Written by our guest blogger: Leo van den Berg
After a lovely stay on the Tanzanian East Coast we headed to the mountains. Just like any other day when we were in Tanzania this day had plenty of adventures waiting for us. I knew that driving in The Netherlands and Tanzania couldn’t be compared but with all the dirt roads in Tanzania it sure is something else. After more than 200 kilometers of dirt and muddy roads we thought we were nearly at the place of destination, Emau Hill in Amani Forest. The last 3 kilometers were that bad that we decided not to drive any further. We called the owner and she said that this was indeed the best thing to do and that we could park our car at their neighbours’ property. She would then make sure that someone would pick us up.
When her husband arrived with an old Toyota Land Cruiser we thought we would be fine. However it only got worse. The broken engine of the car couldn’t manage the steep ascent and it seemed that her husband wasn’t a proper 4×4 driver at all. After helping pushing the car we couldn’t make it any further in this car and we had to walk the last kilometer through the mud. We eventually reached the property and the destination itself was breathtaking. Set in the middle of the rainforest it was truly spectacular. We enjoyed the small hike through the rainforest and the chameleon hike at night where we saw dozens of chameleons!
Emau Hill: never again
The next morning the owner’s car was still broken. The utmost unfriendly owner could arrange some transport for us but now we had to pay an extra fee on top since the road was in a bad condition. Since we didn’t have a choice, we had to get down to our car in some way, we simply decided to keep calm (although this is hard when you’re being screwed) and pay. A super nice local gave us a lift and we were on our way to The Swiss Cottage Farm in the mountains near Lushoto. As the crow flies it’s only 60 kilometers but due to the limited amount of (usually not superb dirt) roads it takes you about 5 hours.
An African Switzerland
Lushoto is a small village in a valley where they even have a proper pizzeria called “Mamma Mia”. The pizza we had for lunch was great and once we payed the bill we were on our way to our accommodation. The welcome was wonderful and enthusiastic, what a difference compared to Emau Hill. The surroundings was just like the name of the accommodation. A complete Swiss looking environment with green grass, cows and a cottage with a fireplace. Not something you imagine when you think about Tanzania but nevertheless very pretty and cosy. Another special experience was the fact that they would serve dinner and breakfast in the cottage while the fireplace was being lit.
To the top
The next day we were heading to the Irente Viewpoint: a lookout point at a height of approx. 1600 meters. Since the road leading to the viewpoint had plenty of potholes, water and other irregularities we decided to walk the last 1,5 kilometer. When we were having a hard time navigating through the mud a local was offering to show us a shortcut (for a small fee 😉 ). This route led through a local village where lots of vegetables, fruits and coffee beans were growing. The locals found it to be a pleasant distraction from their work but I’m not sure if the route really was a shortcut (I’m actually sure it wasn’t). The viewpoint gave us an amazing view on the steppes down below. After all this hiking we enjoyed a homemade lunch at Irente’s Farmhouse with homegrown vegetables and wonderful cheese. We then relaxed a bit more in our chalet and this great day came to an end way too fast.
Because we wanted to be close to the highest mountain of Africa, the Kilimanjaro with a height of nearly 6.000 kilometer, we moved on the Moshi. Moshi is a relatively big city where they even had a supermarket. It was the first time this week but I didn’t really miss it to be honest. Mountain Inn was the place where we stayed for two nights. Nice rooms, friendly staff, a good restaurant and a lovely pool. “Spotting” the Kilimanjaro was more difficult than we thought due to the presence of clouds and the enormous height of the mountain. We did manage to make a photo of the snowy peak of the mountain. Other than checking out the starting point of one of the trails towards the top (which take 5 days!) of the mountain we didn’t do any hiking ourselves. We spent the rest of our time in Moshi relaxing at the pool, watching our first World Cup match and eating at the local Indian restaurant.
Game parks here we come!
By leaving Moshi we ended the first part of our trip to Tanzania. One can say that even though we were well prepared it really is different when you’re actually here (in a good way). We had to improvise several times but that all turned out great. We all thought that this has been an unforgettable first week!
Game parks here we come!!