home yesterday. no clue as to time/space continuum.
Picking up the tale at Midnight – security let us through to the holding area to wait for check-in. Please remember that Dar Es Salaam is somewhere between 4-6 M people. The outer portion of the airport is open to the world with a number of cafeterias, coffee shops, souvenir stands and dozens upon dozens of taxi drivers.
The inner area holds all of a dozen airline check in counter each equipped with an overhead electronic programable sign, desk, computer, personnel and a baggage scale. Unless you have checked in before, it is impossible to figure out where your airline is setting up for check in today.
Did I mention that my flight was not on the electronic overhead signs as even scheduled today? I decided not to worry since the security guy let me into the area. So we waited about 45 minutes: me, a number of obvious tourists, a few locals and an extended family party from, it turns out, the Ukraine, who were heading home after a holiday. Right after midnight they all stood up and sang happy birthday to one very embarrassed mom in the group and presented her with flowers.
This is Tanzania – just about everyone around clapped. Since we didn’t know the words – singing along wasn’t possible.
Pre-check followed by check in followed by heading to the Tanzanian Lounge (used by all the airlines). It was at this point we were reminded that the flight was delayed at least an hour. Passport control (Passport, exit form, digital pix, fingerprints) and off to the lounge along with the real Nigerian Business man, a Tanzanian-Danish couple and their 10 month old baby. Food in the lounge and lots of beverages; vegetable samosas, Thai veg soup, biscuits, cakes, croissants and a lot of fruit. I settled in with Wifi, electrical outlet and grogginess to wait.
I attempted to sleep most of the flight to Istanbul. By the time it was light out, we were over the southern part of Egypt. Believe me when I saw that it was sand as far as I could see except for the rare glimpse of the Nile wending its way north. We were too high to see any man-made structures until close to Cairo where we veered off toward the north-east across the eastern portion of the Med. Circling above the Bosporus and the city of Istanbul, we were low enough to see the massive extent of the city and the spires of the mosques.
After the surprisingly small size of the Tanzanian airport, Ataturk was like being dumped in the middle of an ant hill with people swarming everywhere. Nothing was made easier by the literally hundreds of people making their way slowly along more interested in their cell phones that the affects of their towed luggage against the ankles of innocent fellow travelers.
Coffee, olives, soup, crackers and lots of turkish candy got me through the waiting time before my next flight. This time, on a Airbus 330, the seats went all the way flat. Food was good, the power outlet worked and we arrived pretty much on time in Frankfurt.
By now I have learned what to say at Passport Control – I just told the guy that my husband lived here and that I was visiting for two weeks. He just stamped my passport without running it through the computer which means he didn’t get the whole list of how often and how long I am really here.
Luggage, ran for the train (wheeled crappy duffles are no where near as fun as good 4-wheeled luggage) and George picked me up in Mannheim. Home.
hurry up and wait for flights. Those headed to the states leave out about 2000 this evening. Or so. Me? My Turkish Airways flight doesn’t leave till 0dark330 in the mornig.
Below is what the booklet said:
Day 6 – Jul 26, 2015 Zanzibar • Optional Prison Island Tour •
Today is at leisure to make your own discoveries or join an optional Prison Island Tour. Just off the coast of Zanzibar’s Stone Town, Prison Island was originally intended to house runaway slaves, however, it was never actually used as a prison. Today this tropical island acts as a sanctuary for giant tortoises—some which are more than 100 years old. You’ll enjoy the opportunity to interact with exotic wildlife and gain insight into its unique local history as you enjoy stunning views of white sandbars and the crystal-clear water that surrounds the island.
Later this afternoon, we fly to Dar es Salaam Airport and depart on our overnight flight home, via Amsterdam, arriving the next day.
We left Fumba Beach about noon. After dropping our bags off for safe keeping at the Swahili House we toured the main museum. Now open to the public, the four buildings were the interconnected residence of Sultans one-ten.
Oops. Headed to the bus for the airport. More later (and the soccer shirts all fit in the suitcase !)
23xx addition: Van to Zanzibar Airport. Small plane to the mainland. Even cooler is when you get to sit in the co-pilot seat and enjoy the view of the coast, the city, and watch the runway come up to meet you.
None of us were sure what we expected, but the words “plantation” brought to mind historical thoughts complete with buildings, gardens and organization.
Nothing could be further from the truth. For several hours we wandered along twisting paths while learning about the various fruits and spices grown here. The plantings are totally and completely mixed. No neat rows, markers or signs of cultivations. Rather, mixed vegetation and a surprising lack of insects. We were handed various crushed leaves to smell and identify, were able to see and taste various herbs and spices in different stages of development and in general had a great time.
(and once again pictures will follow……
but for a starter we saw
coconuts, turmeric plants, star fruit, something that looked like a lemon but wasn’t, cardamon, jack fruit, bread fruit, nutmeg, mace, vanilla beans, pineapple, banana, cacao, casava, sweet potato, peppercorns, coffee, cinnamon, cinnabar, cloves, ginger, lemon grass, ylang-ylang …..
lunch back at Fumba Beach Lodge was lovely as usual. Since none of us had signed up for any of the planned optional excursions and a sunset cruise was out of the question (both we had been on the water yesterday and the tide was going to be low to the point of wading in the water to the point of soaked in order to reach the boat) in stead we took a wander through the local countryside and villages lead by one of the gardeners from the Lodge.
