|Knud Henrik's diary 25 July 2006: Dodoma and Lushoto|
Last updated 2007.11.21
|In iringa we had made inquiries about the condition of the road to Dodoma. However, the answers were not consistent, driving times ranging from four to seven hours or more. We made an early start from Iringa and fortunately the road turned out to be in a better condition than feared, so we arrived in Dodoma early afternoon.|
Dodoma is the capital f Tanzania, that is, the parliament building is located here. Besides that it isn't much of a capital. Actually, just a small township.
As a meeting was going on in the parliament we had feared that all nicer hotels were fully booked. But luckily, we found a fairly nice hotel, called "Nice Guest House"(!). After having installed ourselves we had a stroll through town, soon realising that whatever direction we chose we were actually leaving town after just a few minutes of walking from the very centre. We had expected a city with broad boulevards, fancy office buildings, cosy parks and monuments. Well, the parliament building was impressive, and there was a very large memorial park with a monument for Julius K. Nyerere, the first president of Tanzania and the "father" of the nation, but besides that we found just another dusty township. It wasn't that difficult to decide not to stay for another day in Dodoma.
The area around Dodoma is rather arid. In fact, we haven't seen any other area in Tanzania that dry. Large areas were just dry bushes with barely any grass in between. The only trees thriving here are the succulent baobab trees, on the other hand they were numerous.
The next destination was Lushoto in the Usambara Mountains. From Dodoma to Lushoto we had the choice of a shorter but more rough road or a longer but smoother one. Our inquiries about driving times resulted in a break-even. In hope for the most accurate information we postponed the decision until the junction where we had to leave the smooth tarmac road, in case we decided for the shortcut. The "Nice Guest House" in Dodoma didn't offer any breakfast, so we made a very early start and headed for Magore (the junction point), a three hours drive. At Magore we found a café and had a little refreshment. While refreshing ourselves our eyes caught some bottles of sauce colouring on a shelf in the café, with a distinctive Danish label. We couldn't help grabbing one and ask about the origin. The lady in charge immediately told us that it indeed was of Danish origin, and that her daughter was married to a Dane and now living in Denmark. And that she was going there herself sometime next year. Realising that we were from Denmark, she kind of felt related to us and we had a nice little chat.
In the end we were advised to take the shortcut, the drive to the junction at Korogwe at the other end should be no more than four to five hours. However, we are apparently not driving as fast as our advisers anticipated. After six hours of really exhausting bouncing around we arrived at Korogwe and decided to stay there for the night, saving the last one and a half hours of driving for the following day. Amenities like a hot shower and a good bed were really appreciated.
Between Dodoma and Korogwe we passed the Turiani District at the foot of the Nguru Mountains. Coming from the very arid area around Dodoma, the Turiani area was a complete contrast, with vast rice fields and sugarcane plantations. And the view to the Nguru Mountains was astonishing.
Today, we went the last bit to Lushoto in the Usambara Mountains. On the way up the mountains we passed the Soni Falls and had a nice little excursion there.
Again, we had luck with the first choice of accommodation in Lushoto, the "Rosminian Hostel", a nice place run by the catholic mission. After having checked in we passed a tourist information centre (about the first of the kind we have seen) and acquired some information about tour options in the area. The Usambara Mountains are primarily reckoned for multi-days hikes, which is not really a family activity. Moreover, we have a car at our disposal and can go by car to a destination of choice and make just a short hike from there. We got some ideas for shorter walks and decided to go for the Irente Viewpoint right away. The nearby Irente Farm offers a very unusual and long wanted kind of lunch, with rye bread, cheese and marmalade, all homemade from local produce. We just had to have some rye bread and cheese for our lunch for tomorrow as well.
Refreshed, we made the short walk to the Irente View Point, a rock with a fabulous view to the west over the Masai Steppe. Unfortunately, the air was rather misty, otherwise we should have been able to see the Mount Kilimanjaro as well. Nevertheless, we really enjoyed the view and the little hiking exercise.
Tomorrow, we'll go for another waterfall and a hike through the Magamba Rainforest.