Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Arusha-Kigali

Here goes the saga of bicycle tour from Arusha Tanzania to Kigali Rwanda, I’m worry that few will be able to go through all due to my frailer of make it short, enjoy it as it is my pleasure to share with you.
Begin…
It start as dinner talk with Hennie in Johannesburg last year then we discus it in the mail, to the phone and finally we meet and go through maps in the detail as much as possible, weather, geography, security and so the list continues. The logistic become more complicated and tense as I’m leading the group unsupported to in the most remote areas, imagine how many question you will have to answer for an Dr. Engineer of 65 years old!
How does someone begin a journey like this one? There should be lot of approaches. The differences come when it is bicycle safari, through tough areas and challenging regions. Anyways we plan put as cyclist Helen Lloyds put it “plans are like rules which are there to be broken” .
There are lots of things to consider but with the experienced cyclists Hennie and Francois, I have less to worry; Hennie, holding the record of the oldest person ever riding the Freedom Challenge while Francois did it twice. Do not get fooled by the name “Freedom Challenge”, this is one of the most respectable mountain bike races by the way you may not even ever hear about it.. Most think about fitness and being able to be number one. Though these count, there are also other things which you will have to consider before making the decision of jumping on it. It takes place during the southern winter, 6 days on the highlands of the Drakensberge in South Africa, no support vehicle; no GPS but only map and compass find you way to the sleeping point! I don’t want to exaggerate but I mean it mountain bike tour which includes so many things more than you may imagine. Please do not hesitate to check out their site www.freedomchallenge.org.za. I’m also dreaming of it but I’m pretty aware that is a damn though if I will be able to transform it into reality soon I’ll be the youngest man.
So this is bit experienced group but adventure it adventure rarely count on experience, anyway we are doing it for the sake of new experience. After driving from airport we had nice Indian dinner of chicken barbeque, variety breads and verges with enough paper. We took short walking around the town for stretching then last parking. We left Arusha town the morning of Sunday with company of Trish, we cycled west north of the town try to avoid tarmac road. As normal or it the character of cyclist I don’t know, we were full of energy enthusiastic. It such moment when I’m tired I always try to remind myself. The cool breeze wind cooling our body while the green escalating landscapes ease our mind and so we pedal counting down kilometers. At noon the sun become ferocious, suck out water from our body result on exhaustion. At the sometime the climb start, cycled uphill towards Mt.Monduli(2660m) it was at its most began. We take a break at it foot hill village Monduli chini (lower monduli). Rice, beans and meat with two cokes each does the job. Here Trish could have to say bye. We were pleased to have female company; she had challenge from her colleges telling them she is going to cycle. She get well with the other and engaged in the different conversation this make her short time more enjoyable, she might be envied for the guys who will do this for more 19 days, thanks she already knew the price; hills, heat it’s what she experienced so far.

Realty, in the greet rift valley basin…
Just after lunch the weather changed H2Oclouds, may be cumulonimbus cover the sky slow down the sun rays pushed by wind now can’t avoid this low pressure part the rain forest will pull water down, this was good omen for us. Soon rain was washing our sweat bodies somehow ease the uphill labor toward the peak of Monduli. As Francois has to push his bike up we had short breaks with Hennie for birds identification, we were now in the mountain rain forest. The secretive Tropical Boubou doesn’t seem to care for our presence, still make it call which give it a.k.a Bottle Bird. These calls vary and eco in the forest and valleys. “Pity my frau” it what Red Chest Cuckoo claim from the high branches. Unfortunately beautiful Hartlabu’s Turaco didn’t come out for Hennie to see what he see in the book. Now the shower was passing but since we were already high enough we continue enjoying the dump air. We stopped at Monduli juu (Upper Monduli), refuel out fuel with strongest brand oil in the universe “Coke Cola”. I used this time to drop some few tips about the region; we are in the home of Maasai by the way these are modern Maasai. Monduli juu is home of Sokoine, former Tanzania prime minister as well as Monduli chini Lowasa though in the last government he has to resign accused for corruption.

We decent to the plains we were amazed of how it was dry, hot, rocks road and middle of nowhere. It is hard to imagine there people live here, the people we come across were Maasai in the meeting under acacia shade. I had quick view to the scene, some sat on the rocks, some ease lay but tentatively listen to the one who was stand and hardly try to explain something to his fellow who now their attention turned to whites and black who lost the direction. I guess he should be the strong one who can not only face lion but strangers as well. From the group walk towards us greet with the best of his Kiswahili and ask to offer me support. I give him little and simple explanation as much as possible but I could sense how hardly he could grasp what I’m telling him. We carry on behind accompanied by expression less faces of the congregation. I was bit sad know that we real break that meeting which I was told was to solve misunderstand between two families. This scene it real broad topic will be discussed for the certain extend period.
I do admire Maasai for their brevity, their willingness to restore their culture, tradition and their uniqueness but my recent discovery of Maasai character particular men being story tellers it total surprise. Maasai men, I mean the one who already circumcised if you’re not circumcised they do not considered you as man. Soon after circumcision you will get few life storks from your daddy then you can start to build your flock, the flock size determines the size of your family; wives plus children. So these mans apart of counting their beast in the morning and evening, examine who is pregnant who is not they have nothing much to do. They will work across the plains to the meeting place by passing his neighbors’ boma (the enclosure) talk about is beast as this is main topic. They will meet under acacia tree somewhere for the rest of the day chewing tobacco and talk whatever they know but most should relate to the beasts. One of my friend tell me these guys are lease even pronouncing words when he failed to listen what they were saying testing his poor Maasai. So now you can imagine the stranger scene of whites on the loaded bikes, there will be lots to talk their skins, dress, what they eat? Which kind of cow? Et cetera. The fun thing is that they never interrupt each, everyone has chance to explain whatever he knows, and no one will disagree by the way one do not need even to have evidence. They do not know about lying and cheating all are the same to them, Isn’t this interesting?
As the sun start to sink on the west we also start to talk about where we can pass the night, find the best sport it always the agreement but in the bush which look almost the same and the fact that the day become cooler your muscle are total obsessed by rhythm of pedaling it make even harder to make quick decision. The first boma we came across with after couple of hours remand Francois his dream of sleep with maasai. He is real enthusiast and emotional person it will be hard to disagree with his suggestion. We deviated from the main track cycle towards the boma, under acacia tree are some few members of this large compound. I great them in maasai. After short conversation with understand that we need somewhere to sleep one man lead us in the enclosure full of huts then in to one of the hut. By sign and few words from Kiswahili I told him we just need the ground and not his precious bed with cattle hide. Within 1hr there were reasonable amount of expectoters, they didn’t come bare hands this will be rude for visitors, they brought about enough flies. We strangle to pitch tents as wind blow and through flies. The flies made this place uncomfortable they tend to concentrate on face places like mouth, eyes, ears they real irritate. Hennie I try our best to copy up while Francois straggle with flies spry but all in vain. Then lastly come the fun and final challenge the expectators doesn’t decrease neither seem to satisfy their curiosity. They could watch Hennie each movement he happed to make, for couple minutes without even exchange the words. We get busy with cooking then me and Hennie remain out there eating while Francois hid on his tent try to avoid all sort of unpleasant. The flush lights, binoculars and cell phones so far seem to be most of their interest at the end.. The fresh milk as normal was brought to us soon after livestock arrived. The arrive of these beast change the entire enclosure, make it busy for a while, the young guys who were in the bush since morning now they have their chance to whiteness what the luck brought to their home. We hide in our tents give chance for our host to discuss a bit about this Ngai’s (god) miracle. It happened to be enough for my clients in the morning we left without even cook the breakfast.

