Hike #33: Bluff Head Ridge in North Guilford, CT


A big thing I did when I lived in Los Angeles were the Secret Stair walks. That guide book got me out in the sun, visiting a neighborhood that was new to me, plenty of exercise, and all of the cheap price of a one-time book purchase. Now that it’s spring, I dug out my AMC Best Day Hikes In Connecticut hiking book and decided that I should tackle the hikes in this book during 2017. I won’t be able to do all 50 in 2017, but I certainly hope to do most of these hikes. My posts will not reveal all aspects of the hike, as I am not a replacement for owning this book, but hopefully my images can help encourage you to buy the book and follow along. Or at least inspire you to get a hike book for wherever you live and to get outside!


On a sunny (but chilly) March Sunday, I decided to tackle two hikes/walks (with a reward new-to-me coffee shop in between). Since my morning was filled with errands (as Sundays are known for), I really only had the second half of the day free for outdoor time. Aching for some sunshine and exercise (but not a super long car ride) I decided to head to North Guilford, CT to do hike #33 Bluff Head Ridge, from my hike book. This seemed like a challenging hike, it’s always best to start the day with a hard hike and then end with something gentler.


This Bluff Head Ridge hike was not crowded (1 other car in the medium sized lot) and still pretty snowy (As you can see below).


This two mile loop is not very long, but definitely has a tough spot. In the photo above you can see there’s a path going off the photo to the left (flat terrain) and a path leading up a VERY steep hill to the right. I assumed that it would start flat and I’d end up going down the super steep section (which is covered in snow).


So I started on the flat path, even stopping to visit a cemetery just off the path.


I kept walking slowly down hill, until I got to this little chained off area and realized that my hike book wanted me to do this hike in reverse.. aka: I was going the wrong direction. This also means that my hike needed to start with a slippery steep uphill climb.


I took a couple bites from my power bar and started up the hill. I have to say, the photo above does not do the steepness of the climb justice. There were times were my foot seemed nearly vertical and would slide down. I was glad to have my hiking boots on. The snow also made this more difficult, but I imagine in the summer the loose dirt would make this tricky.




But the reward of the steep never ending uphill is a sense of accomplishment, the joy of being super out of breath, and great views. While I was climbing There were definitely giant birds swirling around the sky above me… vultures? hawks? no clue, but big and loud.


At the top, at least the hillside had more access to sunlight so some snow had melted. In the photo above, on the right side, is where the hillside is really a cliff that drops down really far. I was very aware that one slip on the ice could be trouble.


Another part of this hike, that was more ominous than the vultures swirling above my head, were the constant gun shots that sounded like they were coming from the woods I was walking in. Now I didn’t see hunters.. or hunting signs, so I think I was safe, but it was the soundtrack to the hike.


Up, up, up!


So when I got close to the peak, I ended up skipping the highest section. I know this feels like a cop out, but between the gun shots, the vultures and the slippery ice for the last (as far as I know) stretch of uphill, it just didn’t feel safe given the conditions. It’s very hard to tell, but the photo above is that last steep stretch. It was steeper than it looks in the photo, and when I got closer to the start of the incline I could see that it was covered in ice. I felt like I would be okay going up this ledge, but was worried about how I would get down without slipping. The right side of the photo really is a cliff edge (misleading from the photo, but quite a drop off in person). Also no one knew where I was, and with only 1 other car in the lot, I didn’t think anyone would hear me if I needed to yell for help. From my map, I think I got pretty close to the peak, and I felt good about that. Next up was backtracking to a path that would create a loop out of this trail.


In order to back up to the hiking loop, I had to climb back over some slippery steep rocks. It was nothing crazy, but just slippery in the snow. It’s also clearly a well walked path by the foot prints, so I hope my note about the trail above isn’t a total turnoff.


