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.

IMG_0729IMG_0730 IMG_0746

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.

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.

Swahili for beginners

I’m trying really hard to pick up some Swahili while I’m here but it’s proving to be a lot more difficult than I thought. It’s strange but it seems like my inner dyslexic is coming out even more with this language. I’ve picked up greetings, some numbers and the name of some dishes so far – but it’s not quite been a week so it’s okay. Still a lot of time to learn :)

This first week here hasn’t been very exciting so far. It was filled with running errands and getting basic things. Next week there’s a trip planned that involves Safari, the Kilimanjaro and sleeping in tents. I cannot even begin to tell you how excited I am about all of this.

For the time being I’ll just leave a few pictures here, because yes, even in the quieter districts of Dar, it’s still kind of magical.

tansania2 117 [Above: Food at the funeral. | Below: Our house for the time being.]

tansania2 006 tansania2 036[Above: To get to the district where our house is you have to take the ferry from Downtown Dar es Salaam. | Below: Beach magic.]tansania2 068 tansania2 088[Above and Below: Met these two really awesome girls and we’re having a blast.]tansania2 108