A Walk Above the Clouds: Kilimanjaro by the Machame Route

By Jerry Fine with comments in italics by Lee Waite

Day 6 -- Friday, August 1
Figure 11: Final breakfast on Kilimanjaro

We were up about 7, and had a leisurely breakfast of sausage, bacon, eggs, toast, and pancakes. We left Horombo at 8:10 am for a 6 mile hike over the moors, angling downhill to the Mandara Huts. The scenery was beautiful. Numerous small cones can be seen on the slopes of the giant volcanoes Kibo and Mawenzi. The landscape was alpine heather, blending into low bushes, and finally into forest. We had tons of people to dodge around on the trail.

We reached Mandara at 11:15 am, and stopped for lunch. Chip bought a beer for Howard, a guide who was with us. I don't think that Geoffrey wanted Howard to have it, but Howard looked like a man who enjoyed beer. Like Chales, he was a full guide, who could lead expeditions.

Leaving Mandara, which is the first night's stop on the tourist route, we had an easy two hour walk through the rain forest to the Marangu Gate of Kilimanjaro National Park. We saw some monkeys along the way. Mostly it was just pleasant downhill walking and talking. We signed out of the National Park, and got into the Land Rovers sent by the Hotel. In less than 30 minutes we were back at the Hotel. The trip was over.

For the last hour or so I walked and talked with our Swiss friend who we had seen several times on the mountain, including at the summit. He is an actuary in Switzerland and was climbing with his son who is a university student in architecture at a Swiss university. He was very unhappy with the Belgian airline that had lost his luggage and nearly ruined the trip for him and his son. In the end, however, they did receive their gear and made it to the summit. We had a really pleasant chat about the differences between university education in the U.S. and Switzerland.

Figure 12: Time for celebration

We rapidly found our rooms, cleaned up, and decided on a $500 tip for our crew, which we gave them at the traditional return party out on the hotel lawn. They seemed happy, and enjoyed the three rounds of beer that we bought them. Led by Chales, who has a fine tenor voice, they sang us the Kilimanjaro song. This is another tradition observed at the end of expeditions. Things were a bit formal at first but soon we were all talking and socializing like real mountain climbing buddies.

Which we weren't. We weren't even close to their league.

Later that night we ate supper in the hotel dining room with Chip and Jeffra. The food was pretty middle of the road, but Chip bought a bottle of white wine and a bottle of red. Later, we drank our coffee out on the veranda, and talked till late. Not about the mountain, but about psychology, Africa and life. They were leaving early the next morning and we parted with mutual respect and affection.


We weren't even sore the next day which was Saturday. We talked to Seamus about 9 a.m., and he helped us arrange a twoday safari to Lake Manyara leaving Sunday. It was about all we could afford; actually more since I had to use my Visa at the Impala Hotel in Arusha to get some more money. Anyway, we got to the lake in time for a late afternoon game drive. Herbert was our driver, and Simon was our cook. Herbert was very skilled and we saw lots of animals. A partial list: baboons, elephants, warthogs, giraffes, hippos, gnus, and many others. The only disappointment: no lions.

We spent the night at the Jambo Campground and Guesthouse just outside the park gate. It was a rather primitive guest house. Next morning we had another game drive, with equally incredible game viewing. Back to Arusha by late afternoon, where we checked into the Arusha Resort Center, a nice hotel. There was actually hot water, for one of the four hot showers I managed to get in three weeks in Africa. (There were also many cold showers.)

Sarah left the next morning to Kilimanjaro Airport to catch her flight to Dar Es Salaam and Amsterdam. Lee and I shopped and had lunch at a Tanzanian Ethiopian restaurant on the outskirts of town to which we hiked. That night we sampled Tanzanian Chinese cuisine: very spicy. The next day we caught a shuttle bus to Nairobi. We crossed the border into Kenya at Namanga, (mentioned in Tilman's book), and by 12:15 we were at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. At 5 pm, despite an Air Traffic Controllers slow-down strike, we took off on Ethiopian Airlines Flight 931 for Accra, Ghana. But that is another story.


Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

If you have comments or suggestions, email me at lee.waite@rose-hulman.edu

Copyright 1997 by Lee Waite and Jerry Fine
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