Ahh, back on the hiking loop. Now I walked toward the gun shots. There were getting louder and louder so I imagine there must be a shooting range nearby, as they were also constantly shooting. I was brave on continued on 🙂


I was wearing a bright purple coat, so at least I stood out amongst the trees. I also did my best to make noise on the trail. If there was a hunter out here shooting, I didn’t want to surprise them. This just meant I cleared my throat more often, and took louder steps.


It was  pretty quick (only 2 miles) before I was back on the trail where I had mistakenly started the hike, and thereby close to the parking lot. Another one done! Since I didn’t get to make it to the absolute highest viewpoint, I’ll have to come back in a month or two when the snow is fully gone.


After this hike, I was in North Guilford and decided to head down to Hammonasset Beach in Madison. I stopped in the center of Madison (cute little downtown with shops) and grabbed coffee from Willoughby’s.

My next stop was going to be to do my 3 mile Hammonaset hike (#46 in the book), but instead decided to check out the Shoreline Greenway Trail in Madison. Eventually all of CT will hopefully have one long shorline trail, but right now there are just chunks of Greenway trail in several towns. I had posted about the Shoreline Greenway Trail in Guilford, and was anxious to check out the Madison portion along the water. I’ll have this walk to share with you next. Happy Friday! And be sure to get outside this weekend and explore!


Hike #47: McKinney National Wildlife Refuge- Salt Meadow Unit in Westbrook, CT


A big thing I did when I lived in Los Angeles were the Secret Stair walks. That guide book got me out in the sun, visiting a neighborhood that was new to me, plenty of exercise, and all of the cheap price of a one-time book purchase. Now that it’s spring, I dug out my AMC Best Day Hikes In Connecticut hiking book and decided that I should tackle the hikes in this book during 2017. I won’t be able to do all 50 in 2017, but I certainly hope to do most of these hikes. My posts will not reveal all aspects of the hike, as I am not a replacement for owning this book, but hopefully my images can help encourage you to buy the book and follow along. Or at least inspire you to get a hike book for wherever you live and to get outside!



After Hike 35 (and my stop into Cilantro Specialty Foods Coffee Shop along the Guilford Green) I continued on to Westbrook to complete hike #47. It was getting late in the day so this hike was perfect timing and the right topography (easy) for this cold windy snowy day.

This hike had nice views, but was still wooded which protected me from the wind on this cold day. It was also relatively flat, so the residual snow didn’t pose much of a slippery threat.


Given the weather, I was the only one brave enough to handle this hike around 4pm on a Saturday. A nice big parking lot with just my Mazda in it. Thankfully based on the tracks in the snow, I could tell people had been there earlier in the day.


I won’t share the map from the book, but here’s a photo of the map hanging at the start of the hike/walk. You can see it’s pretty straightforward, basically one big loop with some water views along half of the trek.


This walk features plaques with information about the nature and the buildings on the property. This home has had some famous visitors (Eleanor Roosevelt!).


Based on the signs, you can tell this is a great birding walk.


You can see the paths are wide (snowy on this Saturday) and pretty flat.


This is a view looking back at the homestead. So pretty.


More birding plaques as the path makes its way into the woods.


This path gets a little more narrow as it enters the woods, and that’s when water/marsh views come into play as well as a view of the train tracks.





What a pretty peaceful trek. Just me and the birds.


Toward the end of the loop are the “ruins” of an old fountains and bbq pit that the owners of the property used to use. Off to the left is a bath leading down to a bird/marsh viewing platform. Don’t miss checking this out because it was a highlight of the loop.



I didn’t see any “special” birds, but Im no expert.



The walk loops back up…


And meets back up with the welcoming hut. Take a look at the paperwork + information inside.


As a woodworker, I love the close up of the “hut”. From here it was a short walk to the parking lot. This easy just-over-a-mile walk is a great outdoor loop, and a nice addition to follow up a longer earlier in the day hike.

