From Zanzibar we went over to Dar Es Salaam. It’s not a city I disliked at all, just not one I’ll rush back to. It’s just another big city which failed to provide the night life we were hoping for to celebrate the bring in of the New Year.
Our NYE celebrations consisted of dinner at a fancy hotel then back to the roof of the place we were staying at for a beer and to watch the fireworks down on the water front below.
Perhaps the highlight of Dar was the Bus station which was bustling and huge. We eventually located the bus that we were told was “semi luxury” when we bought the tickets a few days earlier, with the help of some of the many friendly locals. The bus was a small 20 seater that had be decked out to seat about 50 and was probably carrying closer to 80 and at least one chicken. But we were the only Mzungu (white people) on the bus which certainly made for a more genuine African experience.
After a long bus ride to Lushoto and then a two hour car ride we made it to Mambo View Point – our accommodation for the next two nights – and Oh My God! About two years prior a Dutch couple literally bough the top of a mountain and built a little eco village on top, employing development ideas to provide a valuable source of work for the locals, as well as a stunning retreat for people such as ourselves.
The view was simply spectacular. It’s a pretty unique environment where mountains jut out of the savannah below to create these awe inspiring, free-standing mountains. We’re told that on a very clear day you can see Mount Kilimanjaro from our cabin and even into Kenya.
That night was a moonless night and the stars were so bright they were twinkling.
I woke early the next morning to watch the sun come up over the valley below and probably could have stayed there looking at the view for the rest of the day. But we only had two nights at the Mambo View Point so we went down into the village below.
As soon as we got near the cries from the kids started to ring out – ‘MZUNGU!!!’ When the Dutch couple arrived two years ago most of the kids in Mambo Village had never seen a white person so mazungus walking through the village is a cause for great excitement.
The village has a population of 5000, 2000 of which are of primary school age. We were mobbed by these kids who started off shy but became quite extroverted and desperate for their photo to be taken.
A village with no tourist industry and no hotels etc is a vary rare thing to come by as a western traveller in Africa. So it was a rare privileged to see this village and have a hilariously good time with these very excitable kids.
Unfortunately this little detour on our trip was far too short (if only we had known just how incredible it was going to be) and we hurried off to Moshi the next day. We took the back road to get there which was incredible (albeit quite a bit longer that it should have been due to two flat tyres). It was a full-on 4WD only road down the back of the mountain and then through the savannah, littered with Snake Eagles, Harriers and Falcons.
We stayed about 7 km out of the Moshi town centre because we knew this particular hotel had a great view of Kilimanjaro (Moshi is at its foot), which was a pity because Moshi looked like a really lovely little town and when we arrived the summit of Kilimanjaro was obscured by clouds. But then as the sun set and the clouds dropped the summit was revealed – complete with snow cap.
The next day we made our way to Arusha – our launchpad for Safari!
What can you say about Safari? It was just mind blowing. Roughly, our schedule was one day in the Tarangire National Park, three days in the Serengeti and then the final day in the Ngorongoro Crater.
Serengeti means ‘Endless Plain’ in Maasai and it’s a pretty apt description. Whist it is actually fairly geographically diverse with some more wooded parts, some grasslands and some savannah, it is all just one giant plain and every day in the late afternoon rolling electrical storms would work their way across it.
And we were really fortunate to see as much as we did. The big five – Elephants, Lion, Leopard, Buffalo and Rhinos – as well as Cheetahs, Hippos and Giraffe and some pretty stunning birdlife, including African Fish Eagle, and the Secretary Bird (Google it).
On our last day in the Serengeti we got an early start and headed off to a more remote part of the National Park where where had got word that the Wildebeest were migrating. As we came over a crest a string of black dots appeared on the horizon and the binoculars confirmed that we’d found the Wildebeest migrating over 2000km across the park – complete with a smattering of Zebras. It was truly breathtaking as we watched the lines of Wildebeest wondering across the plains for as far as the eye could see.
Plus, our accommodation was really great. In particular, the Ikoma Bush Camp where you stay in really nicely kitted out tents, complete with en suite and the sound of Hyenas around the campsite to lull you to sleep.
The key for the tent had a whistle on it incase you got into trouble and every night a security guard would escort you back to your tent from the restaurant armed with a bow and arrow. It wasn’t the Hyenas they were worried about – Elephants are a much bigger threat.
I must mention that one of the smaller Safari Companies, Access 2 Tanzania, took us and did a spectacular job. I’m highly recommend them to anyone and our guide, Maningo, was the best guide we could have hoped for – far exceeding our already inflated expectations.
So now I’m in Mombassa, Kenya (but we’ll save that for another post). We don’t have the internet here so I’m not sure when I’ll get a chance to put this post up. But I’ll leave you with one last anecdote.
The Bus to Mombassa from Arusha stopped in Moshi. As we waited there a pretty alternative-looking local in his early 30s came over to the bus to say hi. ‘Where you from?’ he asked. ‘Australia’. ‘Ah,’ he replied, ‘like Julian Assange. Cool.’