Much better than a planned excursion and formal presentation – this was just a look without expectations. We did wonder at what everyone thought with this group of white folks walking past but tourism is the major local employer and we were not taking pictures without permission….
Menai Bay boat cruise
Today we’ll have a full day to cruise scenic Menai Bay by traditional Zanzibari motor boat. Located off the southwestern coast of Zanzibar, Menai Bay is the islands’ largest protected marine area that is home to extensive coral reefs, mangrove forests, sea grasses, and tropical fish. While discovering small islets such as Komunda and Miwi, we may even witness pods of dolphin swimming by. We’ll have the opportunity to swim and snorkel in the warm cerulean waters before a picnic lunch is set up for us on a sand island. Later this afternoon, we’ll have leisure time to relax or explore near our hotel. Dinner is at our lodge this evening.
The Reality was even better. The local boats are Dhow, hand built single mast sailing vessels that have come into the current century only by adding an outboard motor (with wooden tiller) to the back. The instructors, crew, boat, gear and lunch were all provided by the lodge. All that was required of us was to have a good time. You can see the Dhow, the group and the general good time. I’m not posting how everyone looked soaked from diving, snorkeling or wading in from the boat (out to the boat, to the beach, from the beach, to the shore – each just far enough apart to get dry between).
Blue Bottle Jellies
Our beach where we had lunch
Loading up to come back – and arrival
Leaving Stone town, we headed toward one of the nature reserves. Would you believe Red Colobus monkeys (Zanzibar) ? Blue Monkeys? How about Mangroves?
How about all of the above with a side of mahogany tree?
As we arrived, there was a blue sykes monkey – so now I have a decent photo…
found in the forest
Red Colubus Monkeys – Zanzibar subspecies
and a mangrove swamp with white, red and black mangroves whose water varies from cms to a meter deep depending on the tides. The water is still and the reflections are amazing…
Then there was the seaweed farm located on the coast
which included a wonderful hike out to the beds in the shallow but always covered portion of a particular Indian Ocean beach flanked on both sides by dozens of kite surfers.
to make the day complete we arrived in plenty of time for briefings, snacks, dinner and bush babies.
located on the biggest island in the Zanzibar Archipelago, is old. Very old as in evidence of human habitation going back 20,000 years, give or take. So it wasn’t young when the Arabs arrived, nor when the Portuguese identified it as a great shipping point. But what did change with the arrival of all those from Europe and the Mid-East was the name and the construction of the buildings.
Did I forget to mention those from Asia? Sorry about that.
Rather than temporary homes, limestone became the main building material. Zangi (black people) became Zanzibar and the area became known as the Spice Islands. Think pepper, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon. Today it is the home of tourism, some spice, a World Heritage Site and a lot of people. Not so much on the spice although there is plenty for sale, both raw and spice mixes, in the markets.
This morning we walked through the narrow twisted streets of Stone Town where pedestrians, bikes, scooters and hand pushed heavy wooden wheeled carts are the only possible forms of transportation. Looking at old buildings, interesting doorways, and stores tucked behind wooden barred facades,
the calls to prayer were an ongoing reminder that the population is 95% Muslim. That and the women’s dress made it pretty obvious.
The Old Slave Market over which was built an Episcopal Church (which became a guest house after a new church was built.
the fish market,
all indicative of that which was was easily bought and sold.
This afternoon’s adventure was headed up by Bonita, the hotel manager on a rare afternoon off. Visiting fabric sources, stores in front of stores on the narrow streets and opportunity to add to my spice collection made for a lovely afternoon. We ended at Livingston’s on the beach where we relaxed, unfortunately a month too early for the Jazz Festival.
And today it got complicated since 10 of the group area heading home on KLM via Amsterdam this evening.
Me? I’m off to Zanzibar….
According to the brochure:
After breakfast this morning, we’ll depart for Arusha, where we’ll enjoy lunch and bid farewell to those travel companions who are returning home today. Then, we transfer to Arusha Airport to board our flight to Zanzibar Island, known as Unguja to the locals. Upon arrival, we’ll check into our hotel. This evening dinner will be on our own.
Lunch was at a restaurant close to the airport. Not bad at all, but we have had better, especially the food at the Serengeti Camp. Farewells were said to those heading home then the five of us (plus our tour leader) headed to the airport. For those that have been in Africa, it wasn’t as large as Livingston but had a full share of shops…. It was also our lucky day – there were enough people wanting to fly to Zanzibar that we took a much bigger plane than originally scheduled (and me with my extremely heavy backpack).