We cycled towards Mt.Kitumbeine (2942m) then avoid it as we take right around the mountain; fortunately, we find water on the foothills. It was 10am but it was hot as mid day, the road have been changed and cut by water. With the plan to get at Engaruka which now we could only guess how far the town lie the only thing we could see it rift valley wall. We plan to have lunch in that village. Our assumptions proved wrong as road get worse and worse. It turn to be deep sand impossible to cycle, then plains changed to simply desert no trees for couple of hours . The only thing you see on the horizon is blackish like water which is evaporation from deadly backed land. This was dangerous for my clients it was impossible to cycle for a km without stop for drink; the risk was to be hydrated which could lead into serious trouble. We cycled between balanites trees the only shade. In one shade a Maasai warrior equipped with spear, stick and a long machete the usually carry on their wrist. We chart briefly then we remain speech less as I couldn’t talk much, he stay with us till we continue cycling then he follows us till he couldn’t keep the pace. That kind of rough, dust, tough and pain ride carry on. This is the time when 2km become like 10kms, patient become expensive commodity, there is nothing else we would feel better to do more than lie down and carried by fatigue sleep.
As it was approaching 3pm as we slowly approached the Engaruka “Oasis”; Just a narrow and long green patch stretch from Great Rift Valley wall and after a while disappeared on the thirst plains. This green and the sign of water was real great relief. Our people are still Maasai; as usual they stand along and let as pass the sign of respect but also have enough time to stare to stranger people. We pay negotiable price for culture tourism program with discount of being such tired poor cyclist. We find semi-cold coke, the cokes which are putted in the water. These are considered to be cold which might be true if you travel by road through the plains and find them. We also had the same kind of food as the last lunch with slight difference which fit according to the distance from modern life. There is decent camping site up the village just close to the escarpment with running water, a privacy and shade what else should we hope for? In the village; the nurse who I knew she prepared a dinner for special order, again for this areas quality we all consider it far better.

