Saturday 13th October
Our final early rise for our last days trekking and a cloudy chill greeted us as we prepared our day sacks and consumed our breakfast of sausages and cereal. We left on time and proceeded through the village of Gelai where we were greeted by many of the locals up early getting ready for the market. We stopped on the outskirts of the village and took our group photo overlooking the plains below and our days walk laid out behind us. Our progress was good, the kilometres being eaten up before the heat of the day had a chance to set it. We followed hourly stops for water and rest as we passed antelope and giraffe looking for what shade there was in the vast exposed lava plains. The imposing and smouldering Mt Lengai grew closer in our periphery as we began the final climb of our trek towards the Sunken crater. We lunched under shade and were immediately surrounded by Maasai women and children seemingly appearing out of the dust, we provided them with any leftover food we could muster and set on our way for the (apparently) final 4km of our trek.
In effect we had less than 2km to walk and as one by one we arrived at the rim of the crater we were each greeted by an applauding support team and a magnificent view over the crater itself.
Finished! – At the edge of the sunken crater
The final climbs had taken their toll on some – Mike in particular feeling the strain but managing to run across the finishing line after encouragement from all of those around him. Our intrepid ActionAid rep Katherine also suffered with blisters and the like but was able to cover the final 100m on foot after needing the use of the support vehicle – much to her disgust.
And so, we were finished. After all the preparation and training we had mearly a few moments of congratulations at the crater before we boarded our vehicles and set off for our final camp at the village of Engaruka. As we came closer to the village we could see the evidence of the difference water makes in regions such as this. Lush green plantations of bananas and mangoes greeted us and the size of the village itself took us all by surprise. We drove into camp and straight into a welcome (if slightly warm) bottle of beer and sat around reflecting on our own personal achievements while watching vervet monkeys and kingfishers playing in the branches above.
Eventually people found the will and energy to attempt some form of washing and dressing for our final camp dinner and subsequent cabaret. Food was followed by the presentation of awards by Cheryl our expedition leader (I myself taking the prize for best overall trekker/camper – by virtue of the fact I enjoyed the camping and apparently knew what I was doing). We then paid a final thanks to our generous and wonderful crew of guides/doctor/drivers/maintenance/cooks etc and settled around the fire for the evening’s entertainment. This mainly consisted of a number of songs and poetry from a small number of the group, I put in an appearance with the RSC (Reduced Safari Company) and a performance of the weeks experiences in a little over 3 minutes, in the dark.
The group gradually drifted to bed leaving the usual suspects to discuss the matters of the day over the final drinks (the bar having run dry) before turning in ourselves.