Hike #35: Westwoods Reserve Trails- Lost Lake in Guildford, CT


A big thing I did when I lived in Los Angeles were the Secret Stair walks. That guide book got me out in the sun, visiting a neighborhood that was new to me, plenty of exercise, and all of the cheap price of a one-time book purchase. Now that it’s spring, I dug out my AMC Best Day Hikes In Connecticut hiking book and decided that I should tackle the hikes in this book during 2017. I won’t be able to do all 50 in 2017, but I certainly hope to do most of these hikes. My posts will not reveal all aspects of the hike, as I am not a replacement for owning this book, but hopefully my images can help encourage you to buy the book and follow along. Or at least inspire you to get a hike book for wherever you live and to get outside!

Now to share my first hike from this book! I started with hike #35 Westwoods Reserve Trails- Lost Lake in Guildford, CT.


I went right to the small lot that the book described (which only holds about 5 cars by the way). I imagine street parking is allowed as overflow from the lot.. but I’m not exactly sure, so check road signs! The first thing I did was photograph the map. I ALWAYS photograph the map of the trail I’m about to climb with my cell phone, to use as reference incase I get lost. This is surprisingly helpful.


The book clarifies this hike as “easy with moderate sections” and I would totally agree. For the most part is was small hills and wide stone paths (like photographed above) but there were short sections that involved steep climbing over rocks, up hill and down hill. I was very glad to have my hiking boots on and was glad there wasn’t more snow on the ground – too slippery!


This path starts be taking you by the railroad tracks which meant you could hear train noises frequently along the trail.


There are several splits in the trail, so keep vigilant looking for trail markers and confirm on the map.


At a few points you climb down the rocks along big boulders. The book talks a lot about the types of rock, trees, and plants.. although in the snow none of this was really applicable.


There are some steep uphill sections that lead to great water views of the lake.


Okay this made me laugh out loud when I saw it. I have no clue what/who this group is and I refuse to google “Team Alpha Butt Stuff” for obvious reasons.


Great views from the trail! I saw birds circling, so I imagine this is a great birding spot.


The hike takes you from down by the water to up on large rocks high above the lake.


This was a section where I had to use my hands to get up the boulders and then be careful not to slide down the rock faces. This is where the hiking boots really came in handy. It was also around here where I totally got lost. Since it was snowy, I figured if I followed the fresh footprints, Id eventually link back up with the trail. This theory turned out to be a good one, as it did lead me to where I needed to meet back up with the trail.. but I did end up climbing through muddy/swampy areas. So if you find yourself no longer seeing trail markers, work backward until you meet back up with the trail.


At the furthest point in the loop, there are some watery areas with little wood “bridge” planks. It was pretty fun. Don’t fall in!


The blue path that I was on became the orange “X” trail, which would lead me back to the parking lot.


Snowy, but pretty! I like that this trail had a pretty wide path, and the snow actually kept it from getting crowded. I only passed two people on the trail, but I imagine on a nice day this would be a busy trek.


Once again, you pass by the train tracks to get to the parking lot.


One thing that is fun about doing a hike in a new-to-me area is checking out the local coffee shops after the hike as a reward. I’m not new to Guilford but it was fun to make time to visit a local coffee shop and soak up the pretty Guilford Square scenery.


I stopped into Cilantro Specialty Foods Coffee Shop along the Guilford Green to warm up (it was a very cold day), refuel, and read up on the next hike I was headed to this afternoon.

Next up: Hike 47, McKinney National Wildlife Refuge (Salt Meadow Unit) !

Cape Cod Hike: Monomoy River Conservation Lands

After finishing our windy walk at the Coy’s Brook Wetlands, we made our way over to the Monomoy River (on the Harwich / Chatham border). It was still windy and cold, so this woodsy walk with glimpses of water views made for some good outdoor exercise given the weather. According to the Harwich Conservation Trust website this hike is 1.25 miles and the parking lot is off of Bay Rd. There were a handful of parking spots (not a ton). We were only one of two cars in the lot, so on a wintery day it’s easy to park.


You can actually kayak along this part of the Monomoy River, but be sure to check the tide and time your visit right. My dad kayaked here and got cut up trying to exit his kayak along the newly renovated bridge area (by Route 28 on the map).


