Tanzania - Page 1
Tim Corfield met us at the hotel, he is supplying the vehicle and driver and outfitting our camp, which will travel a day ahead of us to set up when we go on to the Northern Game Circuit.
He delivered one of his ancient Landrovers, with lovingly crafted woodwork, maps, coolboxes, and a delightful driver, Hussein, who happened to be from Pare. Good news as that's where we're going first. We set of in the late afternoon to be on our way early the next day, we found a really nice small hotel in a walled garden in Moshi After the dusty ride from Nairobi we are delighted. I do like Moshi, such an old fashioned little town at the foot of Kilimanjaro it reminds me so much of my childhood.
To Mkomazi. Tony Fitzjohn is
away, so I hope we can still see the rhino's. Babu's
camp quite empty, but a night of luxury in splendid
solitude is well deserved and enjoyed. Radio
contact confirmed that there is no special vehicle
available to show my guests the rhino's. Has Fitz taken
it? We are invited to see the Wild Dog project by his
wife Lucy, and elevenses with their twin daughters in the
mess tent. What a site he has built his fortress on.
Then off along Pare mountains on the back road to
Lushoto, which I remember from my childhood. A leafy and
delightful route. No tourists at all. Just 1900's German
bridges, not repaired, just in good nick. At the village
school of Kisiwani I would have liked to see if the tree
we planted had been watered. No time for further
dalliance, far to go.
Beyond the Pare mountains a
sweep of lakes forms a stage on which rest the Usambaras.
I want to climb them from this side, but setting out on
the road to Mnazi, we are told that there's no way up to
Lushoto from here. Odd, but it may be in disrepair. We
return to the glistening tarmac and ride along the
southern plains close to the Usambaras. Upwards on the
tall, rocky cliffs clouds roll like waterfalls, and out
across the Maasai plains to the steppes. Mombo, where,
at five years old I lost my pushbike by leaving it in
the guards van. How these childhood losses haunt us! We
are staying at the Lawns Hotel in Lushoto where we lived
whilst Daddy built us a house on the coffee estates.
The owners of the Lawns were English when I was a
child. It was once elegant with a golf course and superb
gardens, tennis courts surrounded by passion fruit
vines, a stables and a twinkling blue plastered pool.
Degraded now, no golfers or equestrians, just old metal
'Keep off the Grass' signs, pool rotted and empty, but many areas intact like the dining room and verandas. The old bathtubs pulled out when showers were installed lie like space ships floating in the early morning light. Rooms much the same, fifties formica laminated furniture and curtains that don't quite make it to the window frame. Mediocre food and a fun bar full of local hangers-on. Present owner of the Lawns is Tony the Greek, by now middle aged, who inherited from his father. I found my way around Lushoto easily. Post Office, market, bank are all in the same place. We went on extended 4WD ramble trying to find or recognise my old home, but failed. Next time I will bring a photo.many areas intact like the dining room and verandas. The old bathtubs pulled out when showers were installed lie like space ships floating in the early morning light. Rooms much the same, fifties formica laminated furniture and curtains that don't quite make it to the window frame. Mediocre food and a fun bar full of local hangers-on. Present owner of the Lawns is Tony the Greek, by now middle aged, who inherited from his father. I found my way around Lushoto easily. Post Office, market, bank are all in the same place. We went on extended 4WD ramble trying to find or recognise my old home, but failed. Next time I will bring a photo.
The famous hardwood forests are
much depleted now. Thousands of agriculturalists
farm and survive in these fertile hills, so land
gets absorbed by market gardens. There is a nature
reserve further to the south, where one can see the
original African violet and the Busy Lizzie, must
visit on the next safari. As I hate to double back
we head out to Mtae, a headland jutting northwards
from where you can see across Mkomazi to Kenya. From
there the Washambaa peoples defended themselves
successfully against the Maasai as they could see
them coming and roll rocks down to knock them back.
There seemed to be a track down
the cliff face. On asking an old fellow right on the
edge he said the catholic priest used to use the
road to go down to Mnazi to celebrate mass on
Sundays, till one day, having imbibed too many cups
of communion wine at the earlier mass at Mtae, he
drove right over the edge and tumbled to the bottom.
Of course the challenge was too much to ignore. We
set off down the tortuous Z bends on a murram
escarpment that had not been used for many years. It
was in reasonable, navigable condition until the end
was in sight and pulling away from the mountain we
began to cross the luggas, most had broken culverts
and we crossed gently from boulder to boulder
'walking' the landrover. Hussein was stalwart, but
we encountered the impossible. A three culvert
bridge, asunder across a rocky gulf. Help appeared
like a ghostly angel out of the bush. A retired
schoolmaster was burning charcoal for his living,
Emmanuel led us through the bush to safety of the
road to Mnazi. Adventure number one was over. On to
Shangazi House and five-star food and comfort.
Oceans of hot water, acres of crisp, white bedlinen,
Tim and Lela our good hosts and companions,
excellent food and wine.
William, tall and robust,
arrived smiling. Our driver for the tented camp
adventure, Today we arrived in Tarangire, to stay in
a private campsite with our very own entourage. My
guests were astonished to be offered hot showers,
G&T on ice, a three course dinner, chilled white
wine on an immaculately laid table under the thorn
trees. Chairs were a bit low, but pillows to the
rescue. Our new crew consisted of Godwin the game
guide, Ali the cook, John camp manager-cum Maitre D,
Ibrahim the tent man, Abu the Pick-up driver and
Christophe the all-hands lad. They made our life