Sand rise instead of sun rise….
We had a huge breakfast at the same place with a surprise of egg which had almost a full developed chicken in, any way you do need to rise you voice or show you surprise to much as this might be only the begin of wonders ;what if you eat such egg? Thanks for such big breakfast which though didn’t live long as we begin with 15kms of sands which demand no much than you to push your bike slowly. I sort a friendship with herder boys who in turn help to push my loaded bike. Apart of that the, heart doesn’t show any mercy on poor cyclists. About 2hrs since starting I felt the need of change the way we were cycling; Hennie always push very strong in the morning start to slow down in the midday and straggle in the evening just the same to my 75 year old Danish cyclist , Bent. Francois could stay on the middle though it happen sometime to straggle to finish it. The plan was to make the group to take it more ease as the day is long ahead and difficult. I made them stop at pre-school healed under acacia tree, in the begin it seem inconvenience for them to stop but as we left our bike on the road side and walk towards this unique school things start to change. It Maasai children made circle and in the middle is a maasai girl of about 18-20yrs. Just close lie two Maasai guys. There were also several plastic bottles which contain milk for each child. Also there are little rocks scatted on the dust ground, these are used by the children to write by arrange them to form alphabets or numbers. On their best of courage from stranger visitors they sang to us a Kiswahili song which was about a fool who can’t read so he walks with letter through the village to find someone to read for him. I join in as Francois was busy with filming. This stop apart of change our overconcentration on cycling it prove how it may be different for vehicle safari and bike, it give us something to talk for a while then as the momentum slowly built up we take the conversation in our mind; the child studding under acacia, No chairs, No walls, learn to write by using stones, What about if branch failed or it rain?
It is now hot, Francois got flat tire which take us reasonable amount of time to fix. The road it rock and sand total uncomfortable for cycling. In the midday we stop and make spaghetti lunch then continue with cycling which now is in the very foothills of Ol Donyo Lengai. Gazelles and Zebras run away from these unusually creatures or a Maasai headers who run towards the road. These Maasai run towards us, after greeting they ask for what we have but we can’t give. It is surprise or amazing or sad, the maasai headers some young of 10-15yrs while some adult run for reasonable distance as they see us then desperately ask for water “Maji, maji, maji” while they are showing the sign of drinking. Doesn’t matter what you tell them they will repeat again and again as they run with you. After a while they will consider themselves not to be luck enough so they will late you go. The things are the mixed feelings created by this scene, these people they are with huge hear but without water to drink I’m not sure about food because they never ask for. Then come these cyclists with enough bottles on their bikes but each drop is calculated. This cycling in this time was real challenging; what can I do with this you guy running along me telling me he is dying so I should give him water? How did they survivor with their cattle? This was Hinnie’s question which directly I translate to Maasai guy who come to ask for water as we stop for stretching. He said they walk the cattle to the water after each 2 days or so. The water seems to be another precious element because even in the village there was still someone begging for water or a bottle.
The day become longer and more challenge as I had series of flat tires, sand road cut through by water flowing from Lengai. Engaresero village laid about 60km north-west of Engaruka; we passed through two other Maasai’s claiming their collecting village fees, What if every village in the country establishes the same program? The reality is to painful, these money didn’t get as far as stomach of few politician. The second gate is in the middle of nowhere I tell them about my feeling then it was to negotiate. NO COKE STOP. We made it to Engaresero campsite 4pm total exhausted, beaten up but recover after two semi-cold cokes.
The camp is typical tourists place with tented lodge maybe for honey mooned who are the most people I meet here; they come for flamingos, trekk or on transit to and from Serengeti. The camping sites it pleasant with wonderful bird life around. We us the pool to cool down our cells, the swimming pool is sun heated water pass through from escarpment, it green in color you need to take extra care as it very slippery without caution note.
Waiters are in Maasai outfit serving what seem far over priced drinks. The dinner cost 25$per person may be worth having western food middle of gods knows but two potatoes, a small meet pie came after little sweet maize it is a joke for a cyclists like us. Francois had good idea to deal with this situation, when our maasai waiter come no complain, no asking but suggestion, I place the suggestion and miraculous it works , addition pates of race and beans become real food for the same price.
Pink horizon….
Francois is full of cleaver suggestion; he knew when to present them and how to put them. As the matter of fact we were not going to do Mt Lengai as it was plan, Francois says the flamingos are worth for a rest day. From the camp to Lake Natron it about 6km on deep sand and deadly hot, I asked the ride from drive with two German old couple but he was too scared so I ask Hennie to go and talk with his age group. We had ride to the Lake Natron the home of thousands lesser flamingo as well as great. They are so many to stretch to the horizon hence pink horizon.
We agree to have lunch and dinner in the village, the village is about 10mint. We walking from camp, as we walk we was accompanied by bunch of Maasai ladies who sales their jewels. They ask what your name each is after 3mint. Or so just to make sure they keep conservation with mzungus. It a real nondescript village, few shirkers and huts give it a category of village unless otherwise it could be something. We had almost worm coke as we were waiting for our rice mixed with ugali (maize meal) and chicken order to be delivered. This kind of food it is already become a tradition dish (rice, ugali, beans, meat with relish and occasional greens). The chicken was among of tough chicken I ever hard, Hennie has got more fun story. He had fibula, the part of chicken leg with enough steak, he take a bite which require extra effort to get meet out unfortunately there was ligament stick on teeth when he pull it the ligament slid through his fingers painful hit his cheek . For the sake of his old teeth he pushes chicken plate to me. Outside the place we sat the Maasai ladies already open the shop so when we got out we were obliged to pay attention to their product but noon was in the mood of shopping so we walked back. Behind the shops were quickly closed down and about four of them followed us begin that we should buy from them, it was irritating and embracing but there was nothing I could do to these persistence ladies. The one who introduce herself early as Helena was almost singing with amazing low tone “Buy this for Helena, Buy this for Helena, Buy this for Helena…” Apparently Hennie’s wife called Helena as well so it was like the song was dedicated to his though he was the one with no interest at all. Actually their trick walk as Francois bought enough souvenir from them finally.
The land of Konyagi…
The dinner was in the same place but this time with advance order so this make things bit soft. Kilimanjaro beer ease things but not to make real change of the world around us, our friend a camp stuff from Arusha he offer “The spirit of nation” Konyagi, it might fit on gin made from fruit so far found only in Tanzania so far. Hennie and our new friend are alcoholic while I and Francois we straggle to swallow this strong white liquor. The noise generator come into life but soon swallowed by reggae music, One love, Together as one, Don’t worry…. are kind of songs plus konyagi which total changed our world around and take us to the sky.
Today we have support vehicle, an old Land Rover (Tdi), it will accompany us till we cross Serengeti. With unloaded bikes we were looking forward to a different day, yes it was, we spent almost half riding time to repaired Francois’ flat tire, he now lost his tubeless. We cycled along the valley wall which often pored rocks on the road make it almost impassable. As we start to accent the escarpment it was midday with 40 degree Celsius. We get in the vehicle and drive for the rest of the day to Wasso in Loliondo district. The Mrs. “Flackefuric” Afrikaan world for earth pig, took us through Great Rift Valley then immerge in the plains which stretch as far as Ngorongoro highland s. It is thick bushes with bit different looking people though dress almost like Maasai. Their bantu people known as Sonjo split during the era of ethnics clashes settle themselves in the middle of maasai and adopt much of their culture and tradition except language. Their now good Maasai revivers, time to time there is break up of clashes. Sonjo use arrow and bow while maasai use spear, thinks should be interesting war. By the way Sonjo being from latest group of the people their happen to be bit clever to maasai. One of the fun story was that, maasai offered scarifies of cattle, got or sheep at Ol Donyo Lengai (the mountain of god) for different purposes such as prayer for rain or stop volcano eruption which they consider to be Ngai hanger. When they leave this gift for their god Sonjo came and takes them away pretend to be their god. So maasai believe that their sacrifice have been total accepted.
We stopped for cake in the center of sonjo land, they’re not real friendly or they don’t know how to interact so when to beg they ask with expression of demanding and in the absolutely different language.
Our land rover straggle with up hills and scramble with down hills in the almost in passable road, all these take as to the maasai town in the middle of total know where. It maasai town, I call them real maasai, they are maasai may be you have never saw before real war like. Men/warriors are tall wearing short toga with beautiful long locks with ridiculous decoration, necklaces the same to the ankle and knee. They paint their brown skin with red okra and cattle oil which give them giraffe’s color. They walk with amazing swagger and look at you as asking did you want to fight? It is a market day the main commodity here is life stork. The whole town is full of people in red toga some on the phone, some carried their got or sheep on their neck as you do carry your young boy and so the scenes goes.
We are now accustomed with some fun things came up time to time in such town, once Hennie ask me “in this part of the world you get tower in the guest house?” Which means he don’t demand as he does early in the expedition the same wonders goes to the food and others stuff of such sort.
We drive to the Serengeti entrance gate, and then spend the whole day inside the park for game drive. Having one day here means we have to go around as much as possible with only short break will saw lots of animals plenty of gazelle, Bunch of elephant herds, lions pride sleep as they are dead, numerous birds just as much as you can imagine. Our enthusiasm couldn’t help us from getting tired, that is what happened in the evening we could hardly keep on talk about animals. As we were driving towards fort Ikoma gate with only intension of finding accommodation, unusual scene which awake our feeling of wonder once again; “ The Migration” , hundreds, and hundreds of wildebeests running on the almost interminable queue . It was thrilling moment which unexpected will carry on in the following day.
Cycle with migration…
After one and half rest day of driving we now back on our four combined machine, two wheal and two legs. Ikoma village where we slept is in Gurumeti /Ikorongo game Reserves less then 10km from the few human settlements the wildebeests, zebras, and gazelles are uncountable. I think confused by unusual creatures they began to run randomly on the plains but as monitored they soon form a long queue, when we stopped to let them pass it take them about 30minutes to cross to one side then when we start moving they start again and again. I bent they are couple of millions covered about 20km of our cycling track. They stretch to the horizons in the short green plains when we find trees and bush and hills comes large harem of Impalas under single male; What unfair distribution? When we finish the game reserves comes the chains of villages which insure us enough fuel.
