Suddenly Elias dashes off into the undergrowth. A little bewildered, I freeze on the spot, wondering whether or not to follow him.
As if he has read my mind, he turns and silently beckons me with a crooked finger.
I do as I’m told, and soon I’m staring mutely up into the glossy green leaves, trying to follow that same finger with my eyes.
A bushy bright white tail is the first thing I spot, dangling down from the branches. I trace its length with my gaze and finally spy the asymmetric mohawk of a black and white colobus monkey.
He chatters cheekily among the leaves, takes an impressively long pee, then calls to his monkey pals before swinging theatrically away through the dense leaves.
We dash after him in hot pursuit, but he’s got the upper hand and giggles raucously at our lame attempts to catch up with him before he disappears off into the rainforest.
Instead, we try to catch up with the rest of the group, passing what resembles an eerie scarecrow among the maize fields along the way.
“To scare away the monkeys,” Elias explains. “A scaremonkey!”
The others are devastated to have missed all the monkey business, but their disappointment is short-lived as another white tail unfurls from the tree tops.
Despite preconceived notions of approaching the mountain surrounded by elephants and giraffes, it turns out that monkeys are probably the only animals that we’ll encounter on Kilimanjaro. And even those are only present down here in the lower rainforest layers of the national park. Up higher, it becomes too cold and high for fauna – even for spiders and snakes, we learn with relief.
As the greenery gradually starts to thin after around three hours, we arrive at Simba Camp where we’ll spend our first night at around 2,650 metres.
It’s already getting dark. Our portable toilet is already set up (phew) and our tents already pitched with our backpacks awaiting us within. Time for a quick wash before dinner, and then we head gratefully to bed.