Waking up at Horombo hut we were sore and although feeling much better than the day before, still physically exhausted. After summiting at 6:30 a.m. We hiked for another 7 hours back down to Kibo hut and finally to Horombo to spend the night. We ate breakfast and headed out ready to get off the mountain and down to lower altitude. Jubilant that we had all made it to the top, we headed down with whatever spring was left in our step covering the distance to Mandara huts in less than 3 hours. Leaving our friends to their lunch at the huts, we continued down the path for another hour to a little lunch spot along the trail. Emerging from the woods to what we thought was a secluded picnic site, we were surprised to see several groups of porters waiting in the shade. Tucking into our lunch, we ate quickly, ready for the journey to be over. Rejoining our friends for the final hour and a half, we finally walked through the park gates, overjoyed that the walking was over. Our feet were tired, our legs worn out, but we were happy and looking up at the summit I could hardly believe that just a day ago we had been up there!
Drinking a delicious ice cold soda, we relaxed a bit while our guide signed us off the trail and obtained our official summit certificates. Piling into our pick up truck, we headed down to the companies office to unload, unpack and wash up a bit. Again, it was hectic at the office, and by the time we sat down with our crew in the bar nearly an hour had passed since our arrival. Thanking them for their assistance and hard work, we shared a few drinks as our guides presented us with our certificates and we presented them with some tokens of appreciation. To congratulate us, our guide sang a song about Kilimanjaro in his local language, complete with dancing and clapping, which needless to say took us by surprise. The man who had been mostly silent the last week was suddenly full of life, jumping around and singing.
Heading to Moshi in a combi that night, we were the talk of the bus with one man moving to the back of the bus just to sit next to me and practice his English. An hour later we were in town ready for a hot shower and a big comfortable bed. We had summited Kilimanjaro!