I apologize for our absence from the blogosphere the past week. Our wanderings have led us to a part of the country where Internet connection and electricity lies somewhere between spotty and non-existent.
Since my last blog post from Iringa, we’ve spent a large portion of our time at Kisolanza Farm exploring the nearby area. The beautiful setting, hot showers, spotless facilities, and fresh meat and produce available for purchase made it incredibly easy for us to keep extending our stay.
We made (attempted) a day trip to the Mufindi Escarpment after reading Lonely Planet author Tom Hall’s raving review of the place: ‘the view from Mufundi Escarpment near Iringa – it’s quite simply the best view I have ever seen.’ We wanted to decide for ourselves the validity of that statement but locating the viewpoint at the Mufindi Escarpment proved as difficult as finding one’s way into Mordor.
The directions to the Mufindi Escarpment in the guidebook was simple, make a left turn from the Dar-Mbeya highway onto the Mufindi Loop, then make a second left turn 40km in onto a small road to the viewpoint. Easy Peasy. What the map did not convey is that the Mufindi Loop is 40 kilometers of punishing corrugated dirt road that takes us to a maze of narrow, winding, forking rural roads thru tea farms after tea farms.
The sight of these tea farms sprawling across the lush rolling hills of Mufindi was stunning, but navigating these unmarked roads thru them proved impossible. These roads are not marked on any map or GPS. Local farmers we asked have never heard of the viewpoint. After many hours of searching, we decided it was prudent to give up and try to find our way out with whatever little daylight is left. That night we were told by Jason, the manager of Kisolanza Farm, that it is nearly impossible to find the Mufindi Escarpment viewpoint without a guide: what a great piece of advice it would’ve been 12 hours ago.
After Kisolanza Farm, we made our way west out of the Eastern Arc Mountain region to Mbeya in the Southern Highlands, then south from there to Kyela and Lake Nyasa. Kyela was not on our radar as a destination but Nathan, a friend of Eugene’s from Technoserve, is currently working there so we fell compelled to visit. Despite his exquisite company I cannot bring myself to forgive him for luring us to Kyela, as it is truly the armpit of Tanzania. Making matters worst was an unusual influx of visitors in Kyela at the time of our visit; acceptable accommodation (our standards are fairly modest) was non-existent (our room came with lots of mosquitoes and no bed net; we had to pitch our tent on top of the bed to protect ourselves from mosquitoes). At first light, we bid farewell to Nathan and head for the greener pastures of Matema, a beautiful beach town on the Northern shore of Lake Nyasa (i.e. Lake Malawi). After three days at this tranquil, secluded lakeshore town, we’ve yet to find the motivation to go anywhere. Looks like we will be here for a few more days.
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