The distance isn’t large – 16-30 miles from the coast (the nearest most distant point of the largest island)
Chaos ensued at the arrival airport – but we managed to get our luggage and out of there in a reasonable time. Our Hotel is called the Swahili House. Built in the 1800s, it transitioned from private ownership to public hotel via revolution and political change. In any case the view from the roof dining area is amazing – and the architecture is amazing ….
and the sunset was pretty impressive from the roof top
Discover Ngorongoro Highlands
Today we’ll have the opportunity to explore the surrounding village of Karatu and the Ngorongoro Highlands for a day of Learning and Discovery with our Trip Leader. We gather for a Farewell Dinner this evening. Day 12 will include A Day
in the Life experience at an Iraqw village and local school.
The setting is peaceful, the greenery lush, and the wifi is free. Did I also mention that the food is excellent along with being way too available. After excellent food, but not much appetite in the Kilimanjaro Highlands I have the feeling that those pounds that vanished are bent on returning. The cuisine is a mix of local African dishes and western style offerings. So there is porridge in the morning, but it is oatmeal here rather than maize. There are eggs to order and meats. But there are wonderful fresh fruits and vegetables.
Today the majority of the group went off on cultural activities. Visiting a family, a market, dropping off food at an orphanage. Perhaps stopped by a school – I wasn’t too clear since it is so not my thing. (all of which is a long discussion related to too much seen in too many countries and not needing to go there anymore).
Instead – I posted the pictures from the last five days, took a few of the lodge.
Found that the Wifi worked well enough to download books from amazon but not to update Apps.
Other wise, checked out the gift shops, bought napkins.
Tomorrow five of us head to Zanzibar and the other ten back to the US so it is farewell dinner time….
Oh – there was a Maribo Stork refusing to leave the vegetable garden
Ok, haul that geology out of its resting place. Caldera – that central area of the volcano that collapses with the eruption. So you will see this particular feature (the Ngorongoro Caldera/Crater) listed both ways on maps.
The Blurb provided by OAT –
Early this morning, we drive to Ngorongoro Crater. We descend to the floor of Ngorongoro for some game-viewing. The caldera of Ngorongoro marks the ancient walls of a collapsed volcano, which was probably once the size of Mount Kilimanjaro. The circular crater is some twelve miles across, with steep walls of more than 2,000 feet. The crater’s rim is 7,500 feet above sea level, the highest altitude we reach on our trip. Because of a permanent supply of water and a precise balance of predator and prey, most of the wildlife remains here year-round. The forest areas are home to herds of bull elephant, including some large, old “tuskers.” There are several prides of lion, and many packs of hyena and jackal. If lucky, you may spot a bat-eared fox or a pair of cheetah. These predators stalk the numerous wildebeest, gazelle, and zebra. Here thrives a stable population of rhino, as well as herds of buffalo and groups of hippo. The birdlife is equally diverse, ranging from the scavenging vulture and bustard to the magnificent eagle and crested crane.
Apparently what happens is that animals wander down, the eating is good and they don’t leave. But, since there are few trees, you don’t find young elephants or any giraffes at all. Because of the amount of recreational traffic (read here safari vehicles) most of the animals and birds don’t seem to be bothered. This is a conservation area: no one lives here but Maasai are allowed to graze a small portion on one end. That area is grazed down to practically the soil.
Packing and leaving out of the camp this morning
On the way
looking into the caldera and across
we saw …
and the reason for being able to see all the hyenas and jackels had to do with the lions having lunch
at the end of the day we stayed at Ngorongono Valley Lodge
(and I am sparing you the rhetoric. Hey, we went out, saw a lot of animals, swatted at the flies and had a great time…) Seriously – we headed to the Western side of the park on the rumor that there were a lot of wildebeasts… Incredibly true. Once I am home hopefully I can get Dani to take the video and turn it into something worth watching. Nothing like seeing thousands of animals suddenly appear from across a riverbed, thunder down within a hundred meters of where you are sitting before changing direction, picking up speed and heading across the plain.
Pictures today are in the order taken….
and ignoring flat tire #3 (same vehicle, same tire, third day in a row.) since the guys are pretty speedy, especially with a leopard hunting in the area
But then we came to the Wildebeasts ….
To top off the day – there were lions…
personally I think he is pretty scruffy, but I suppose youth is an excuse.
and then, we saw their potential supper on the way back
Explore Serengeti National Park
You will rejoin the group after breakfast for a morning game-viewing drive. The Serengeti stretches over 5,700 square miles of plains, riverine bush, and acacia woodland, with a dominant environment of acacia grassland. But from the comfort of our bush camp, there is never a rush: We go where the animals are. We can return to a promising area, or range further afield.
As it turned out, this was the day of the cat. Lions, leopards, cheetah were all out and about in spite of the temperature. And more importantly in spite of the tsetse flies. Day biters, these nasty flies are mostly found in brush areas or those with large numbers of herbivores.
I have divided up the pictures, but there are a lot of them…and not all in the order in which we saw/photographed them…
Which nest rather messily on top of acacias (one of the 43 species of this tree any way). So the pair – taking off, taking a hike, and crossing the road – after all – there may be snakes on the other side…
Those animals which you expect to see
include wildebeast (gnu), zebras, & elephants
and the antelopes
skipping the Thompson’s, Grants, Impalas, water buck and bush bucks…
(especially for Linda and Alison)
which are incredibly shy, hard to photo. Even in the park they are quite endangered (killed off by leopards, lions, hyenas…) but apparently willing to have a discussion with Gnus..
who hangs out in her own tree – stomach full.
but makes a couple of trips up and down while we watch. Note that she stores “lunch” up in the tree on both sides. Don’t enlarge the pictures with dangling antelope legs if it will bother you
guestimated to be about 4 months old. Mom is hanging out in the larder tree. Way too many vehicles and tourists for the young one who woke up, got bothered and took off….