We arrived at the ferry to Ukerewe island in the lunch time , after waiting for a while we board the ferry which Francois says it is a slowest he have ever use. We kept on cycling in the island, after 14km from ferry we arrived at Nasio, the center of Ukerewe islands. We slept in the decent lodge, having shower after two bush camps always accompany by the food we cook ourselves telling each other is delicious while the truth we wouldn’t eat it if we were not starving. Here we had good food and cold beers. In the next day we board boat again crossed to Mwanza in the lunch time we were in the town. We had a chance to enjoy a comfort of home at Hennie’s nephew works in Mwanza.
We left Mwanza cross by 30mint. Ferry to the other side of lake then continue with ride along the shore through chains of village. These are those villages where every stranger called “my friend-rafiki”, some folks sitting on the road side hiss just to take your attention.
The terrains and weather still give as big favor; it is cloud, then sun rise the hot quick then followed by short showers. We are still enjoying birds life with Hennie thanks our fanatic behavior now pull Francois in, he tried to memorize the names but can’t join in when we through our bikes away chasing rare spices such Palm Nut Vulture. In this region we have enough fuel fruits, sweet maize, cold coke and traditional dish (rice, ugali, tough chicken/meet). What we couldn’t avoid it crowd, when we stop in the village within 5minutes we were in the middle of crowd. This situation total embarrass for Francois previous he enjoy it as he record the scene but now it become annoying.
In the evening we arrived at Nkome, this was out of my expectation; everyone was real exhausting. Adding 2km to Rubondo Island National Park gate was unwelcome suggestion if not to avoid crowd. As normal in any tourist area, the management of Rubondo Island Np wanted the payment of 40$ per person for camping on the grass without even running water.
We camp just out of the fence with help of Haji, the range on duty. In the morning come the mass expectators, passing by heading to their farm they spend about 3hrs wondering till Francois cleverly tell them “we are tired!” He got in his tent intestinal but pretending he was changing exposes his buttocks on the window. The mass roar for gilt or shame view while they run away from cause of seen mzungu”s buttock.
Surviving Wooden Versaul…
We finish with our breakfast, dismantle our 6 stars hotels, park and disappear. We cycle downhill to Nkome port, it crowded Saladin port. There few medium size wooden boats, ours no yet to arrive but seen these we had a picture of what sort of transport we are going to us. I was given the time when it might arrive but should I real rely on time in this far isolated world? It was hard to find somewhere to sit and wait in such crowded area which now all the attention is on people on bikes. Fortunately, we lucky find wooden small restaurant/hotel or mgahawa, it has almost sound proof, Tv and cassette radio which played Celen Dion, Rick martin and West life music so it wasn’t real isolated world as I thought.
Hennie and Francois they were in puzzle which they decided to remain with but I could see it in their faces. Listen such music here in noose small but crowded with the smell of rotten and dried Saladin. If you are those super hygiene folks here you will vomit and you may starve.
Then came our boat it blew two vehicle honk to announce it arrive, it is a wooden vassal with iron sheet roof to keep passengers out of sun and rain, passenger sat on wood benches total uncomfortable for the journey of 4hrs. There generator which supply the power a loudly music out of terrible sounding speakers. If that is not enough to keep passengers out of boredom there is TV playing some local film. On top of roof is captains’ cabin, in this cabin there are bunch of captain with qualification of experience and test of surviving skills. It is a small cabin but they are able to share with their friends or relatives who happen to travel to day. Down stair passenger and cargo are mixed together, there were about 20 large sucks of Saladin. These plus passengers it seem like the boat was overloaded but who knows it capacity? It happen that it was uneven loaded this was when it couldn’t live the shore; it was stark on the mad. It was confirm now we were in certain danger. The bunch of unorganized boat stuffs divides the passengers just by shouting to them, nothing like customer care here. Then cargo at last was even distributed so the boat had got balance but still it was heavy, the engine couldn’t pull it back to the deep water. But in such busy place wasn’t had to get help so the boat was pushed into deep water. After few minutes off shore the engine dead then after less than 5 minutes came into life so we carry on with our almost journey impossible.
It was a long tire someday no matter how we tried to enjoy the beauty of the lake which decorated with several green and rock islands. The stops and speed of the boat uncomfortable benches no chance of take a nap.
At 4pm we made it to Muganza, finally, the “journey impossible” was possible and worth experience. We cycled to the village had lunch then hit the tarmac road for the first time since Arusha though it is for less than 50km. Before dark we sort beautiful bush camp at the isolated house I the vast valley surrounded by hills with perfect sun rise in the next morning.
The heart of Africa…
The terrains once again it is characterized by rolling hills, it seems as we are slowly acceding. We cycled through the most boundary of Biharamulo game reserve, the vegetation switch to miombo woodland which always doesn’t support large population if not at all. No villages and if we come across one it is on top of hill or downhill out of main track, simply it wasn’t worth to try. In the afternoon on those rolling hills come the prize of the day, magnificent view vast region on top of it came the rain. We had rain before but those were showers which we could cycle through for 30 to 45 minutes. This one was heavy and because it rain for extended period of time it become cold. My fellows like water or let me say rain, I don’t but I had to cycle though and slowly I stated to enjoy it but today it got them. They were the one to pull off and find shelter. We cycle to Biharamulo town find the decent guest house. As normal in this rare chance you eat well and drink enough. We had dinner in the nearby pub then we give try to Konyagi again. In this part of the world reggae music is among of the popular music, you may not enjoy it anywhere else as you may do here. Thanks for Dj who happen to sport us then drop few reggae tracks, just as he know, I and Hennie climb to the stage and enjoy ourselves followed by locals so we had honor to open sturdy local part. the part was close to our guest house, it keep awake me till nearly morning.
We tack cab in the morning the junction then add few kilometers for the consideration of Francois GPS worrying of bandit on the miombo forest. After breakfast we jump on the bikes and tackle the hills which getting is incising dramatically. At lunch time we were in Rusumo border post, we stamp ext in Tanzania cross Kagera River and stamp entree in Rwanda. We had lunch at the restaurant overhang on the river valley. The different start with food here it buffee a variety of foods all served together according to you preference, faces are more beautiful proportional built though looking too naïve. If that wasn’t surprise there were more to come, asking information you need to imply about three languages, Kiswahili wasn’t enough, English limited or no at all, French for some literate, Nyarwanda for all. So I remind myself the greetings and few worlds I leant back the days this is best way of starting conversation for the people who meet strangers occasionally.
The big puzzle we left behind is saying to local that we were cycling to Kigali or Chigali as it pronounced by locals. When I see different expression to people I talk with I ask if it is safe the answer was “No” “the mountains are going to kill you”.
Bicycle transportation is well developed here; there are lots of bikes parking waiting for passengers whom I think should be mostly for down hills. Any ways, this is perfect for environmental conservation and it real popular here. As the matter of fact this bicycle transportation seem to provided employment for quick growing population though think logical how many people you have to haul to make sure you collect enough franc. Frankly to say it can’t fulfill ambitions of you generations. However, government didn’t let them free at all; all the bikes are registered and have got plate numbers. Riders have to be certain uniform which differ from town to town.
We probably inspire these cyclists, bunch of them join us as we left the border town, cycle with us up hills. We tried to talk random subjects, I found out some of them they just return to their mother country but they were born in the refugee camps. Though our companion didn’t go far that 10km but we real enjoyed the company and this was repeated time to time as we pass through the village till we were near Kigali where motor cycle takes place of bikes.
We managed to cycle up to Kihere and find accommodation just 1hr before as we were still in Tanzania time. Buffe diners with primus were made everything ease; this is fun things for all cyclists as Alastia Humphres and Peter Goshtak. In the next day Francois awake us in Tanzania time then we went for breakfast and complain as it was late for us, there it when I find out we were in different time zone.
The landscape of this country it most stunning future, it is hills; green dotted with red bricks houses. In the valleys it perfect for farming due to it high water table. In the first time as I see the population I couldn’t expect to spot any birds but in this trip we sport the rare and unique vulture, Palm Nut Vulture.
The day was not different from yesterday, it is still hills which we are slowly get used, and by the way they are decreasing. In the junction town we get decent accommodation, self-contained room with Dstv.
We left in the morning, the road it less challenge, the increasing urban life in one way or other energizes us.
At 2pm we was in the top of the one hill just the street of Kigali but to go in the “centre ville” city center, it another odorous job of downhill with traffic jam and traffic light then uphill with sun, unusual looking of folks on the sterling in the jam. After reservations for gorilla trek, calculate the days which will be remain it happen that there will be no enough time to make to Bujumbura so we left it pending. From Kigali I will take bus to Nairobi through Kampala there I will finish with visa of Sudan and Ethiopia then wait to fly to Cairo ready for Tour D’Afrique! Cairo –Cape Town.
Wish to hear about political up to date of recent visited country:
The East Africa countries Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and two twice Burundi and Rwanda slowly are moving to their dream political and economic federation. Recently they open free market and movement of their citizens, being citizen from these countries you can work anywhere within. Prior to Ocampo’s 6 where 6 Kenyan politicians have mention in the first list to work to ICC to answer their charge concerning 2007-8 “post election clashes” which coast about 5000 lives. Observers are saying if this is began then the long arm of law should be extended to Kagame, Museven, Kony, Mkurunzinza, Bashiri, etc. The observations show that the entire region with exception of Tanzania, the ruling governments is accused for crime against human right. Remember that with exceptional of Kenya and Tanzania other are military who after size the power try to turn to the democracy. Kenya which for long time have been strong and stable according to the wikeleak, it mentioned as swamp of corruption, drug money in the politics and dynasty in the current politics are the things which slow down the country’s democracy.
Meanwhile, Southern Sudan government which increase it tire with East Africa countries it is on the countdown to the historical moment, referendum, decide remain to be part of northern Sudan!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Northern Tanzania ecosystem

