Arusha to Lushoto - The dreaded bus station

Trip Start Dec 16, 2005
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Trip End Jun 12, 2006


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Sunday, March 5, 2006

Nice breakfast back at the Noble Restaurant followed by a well deserved day of relaxation (supposedly). Laundered some silk and delicate items I didn't trust the hotel to wash. Checked the internet, once I'd wondered all around town to find a place with a generator - the power was out again. A large percentage of the power here comes through hydro electric so the big lack of rain had caused the water levels to become so low and I think power was actually cut purposely because of this. The IPod seemed to start working again - It must have been the altitude, so I went off to burn some photos onto CDs. The guy wouldn't let me do the burning myself and I had to hand the IPod over to him. While watching him and correcting him a couple of times I was sure he made a right bollocks of it. I also checked on the IPod and it looks like all the photos of the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater had gone. I actually ended up having to go to another place to check what was on the CDs. 2 were corrupt and the others didn't have the photos on they should - I was a bit annoyed as this guy had charged my $35 for the 6 CDs! It also put me in a bad mood knowing what a mess this buffoon had made and that I'd lost all the pictures of the Serengeti!

Spoke with Wesley, a tour operator I'd met in the Rwenzoris. He'd told me he could arrange some hiking for me in the Crater Highlands for $80 a day. I was very excited but had been put off going here by the prohibitively high costs. The $80 a day he'd mentioned suddenly turned into $1000 for 3 days! Canoeing at Momela Lakes, some soda lakes with flamingoes on them in Arusha NP, another place I really wanted to go, also turned out to be similarly expensive and above my budget. Oh well they will still be there next year! Plan C was to head to the Usambara Mountains so I headed to the bus station. I've never been swarmed by so many people in my life and in the end I just had to walk away as I couldn't handle all the hassle. I returned later with reinforcement. I hired a taxi and got help from the driver with finding a reputable booking office and negotiation a price. I booked a ticket for the next morning before getting out of that place as quickly as possible.

I thing after 12 none stop days in Tanzania. I'm ready to hit Zanzibar for some R+R. I quick trip to the Usambara Mountains first should be nice.

I returned to the hotel for a cold Safari beer to help me perk up a bit.

Next day and a 5am start back to the dreaded bus station and the trip to Lushoto. The BBC world service was on the radio but in Swahili - I wondered if British TV License fees were really used to translate the BBC into Swahili and if so how happy the British public would be about this.

Lots of litter on the road out of Arusha and green as we traveled back passed the coffee plantations and fields of plantains. I was surprised how green Tanzania was, although not like Uganda, I had expected most areas just to look like the pictures I'd seen beforehand of the Serengeti Plains.

Moshi was 2 hours down the road and they had pretty, scantily clad girls of each junction of the main roundabout in town as an advertisement for Kilimanjaro beer. No selling like that on the streets of Boston! As the journey continued we seemed to stop at every cluster of houses, however small, for some like the guy next to me it was an opportunity to do some shopping from the local vendors. I saw him purchase a pack of dress socks and a pack of 5 Imperial Leather soap bars. I began to doubt whether I had seen the shops of Arusha selling these items! Toothpaste seemed to be the biggest commodity though and everywhere we stopped there was someone who was convinced my teeth were not clean enough and I should buy some. Unfortunately Tanzania is missing the dodgy kebab sellers at the side of the road and the best they could do were biscuits.

Things did start to dry out the further east we went and a lot of the scenery reminded me of parts of the west of the USA. Red soil, scrub, bush with barren looking hills on the horizon after miles of flat expanse. The landscape was also dotted with the odd Acacia Tree or Baobab Tree.

Behind the bus we got views back to the summit of Kili that was rising up out of the clouds. There seemed to be a lot of snow up on top - a whole lot more than when I had summited a few days earlier.

It also looked like this section of the country had seen some serious rain over the last few days. There were big piles of dirt that had been washed onto the road that we had to slow right down for so pass safely. The siding for the train track that ran parallel to this road had also been washed away in a couple of places, this left the train track suspended in mid air in places.

Once we left the Massai Steppes we started heading up a steep windy road into the mountains for our final 20 miles. Things got green and very scenic and cooled off some what. We also had some showers. Lushoto was at 3,500ft and as expected after leaving the bus I was surrounded by touts. I was straight into a taxi and off to the White House Annex where I was soon followed and accosted by other touts.

I headed straight to the official tourist information pursued by these folks and booked onto a 3 day hike to Mtae starting the next day. On leaving and informing all the touts I'd booked my hike they started getting arsey with me and demanded their brochures (cheap photocopies) back.



Mid-afternoon and I started hiking up to Irente Point, a local view point, until I was told by some locals that it was about a 4 hour hike and I would not get back until after dark! I headed back to the hotel and enjoyed a beer with 3 Danish girls, Maria, Ann and Helle. Since the cartoon scandal they had pretended to be Finish! We all got a taxi up to the viewpoint to watch the sunset over the plains. Fantastic views down to the plains 3,000ft below.
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Comments

Marc on

Great Blog! My daughter is in Arusha today (just finished the Kilimanjaro) and wi6ll be heading tomorrow to Lushoto for a few days before going on to Zanzibar. I would kindly appreciate any tips, do's and dont's. I could pass on to her. You can write to me at marc-or@013.net
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Andrew on

great trip indeed, i enjoyed and ell in love with the place (lushoto) and am looking for an asset to buy.

Bramleyapplepie on

Of course the Brits know the World Service broadcasts in different languages. And it is paid for by the Foreign Office not the BBC.

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