Two Lion Prides
The first was hanging out in the sun under a tree – or rather – he was while watching his five ladies look for a snack. Before turning an irritated look our way
the second pride was a bit more scattered with one young male feeling lonely, a couple of lionesses at look out and the king off on a seduction walk
Monkeys behaving badly
Explore Serengeti National Park
Today, we explore the vast expanse of the Serengeti, where the wildlife
sightings are typically at their peak in the early mornings and late afternoons, when the temperature cools. Serengeti, in fact, is the Maasai word that means “endless plain.”
Our mobile tented camps are set up based on the animals’ seasonal migration patterns and are in place before you arrive. Each is outfitted with camp beds, complete with linens, blankets, pillows, and en suite facilities (shower and flush toilets) with hot water. You have your own verandah with wash basin and two director’s chairs. There is a dining tent with tables and chairs. Spend the night listening to the sounds of the animals in the distance.
That last one is a misnomer. The sounds are not at a distance; more like right between the cabins and sloshing around in the water reservoir. I don’t hold with elephants being all that bright – but they certainly are cunning. We were also warned about leaving shoes outside to dry – seems like they make good hyena toys.
And the Leopard ….
She was up in the tree, stocking her larder. Nature is what it is and I refuse to feel sorry for the gazelles who wind up being dinner…
Discover Oldupai Gorge • Travel to Serengeti camp
Oldupai Gorge where , in 1959, Louis and Mary Leakey discovered fossil fragments, which led to a new understanding of human evolution. Oldupai Gorge was home to Homo habilis, a race of early humans to probably become the ancestors of homo sapien. Visit the small museum, which explains the Leakeys’ methods and findings. After a picnic lunch, we travel to our camp in the Serengeti.
The Museum is tiny and reflective of most private (in this case foundation supported) museums in the not wealthy area of the world. There is a replica of the footprints found in the Laetoi area on display, maps of the area, skulls and bones from many of the pre-historic animals and photos from the excavation. I’m not showing it – but there is also a monument to the Japanese scientist who started near Terra del Fuego and hiked what is thought to be the human migration pattern backwards from Argentina all the way to the Oldupai Gorge….
We left the entry area (Kaapi Hill) to drive toward the tented camp where we stayed the next four nights. Following are just a few of our spottings along the way. As always – clicking will make them larger….
and leopards this time….
This morning was cultural experience followed by a stop at wood carvers before we arrived at our overnight location about 1300.
Ngorongoro Farm is a working farm, coffee plantation and (in my opinion) a multiple star location. Obviously we are not the only safari group coming through – this lodge is also highly popular with many of the German travel companies.
Since coffee is a significant issue (9 acres of coffee and all served is their own)
But what was most surprising were the accommodations since they didn’t look like all that much from the outside.
But inside they are huge
And when I was sitting outside looking at the extensive gardens-
I almost forgot about the coffee table
Today we experience Tarangire’s diversity on a morning game-viewing
drive, during which we’ll pause to enjoy a picnic breakfast in the
The variety of wildlife here is excellent, from lion, cheetah, and
buffalo to a wealth of birdlife. Elephant are plentiful here, traveling
in large herds that are not often seen elsewhere in Africa. Each of
our driver-guides has extensive knowledge of behavior of these great
We will return to our lodge in time for a relaxing lunch. In the
afternoon, we’ll have time to take an optional nature walk in the
Lake Burunge area. After, we enjoy dinner together at our camp.
Ok – Reality: (grin) which might even have been better.
We were up and about by 0530 this morning and basically on the road before 0700. The park doesn’t open till 0600 so there is about zero chance of crashing around in the dark. We did the usual mix up people and vehicles again which means new day, new friends, new driver.
Now I will stop the natter and present you with pictures……
all of which we saw within the first hour.
After which there were birds, more birds…..
Other animals and scenery
and finally – the Zebras
Day 4 (supposedly – I can’t count, but will use their numbers) – aka 12 July 2015.
We left Moraiva Coffee Lodge this morning split into three groups. All of us made a fast stop at a shopping center (for those who need an ATM) one of the cars was going to quickly run by Shanga while the other two headed to Tarangire Park.
The park lies west of Arusha. As the elevations drops we also shift from Chagga tribe to Massai. Their traditional houses are round
and we continually passed herds of goats and cattle with the occasional dromedary. Mostly boys doing the herding, traditional dress was more common than jeans.
Arriving at the park – we had lunch and were entertained by monkey thieves and numerous birds.
then headed into the park itself:
From here on – it is just pictures.
We left the park 1700 ~for Lake Burunge Tented Camp where we will spend the next two nights. And, we were delighted to find that prior information was wrong – there is wifi at the camp.