It has been a while since I write here, this cause of strong eternal arguments I currently face. I’m fond with writing but since I started to live on this dream I found out there are more things to overcome more than writing interesting story; prejudices and biased with jealousy, suspicion, fear, envy and pride. Any way, this is human nature so slowly I’ll try to avoid them, hopeful you will forgive me when you fid those kind of things.

I have been in some adventures, conversional and formal trips plus my daily routines which I won’t tell you unless you steal my diary.

Just to start with couple of weeks ago, I join SIT (School International Training) Tanzania program. Here I’m a young Tanzania ecologist working with other colleagues who I assume are twice my age, this is not first last year I was elected to executive committee member of WCST (Wildlife Conservation Society of Tanzania- Arusha branch), here also I’m the youngest ever before.

What I would like to talk here as usual it about my wild portraits but not the gossips about my life, I know out there are people who have more so better not to make you tired with mine.

As the students land on this safaris country they had no chance to see any of our big town, from Kilimanjaro airport transferred to West Kilimanjaro. Spent five busy day at Ndarakwa ranch, here they had glimpse of what they will be up to. Start with African-Tanzania food, Ki-swahili language (part of their study), animals viewing with introduction of how they will study them, walking cross savanna for orientation of ethno-biology and last but not on the least visit maasai boma and had only quick view of the richest cultures which strive for existence. There were more but bit individual mention yoga and stretching under acacia tress on open savanna with gentle breeze from highest mount in Africa which the peak lies about 10km, blue sky and numerous birds songs and calls; This was perfect for YOGA. In particular I was invited by the runners so imagine running on open wild animal’s ranch, I couldn’t hold back my emotion as we run across impala’s harem. This impalas pay back my run randomly with their spectaculars looping 3m high 6m long what a wonderful scene!

Days went by so fast, till the last day in Ndarakwai still some students were in the dream land, they didn’t expect all this with incredible academic direct, knowledgeable teachers and high experience crew, learning here was comfortable as luxury safari.

Then came long waited moment, to see Arusha town go to the restaurants have chocolate the things which absolutely remind them back home. Although time to this town was limited after two days they were already allocated in their home staying each with his/her new family.

Thereafter two weeks was rick and roll back to the wild, Tarangire-Manyara is a study area. Camp inside of Tarangire for busy four day was total experience which one will never forget. After dinner short time spent on the camp fire, here I was taught few ridiculous games like Jimy Posh, posh, posh! Night followed by wild sound unusual like scoops owl’s, fun as hyena’s and scared as lion’s. One of the students told me that he had to swallow sleeping peals in order to sleep. The morning could start as early as 6am for my bird group, observation and all those scientific methods then back to camp is calculations, create hyposess and lastly each group before lunch present. It was deep of learning require much attention but all was fun as ruminant group make a joke on non ruminant group. On the study of vegetations and animals there are challenges such as observing, sex an animal like elephants which never stop but what about a hippo which lie down for entire observing time!

Tarangre was done with lecture from park warden, here was useful chance, park warden give lecture on all important subjects including recently elephant population which is about 27 000 to 30000 within 28 000km square in the park without physical boundaries, What a conflict with neighbor communities? What will happen? What is happen? Those are kind of questions students bomb park warden. The academic direct claimed that this is active group of students as long as he can remember for his ten years.

The same program continue to Manyara except addition of culture walk though Mto wa Mbu, consider is a small place you are likely to meet almost 120+ ethics groups which make up Tanzania.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

LIVELY VALLEY



cradle of humanity.
Africa is the most stable of the Earth's land masses, the most ancient rocks, a fount of life itself and it is also cradle of humanity. Often the continent characterized by it pristine but paradoxically, since the contact with Europeans it have never being of influence. It is such factors which bring scholars from developed world to conduct their studies in this open library and laboratory.

acclimatization
On 8th April I with my colleagues assisting four American students with their environmental/ecology studies left Arusha heading to Great Rift Valley. We overnight at Mto wa Mbu town guess with no definitive reason …just merely excuse of acclimatization. Health climate, wonderful social life, stunning views are among of things give this relative small town a beautiful scenic.


chai
Dinner and breakfast we had here were among of highlights, 99% were fresh food from the very farm of this basin….all available for affordable non races prices. The Chai (tea) for stance had wonderful variety ingredients which brought about table conversation every one try to cite spices in the chai though non were good expert….. So I call for the cooker who give out this long ridiculous list; Water from basin's ground springs, milk from D horn maasai cow, Tanzania tea leaves, ginger from Pare mountains, clove, black paper and other unidentifiable spice from Spices Island, Zanzibar. Cooker conclude by recommend spice tour in Zanzibar. Chai explanations' was far valuable enlightenment remain let 19th century explores narration to monopolies;

The interior is mostly a magnificent and healthy of unspeakable richness...
Cameron the first mzungu known to cross the continent from Indian ocean to Atlantic wrote. This is great today contradiction claim of poorest African country.

As we enjoyed our chai at Red Banana Café which found in the very same premises with Mto wa Mbu culture tourism offices….another day highlight come across. A sort of scorpion fanatics join our chai conversation and switch it to its ambition. It wasn't empty words he took us who were keen and ready for adventure into the room where he kept about three scorpions spp. His random exciting and emotion explanations include practical as well. By timing he hold the poison sticking tail of the large black scorpion, the scorpion react by bite him by two from legs. The bit was persistence so the explanations continue with scorpion on his hand. The explanations was concluded by reference of more fanatics and fame seekers on the internet. For about 2 and half hours we stayed there the scorpion to have no ideal of loose it bite.


start our adventure
In the next morning we start our adventure by loading hired two donkeys . Unfortunately, poor two donkeys which are able to carry up to 50kg couldn't carry large boxes of food stuff. The 17km walking safaris started at 9:30am, each one carried his/her belongins and camping equipments on large backpacker. This rare scene had wide explanations by local folks. I though. Some could say the vehicle of these mzungus may be had break down while other with little ideal could say no this is how mzungus do sometime they do even for tall mountain such as Kilimanjaro. Young maasai headers run across the plain about a kilometer just come close to rare white skin. Those with little curious they just shout Hello! Hello! Hello! No matter if you answer or not. Hello turned to be chorus which is merely deep emotion contact between local folks enjoy luck rare spot of mzungu hat, sun glass, hiking shoes large backpacker, What might be stranger Look!. ..opposite mzungu enjoyed exotic scenery and semi necked human who never feel embarrassed.


Kori Bustard
The expanse, magnificent, stunning views grabbed our attentions and concentrations… just turned our neck like Kori Bustards or some one doing yoga stretching which allow our eyes to meet huge long straight erected Great Rift Valley wall with it undulating pulled eyes as much as they can see. Opposite the wall lies northward stretch Ol Kerii escarpments which host Losimingiro, Burko mountains and several other hills Kitumbeine and Gilai peak (28-28 000m)father north as it go parallel the wall. We walked in this vast savannah basin like with all the fantasy feeling made our brain forget physical process of walking with such large backpackers… it was until we run out of fuel…feeling hungry. We had our lunch and nap under large flat top acacia which its shed and gently plains breeze was like an Island for those 13th century sailors who survived on wreaked
Ship.


