Walk to Irrente View point
The View over the Maasai Plains
Western food, and the value of Mashed Potato
As our hotel had no running water and really bad mosquito nets, we decided to change accommodation. Right across the street. Better netting, but we found out that the lack of water is affecting all of town..
And then off for our walk! The guest house owner looked stunned when we told him where we were going. “You should not walk there alone. It is not safe. Somebody got robbed only two days ago.” Yeah. yeah, we know. Everybody has told us, but we are going anyway. We are not taking the camera though, and the little bit of money we are taking is hiding in Anna’s bra. Ridiculous that this is the only way we can go for a walk in the county side..
The walk to the viewpoint is about 6km. We can only go by the road, as the walk through the forest is not signposted. A few kilometres before the view is supposed to be Irrente farm, where we are promised we can stock up on cheese (!) and dark rye bread (!!).
Through town and past the market and then up into the hills. As it is Easter, a lot of people are heading to church, dressed in their Sunday best. Silk dresses and high heels in the mud. Kids dressed up to the nines with ties and jackets.
Starting the walk we wind our way above Lushoto. Below us the town sits in the small valley. The main area of town is quite small, but it stretches out much further than we thought. The road is busy with motors going to and from. Nothing to worry about here then.
We keep an eye our for wild life, but can’t find much more than butterflies. Pretty one though. The wild life highlight on the first bit is definitely The Snail! With capitol letters, as it was a big one. We found it sitting in the middle of the road. About 10cm long with a big house on it’s back. While admiring it, a local men comes along the corner and joins us. He does not seem to be as impressed with it as we are, but tries to make it more entertaining by tapping the snail. Poor little thing. Eventually we pick it up and put it back in the bushes so it will not get run over.
From there we follow the rather bad dirt track over the hill where the houses started to thin out. More and more farm plots on one side and forest on the other. Every now and then we pass through small hamlets. The people are friendly, they wave or yell out “Jambo” or “Mambo” (Hello and no problems?) The kids are nice but insistent that we should give them money. Not sure what type of tourist they get here, but we are not just going to hand out money because you tell me to..
we are quite relaxed for this first bit and are starting to forget about the horrible warnings earlier. Looking forward to the cheese and bread, we walk on to Irrente farm. A farm set up by Lutheran nuns. It is now not only a farm, but also tourist accommodation, a orphanage and two schools for disabled and/or disadvantaged kids. Getting there, we were a bit disappointed with the reception. This has been an issue in this country anyway. You would think, that a store would like to have people come and buy goods. That is why it is there. Here we get barely a hello. On the wall is a list of the products they have, but the Camembert-like cheese we were hoping for is not there. We decide to get a different, harder type and also ask for some rye bread. A deep sigh and the girl pulls herself up from the chair to get us some. She comes back with frozen white bread.. Not what we wanted and as it is frozen, useless for our planned picnic at the viewpoint. We leave with only the cheese and the girl seems happy she can get back to her soap opera.
The area is beautiful though. Green and lush and full of bugs, mushrooms and some flowers. Big trees overgrown with vines and creepers. The occasional banana plants and grazing cows. The small towns are simple houses but every town has at least one pub (Tanzanians like to drink) and two phone shops (Tanzanians cannot life without their mobiles).
It gets very quiet on the last bit of the walk. We have passed the villages and are heading up to the edge of the range. A lot of pine trees here. The signs have ended and we are not sure which way to go. Up seems to be the best bet.
Eventually we see the light through the trees and scramble up the last bit. Not a path any more, but we are eager to see this famous view. It is breathtaking!
A wide view over the Maasai plains. We are a fair way up and can see the high way under us with the different towns along it. On the left and right are some stunning rock formations, birds circling above. Beyond the highway are views of other mountains and hills and we can see along the Usambara range towards the Pare mountains. A great place to sit and nibble cheese as we enjoy the view.
After a while we think it might be time to head back. No camera, so no time keeping. Going down we meet a beautiful big green grasshopper with red eyes and two young guys with machetes.. No, don’t worry, they were fine, but the warnings did flash through our heads again.
We have to do the same way back as we came so slightly boring.
Back in town, we found out that we must have done the 12k in record time, as it is still fairly early. We heard about some other nuns that brew banana beer, and decide to go and find them. According to the guide book, it is only about half an hour out of town towards Soni. Australia makes lots of alcoholic drinks from different fruits, but we have never heard of banana beer before, and it sounds interesting. We wind down the main road passing road side stalls, hotels, pubs and all the phone shops, but cannot find the nuns.
Pretty sure we have walked for much more than half an hour and our legs are starting to hurt, we give up. Now we just have to walk back up hill to town.. We drag our selves along ok, until the sky opens up. The raincoats we had been carrying all day on the walk to the view are off course back at the hotel. We are soaked within seconds and as we are in the one bit of street without any stores, there is nowhere to hide. Eventually we make it to a hairdressers and duck for cover. It only takes a few minutes for the worst to be over. This is the first long day of walking in Tanzania and we feel drained. Not surprising, as we have really not been eating a lot lately. Today only some banana’s and cheese. Not smart or healthy, but the local African food is horrible.. We decide to treat ourselves to a nice meal out in a restaurant that also does European meals. We paid for it, but it was sooo worth it. Especially Andrew’s meal. He order chicken with mashed potatoes. This meant that we had to wait for close to an hour for our meals, and Anna’s chips were mostly cold, but the mash was freshly made and steaming. Andrews first big smile in Tanzania! (Also to first night in a while that our stomachs did not cramp later on)
Off to the local bar next to the hotel for a couple of beers and calling it a night. A great day overall.