The time count is now going to get confusing. This is 11 July – and really from my count the first day of the tour since it is when we start going and doing. Our group consists of 10 who were on the pre-trip to one of the Kenyan Game preserves, one who flew in from South Africa (she just finished the Safari George and I did in March), three who arrived from the US and me. The Kenya crew didn’t arrive till 0200 in the morning and the three from the US are pretty time zone whacked.
Heading out by bus
our first stop was the Shanga Workshop. Started by a Dutch woman, the organization provides training and jobs for those who are deaf/mute and/or physically handicapped.
Our first stop was one of the teaching areas where we were afforded the opportunity to learn a bit of Sign in Swahili. Besides a number of basic words/concepts – there is the alphabet
Currently employing 47, the workshop sells in their shop the things that are made with an eye to having everyone being self supporting.
Everything is made from recycled products (well except for the woven fabrics) including glass beads and objects, jewelry, fabric objects, blown glass ….
From there we moved on to River House at Arusha Coffee Plantation where the Chef demonstrated a number of Tanzanian dishes (and gave us a recipe book at the end)
I would have taken pictures of all the food, but frankly I was too busy eating.
which are cut back every year and produce up to 70 years. The picking season is May – Oct and all here is picked by hand.
We looked at shops and people along the 40 minute drive back while discussing culture and tribes. Kilimanjaro was faintly visible in the distance – with clouds and a lot of imagination.
Day 5: Mbahe Village / Departure
Rest, recover, and relax at Mbahe Farm House. Enjoy delicious “homebrew” coffee, grown and roasted on the farm, meals made with fresh fruits and vegetables from the garden, and perhaps take a refreshing swim below the Moonjo River waterfall that sits on the property. It is the perfect spot to relax after your adventure walk on Kilimanjaro! For those returning home you will be transferred to the Kilimanjaro International Airport to catch your flight. Those staying in Tanzania will start your next adventure today.
And then I get dropped off back in Moshi at the Moivaro Coffee Plantation where I will join the OAT group….. 10 of the group has been in Kenya, the other five should be totally and completely time whacked from getting on a plane yesterday in the US and changing planes in Schipol this morning…
Tanzanian coffee tasted wonderful at 0600 this morning. I actually got a great nights sleep (amazing how much a few drugs can help) and felt if not refreshed, at least as if I could face the day. This morning’s porridge turned out to be oatmeal. This is what the visitor’s prefer I was told. But bu it was balanced out by fresh papaya, avocado and oranges. As it turns out, Mhabe Farm is on the top of the hill (no surprise) and it was a bit of a slip and slide down to the road where I met my driver.
On normal roads it would not be that far, but it was 2 1/2 hours to Arusha. It was interesting to see Moshi during the day and pass by the Kilimanjaro Airport when it was actually daylight. Otherwise, I had watched the transition from rural to town to definitely city. The stores along the road changed from wooden structures to partial block to solid buildings that you could find anywhere in the world. The Boda stations became more frequent but otherwise didn’t change. The bus stations also more frequent, but the fruit and vegetable stands remained unchanged so that you can still easily buy bananas, broiled maize on a stick (corn) and everything else from tomatoes to avocados.
Arriving at the Moivaro Lodge about I dropped my gear, took a shower and washed some clothes as well as my shoes. The last I put out in the sun hopefully to dry.
Meanwhile, roadwork in the area means no Wifi for a while. + my phone has now decided that it will not connect to anything – thank you very much.
I meet the group tomorrow – the rest arrive tonight – some via Amsterdam, the rest from a safari in Kenya..
Leaving the last school camp and ending the walk – 14km
Day 4: Kidia to Mbahe Village July 9
This section is the most open of our trek, as we encounter several superb viewpoints down over Moshi, and also up toward the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, which emerges as we approach Mbahe Village and Simon Mtuy’s family farm. Despite the longer distance walked, the trails are gentler and you have time to savor your last day in your mountain paradise. The Mtuy farm consists of 15 acres of land on which Simon Mtuy’s ancestors raised cattle and today is used as a small ecologically sustainable farm with eight semi-detached guest rooms.
I’m staying here tonight then headed to join the OAT crew tomorrow…. where I should be able to access the world…. or at least the internet via wifi or phone.
And now for Reality:
Out the village, down the road. In my mind I am hearing “over hill, over dale , I have hit the slippery trail “.
Today my guide says this is an easy walk. What may be easy for 34 is not so for someone several decades older. We increase the altitude as we go. Gradual slopes are not that bad; steep is another matter. But the country side is beautiful as we greet children on their way to school, parents working in the fields and travelers along the road.
Leaving the village road we strike off cross country. He says no worry, only about 4-5 valleys to cross. I count. It is more like 6-7 depending on whether you believe that a full scramble up is required prior to the next slide down. There is either a stream or small river at the base of each valley. All but one can be forded by balancing on the rocks. The other is wade worthy. The water is icy cold as it is glacier run off from Kilimanjaro.
None of the birds came close enough to make it worth taking out the camera. Sunbirds, weavers, and ravens, abounded. But the highlight were the blue monkeys.Since I didn’t have more than a 24-105 lens, it is not like you can see them extremely well….
