those who had contributed to the sponsorship for this trip. I wanted to get back home.
I joined my friends at the Base Camp. It was such a happy reunion. I was happy to see David, my fellow hiker, getting better. There was no longer a threat to his life. He was past the critical stage and would recover fully by the time we’d get to the bottom of the mountain. The porters were also very happy to see us. The more senior among them came to my tent to express their congratulations. I was given an hour to sleep and then we started off for the next camp.
We reached the next camp sometime in the afternoon. Here we just rested for a little bit and started off for Mweka Camp.
We arrived at Mweka Camp that early evening. Our camp had already been set. I was shown to my rent after registering with the Park Officials. We were going to spend the night here.
It started to shower and everything was wet. But this did not dampen my spirit. That night I went to sleep a happy man. In a way it all seemed surreal. It was like one big dream that might come to an end when I’d wake up.
I woke up the following day super fresh. Signs of fatigue had vanished in the night. I was treated to a victory dance by the guide and the porters. For a moment, I was a very important person. Not by status but by achievement.
David the guide gave a speech, and others followed. In the end, I gave a speech too thanking them for their tireless love and dedication.
Here at Mweka Camp, they would pack up my tent for the last time.
We soon set off for Mweka Gate. Along the way I felt so buoyant I started jogging. I probably covered between 6 to 8 kilometres running. We were joined by others from time to time. The fun bit was when porters would race ahead to stop us from overtaking them. Too late. I was feeling light and so was Ronald the assistant guide, who was my running partner.
We overtook everyone except for one tough porter. He took off like the wind and vanished before our wondering eyes.
At Mweka Gate we were met with Ulomi. We had another victory dance. We sang Gospel songs of victory. Then we had a toast of non-alcoholic champagne. Ulomi, very thoughtful to the very end. We registered with the Park Officials and left for Moshi.
Back at the White Crane Hotel, David the guide presented me with the official certificate issued by the Government of Tanzania. It said I had reached the summit on Kilimanjaro Mountain. What else could one ask for?
CHURCH AT MOSHI
The following day, on a Sunday, I had a chance to return to the Church at Moshi before I left. I was given a chance to share my testimony to a packed church. It was such a privilege to share the God I saw and learned from on the mountain.
LUNCHEON AND THE MAYOR
After church my new friend and brother, John Mark Kamau, took me together with his family for a luncheon at one of the prestigious hangouts in Moshi. I got a chance to meet the Mayor of Moshi and took some photos.
Life was good. I fell in love with Tanzania and its friendly people.
KIA – KILIMANJARO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
Soon it was time to leave Tanzania and return home. I spent a good time talking to Cathy and checking messages on the social media. I spoke to my dad. I sent messages to my mum. I sent messages to my Uncle Gustave. Who ever came to my mind I reached out.
Ulomi personally drove me and dropped me at the airport. Coincidentally it is also called KIA, just like back home in Malawi. But the airport in Tanzania is called Kilimanjaro International Airport while the one in Lilongwe, Malawi is called Kamuzu International Airport.
It was hard to say goodbye to Ulomi. I had never met any host as friendly and as kind as him. He calls me brother and we have stayed in touch up to this day. One day we will reunite for another adventure on Mount Meru, the second biggest mountain in Tanzania and the ninth tallest mountain in Africa.
In my next post, I return home and wrap up my adventure on Kili, as the mountain is fondly called by many.