Barafu Camp (4640 m) – Mweka Camp (3080 m), 11 km, 1560 m elevation loss, 3hrs 20 min. Total trip distance so far: 57.6 km, total elevation gain 5032, total hiking time 33 hrs 30 min.
We slept until about 11 am. The sun was shining and intense, making the tent hot, so I’m not sure how much sleep we really got. We packed up and had a hot lunch. By the time we had finished lunch our tents had been taken down. It was now time to head down to Mweka Camp.
The trail was straight and dusty. The trail had been used as an ascent route in the past, but was now used exclusively for descents. The initial trail was not overly interesting but we were all pretty quiet, buried in our thoughts of the previous few days. It was interesting to watch the vegetation return. Other than a few small flowers hiding out of the wind we saw no vegetation for just over an hour.
We passed a porter struggling with a one wheeled stretcher that he was attempting to bring up the mountain. At 1 hr and 5 min into our descent we came across the first concentrated group of plants.
The plants started appearing as we approached a trail junction. According to my topo map this would have been at about 4100 m elevation. We dropped over 500 m in just over one hour of hiking. The elevation also correlates nicely with the transition from the Alpine Desert to Moorland Climate Zone, which is supposed to occur at around 4000 m.
A further 20 minutes down the trail we were surrounded by human sized trees as we approach Millennium Huts. Millennium Huts is at an altitude of 3820 m, another 200 m of elevation loss, and is used by groups wishing to break up the descent. We would continue on to Mweka Camp.
We continued down, not taking many breaks. We zoomed through the Moorland and into the mist-shrouded Heath Zone. It only took us another 1 hr 40 min to arrive at camp situated in the upper reaches of a rain forest.
We arrived at Mweka Camp 3 hrs and 20 min after leaving Barafu Camp. We are dirty and dusty but happy.
After a very hearty meal I remember reading for quite a while before bed. Just one more short hike and we will have finished our adventure to the Summit and back of Mt Kilimanjaro.