Arriving at Mhabe Farm about 1500 it was a total of seven hours and ~16 km given that we took a couple of longer but easier routes.
Day 3 From one school camp to another – a distance of 12 km
Day 3: Tema to Kidia
After a night camped at 1900 meters, the trail proceeds through several colorful mountain villages and their coffee and maize farms, as well as rivers where you can refresh in the cool and crystal clear water. Our destination, Kidia Village, is the site of the first European settlement in the Kilimanjaro region. There are many large Catholic and Lutheran churches on the mountain, each with its own story of missionary work among the Chagga people. Our last camp is at another primary school high up the mountain.
If you want to be inconspicuous, I strongly recommend NOT hiking along an African road. Not if you are middle aged (hey, I can’t claim senior stats till this fall) and are a white woman wearing hiking pants. Add in a mid 30s African guide with the backpack and you are starting to get the picture. Neither Dr Livingston nor inconspicuous.
These were some of my thoughts yesterday as we hiked down the “main” road through a number of villages be arriving at a major paved road. And it was raining again, which should come as no surprise. There were typical shops and stands lining the road along with Bodas waiting for their next fare.
It was somewhere around km 16-18 that we met up with our vehicle and faced the next challenge. Remember rain? The ground here is red clay. Slippery. After numerous tries it became obvious that it was going to be roads = 1 car+people = 0. A decision was made that it was smarter just to move on to the next camp than slide off the mountain in the dark. And so it was that we stayed 2 nights at camp three.
This morning we hike about ½ way back along the normal day three route.
We made a second trip out to see one valley and waterfall.
There is a woodworker and blacksmith in the local village keeping Chagga traditions alive.
I also met the local nurse who runs the government clinic. Unlike in the Western World, her scope of practice includes full OB, well baby, suturing, circs, malaria care, and what ever else her village needs.
It is the second day of the hike – refer back to the map from yesterday. The distance planned is another 10 km with the Tema School Camp as our stopping point for the evening.
Day 2: Wondo to Tema
We begin by traversing between the Kilimanjaro National Park and the local villages, following the sweet-smelling eucalyptus trees planted to demarcate the border. The trail passes above several homesteads and past an ingenious electrical system that uses the water channel. Higher up, the hiking increases in intensity as we pass a dramatic landscape of ridges and deep valleys, all covered by tropical rain forest, home to troops of blue monkeys, which we may see. As you pass through the farms and forests, be sure to ask your SENE guide about his experiences growing up in this mountain environment. Our campsite at a primary school overlooks Moshi Town and the surrounding plain.
Today is a real adventure. For one thing, my brains kicked in on arising. Did I really want to hike another 10 km cross wet and slippery country after a full nights rain? Of course! But realistically it would not be smart.
So after breakfast we set off down the “road” rather than over another hill. The soil here is not the iron rich clay of the SE U.S. But it is just as likely to make you slip and slide. Down is not always easier, but up apparently is not easy on vehicles. After spending about 45 minutes being entertained by six guys vs one truck (the truck was still both not starting and stuck) I figure the truck won.
There is a village half way down the mountain. Looking and watching was honestly just as interesting if not more entertaining than not finding any birds yesterday. And I know know the secret to the women’s skirts. They aren’t skirts but rather long fabric rectangles wrapped in alternating directions and tied in place. The young girls need only a single length to wrap several times around themselves while adults use 2-3 in order to insure no gaps.
Stopping at the one shop/garage/vehicle in the village I waited while more guys went back up the mountain on land cruiser rescue. In case you wonder why we care; first is that everyone seems to help whole the second is that it is “our vehicle” and I would like to see my stuff at tonight’s camp. The fun was the young boys insisting I take their picture. They were thrilled to look at their picture especially when I enlarged it and moved it around so each could see his face.
Vehicle won on this attempt to so we continued down the mountain continually passing girls, boys, fields, farms on the side of the roads. The only people not walking were those waiting for the bus or on the back of a Boda-Boda.
The rest of today’s story is mostly in tomorrow’s post but includes –
Klick on the map if having it a bit bigger would be a help.
Today I am being picked up around 0830 and heading out on a planned four day hike. It is a point to point ending at the Kilimanjaro View Camp. The distance today isn’t all that long (10 km) and I have separated out what I will need for the four days from everything else. I don’t need all that much (other than my sleeping bag, bug spray and towel thank you very much) and don’t see why anyone would want to haul it along.
The following quote comes directly from NomadicExpeditions website
Day 1: Mweka to Wondo
Morning pick-up from your hotel and vehicle transfer to the trailhead. We begin the walk on a lower trail used by villagers to access their fields, passing through villages and into the forest. We cross many rivers on small wood bridges or on steady rocks to reach the other side. There are a number of marvelous traditional irrigation channels, most in use for more than a century, to irrigate the mountain farm plots. From the Rau River valley and the waterfall at its head we have a final steep ascent to camp.
Reality with pictures:
Its quiet this evening except for the call to prayer drifting across the main high way from the Mosque. Not wanting to take a chance on the power going out again ….