Yay, the trail head!


It’s woodsy walking out to the cliffside overlooking the river.


This is the viewpoint out along the river. See the benches? On a warm day, pack a picnic!


We did some birding as we followed the path along the cliffside.


Eventually the water falls from view and it’s back to being a woodsy trek.


You’ll hit an open area with power lines and you can see about the trail clearly continues along this opening..


Following the power lines…


And eventually you’ll follow the path to the right back into he woods where the hike loops back to the  parking lot. This was a great hike to link with the short Coy walk for a fuller workout. We also stopped in nearby Chatham at the fish pier to look for seals (and sharks.. I’m always looking for sharks).

If you’re looking for more exercise, or coffee/lunch, head into Main Street in Chatham and stroll around this super adorable street full of shops and food options.

Hike: Bells Neck Conservation Lands

This past weekend (March 4th to be exact) my parents and I ventured out into the freezing cold winds to get some exercise out in Cape Cod. After a week of 60 degree temps, we were SO COLD doing this walk (as you can see from our Michelin Man layers). I feel like the photos show how cold it was, but don’t convey just how windy it was. We are lucky none of us were blown into the West Reservoir of Bells Neck. I’m sure Ill do this walk again in the summer and share the differences!

We started by parking at the lot on the right of the map and then we worked our way around the water clockwise. I want to note that this was a pretty easy walk, 50 minute walk. From the parking “lot” (only room for a handful of spots) to the Fish Ladder, it was a pretty wide path, not much close brush and had pretty views throughout. The loop from the Fish Ladder back to the car, that north side is more woodsy, and a much tighter trail. In the summer I can see this being over grown and scratchy/itchy on bare legs (in shorts), which clearly wasn’t a problem today in our arctic layers.

Difficulty: EASY level #2 (1 being a paved path – 5 being an intense up hill hike)

Length: 2.75 miles according to the website, but I imagine it depends which route you go. It took us about 50 minutes, and we stopped for pictures and to look for birds.

Best Time to go: This will be busy (limited parking) + over grown in the height of summer (ticks!). Slightly off season is probably best. Spring/Fall. It’s also a great place to kayak!


Map Provided by the Harwich Conservation Trust

For the original map + official details about the hike click HERE. Above is my version with the pink path showing you the route we took.


Look at the level of layers required! I think we just had an especially rough day, wind wise.

The map up above has “B”s marking the benches along the loop. It’s probably more fun to sit when you aren’t being blown over into the water.


The plants and branches were frozen to the water along the edges.


This is the view of the Herring River on one side of the fish ladder.


Above is the view of the West Reservoir. So peaceful. Given the cold temps, I think we only passed one person on this trail (and another person along the bike path). So still.


Above and below are shots of the fish ladder, currently unoccupied by herring fish but soon will have fish jumping along the ladder.



After the fish ladder we continued on to make this a loop along the water. This route takes you by privately owned cranberry bogs. Such a fun punch of color in a wintery landscape. Keep an eye out for “trail” tags marked on the trees showing you were to jump back into the woods along the path.

BellsNeck7 BellsNeck8


These two images above show you that the wide path snakes along the edge of the property untimely meeting up with the bike path.


Here’s the entrance to the bike path, which also has a map of the area posted for reference. When you reach the bike path take a right and continue on the path until you see a clearly marked path back toward the water, also on the right.


This is the view along the path- pretty!


Above is my Dad in giant layers trying to hide behind a tiny map. Can you spot Waldo? This is the path heading off from the bike path. You can see, it’s easy to spot.


This part of the path gets a little narrower, and you can see that poison ivy+ticks might make this part tricky in the summer.


We did an added little loop on a peninsula that juts out into he water, and then made out way back to the car.

I was with my birding parents, so they were constantly on the lookout for birds and we did end up seeing a massive blue heron. It was good at hiding among the tall grass by the water, so I don’t have a photo of it worth sharing. Keep a lookout for them when you’re exploring the area.

