A Travellerspoint blog

Lake Manyara.. elephants, monkeys, mosquitos etc

DSC_0323.jpgEaster came up way too quickly, and I had no idea what I'd do for the four days we had off. A couple of friends were going on safari for four days to Lake Manyara, Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater. Anyway, they had to go into town to book it on Saturday, so I went in with them, and had coffee at the Arusha Hotel (very flashy place) while I waited to meet some friends for lunch. A little while later I got a call from them, saying they could get Manuela and I on the first day of their safari for $80 (I'd been quoted something ridiculous like $300 before), so I said yay! I'd love to go!

Anyway, that night I went out in town for drinks with Karen, so I stayed at the backpackers that night, got up early after about 4 hours sleep, met up with my friends in the morning and we headed out to Lake Manyara in the safari car. It didn't take that long to get there from Arusha really, a bit over an hour I think. It turned out to be an amazing day, driving through the national park and, whenever we turned a corner seeing elephants, hippos, giraffes, warthogs, zebras, monkeys etc everywhere. It was hard to believe I was seeing them in their natural environment, animals were everywhere so it felt kind of like being in a zoo. The Rift Valley was amazingly beautiful, and the whole day was so peaceful.

After the safari the four of us went to the lodge that was included with the four day safari, with the idea that maybe Manuela and I could stay there the night. At $380 US it was out of the question, but the view was amazing from the top of the escarpment so we just stayed for a (very expensive) drink instead. I got to practise my swahili on the phone calling a taxi driver we'd met in town, so soon Manuela and I were on our way to a little town called Mto Wa Mbu, which I think means mosquito river in Swahili. I know why.. I'm still itchy from all the bites three days later. We stayed in a massively over priced place called Twiga Campsite and Lodge. For a basic room they were going to charge us $80 US, but again I practised my Swahili and bargained them down to 35,000 shillings (about $30). Still, in the bar, we tried to order food but we were told by the waitress the menu prices were not actually right, and we had to pay more. Lucky I had some mendazi in my bag. I felt like a tourist in this town, we must've had dollar signs on our heads.. the markets had just about the same stuff as in Arusha, but the vendors would not bargain, I think the locals are used to rich people going there and paying what they ask.

Waiting for the bus to get home the next morning, we had an offer from a guy in a Landrover to drive us to Arusha for 5,000 shillings (cheaper than 7,000 for a crowded bus). After a couple of hours, seeing giraffes on the side of the road, and two police stops, we got back to Arusha for some coffee, shopping (and getting slightly hassled but in a friendly way) in the busy back streets, and then a daladala ride home. It was a bit of a shugalabugala weekend, but a fun way to spend the Easter break.

Posted by SheIsFree 23:12 Archived in Tanzania Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Kili marathon.. I did it! (well, the half marathon anyway)

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So.. after deciding after a couple of beers on a Friday night that I would run a half marathon on the Sunday, with no preparation at all, Loretta and I got a lift to Moshi the next day. Mt Kilimanjaro was covered in clouds when we got there, but we wouldn't have had a chance to really look at it anyway because the guy we got a lift with was registering about 50 people in the race, so we spent the next few hours helping him do that. 5pm came and we were still in the line when we realised we hadn't actually thought about where we would stay that night, and someone had just told us Moshi was fully booked out because of the marathon.. then just five minutes later our new friend who drove us to Moshi, Oka, said that his friend had found a place for 10,000 shillings a night each (around $10), and there were spare rooms. Couldn't believe our luck, really.

So, we got up at 4.45am and walked a couple of k's to the start in the dark. People were still coming out of nightclubs at that time, and some people were going to the mosque to pray, the streets weren't as empty as I thought they'd be really.

I won't bore you with all the details of the half marathon, just a couple. After we started running (the run is 10.5km up hill, then 10.5km back down), Mt Kilimanjaro came out. She was in full view, all clouds had disappeared and we could see the entire outline as we ran past the coffee plantations and tiny villages. I ran with Loretta most of the way up, then I kind of left her to walk for a bit and started running on my own. A little local boy started running with me, when I walked he walked, when I ran, he ran. I can't remember his name but we had some nice little chats in my broken swahili. After the turning point, a woman with a flashy camera stopped her car and took our photo, not sure why, it was a bit weird. My running buddy then went home, so I kept running, and caught up with various Hashers on the way to the end. Running that far is the biggest thing I've done, and when I got to the 19 or 20 km mark I thought I was going to break down and cry. But I finished, in about 3 and a half hours, and I've got the medal to prove it.

If I'm here next year, I'm definitely doing it again, but maybe I will train next time.

Posted by SheIsFree 22:49 Archived in Tanzania Tagged events Comments (0)

Kilimanjaro marathon? labda..