Menya Tajiri or Oltimbua Boma
Despite of all adventurous excitement first day was bit demanding until the lunch time we were all ready covered about 3 quote of our journey. After 3 hours of walking or so we arrived at our planned camping which situated in the maasai boma known as "Menya Tajiri or Oltimbua Boma". Here we greeted serious looked old and middle aged man, happy woman and children as well as lambs, got cow and thousand flies. We just surprised our hosts and their neighbors by our few lent maasai wards. We erected our tents under acacia trees which fantastic sun rise from Losimingiro ountain and set behind the valley walls its undulating raise to looked like subways on the sky.

In the morning of 10th after what sound like suppressed rich breakfast out of expectation of such academic trip..the cooker, Okuli a.k.a Chakuli, was those kind of guys who can change impossible to be possible. Official study and data collection started by splitting in the two main group. Eric and Molly doing transact walking with fun maasai guide to whom I owe respect heard north while I with hip hop sort of birds expert Alex heading south with Kevin and Annie who were doing plotting. We planned to walk towards escarpment it was close enough but flood plains made it longer.



I'm not hash, this is Africa
Tall grass made us do wrong assumption of distance, we walked on the flood with water sometime reached up kneels. In front as path finder I turned back time to time to ask my fellow "Are you Okay?, "Sure..we are" they replayed briefly but their face were speaking loud "What is the f***k you man thinking to make us to cross the ocean by feet" I remark, "never mind this is Africa" I conclude. After about 45 minutes walking on water we arrived on the rice paddies which was more easy walking on. Finally we arrived on the edge of yellow back acacia forest "fever trees". Here we did couple of plotting and follow all scientific procedure though they sound ridiculous sometime. This forest situated on the foot of valley wall is extended feeding range for Ngorongoro or Manyara elephant herds as it become clear when we found fresh foot prints. Agriculture communities attracted by fertile soil stayed for the expanse of elephant as one woman found us and worn us about the risk emphasize it with the story of woman who lost he life to the charged elephants less than a month.


more than kind!
On the 14th we break our first camp, walked across the plains sometime without the trails. We had a rest out side solitary maasai boma. Onesima charted the hostess who come out due to our present , since maasai can only ease by elder name, Onesima a resident of Engaruka knew more than half bomas on this plains whose most of owner migrated from Engaruka. Our temporary hosts they where more than welcome, within ten minutes we was drinking fresh boiled milk… this was more than kind!


man wore red blankets with hoe on his hands...
Apart of amazing landscape views there was a day strange scene; a man wore red blankets with hoe on his hand. It is common to see these ma standing with long sticks watch after large herds of cattle, goats and sheep but with natural dynamics; carbohydrates demands, availability of patch of arable soil and challenged by farmers communities are likely factors pushed this man to attack the harder surface of land with 25.27..30 blows of hand hoe to cover square miter. It is labor demand to remove perennial weeds and short shrubs which grow with grains.


mando line
We arrived at the camp at the lunch time after our spaghetti lunch we left to Selela by free ride of old but strong enough land rover known as "mando line" carried about trice it capacity. Since the owner is the decent maasai guy couldn't dare to left any maasai going to the market…the mando line entered and passed through crowded red market which four identical mzunguzi took it attention.


I do smell like solitary Buffalo
The main aim of coming going Selela was to get shower which since we left Mto wa Mbu was just by the can. Alex alleged "As the day passed by without shower my smwle is getting worse …from male got now I smell like solitary Buffalo" apart of laugh non asked for explanation since it is normal for this guy to speak odd and funny things. Think about the smell of solitary buffalo. Since the bucket shower was one by one system cold coke from paraffin fridge took place. In the late after noon we left Selela walking back to camp situated about 3km north east which mean no way walking without sweating and smell like buffalo again!


Ndorosi camp
The last day at "Ndorosi camp" was among of the joy an awe struck morning as huge yellow ball rise from the east, mix and change the colors on the sky bring the light to the vast plains. In this time we congregated under acacia near large termite for cup of coffee which made the time more than sensation. We started walking 8am one hour late due to agreed time, four hours walking was very exciting as we walk on the plains, bush and crossed hall river as it require us to remove shoes. Large fascinating mammals such giraffes, zebras and gazelles were close spotted as we walk past them. The worth spot was that of rare "giraffe gazelle" Gerenuk. We had our lunch at the bush picnic in the deep river valley flowing from escarpment towards dry and thirst plains. Siesta took place as we sat on the river side listen to the birds calls with water noise back ground which created wonderful rhythm. I lost my patient observing this precious subject , slowly I removed my clothes and throw myself on the pool like.


Mbuko river side bush camp
The "Mbuko river side bush camp" was just down in the same river where it become more flat. Water as well as fire wood for camp fire was plenty together with the fact that the camp was just on the bush of no where made this camp to rank high among favorites camps.


maasa morani
The study and data collection took place on all four cardinal direction the long and arduous one being the one which we had to hike up hill without success try to reach valley foot which here give raise to the certain peak hence lost its common future. We walked on the open bush where we disturb impala rums and dick dick couples whose in turn jump and run randomly while baboons troop respond by backing. As we walk further and further there were threatening feelings due to the bound possibility to meet large carnivorous. I wished I was equipped with spear like Maasai morani (warriors) but confronting hungry lions could be another story. I told Annie who wasn't ready to leave the sweet life that, "eaten by lion will bring fame due to the wide story coverage" but she throw out my comments as she say "What the fame will do for dead person?"

Sadly but with little option 24th "Mbuko river side bush camp" was broken. This day 12km walking was just sheer surprise as it covered in the relative short time but not without exhaust as clear seen here


largest tourists hotel ever in south sahara
The study and data collection was from our camp situated at Engaruka Juu (upper). Our method of plot piece of land here in well populated area compare to where we have been was challenged. Wherever we plot the land the owner or other curious folks pop in and bomb us with questions, we just slow them down as we greet them by our lent maasai then explanation accordingly "These Mzungus work for World Bank they plan to build largest tourists hotel even in south sahara so all maasai will got job as guards" I just tease a maasai who asked me why I'm selling his land to mzungu without his consultation.


African lost city
Engaruka is pretty populated, the population is sustained primarily by agriculture which is well adopted here followed by livestock keeping. Today Engaruka is only a glimpse of an imaginable oldest African lost city. Leakey estimated there were about 6300 stones huts on socree slopes as well as 500 in the valley. Irrigation terrace were so intensive and extended which we couldn't avoid to plot on its remains. Engaruka said to reach it hight on 14th-17th century (Pre-medieval and medieval centuries) when the large part of the continent experience high rainfall. Further study on the area made it clear that Engaruka inhabited and maintain for long time by successive groups , mention, Bantu and Afri-asiatic (cushitic) agriculturalist and pastoralist groups as well as recently northerner Nilo-tic header. The hereto maasai adopt more small scale farming which they inherit from previous groups whose may abandoned the area due to insufficient rains. Instead of maintaining the city current inhabitant seem to carry on with nomadic way of life by building small conical thatch mad house which the only expense is time thus people here have plenty.