As windy and as cold as it was, we were really happy to get out of the house and get some exercise along a woodsy path (that cuts down on the wind!) and with pretty views of the water. I’ll for sure be doing this walk again during a different season and show the contrasting images.


Is Vacation Really Over?

It’s time to face facts- it’s 2015. Since Ive been on vacation the past few days I haven’t been able to really start my resolutions. Tonight I head back home and tomorrow really brings the start to 2015. As part of my resolution list, Ive decided to add a challenge a friend of mine is also doing: 100 miles by Valentines Day. It’s really a doable goal, and my go at it starts tomorrow. I also get the keys to my apartment tomorrow (woo hoo!) and I become a New Haven resident. I’m so excited to be down there and explore more as a local. And this begins all my 2015 adventures!

Before I move on just yet, I’ll catch you up to speed with the remaining Cape Cod adventures.


We had a very cold, but clear day this past week where the Meyer’s got in a car and drove over to Brewster’s Wing’s Island (the John Wing Trail). This is a popular birding spot and a quick 1.5 mi (?) loop. We followed the trail on boards across a marsh land, and then made our way through some woods out to the beach. The tide was extremely low creating some fun tide pools to explore. Off in the distance we could see different clammers and oyster catchers collecting their goods. I highly recommend this path, as it was short (although you could walk the beach and make it a longer walk), had beautiful views and was a fun landscape to explore (even in the winter!). The Cape Cod Museum of Natural History is also located by the parking lot of this hike. Make an afternoon of it, and check it out!


Next we headed over to Eagle Point, also in Brewster for a very quick loop in their wooded lands. This loop is wooded, but along Upper Miller Pond so it has so beautiful views. It was also fun walking through the trees around 3:30p, as the sunlight cast a warm light on the trees.


This hike is short and interesting because these are Punkhorn Trails. There aren’t any paved roads leading to cabins hidden in these woods, so the people living here look for complete privacy. I wouldn’t go hiking here at night, as this type of hard-to-reach place attracts people and activities that sound more scary than fun. But during the day, it’s an interesting web of trails to explore.

Another night we decided to walk to Neel’s Beach (Harwich Port), walk the beach, and then walk back. We did this right at sunset, so we got some great beach photos and made it home before it was dark.


It’s time to pack up, and say “see you later” to the cape as we make our way back to Connecticut. Time to go back to real life, and I’m excited to get a start on all the 2015 fun!

Africa XI: Kilimanjaro Machame Route Day 6 and 7

I’m very excited to share with you all the details of my Africa (Kenya/Tanzania) trip, and hopefully it helps you plan your own trip, encourages you to visit these places, or at the very least teaches you about another culture in another part of the world. I loved my Africa experience. To catch you up on my trip, check out all my Africa posts:

Africa I: Planning Logistics + Budgets + Immunizations + Clothing/Gear + Getting There
Africa II: Kenya Stop1, Baby Elephants
Africa III: Kenya Giraffes, Karen Blixen and Artcaffe
Africa IV: Arriving in Moshi + The Good Hope School
Africa V: Kilimanjaro Details
Africa VI: Kilimanjaro Machame Route Day 1
Africa VII: Kilimanjaro Machame Route Day 2
Africa VIII: Kilimanjaro Machame Route Day 3
Africa IX: Kilimanjaro Machame Route Day 4
Africa X: Kilimanjaro Machame Route Day 5
Africa XI: Kilimanjaro Machame Route Day 6 and 7


I left off in my last post at the end of day 5 of our Kilimanjaro climb, with Erica and I camping out with Zara Tours at the Barafu Camp (14,930 ft). Now it’s 11pm that same night and it’s time to begin our ascent to the summit of Kilimanjaro (Uhuru Peak at 19,340 ft). This is the start of the climb I’ve been dreading. Assuming we don’t get too sick from the cold and altitude, we should arrive at Stella Point around 6/6:30a to see the sun start to rise and then it’s just a slow low-incline for the next 45 minutes to the actual highest point (Uhurhu Peak). Oh yea, and then we have to get down. Easy-peasy, right?

