Moshi and Kilimanjaro

Did you know that when you hike up Kilimanjaro, it starts out as a rainforest? Well, I certainly didn’t. I also didn’t bring a rain jacket (or any jacket for that matter). Super silly, right?

But let’s not focus on the fact that I was so desperate and cold that I rented a raincoat 5$ or that it smelled like mould. Let’s focus on the insane beauty and the crazy experience you have when you hike up Africa’s highest mountain.
Sadly, we did not go up to the top (though I’ve heard that while it’s tough, it’s totally manageable as long as you are physically in decent shape).
We only went up to the Maundi Crater, which takes around 5 hours. Walking down took us another 3 hours so this hike is perfectly suited for a day trip if you want to not only see the mountain from afar, but actually up close. I can guarantee you that you won’t be disappointed.

As mentioned before, the hike starts out in the rainforest. Damp, wet, green, gorgeous. Fog was hanging low in the trees, you hear the distant splatter of water – a small waterfall hidden by dense and lush plants.
Right before you get to the Maundi Crater the landscape changes drastically though. Gone are the tall trees, covered with moss. Instead grass like plains take their place. Barren scenery, chilly  winds and heavy clouds. It is utterly breathtaking.

Moshi, the town at the foot of the mountain seems incredibly cute. Sadly we only spent one night there and didn’t see or discover much. On nice days you can be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of Kilimanjaro from various points. It’s pretty incredible.

I wish I could have seen a bit more of Moshi. It seemed like a city I would very much enjoy. Small, not as busy as Dar es Salaam or Arusha.

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Here some tips if you’re planning a day hike:

  • Apart from a rain jacket (a light one should be more than enough if you have a sweater with you) you actually don’t need any gear. I wore L. L. Bean Boots (these were super handy for this trip. Especially during our Safari and I was glad I took them with me) but all of my friends managed just fine in sneakers. Like mentioned before, it is also possible to rent a rain jacket there for about 5$.
  • Pack some lunch and water. You might also want to bring a plastic bag to collect trash, as this is a natural preserve and you’re not allowed to leave any trace.
  • Make sure that you’re back at the base before 6pm as the gate closes around that time.
  • Take at least a copy of your passport with you because you need to fill out some forms in order to get entrance to the park.
  • Tip your guide well. They will tell you interesting facts about the mountain and the plants you will see and often don’t get paid much. If you weren’t satisfied with your guide it’s ok to tip less than usual, but then please do explain why you are tipping less.

While in Moshi, we stayed at the Hu Hut Lodge. The rooms are clean, there’s hot water (this was definitely the best part for us), and the breakfast is decent. So the price/value ratio was great.

Into the wild

Quick video of my Safari trip in July. Pictures are to come as soon as I have the patience to sort through them and edit them, so soon, together with stories, tips and everything else I might want to talk about :)

[You can also watch this on youtube directly. Enlarge the frame and put the quality to 720.]

If only to see the stars

After a 14h journey in total (including an 11h bus drive with only one stop to buy food and go to the washroom) I finally made it back to my home away from home, the intern house in Dar es Salaam.

How do I best describe the past week? So much has happened, so many memories were made.

I will write separate posts about each stop we made and each location we visited, but for now let me just sum it up:

I slept in a tent in the middle of the Serengeti, surrounded by Hyenas and other wildlife animals. I watched the stars at night, in completely in awe of how close, how big and how many they were. I drove a land rover in the Serengeti. I slept in a tent, wrapped up in 10 layers of clothes and two sleeping bags at the rim of Ngorongoro Crater and later discovered that there was a Buffalo standing right next to us. I hiked 8km up to Kilimanjaro and then back down. I had super interesting conversations with local people and Maasai, soaking up every information I could get my hands on.

All the early mornings, the countless hours spent on buses or in cars, everything was worth it in the end.

Everyone should go to Africa at least once in his life, if only to see the stars.

Roadside Chapati

Our chapati making session went great!

I could not be happier. When we got to the restaurant – souvenirs and chocolate from our home countries in hand – the cook launched into an explanation of how to make these pancakes. He told us the ingredients, showed us how to make it and when we asked if we can buy these now he told us “No, not these, I want you to make them yourselves!”

And so we did.

We had so much fun and such a good time. Lots of people started to gather around the restaurant to see what these three “Mzungus” were doing there.

We went back to have dinner tonight, asked about the ingredients of the tea they’re serving every night (spiced black tea with lots of ginger and cardamom). It is pure and utter perfection. To the point where I have to put the cup down, take a deep breath and sigh from happiness because my heart is just so full.

We also asked about the porridge they serve and our new friend agreed to show us how to make it after he comes back from his stay at home. So much goodness. So much happiness.

I’m leaving for the north of Tanzania tomorrow. Arusha, Kilimanjaro, Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater planned. Sleeping in tents, early morning sunrise in the Serengeti and Banana Beer were things mentioned in regards to this trip. I could not be more excited.

I will not take my netbook with me, so the next update will follow when I get back from this trip, around the 28th, maybe even a day or so later :)