The relative gently slope allowed the water flow from volcanic Ngorongoro highlands to be channeled for irrigation in the rich alluvial deposit soil as aerial view from escarpment reveal. To day the remain water channel are less inhabited but intensively exploited by small scale farms. This farms often need to be fence to keep animals out. Such demands were in some extent and still are environment deteriorate as farmers chopped down particular thorn trees or shrubs like Acacia, Balanite and Comiphora. This kind of trees/shrubs spent ages to build up their special adaptation to survive hence make the wheal of life in this plains. Thanks for invention of using Jacktropher seed to produce bio-diesel which run diesel engine here and give electrical light this remote village. The easy growing Jacktropher plaint are planted around the farms and bomas replacing thorn trees/shrubs. Availability of grazing area and semi-permanent water, hormonally diversify social activities creating unique socia-economy leave the green patch on the vast dry Savannah pains remain unique in the universe.


mixed feelings
Four nights passed like flush then the time to leave amazing life which started to absolve as slowly. On the 29th morning we board the only bus to Mto wa Mbu, it was typical tense moment, every one occupied by mixed feelings. Perhaps 48% was only person willingness to go back what was sound like hectic and depressing world but... Who created such situation isn't we ourselves? While the entire passengers no matter standing or uncomfortable sitting we chatting we were pretending meditating our eyes fixed on sun rise bush and landscape. Talk rise only when rare scene like when large mammals run parallel the bus. The bus adventure were awesome as normal NO HURRY IN AFRICA take you time when you stop but 120km/h when driving.

We pulled off at Mto wa Mbu without wasting time we went to Red Banana for Chai….Karibu!
.

Friday, March 12, 2010

In the Great Rift Valley Flow



The rough plan to venture out to where idle mind can be active as observing and guide by nature was not yet conferment course of several facts. The blind assailment to find the lost migratory white stock was strong reason enough to reinforce this adventure. This white stock named Gertrud last breed in north German before left in the begin of winter to long journey almost flew half of the world to reach East Africa and return back to Europe for breading and repeat the cycle. Gertrud was among other researched stock by Birds Network, German based NABU and here in Tanzania WCST as local partner.

Unfortunately, the organization branch with excuse which I haven’t comply yet failed to fund this trip. I brow GPS which was among of crucial equipment in this trip from Conservation Resource Center. Thanks Howard for great support of insect location longitude and latitude in our old GPS. My gas stove seemed to allow me to boil coffee and spaghetti, tent and sleeping equipment was ready as usually.

I left Arusha by board bus at small central bus stand, heading towards west then turn to west –north at Makuyuni town where Great Rift Valley flow become visible. The low land of rift valley flow characterized by flat terrains with acacia bushes. I got off at my favorite off shower town of Lake Manyara basin, Mto Wa Mbu town (mosquito creak). Here I had to wait for small old track delivering products to remote maasai village, Engaruka. There is only one bus which leave Mto wa Mbu in the evening driving through bamping track for about 55km to Engaruka. Adventure start from my favorite town of Mto wa mbu where I board small cargo track instead of only one over full bus. I decided to travel with this small track avoiding the bus which had more stand passengers than those who sat. I knew inside of it I will have to tolerate tobacco saliva which maasai spilt all the time as they smell it then hew it. This makes them being high all the time.

The small track offered magnificent view as we drove through the rift valley flow along side it huge wall. These savannah plains are doted by maasai bomas with their cattle watched after by young dust full who often wave to us enthusiastic no matter we replay back or no. Travel in this remote maasai areas it adventure on itself, old small track produce lot of black smoke mixed with dust you can see where come from. Young drive wanted to show his best on the bumping gravel rough road which left my buttock with two days pain. We passed at Selela village where drive had to stop, he accelerate the engine without move while make lot of horn, this cause almost whole village to come out. The passengers and work of this track are out of time in such stop it take about 45 minutes to resume the journey just talking, smoke and drink. We left the village passed maasai elders sat under baobab trees chewing tobacco while discussing about something.

After 55km we reached at Engaruka maasai village where I overnight in the deserted camp. Offered free camp owner/manager Mr.Mathayo who still remembered me since my last visit, when I was leading Cross Tanzania Cycling Expedition. After made my spaghetti I dinner with disturbing night mouths attracted by my flash light, I crawl into tent and sleep like a log soon after dinner. I was awoken with high pitch noise of hundred weaver birds nesting on the tree which I camp under. This was working day on the plains as there was no sign of transport from here to Engaresero about 60km further remote. In the savannah plains I was me with different wild animals such gazelles, wildebeests, zebras, ostrich, and couples of birds in the scatted flat top acacia where I sort shared resting after 20 to 30 minutes of working. Few young maasai with their cattle on the horizon.
These animals when the smell or saw me they run away but amazing was when occasion vehicle just 3 I counter for whole day passed they just stare on them only. The walk was sort of pilgrim as for couple of hours I was into real uninterrupted nature just sound of wind, vast plains, animal and mountains tried to think about myself but nothing was serious with deep pain than bright sun which I felt like moved down to the earth for few kilometers, bunt legs and heavy backpacker made the most of self incarnation. At 1pm I decide to have a nap under fat top acacia after realize I can’t push it more with this brilliant sun burn like electrical iron. Walk for the entire day, I got free ride at the evening for 20km which add on the day distance 60km. Overnight at the hot basin of Lake natron, I sort free camping at moivaro lodge. Manger whoever reception maasai gentle man with his blankets and enough brasslets on his body perhaps to entertain tourists, he wonder in the first place when I told him I searching for “Ndege”, Ndege means bird and airplane/flight in Swahili. After long explanations he claim to know those bird and add that when he saw them last time he fond other with something on they heard looked like antennae which I come to find out later was GPS transmitter. With such sensation conversation and the fact that I am working for non-profit company free camp was granted. I awaken by maasai guy who will be my guide from here at 3am ready to start trek. We trek for whole day leaded by GPS in some place need us to make long loping due to impassable valleys, find maasai boma for refugee when golden huge ball like sink on the west of horizon and live the sky dark dominated by uncountable stars. Trek continues early in the morning, we left the boma at 4am, the golden ball on it mystery journey from east to west without summers neither winter break met use on the middle of bush. Visible and invisible creatures sing to celebrate it come back, ooh my mind went out of conscious absolutely failed to control my emotion which intoxicate my soul and body by the amazing ritual, I throw myself into this ceremony which release my tense and made the glands to stop produce stress. I forget what I was up for absolutely! Merely enjoyed the walk and made most of the moment. Found the evacuated bomas which colleague told me they are the season bomas as the land was for drought reserve. He showed me eland fesses which are just like gazelles pellets. As he anticipated few minutes we saw a huge gazelle like mammals, Eland. Few kilometers from the destination my beloved hiking shoes worn off, the sole left the still strong leather. At 12am we reached at the destination few minutes later my heard bust I the real hidden joy when I sport the dead bird on the top of acacia.

We made our way back and reach at the basin 10pm, as my shoes worn off, my lags were badly burnt. I took one day off and spend it observing human life on this small village. Find out apart of touristic potential the area has litter to support these pastoralists maasai to make quality life. I got another track which was going without clutch this made the way back to Mto wa mbu to be another adventure.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Awareness






Africa remain to be among of the places in the world which present the entire ecology. The typical integrate between Natural world and human, whose his development for many ways have being so frangible to the co-exist ecology. This is king of though which dominate my mind for the couple of years. Reinforced me to try find the path on the less traveled road; living with full aware and conscious of our every action towards our earth. These kind of unaware is a result of the recent crucial challenge on the human history, Global Warming .