I should start by saying, my night photos really don’t come out so from the start of our climb at 11pm until about 6am I kept my camera packed away in my backpack. So I don’t have photos to share with you of those 7 hours of hell, but I can assure you the terrain is extremely steep and it goes on and on forever. Hiking without a watch in the dark meant I had no sense of time but the hours seemed to go by so slowly as we inched our way to the top.

When you hike this steepness in the dark, when you look down you see the headlamps of the people on the train below you and above you see the headlamps of the people ahead of you… although those lights seem to stretch all the way into the stars. You can’t tell where the land ends and the sky begins. This really is a marathon hike. The view at 2am and the view at 4am were identical- pitch black with just the headlamps above and below. This plays mindgames with you. How could we have been hiking for so many hours, but it feels like we haven’t moved!?

I would say around 3am I start crying. I’m so deflated, low on energy, cold (my water froze about halfway up), and it feels like we are making no progress. I’m so thankful my sister was there and started asking me questions to distract me from what we were doing. “Tell me your favorite Grandma story” (it was her 96th birthday when we began our summit trek), “who was your favorite teacher?”, “what are you going to have to celebrate when we finish the climb?” (beer and chocolate). This really helped. I also made a rule for myself that I was no longer allowed to look up, or look down. From then on I would only look at Thomas’ feet, and no more breaks. I would stop when I reached Stella Point. The best way to make it through is try to focus on one thing that can distract you all the way to the top.


After what felt like forever, Thomas said to me “turn around” and that’s when I took my camera out and took the photo above. We were so close to Stella Point and it must have been around 6/6:30am for us to see the sun rising. While hiking I was in such a trance to cope with it all that I didn’t even notice the sun was rising until Thomas pointed it out. We are so close. I’m so low on energy that I give my camera to Thomas and he takes nearly all the photos from Stella Point on to the summit of Uhuru Peak. I feel so lucky to have made it this far and the idea of even holding a camera is not an option, so Im grateful to Thomas for taking over.

When I got to Stella Point I immediately sat down and had a bite of one of my bars. I hadn’t sat down since halfway through the climb and I’m just so tired. One of the guides has a hot water thermos and we take sips of the water. Not long after sitting Erica comes up over the peak with our guide Bruce. We had separated mid-hike and I had no sense of how close or far behind me she was. She was crying at this point, which made me start crying again too. Once you make it to Stella Point, it means you’ll make it to the summit and it felt so good to do it together.

IMG_5732 (Photo by As Her World Turns)

Here is a photo Erica took of us at Stella Point. On our way up I didn’t take photos of Stella Point, but when we start our descent I took some (later in this post). It this point I’d been resting for a little while and my hands started to shake from the cold. That’s the trick, once you stop hiking your body temperature starts to go down so you really do need to keep moving. Erica had just arrived, so she stayed longer at Stella Point with Bruce and Thomas and I kept moving on to Uhuru Peak.


Thomas took all of these photos for me. Look at those glaciers. I had no idea what they would look like from this angle. They look huge! Up until now when we looked up at them, they looked so flat against the mountain and it’s from this angle that you can see the depth.


It was just incredible. Even talking about it now takes me back to that feeling of awe as we slowly walked to the summit.


With the sun rising, it was all just so beautiful. Also given that it’s sunrise, it’s the clearest (less foggy) time of the day. This is a big perk of climbing it from 11p-7a. If you climb it later in the day you risk getting up to the summit only to be covered in clouds (view-less). Also if you could see the terrain on the way up, I have a feeling most people would give up. In the dark at least we couldn’t see just how far we had to go.


The shadows in the photo above were crazy, so I had to photoshop it a bit so you could my face. I must have hiked faster than I thought, as there really weren’t many people around me until I reached the summit.


Did I really just climb Kilimanjaro?