The city/town/area is an interesting blend of rural and modern. According to Wiki, the population is a bit more than 200,000 and the major industry is tourism (can you spell Kilimanjaro? I can’t without the spell checker) followed by agriculture. Coffee and brewing come to mind.
What I really saw as I walked down the road in front of the Guesthouse was power poles and
was typical Western houses on both sides of the roads. With the addition of major fencing up to and including cement walls, barbed wire and concertina wire finishing flourishes. There are no open yards and all the gates are chained. Checking to make sure, I had it confirmed that this was not a town in which to walk with bag, purse, pack much less an expensive camera. My long form of explaining why there are no photos of the town.
I walked down the lane, across the main road at the round about and into town in search of snack foods, drinks and an ATM. I found the ATM at a considerable distance. Not an open along the street one but one with an enclosed area and an armed guard outside. For general rounding purposes 10,000 TZS + 4 USD. Right hand drive cars had me adjusting my walking pattern to what I now think of as the African side of the road to include avoiding the omnipresent ditch on each side. It definitely feels safer to walk facing the traffic.
With rare exception, the men are all western dressed. The women wear dresses and skirts. Only rarely do you see shoulders or upper arms. Not just the Muslim women, but a number of modeled a variety of head coverings. No matter how young, the girls are all in dresses, some of which were long enough to drag on the ground. The adults were all wearing foot gear of one kind or another with flip-flops predominating. Almost 1/2 of the children were barefoot. Obesity is not an issue in this area of Tanzania. Slender to skinny or scrawny is the norm boht in adults and children.
As I looked both north and west I once more had an overwhelming reminder of how easily I get my directions confused in Sub-Saharan Africa. I could see the foothills of Kilimanjaro; it was looking into the sun. Duh, once again I had to remember that mid day shadows go south, not north. Probably along with my common sense.
After managing some sleep last night I wasn’t quite the zombie this morning. I hadn’t left much to the last minute. Just turning off the computer, packing the cables and tossing my toothbrush in the suitcase. Along with the towel which I had let lying on top last night.
George to be extremely kind to me dropped me off at Mannheim so that I wouldn’t have to deal with a train & platform change while dragging a duffle. When walking a four wheeler it is a cinch, but not a two wheeled duffle (Never mind that it only weighed 12.5 kg fully loaded at check in.). Also part of the deal was that I had planned on taking a duffle full of books since I have lots and lots that need homes. Sanity struck partway to Mannheim. I had trashed my back less than a month ago. I was going hiking with a camera pack in less than 2 days. I want to haul a bag of books which weighs more than the duffle and doesn’t have wheels because?
Nice person maybe? But seriously, I hadn’t thought through the duffle issue. Normally if I have a second bag it is a duffle. Drop it on top of the wheeled Rimowa and there are no issues. But two duffles, one award with wheels and the other needed a shoulder already occupied by my backpack? With age maybe comes wisdom…
Airport, check-in all went smoothly. Security? Frankfurt is installing the new body scanners. I don’t play with those. My immune system is already compromised – I accept the exposure that comes with flying – no choice there. But I completely avoid all other ionizing and non-ionizing exposures…Zapping or cooking – not going to make squat bit of difference to my dead lymphocyte. They aren’t as cheerful about refusals – but pat downs work…
Boarding in 30 minutes – and will actually send this out from Istanbul….
Well – as it turns out – not. I had about an hour in the International Terminal. Leaving from the 300s section, the place was packed. People watching was amazing: college age westerners with baseball caps, scruffy faces, ponytails, backpacks, paperbacks mixed in with Muslim mothers herding flocks of small children barely able to see for burkahs and veils. Business men looking irritated at the minimal air conditioning and level of noise. There might be a lounge, but it wasn’t in my area.
The flight left pretty much on time with a good view of the Bosphorus as we made the turn after take off toward Africa. After dropping us off at Kilimanjaro Airport, the remaining passengers winged their way on to Mombassa.
Heading on a land tour in Africa is a lot different than heading for a comfortable cruise on a ship.
In the second instance, you only have to deal with your luggage a few times: house to airport, airport to ship check-in, ship baggage hall to airport; airport to home. Wheels are good – in fact they are essential since there may just be the issue of rolling the bag from one location to another usually involving public transportation. But once you are settled in your cabin, you are done till departure.
Not so with the average land tour. Often it involves moving locations every night to two nights. Laundry can be hit or miss while opportunities to become filthy abound. Add in a requirement for duffle bags for ease of logistical movement and a stringent weight requirement and things start to get challenging. Having said that – it took me 15 minutes this morning to throw everything into the OAT duffle and drop it near the front door. Then I went back and read the requirements list.
Not one to waste airfare, I scheduled a 4 day hike in the Kilimanjaro Foothills immediately prior to the OAT Safari around the Serengeti. It hardly seemed smart to come so far and not get close enough to the mountain to take some decent pictures. The only pre-tour offered was 4 days at another game reserve in Kenya. Personally, I don’t want to be in Kenya right about now, even as a tourist and even so close to the Tanzanian border. Besides, hiking the foothills? The only thing that would be cooler would be to actually climb to the summit. Looking at it, I decided I just didn’t have enough time to do it gradually enough to avoid altitude illness. That and climbing in a group means that one always tries to keep up with a group regardless if it is wise or not.
