This is actually more of a story than some good photos.
In order to not have one flight problem interfere with other flights, I made sure I had a few days between internal Tanzanian flights and international flights. The Karama Lodge and Spa sounded nice and relaxing. They also offered a day trip to Arusha National Park. The other things I had read about the National park were great, sort of a walking safari, and this was an 8 hour hike with a waterfall. What could be better?
So the taxi picks me up and takes me through a bunch of back road villages since the traffic was so bad. Pretty interesting and sad all at the same time, serious poverty. We arrive at a place which is also neat ~ they have a few cows and they recycle all the waste and convert it to methane to power the lights and stove! Right there! It looks mighty simple and amazingly doable for many others without power or with expensive power.
According to my guides, they have european cows. Each farm has one cow, or if they are quite wealthy, two or three and some pigs. The cows spend their whole lives in cement or dirt pens and the boys bring food to them. When they are old enough for slaughter, they are sold. In this case, one is also kept for milk. Selling the cows is the biggest source of income for the farmers. Most don’t have refrigeration, so could not keep any of the meat anyway.
After tea and snacks and looking around, we finally start the hike. We are in a sort of village, but I assume the trails will start soon. We hike along hot, dusty roads for an hour or two with trucks and motorcycles whizzing by occasionally. There are houses and farms. I ask how much farther we have to walk along the roads? Um, apparently the whole way. What?!!? NOT good use of what little cartilage remains in my knees. ‘But look at the bananas!’ What?!!? I have had bananas in my yard for the last 10 years!
‘I really don’t want to do this,’ I tell them. ‘Can we get a ride to where the trail actually starts?’ Frantic cell phone calling with poor reception follows. I sit in the shade. Eventually I figure out that they are afraid to tell me that it will cost more. I tell them I am fine to pay for a ride. A ride is soon on the way. As we wait, I ask them why there are two of them and only me for a tourist? They tell me that previous tourists were not comfortable with one guy showing them around. So I should be more comfortable with two guys instead? Hmm. Maybe I did bring my hiking poles for good reason.
After about an hour, a sedan finds us. This road is dirt and rough. When there is a high crossing, we all get out so the car doesn’t get stuck. Sometimes it still takes a few tries.
We get to the end of a road and walk through a field of butterflies. We then take a lovely 20 minute walk to … a dam. With a waterfall above it, luckily! It was a nice short walk to a lovely falls. Just not in Arusha National Park and certainly not any sort of safari!
The ride back was fairly uneventful. The guys wondered how I survived without eating meat or bread. I don’t think they get too much meat, but they can eat a whole loaf of bread!
The next day was more relaxing… a massage, then off to the airport and back to Australia!
Despite the very poorly advertised hike, my stay was quite nice. The rooms are lovely and the area quiet except for the 5am calls to prayer. The restaurant had nice food, too, hooray!