Thursday, July 11, 2013

The four day trip through the Usambara Mountains

A four day trip through the Usambara Mountains
By Andy Wittenwiler and Silvia Bretscherfrom Switzerland

This trip started on a Monday morning from MamboViewPoint on the way to Lushoto, the most important city in the Usambaras. This distance is too far to do in one day, so we did it in three parts.

The first part was about 12 km hill up, hill down through a very nice area. Our first overnight was at the Rangwi Sisters, a kind of catholic convent, led by the sisters. We arrived here at around 3 pm. When we arrived, almost immediately a lunch was served. That was a very nice welcome.
On the terrain there was a guesthouse, where we could stay, it was very lovely and clean. It was a new experience to stay in a convent, this was the first time for all of us. The convent was originally built by German missionaries, in the time when Tanzania was a German colony. In the convent was also a secondary school, the first in the Usambara Mountains.
There was an aesthetic and tranquil garden, so that we could relax and charge our batteries for the next day.
After the very nice dinner we went early to bed, because the next day we had to wake up at 7 am for the second hiking day.


This second day led to Papa Moze’s Lodge, the second stop on the way to Lushoto and named after the owner. The distance was about 14 km through very nice green and fertile area. This area is also known as the biggest supplier of vegetables for whole Tanzania and abroad, because of the ideal location in the Usambaras. It is not to hot here and it is wet enough for fertile ground. It’s possible to harvest three times a year.

Papa Moze is a known Lodge for Backpackers and almost the only one in the area on the road to Lushoto. It was a small and cozy lodge and we were on that moment the only guest. After a nice cool bear we took a shower and dinner was served at 7 pm. cooked by a lovely, talented lady. Papa Moze was joining us for dinner, he is a very funny, nice man.
After dinner he asked proudly, if he could show us his coin collection. A big bag appeared with hundreds of coins from all over the world, which he spread on the table. From almost every coin he knew something to tell. I asked him, if he had already Euro coins, he hadn’t. Luckily I had some in my wallet and I gave it to him. He was very pleased and showed it directly to his son. He thanked by giving a very old Tanzania coin and a red Gemstone.
After dinner we took a nice Konjaki and we went to bed. The walk of today was very tough.

The next morning we went up early and we had a nice breakfast. The sun was shining brightly, that was a nice start of the day. The distance to Lushoto was still too far to do it by foot.
Originally the plan of today was, to take a daladala (local minibus) to the starting point of the day. This was not necessary because Papa Moze gave us a lift in his own car, that was much more comfortable, if you compare it with the daladalas.
The walk itself was shorter than the previous day, that was actually good, because the next and last day would be very tough. In between, we stopped in Mullers Mountain Lodge for lunch. This was a nice, in European style built, lodge with a very nice garden and a known place in the wide surrounding area.

After the good lunch we were heading for Lushoto. There we stayed in the Tumaini Lodge, a good address and not expensive.

The 4rd and last day we started by car, 2 ½ hours from Lushoto to the foot of the Mountain where MamboViewPoint is located. The starting point is on 600 m and MamboViewPoint is on 1900 m. So we hat do climb 1300 m in high. We started in the small village Mkundi Mbaro. In the village was a very small local shop, where we bought water. Like often in Tanzania were a lot of children around the shop.
I brought some balloons in my backpack and decided to give them to the children. Suddenly there were many hands to take them. The funny faces of the children were very nice to see. Especially when we started to blow up the balloons. It’s very nice that the children here are happy with something small and simple, something almost unimaginable in Europe.

The walk started flat and we passed a dry riverbed. After that the real job started. It became steeper and steeper. In front of us walked a 10 year old girl in bright colored clothes, carrying a big bag on her head. Our guide told us, that she was from Mambo Village. It was very hard to follow her with the same speed.
Down in the level country, it was very warm and we were swatting a lot, much drinking was necessary. Fortunately for us the sun was not to bright that would make it even more tough. After some short breaks we decided to take lunch after half way. 20 min. later we continued to climb the hill, on our way we passed the mambo Footprints. In a rock along the path you can see some footprints of prehistoric people and animals. Interesting to see and not yet very well known to the big public. Several steps higher, the lodge became into sight and the path became less steep.
Once we arrived in the Lodge there was a warm welcome and cold drinks.
Thanks for the last days, it was a beautiful walk we really can recommend it to everyone!

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