There is a serious shortage of places to go outside Dar, that are less than at least four hours drive, if you discount the beaches. I know, it’s a great privilege to have some amazing beaches right outside the city. But with being in a different country for a limited time, you want to go and explore places and it gets a little boring just going to the beach every weekend.
The various guide books mentioned the nearby Pugu Hills as a destination for some hikes and a nice place to hang out. It didn’t sound amazing, but as we couldn’t think of anything better and Ane-Kristine, my Danish colleague had recommended it as well, we wanted to give it a try. We booked ahead, as they won’t let you just turn up at the gate. We, that was my housemates Ellen and Sara, Michelle - a cancer nurse from the US, who came out here for a few of weeks to volunteer on her own accord (very difficult with the few holidays one gets in the US and unpaid leave not being much easier to obtain in her case either) - and myself.
We made a few miscalculations in our planning of the day: As it was Sunday, we took a leisurely start and didn’t get there until about 10am. It might be in the hills, but they aren’t that high and it was still hot season, so the sun was burning down by this time and to complete it, we signed up for a 3 - 4 hour hike…
After a nice welcome by the Dutch couple, which run the place and ordering lunch, we made ourselves on the way with our guide. It was a lot of up and down and there wasn’t much shade, so we really struggled with the heat. The surrounding landscape was very nice and there were some great views of Dar.
We asked the guide to cut the walk short in the end, but I’m not quite sure, if that happened, as we still ended up walking for a good 3 hours and then took a dala-dala back to the Dutch place. Lunch was very tasty (great veggie quiche!) and I was looking forward for a nice swim in the lovely pool overlooking the lowlands. But then the maid came and bubbled something in a mixture of Swahili and English about our car and tyre and puncture. I had expected this to happen at some stage with driving over rough terrain with sharp stones etc. and I was almost kind of glad it happened here, where we had a good base and washing facilities. There was even a fundi (mechanic) to hand, who helped us, so we got the spare tyre on and felt even more in need of the refreshment of the pool.
This place was so quiet and peaceful, even more so as we were the only guests around, that it was really hard to leave. We didn’t want to have to go back down to Dar. A little shopping spree on the way back cheered us up again. By the road side, they were selling garden chairs, something we had been looking for to get for our flat. Built from wooden branches and the seat and back woven from plastic parcel strips, they were cheap (£ 2 per chair!) and quite comfy as well - but also rather bulky! With some juggling about I managed to get one on the passenger seat, two in the boot with the tailgate tied shut and the three girls on the backseat, so we were ready to head back home.
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