Above is the view into the crater at the top of the mountain.


WE DID IT!! Here’s Thomas and I at the summit Uruhu Peak! We are on top of the world.


(Above) Oh, you know, just hanging out on Kili. Typical day.


As more people arrived they took photos by the sign and Thomas and I walked around to see each direction off the mountain.


We are trying to buy time, as I wanted to take photos at the summit with Erica, but she was still back by Stella Point. They say you really can’t be at the peak for more than 15 mintues due to the lack of oxygen due to the altitude. I read that for example, if each breath at sea level you take in 10 oxygen units, up here for each breath you only take in 3 units. Since your brain needs oxygen to function properly, up here you feel drunk if though you’re obviously not.


Thank goodness! Erica arrived and we took some fun photos and then I had to take off to head back down with Thomas.


Thomas and I looped back down to Stella Point where now I was feeling well enough to pose for photos. With the sun now out it started to get warmer too.


Here’s Thomas and I at Stella Point (18,885 ft).


It’s  around here where I need to put my camera away and focus on getting down this crazy mountain. Up until now I had been so focused on getting up the mountain that I didn’t really think about how me we were getting down. I don’t have photos of the terrain, as my camera was away and I was just so exhausted. I felt not well the whole way down.

The terrain heading back is scree. Scree is loose rock and dirt that you basically ski/slide down with your feet. It’s not a solid path. Thankfully by sliding it means we can go down much faster than I thought… but it’s also like you’re sliding down Kilimanjaro. Scary for me as I’m so afraid of heights. You just don’t have a lot of control trying to slide down scree.

I arrived back to our campsite at Barafu Camp around 11a(?), where I immediately went to sleep. When Erica got back to camp we had lunch and then rested some more. At 2:30p we had to pack up and start our trek to our next campsite, Mweka Camp (3,100 ft). Yup in 1 day we will have gone to 19,300 ft back down to 3,100 ft, all on our two feet.

It takes 4 hours to hike down to the Mweka Camp, and after the insane night/day that we’ve had, that 4 hours feels very long. The terrain goes from dry and rocky to slippery/muddy, as you hike down in a riverbed and end up within the jungle layer again. Once I arrived at Mweka Camp (around 6:30/7pm), we ate dinner and went directly to sleep. Erica and I were both SO tired.

The following morning we hiked the 3-4 hours through the very wet rainy jungle layer to the end of the Machame Route. **Bring some type of rain jacket layer. Thomas said in this portion of the hike it’s always raining.  After signing in at the station, a bus is packed up with all the porters, guides, chef, waiter etc. It’s at this point that you really get to see how many people it took for Erica and I to get up the mountain. Wow. That’s a lot of people.

We ride the bus back into Moshi to the Springlands Hotel. Here we get our room for the night, pick up our luggage that was being stored. Then we meet back with Thomas and Bruce out in the hotel courtyard where we figure out the tip for everyone and receive our certificate for having summited Kilimanjaro.

Now when it comes to tipping, it’s very confusing. Zara gave us a 2014 tipping guide when we booked the tour, which had conflicted information from with Bruce was telling us about the process of handing out tip. For example everything we read said give the money directly to the porters, but since it’s all kept away from us, it’s hard to tell who our porters are. Bruce said Zara doesn’t want people bringing money on the mountain (to prevent the threat of getting it stolen) so tip was to be figured out back at the hotel away from where the porters are. It was all a bit confusing, but Erica and I followed the tipping guide that Zara had sent to us. This worked out to being approximately $350 each? I have no clue if this was enough or too much, but it’s what Zara had recommended. Plus it was really all I could afford to do. I hope it was enough given how good our guides, chef, waiter and porters were.

Please contact me if you have any specific Kilimanjaro questions that I didn’t answer in my posts. I highly recommend Zara Tours and specifically Bruce and Thomas. They are really the only reason Erica and I made it to the summit.

This is the final post about Kilimanjaro, and next I’ll get into the safari portion of my trip with Nomad Tours!