Tanzania Part 3 Including Zanzibar
Part 1 – Ngorongoro & Serengeti
Part 2 – Lake Tanganyika
Last year I flew into Kilimanjaro Airport and we drove through the Serengeti across to Kigoma, eventually following Lake Tanganyika all the way to Zambia. This year’s visit to Tanzania I’ve entered from the south and am traveling across to Dar es Salaam, then catching the ferry to Zanzibar for a few days.
After Zanzibar we’re heading north to the Usambara Mountains, followed by Arusha and then across into Kenya.
After crossing the border from Malawi we climbed out of the Great Rift Valley to find a lush mountainous landscape of tea plantations and bananas. Along with the rise in altitude came a drop in temperature and I was soon searching for my jacket that I’d packed away during the last week on the beach.
The following day we started the 1000km crossing of Tanzania and were soon back into typical East African habitat of dry thorn bush, acacia savanna.
We arrived in Dar es Salaam early afternoon and after a brief stop at the mall we drove for two hours through the city to our ocean front accommodation on the south coast.
The next morning we caught the ferry to Zanzibar.
Zanzibar is one of those places I’ve always heard about. Exotic and on the other side of the world, like Timbuktu and Kathmandu etc. I’d always imaged an idyllic tropical island with a coastline of palm trees, white sandy beaches lined with thatched roofed resorts and private estates. A peaceful island with dhows sailing along the coast and local markets full of spices and tropical fruits.
Unfortunately the reality these days is somewhat different. Perhaps Zanzibar was like that fifty years ago but now it’s overcrowded, dirty and rundown. The beaches are only average and they’re crowded with hassling beach boys and locals trying to sell you everything from coconuts to cheap tours. The infrastructure is poor, rubbish lines every street and virtually the entire island has been cleared of native forest.
Perhaps I’ve been to too many other idyllic tropical islands.
Our first stop was for lunch at a local guys house and then a tour of the local spice farm.
After a few days at the beach we headed to Stonetown which used to be the trading capital of the area. With high walled alleyways, cobbled streets and old forts there’s plenty to see and do for a couple of days.
I visited the old slave fort where thousands of slaves were sorted and priced by category according to their intended purpose. Harem slaves received the highest price for females and middle aged slaves were of least value because they weren’t expected to live long.
From Zanzibar we drove to the small coastal fishing village of Bagamoyo and from there north to Mombo where we jumped in a taxi for a three hour drive to Mambo Point View Lodge which sits on the edge of the West Usambara Mountains escarpment looking down over the Masai Plains.
From Mombo we climbed for the first hour through Loshoto and then across several mountain valleys and small villages. The mountains were obviously more fertile and receive more rainfall than the surrounding plains.
Every valley is cropped with vegetables which supplies Dar es Salaam. Tons of potatoes and carrots were being harvested and we saw tomato, cabbage, peppers, onions and lettuce in the fields.
The Usambara Mountains rise steeply from the plains below and our lodge was nestled on a cliff side looking west giving us spectacular sunset views.
Sadly virtually the entire mountain range has been cleared for agriculture or plantations with only two small patches of rainforest remaining.
We visited the largest patch of forest which still holds Blue Monkeys and Black & White Colobus Monkeys but no large game animals. It took two days to locate the endemic birds and we also hiked to several cliff top villages.
After a week in the mountains we caught a taxi to Arusha and rejoined the truck for the next leg of the trip.
With last year’s visit I’ve now spent a month in Tanzania. I’m undecided whether I need to come back. There’s several other national parks that would be good see and I haven’t climbed Kilimanjaro yet.
Tomorrow the journey north continues into Kenya and then across into Uganda and Rwanda before driving back into Kenya for a second visit until mid September.
Bye for now.