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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. Marvelous imagery!

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 absolute heaven-in-the-bush.

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