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IMG_0087.jpg A few of us decided to go to site for some sundowners on Sunday night to relax after a busy weekend and just chill out for a while. I’d heard that sometimes you can see Mt Kilimanjaro from the huge verandah if the conditions are right, but this was the first time I’d seen it from there. The clouds kept lowering to show more of the glaciers, and I managed to get a half ok photo just before the sun went down and the shadows softened it. So beautiful. It’s one of the places I really want to see while I’m in Africa, so when I found out a couple of weeks ago about the Mt Kilimanjaro marathon which is being held on 1st March this year I decided I’d go. It sounds awesome, apparently runners come from all over Africa and the rest of the world to compete in this event. The run starts just outside Moshi and heads up the base of the mountain through coffee plantations and tiny villages then back down again. The best thing for me though was as well as a marathon and half marathon, there is a 5km run. Perfect for me, I haven’t ran in any type of organised event since about 1996, and 5km is not a long distance, and I really want to see Kili close up. So I decided to go to Hash tonight (a worldwide running/drinking club which has a group in Arusha) to see if they had a group going that my friend Loretta and I could join up with. So anyway, before the hash run we were talking with Stiggy (hash leaves from his restaurant every week), and somehow Loretta and I have now committed to running (or more likely walking) the half marathon. 21.1kms instead of the 5km fun run. With no training. It’s on the day after tomorrow, we have no accommodation booked, we think we might be getting a lift to Moshi with someone called Oka but not exactly sure, so we could be getting a bus instead.. absolutely nothing is organised. But I am so excited. It’s going to be a challenge, definitely, but an experience I just can’t miss. Hopefully I write here again. If not, please send some help to Mt Kilimanjaro. And wish me luck!

Posted by SheIsFree 22:20 Archived in Tanzania Tagged events Comments (0)

Tanzanian food - chipsi mayai anyone?

IMG_0060.jpgThe others have decided to go to the Engo (our local outdoor pub) tonight for chipsi mayai, but I’m still recovering from the flu (thankfully it didn’t turn out to be malaria) so I’m staying in my hut to write about it instead.

Chipsi mayai, literally chips and egg in Kiswahili, is probably the most popular food here in Tanzania, and the Engo apparently makes the best ones between here and Dar es Salaam.. that’s going by the word of a friend who has travelled between the two cities many times, and probably as a result tried far too many chipsi mayais. Anyway, it’s basically a chip omelette (with no cheese.. cheese is ridiculously expensive here, so its a rare luxury) - the Engo puts vegies in it though. It really is good, but every time I walk past the Engo kitchen I try not to look inside (you can probably tell by the broken plastic plate in the pic what their standards would be like).. unfortunately though, the kitchen is right next to the entry and is almost completely open on two sides so it’s a bit hard to avoid. I just try and ignore it, and remember that the open flame used to fry the food probably is enough to kill any bacteria or bugs. I haven’t been sick so far, and at only 1200 tsh (about $1.40 Australian), I’ll be going back for more.

Apart from chipsi mayai, I’ve been lucky to have lots of African lunches cooked by Aggie, our local cook. Deliciously simple but very heavy dishes like banana curry, ugali (a maize dish, similar consistency to thick mashed potato), beans and rice, and chapatti (soft flat bread), and other local dishes I don’t know the names of. It’s really great traditional food, the only problem is all the sunflower oil used in everything.. I feel like I’m putting on weight already. The local women don’t understand that mzungus like to be thin, so they started complimenting a couple of volunteers by saying, “ooh, Africa loves you! You look so fat!” No one has said that to me yet, but give me another couple of weeks of this food.. Anyway, better go, I have lunch leftovers waiting for me.

Posted by SheIsFree 10:43 Archived in Tanzania Tagged food Comments (0)

getting around Arusha.. daladalas!

2366770-Ty..adala-0.jpgThis is a borrowed pic of a daladala (a very clean nice looking one compared to the ones here).. the local transport here in Arusha. There’s no public transport system, so the roads in town are full of old Toyota Hiaces loaded with more people you could imagine would fit in them. They are cheap, only costs 300 shillings (about 35 cents) to go the 7km to town, but there’s a reason. You usually have to share your 2 seat space with three or four others, maybe even have someone sitting on your lap or balancing above you, and expect to share the van with at least fifteen other people, but usually more than twenty, and their produce (fruit, veg, chickens etc). And you have to be careful, the doors don’t seem to slide shut properly, and can open at the most unexpected moment, usually when speeding around corners. Oh, and they all have large words painted on the outside, like P-Square, or God Lives across their cracked windscreen.. some very cool ones have Led Zeppelin in huge letters. There’s one dala on our route which needs to be pushed down a hill to get started, and a friend was on one the other day whose driver got into an argument with another driver who, after a yelling match, proceeded to put rocks under the wheels of the dala she was on, so she had to swap and get on another one.

Getting around in Arusha may not be safe, but you can’t say its boring.

Posted by SheIsFree 10:37 Archived in Tanzania Tagged bus Comments (0)

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