It was around 1700 this afternoon when I read the packing list again and noticed the fine print. For the first four nights I need a sleeping bag. No sweat, we have several. However it just so happens that the light weight ones are in Berkeley and the one here is a heavy weight ex-Army bag. Not hauling that puppy with me. So off we went to the hike/climb store to cash in a store credit. End result is that I am now the owner of a light weight but warm bag that weighs only about a kilo, packs tiny (fitting into the duffle).
I checked bag weights – duffle is limited to 33# for the internal African connections. Mine weights 25 even with the sleeping bag and towel. My extra bag is full of children’s books to donate to a couple of schools….. and all the extra pens and pencils that I can find.
I should have internet tomorrow both in Frankfurt and Istanbul (plane change) and the guest house in Moshi has wifi in the public areas. Figure I am good till morning of the 6th. So I will post the route on Sunday, just to keep you coming back for the next round of insanity.
While I was stuffing the sleeping bag into the duffel I thought about the Bugblatter Beast. And added in a towel. I have enough RCI ones floating around that I can easily leave it behind. And it just doesn’t pay to leave home without one’s very own towel.
(try two since I didn’t have enough brains in the head to save my first draft which promptly got eaten when I had to re-log in).
It is still almost two months till I get back on a ship. 30 Aug as a matter of fact when I get to board Serenade of the Seas and sail across to Cape Liberty (my least favorite US port of all times) from Copenhagen. It is the northern route with a total of two stops and almost three full days in Iceland.
I don’t have to run a website or roll call this time. Doing both the Legend and Serenade last fall just about wiped me out. I am tracking just the Roll Calls for the Splendor in November and that is just about enough for me. But I decided to go ahead and do the transatlantic souvenir pin. For just about everyone I have seen, the design is usually the ship on water inside a circle or oval with the ports around the outside. I convinced Maus to volunteer and she designed something different around the route we take.
and the brilliant kid ordered the ports in both the order of visit and physical location.
landed. luggage. lounge. ride home. bed
Getting from Laguardia to JFK is not all that complicated: a common enough transfer that can be solved with time, money or both. I solved it with the 20 minute ride from the Airport Transporter.
Check-in with Lufthansa is slightly higher class than United: a printed, real boarding pass is an actual possibility. Even more impressive is the fact that you don’t have to print your own luggage tag. Applying it to your suitcase only to have the baggage handler half rip it off in order to affix a priority tag. United’s Lounges have actually gone from a 3/10 to a 4/10 with the presence of yogurt, cereal, fresh fruit and scones in the morning. Lunch, OTOH was wieners and beans accompanied by potato salad.
My second flight yesterday offered hot nuts in a cup.
Today, as I mentioned – getting to JFK was fine, check in was great. The lounge was quiet and peaceful until 1400 when the inevitable parents with two active small boys arrived.
Now the lounge is not all that big. At one end are tables and chairs next to the food. At the other are a number of comfortable lounge chairs and a bank with tables up against the wall. Why the mom felt like the quiet end was where the boys needed to is beyond me.
So I am wondering where on the plane they will be sitting and if Lufthansa will be offering hot nuts rather than just those of us hot under the collar….
oh – in case you hadn’t guessed – I am headed home to Germany
Is not a double play but rather today’s airline route from California to New York. Tomorrow afternoon is my Lufthansa return from that FRA-JFK flight in May. It is also a challenge to my ability to smile, most of which stem from my own foolish behavior.
Both Shana and Noah were up to see me off this morning: College Guy to haul my suitcase down all those stairs and the Eldest to drive me to the BART. An 0830 flight means a rather early start from the house (allowing for 45-60 minutes on BART). Transferring at MacArthur Blvd turned out to be a walk across the platform and boarding the connection a minute later.
We will leave aside my challenges in getting out of the BART Station. Seems like the add fare machines only take cash. The change machine deals with $20. Nothing takes cards. I can only be glad for the bank stop yesterday or I would have been totally screwed or begging on the platform.
(Roll drums for foreboding)
See the route in the title? Do you see Newark anywhere? By the time it sunk in that I actually was involved in a triple play of airports, it was too late to fix the reservation. The Hotel Reservations says – can’t do anything we are within 24 hours. The loyalty people said ??? don’t understand why you were transferred here and sent me to customer service who was going to try the local hotel for an exception.
Then I was disconnected.
At least having points to burn in this chain means that I won’t be out of pocket tonight……
Remember that I talked about Zoku the other day? Or maybe I didn’t. But in any case, the Eldest made a bunch of pops and I scored the spaceman. See – he even has feet. In chocolate, he was rather tasty. There were also a number of rocket ships in this particular set of six.
Also in the freezer are a couple of other flavors and maybe some interesting critters. Reusable pops seem to the be the way to go. It turns out all the recipes add sugar which I have decided is ludicrous. Turns out frozen juice, even fresh squeezed lemon is just fine. Tart is good…
Why is my mouth puckered up like a prune?