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A neighbourly excursion

Perpetua Adoyo

Four and a half hours from Nairobi is Arusha, the second biggest town in Tanzania. It is so near that there is no excuse for one not to visit the place even for a day trip.

I had never thought of Arusha as a place worth visiting as Dar es Salaam is the most talked about city in Tanzania. I have to say that going through the border was a breeze as the authorities there are very thorough if you have the right documentation.

The border at Namanga is not that busy depending on the time that you get there, I would recommend going as early as possible.

Getting into Arusha was also a breeze as there was no traffic. I checked into my Airbnb as this was much cheaper than the hotels. My place was really convenient as I could walk into town in five minutes.

My intentions in Arusha were to explore the mountains and hopefully visit the hot springs.  My first day was hectic as I had to find out how to go about the activities planned and luckily I found a tourist information centre that gives out free advice and even makes calls on your behalf to the places you would want to visit.

The hot springs at Kikuletwa were unfortunately not available therefore I decided to visit the mountains at Ifukalong. The Ifukalong package was pretty good, at Sh200 ($20 )for a six-hour visit near the Mt Meru farmlands.

This included transport to and from the place plus lunch. The drive was about 45 minutes from Arusha town and on the way, you are treated to majestic landscapes to marvel at.

The tour guide explained to us that Arusha is more of a transit town to other places like Lake Eyasi or Serengeti, which are popular with tourists.

We got to our destination, and Ifukalong is a lush place with lots of vegetation and farmlands. Our first feat was the trek up the mountain with the tour guide showing us the different flowers and plants. The mountain air made the trek bearable, but I am not going to lie, it was treacherous and demanding. If you haven’t worked out for a while you will easily get winded.

Along the trek, the tour guide showed us the different plantations and what is grown. After an hour or so we reached the waterfall, a sight to behold for the weary hiker.

The water was clean and cascading in majestic flair. I would recommend for everybody to make the trip just to see this if nothing else at Ifukalong. After the waterfall exploration, we went to have some lunch and it was the most delicious food.

It was a mix of sweet potatoes, rice, meat with okra soup and an avocado smoothie to wash it all down. When I say fresh, I’m not exaggerating, as the food is gotten fresh from the farm just before it is prepared. No refrigeration required.

After lunch, we were shown how coffee is ground and how to taste it. This was the end of the tour of Ikufalong and if I had more money I would have tried the homestay package. The village may be remote, but it is scenic and a place ideal for those seeking solitude.

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