Kilimanjaro: The Long Walk Down Continues

Author’s note: This post is part of a series on my recent trip and climb of Mount Kilimanjaro, to read all posts click here

“I prefer physical exhaustion over mental fatigue any day”. – Clotilde Hesme

After a three-hour sleep, it was time to get up, eat and continue down to the final base camp of the trip. The last thing I felt like doing was walking more yet I wanted to get down to a warmer place and closer to the end. My left leg were quite swollen which would eventually make my left knee throb the entire four hours down and for days after the hike.  But I was determined to go. The thought of getting back to our hotel with a hot shower, a normal bed and alas a glass or two of wine kept me moving.

Descending Kilimanjaro

We had been incredibly fortunate to have had amazing weather the entire seven days on the hike. We never faced rain, the sky was clear affording us spectacular views of the peak and the valley below, and most important of all, it wasn’t too cold on our ascent to the summit. The only cloudy weather we had occurred during our descent down. It was gray and overcast but really it wasn’t bad at all compared to what it could be.

Descending Kilimanjaro

Descending Kilimanjaro

Descending Kilimanjaro

I didn’t talk much at this point because I was a little bit grumpy.  Normally I am quite the conversationalist but looking back I realize that I was just plain exhausted. Despite being called the “Energizer Bunny” on the trip, my batteries were all out. Instead, I kept to myself putting one foot in front of the other and occasionally stopping to take a photograph.

It was still stunning scenery and I was amazed by how much it varied depending on altitude and where you were on the massive mountain. The vegetation also was truly fascinating and unique.

Descending Kilimanjaro

Descending Kilimanjaro

Descending Kilimanjaro

Our original plan was to climb back down to Mkewa Camp (10,170 ft/3,1000m) where we would have a short walk the next day to the gate but we didn’t make it that far given the varying speeds of our group. Instead, we went to a closer camp for the night called “Millennial Camp” where we would finally get a full night’s sleep before heading out the next morning.

I desperately wanted to go the entire way to the gate and get back to our hotel but it just wasn’t going to happen. We would have to spend one more night on the mountain (my least favorite part–sleeping in a tent on the rocky ground in the cold). For me, that last night was the worst as I was mentally and physically done. I just wanted to be inside on a real bed. Knowing how close we were to the gate and having to spend one more night in a tent without a shower for six days was grueling.

Descending Kilimanjaro

Descending Kilimanjaro

Descending Kilimanjaro

Our last night on the mountain

At least I wasn’t sick and being transported down in this contraption below. We saw a man who was deathly sick and strapped up inside one of these contraptions. It did not look the list bit fun but the other alternative was far worse of course.

Descending Kilimanjaro

This cart is used to bring down people who need medical attention. I can’t imagine how painful it would be to be pulled down on such a rocky trail.

One more long, cold night. But at least the view was good. I watched the sun set on the mountain for one last time from my tent and went fitfully asleep. I realized that I wasn’t sure if I would want to sleep in a tent again any time soon.


View of our accomplishment



  1. Pingback: Kilimanjaro: The Long Walk Down Continues | redemmersblog

  2. I’m sorry you were grumpy but am happy to read someone else was too, ha ha. After hiking the Inka Trail last year I was a monster! Inside, I managed to contain myself. But still I swear. I have never felt so foul in my life. I thought it was just me!
    I’m still debating on whether or not I want to hike Kili too. You’re posts are helpful!

    • Ha Ha I did the Inca Trail too years ago. I enjoyed it but my knees hurt a lot there due to the stone stairs! Kili is amazing. I loved it. It is long though as it takes 6 or 7 days and by the end I was just done. I wanted a shower and a good night sleep on a real bed. 🙂 It is an amazing experience though!

      • You never quite look at stairs the same again, after the Inka trail, do you? 6-7 days is a long time. But I hear it’s better for altitude acclimation.
        I’m still undecided on Kili. My body rebels at high altitude and am not sure I want to suffer again, ha ha. I rocked the Inka trail and my body held out awesome-aside from the effects of altitude-I’m still trying to decide if hiking Kili is more about stroking my ego or for purer reasons 😉

      • Yes, the altitude acclimatization on Kili is much much better than the Ina Trail as you start so high there. South America is the only place I’ve felt altitude before and I believe it is because it is so high and there is no time to acclimatize. In Bolivia, you land at over 13,000 feet!

  3. Pingback: Kilimanjaro: The Long Walk Down Continues | nz

  4. I appreciate that you shared your true feelings about your experience – that no matter how wonderful and amazing, there are negatives and all is not rosy! I’ll bet you had dreams of that upcoming wine…

    • Ha Ha! Yes so true! Nothing is easy right. Just like life! 🙂 That first glass of wine was amazing as was the shower and finally washing my hair.

  5. This series was so fascinating Nicole and so very inspiring! It is difficult for me to fathom accomplishing such a trek, but more so with a bum knee. You are one heck of a woman! 🙂

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