Knud Henrik's diary 29 July 2006: Usambara Mountains, Arusha and Serengeti

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Last updated 2007.11.21

Wednesday 26 July we had arranged for a little hike to the Mguzu Falls. We went to the Tourist Information Centre to pick up a local guide and then we went by car most of the way. We left Japhet and the car at a parking area and went on by foot, first about an hour on a small road, then about half an hour through a piece of rainforest to the falls. Walking through the rainforest we saw a few chameleons, were fascinating creatures. Once at the falls we enjoyed the beautiful scenery for quite some time, before walking back to a junction a bit closer, where Japhet picked us up.

We found a quite place along the road to have some lunch, simply rye bread, cheese and marmalade, served on the hood of the car. Again, we had great luck with the chameleons.

We decided not to do any more rainforest walking. Instead we headed further up in the mountains, to a place called the "Sky-line". Actually, this is a cable car installation, used to bring timber logs from the mountain forests down to a sawmill at the foot of the mountains. The cable car, originally installed during the German era, had obviously been renovated or probably replaced completely, and it was still in daily used, bringing some 30 loads of logs downhill a day.

The following day we left Lushoto and the Usambara Mountains, enjoying the beautiful sceneries once again driving the winding road down the mountins. Heading for Arusha we passed Moshi and the Mount Kilimanjaro. Actually, we passed as close to Kilimanjaro as 25 km, but unfortunately the whole area was covered in heavy clouds. We could only barely see the wide base of the enormous massif. Really a pity as this was our only chance of a close look at this magnificent mountain.

Back in Arusha for the second time, we installed ourselves on a local hotel, the Palm Inn. Japhet went with the car to sort out some business and to visit his own family. The rest of us went by foot to buy a few souvenirs, Arusha being the last major town in Tanzania on our journey. Back to the hotel to unload, where the owner of Scan-Tan Tours (our tour operator), Geert Lassen-Holm and one of his employees, Ibrahim came to greet us and wish a good journey onwards. Being in the most touristy town in Tanzania, we just had to go for something non-local for dinner, pizzas at Pizzarusha(!).

Next morning we packed our thing once again and headed for the Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti National Park for the second time. This time we just passed the Ngorongoro, without going down into the caldera. We didn't even stop to enjoyed the view from the crater rim, as the whole area was still covered with heavy clouds. Actually, going up to the crater rim we went up into the clouds. The road follows the crater rim for about 15 km and all along this stretch was like driving in dense fog, with a visibility as low as 50 m. Once on the other side of the Ngorongoro the coverage cleared somewhat and once again we enjoyed the view down onto the Serengeti plain. As usual, great many herbivores, but also a few lions. The most memorable experience was a group of five or six lion cups, left by their mothers, either to hide them from a jealous male or because the females were hunting. About a hundred metres away we actually saw two females. I cannot say whether they were waiting for some prey to pass by or keeping an eye on their little ones from a distance.

We camped at a camp site, prepared some dinner, and called it a day. Today (Saturday 29 July), after having packed our tent and other stuff, we went for a few hours of game drive in the very heart of the Serengeti, around the Seronera area. We had the luck of a single cheetah, unfortunately quite far away and some more lions.

Being the last stop over in Tanzania we had booked for some luxury, at Kijereshi Tented Camp, just outside the park boundary in the part of the Serengeti plain called The Western Corridor. We stayed at Kijereshi a number of times back in 1993 and '94. The place looks very much the same and it's a bit like coming home. Once installed we just had to check out the pool. While checking the pool, we ourselves were checked out, by a couple of baboons passing by just a few metres from the pool area. And then the kids had to catch up with their homework, diary writing (and so had I).

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