Un-industrialized region of southern hemisphere particular Africa is not out of the system. The rain forest of the west and tropical helped a lot to clean the polluted sky. But the degradation rate of these remain natural saviors is shocked. There is efforts from the international leave to the local government but still no any significant changes yet. The hard ship in may part of the continent, lark of aware its among of the contributions of negativity towards the natural world around us.

Being un-industrialized but with the equal demands African community need back up. Tourism have being crucial back since the colonial time. Thousands and thousands of tourists visit the continent in search of recreation and therapy. These helped the natural world around to have it's means of existence. Although this have been mostly in the level of government which inherited the management form colonials government who first had the glimpse of the future of natural world. This kind of system let the general community out of system. The recent trends "Eco-tourism" and "Reduce your footprint" seem to be the alternatives. These is a call to the travelers including tourists to be "Responsible".

In the recent days after finishing my cycling visibility study in about twelve African countries (http://cyclingaroundafrica.blogspot.com/). In Arusha town, the main destination for the travelers within East Africa, I resume my daily routine. Among of my daily routine is to visit the fast urbanized town outskirts . I was amazed in most of the places I have visited in 2008 which were the home of the remain flora and fauna, the remain of natural world representing the ecological bound. Most of the place have been replaced with infrastructure such as living houses. I know this may sound like resistance towards development but that is not what I intend to say here. I know the need of infrastructure so I would like the public to be aware in our development and our actions.

In the area such as slops of Mt. Meru (4600m) the home of the valuable flora and fauna but the human activities such as un-planned tree cutting is genocide against the natural world.

It is possible for one to have the simple tour within Arusha outskirts which can be done easer by board shared mini buses (daladala) get off the bus at any point of interest and start to ponder the wonder. As long as you are equipped with guide books and Binocular the short walk will be unbelievable. In the east side of the town Tengeru, Usa river, Kingori, et cetera in the slops of Mt. Meru, the home of Meru people you will easier find variety of forest plants. In this fields and riverside forests you will find fauna varying from monkeys, birds, lizards to butterflies. The same to the west and south of the town at Mbauda kwa muorombo, Kisongo and monduli outskirts.

The grown number of the people visiting these areas will possibly ending give the value to the forgettable natural world in these Arusha town outskirts and others as well.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Mount Meru

Mount meru is the second highest mountain in Tanzania and is the fifth highest in Africa, it’s about (1999ft) 4566m.With a
gracefully profile that is clearly visible to any one who visit in Arusha.Mount meru a classic volcanic cone-offers of East Africa
Most scenic and rewarding climbs and definitely worth to a visit.
Small eruption has been reported in last 100 years indicating that meru is still not quit extinct.
Local Waarusha and wameru people who live in the area regard the mountain as scared. Every year a hull or a sheep is
Sacrificed and offered to the mountain to ensure rain in the coming season.
Over (400 species) 0f birds, elephant, buffalo, baboon, warthog, black and white colobus monkey and antelopes are all
Founded in this ecosystem.
The visit to Mount meru is unforgettable experience.

The Climb
Ascending Mount Meru once required either a dawn start and a hectic dash to the top followed by a tiring trudge back down in the dying light, or camping on the first and perhaps even the second night Now the trip can be made in comfort by the new cabins, Miriakamba Hut and Saddle Hut.

DAY ONE: From Momela Gate where it is necessary to sign and pay fees the roads leads west, fording the Ngare Nanyuki River and crossing some open bushy grassland where a resident herd of buffalo regularly graze around the base of an outlier, Tulusia Hill. The track skirts the domed hill to the south, past several excellent campsites, and begins to climb through densely forested foothills. Leopard and rhino have been seen here, but you are more likely to encounter bush back and a fleeting glimpse of a turaco flashing across a glade.

The road continues to wind its way between the buttressed trunks of the lower mountain forest at about 2,000 meters (6,560 feet).Many of the trees are fig and Nuxia congesta species, and the much taller African olive, Olea hochstetteri.With its finery curved, tall, and slender climbers, it is a far cry from the stubby, gnarled European olive. Around the base of the tree grows black-eyed Susan, Thunbergia alata.

Higher into the upper zone of the forest the trees are predominantly loft juniper, or African pencies and the equally tall podocapus, or East African yellow wood, both valuable as timber species. The provides food for the flocks of raucous red-fronted parrots.

Glades formed by the fallen trees and elephants are kept open by buffalo which graze the areas where lady's mantle, Achemilla volkensii, and a blue vetch, Parochetus communis thrive in the sunlight.

By the time Kitoto Hill is reached the vegetation has become open health land characterized by the bushy green Erica arborea

From here an alternative trip up the mountains track can be taken westwards towards the crater itself and an area called Njeku which lies at the confluence of several streams.Njeku refers to the old woman who has the of the power of rainmaking. In times of drought the Meru people would make a sacrifice to the gods at the base of an ancient juniper tree that stands nearby.

When the long rains do arrive they bring out the "red hot pokers” that glow in the surrounding woods and valleys, along with the pink-flowed balsam.


DAY TWO: After spending the night at Miriakamba, there is a steep but relatively relaxed walk up to the Saddle Hurt, passing through the open north-eastern flanks of the mountain where the red-flowered hagenia trees grow profusely. The trees are often covered in epiphytic ferns and mosses, their rich green splashed with the exuberance of that other perching plant, the orchid.

The path curved through health land and the gradient becomes gentler as the Saddle Hut at 3,600 meters (11,808feet) comes into view between the crater rim and the peak of Little Meru to north.

Little Meru is only 250 meters (820 feet) higher than the Saddle and can be reached easily by those who feel up to the short scramble to the park's north-western limit. From here there are superb views of Kilimanjaro, the Momela Lakes and, to the west and north, the wildness that harbors Ol Doinyo Lengai and Lake Natron.

The healthier quickly thins after the saddle and gives way to hardly grasses and sedge. But even these cannot survive on the barren sands of the crater rim that curves around in a counterclockwise direction along a series of ridges, crags and lava boulder to the rocky knoll of the summit itself.

Tanzania National Parks


National Packs
The National park each offers something slightly, whether it is a different type of animal or bird or different type of game drive.
Certain packs allow walking or boat safari, other have horse or camel back game drives and some allow night drives. Even hot air
Balloon safari is possible. The Serengeti has wide-open plains and huge herds of wildebeest. Considered African Eden and the
Eighth wonder of the world .Ngorongoro Crater has huge concentration of many different animals and a relatively healthy population
of rhinoceros.Mahale and Gombe Stream each support population of wild chimpanzee, With Mahale also being the residence of
Elephant and zebra herds and Gombe Stream National Park being the base for Jane Goodall's-long term chimpanzee study.
The Selous Natural Reserve is one of the biggest wildlife reserves on the planet and is home to many animals, including the
Endangered African Wild Dog. The Rufiji River and the ecosystem centered on it are the most attractions of the Ruaha National Park,
Home to both sable and roan antelope. Lake Manyara National Park is famous for its tree-climbing lions. The only coastal National
Park is Saadani, near Dar es Salaam. Relatively small, this unique park has many interesting features, including the herds of
Elephant that like to start their day by playing in the ocean surf.Jozani forest in Unguja Island is the only place in the world to see
The endangered Dirk's Red Colabus monkey. This park is an excellent example of the impact of conservation education, as nearby
Communities work together to help preserve the habitat of the playful and fascinating natural residents and entrance fees directly
Benefit the park and surrounding communities. Other national park including Arusha, Mt.Kilimanjaro and Tarangire.