For my final weekend in Tanzania, a group of volunteer friends and myself decided to venture out to Moshi. Moshi is a relatively large town at the bottom of Mount Kilimanjaro; it is famous for its coffee plantations and breathtaking waterfalls. It is also the town where many (if not all) Kilimanjaro hikers begin and end their trip: hiking agencies and tour groups are on every corner of the Moshi streets!. Although I’d love to say I was courageous enough to climb that incredible mountain, I unfortunately didn’t do so this trip (I mean…I have to give myself another reason to return to Tanzania, don’t I?): instead my friends and I explored Moshi through its coffee plantations, waterfalls and surprisingly good Italian food! Enjoy this tune as you read on: Power to the People by John Lennon

Many other volunteers we had met in Arusha told me that Moshi was a “must visit” and a short enough trip to do in a weekend. With this advice the seven of us left Arusha on a surprisingly cold and wet Saturday morning to catch the 6am bus. Luckily enough my friend Kristen and I managed to get on a rather luxurious bus called “Islam” that took us directly to Moshi. Along our two hour journey we drove through what seemed to be many foreign country: the landscape changed so drastically and quickly that I felt I was crossing the Alps in Switzerland, the Sahara in Morocco and and the Amazonian rainforest in Brazil! It was unbelievable to see so many changes in the geography of a country in such a short period of time. At this point, Kristen and I were used to Tanzanian drivers and roads…after drifting in and out of sleep our knees and heads were rather bruised from the bumps and lack of legroom. Nonetheless we arrived in Moshi whole and with our friends waiting!

The Moshi Group- myself, James, Rubena, Kristen, Niamh and Alexandra

Accommodation in Tanzania can be rather expensive, even at backpacker hostels where we seven paid the equivalent of $15 each for one night. On Western standards it may not seem a lot but in comparison to living/eating costs in East Africa it was definitely not what we counted on as a group. However, we were blessed with a yummy breakfast on the Sunday morning and impeccably clean rooms to stay in overnight. I must note that I’ve also learnt that Tanzanians, and such hostels, are rather safe: we were able to keep the two keys to our rooms during the day and there was a locked luggage room to leave belongings after check-out time.

Our walk to the waterfalls after the coffee plantation

On Saturday, we joined the guides we had recruited to show us around Moshi for breakfast at a beautiful little café (very Western inspired) famous for its exquisite coffee. Being of Southern European origin, where coffee is very strong, well-made and our blood, my standards for coffee are set very high: Tanzanian coffee is definitely up in my top three favorite brews…especially this coffee we collected and drank in Moshi! Just having a brewed coffee with a drop of milk was enough fuel for our trip to the various plantations in the mountains around Moshi. It was fascinating for me, as a coffee lover, to pick and see the various stages the bean goes through. The smells, textures and colours were gorgeous: a variety of greens, reds and shades of brown as they grew in masses on the side of mount Kili! I would have loved to collect beans to bring with me back to Europe but I didn’t manage to get the kind I wanted…plus they were at a “mzungu” price, which I was not interested in paying.
After a short stop at some street vendors, where we bought bunches of sweet small bananas and many (I mean too many) avocadoes, we reached the very praised Moshi waterfalls. Apparently (and don’t quote me on this) there are 22 waterfalls in the area of Moshi, both leading to and from mount Kili: they form in the breaks between the rocks and carry a few rivers together into the villages around the town. Our tour guides, who are friends of ours from Arusha (but originally from Moshi) took us the non-tourist way and so we managed to visit small farms and talk to locals about their crops as we hiked our way to these falls. A lovely, wrinkled, old man showed us around his plantation: bananas, lettuces, beans, exotic fruits like guava, avocados, lychees and passion fruit grew everywhere. It was a colourful and flavorful sight to see…and taste (I got a few free guavas and passion fruits- my favorites).

Moshi waterfall

By mid-afternoon we (finally) arrived at the waterfalls we had longed to get to. With 37 degrees centigrade and massive rucksacks on our backs, we were desperate to hop into the water. After a ridiculously steep way down to the pool at the end of the fall, I was the first to switch into my bathing suit and jump in. It was a beautiful sight: a massive, maybe 20m, gush of bright blue water, the green trees bending into the fall and the slowly setting sun definitely seemed like heaven on earth. We talked, laughed, photographed and bathed in this cartoon-sized pool for about two hours before heading back for dinner in town. None of us bothered showering after the waterfall, simply because we were in love with the sweet smelling aroma the water and natural springs left on our skin.

For dinner, we set out in a pitch-dark sky at about 8pm to find a (cheap) friendly place to sit down. We approached a little restaurant owned by an Italian family. None of us minded, and our two Tanzanian friends were definitely up for some well-deserved cultural exchange. Pizzas for all! Everyone ordered a pizza, not knowing exactly what would come or how good it’d be, but this one was definitely good: thin and with mass amounts of cheese and tomato on top. It was a deliciously made meal that even our two guides devoured- they were fascinated at this concoction of their chapatti and tomato with cheese!

After a few beers and glasses of wine, we all returned to Backpackers and called it a night. Sunday was to be another adventure…part two to come next week.