The Scenery at 'The Rocks'
In the Northwestern part of Tanzania (Karagwe, Kagera region), very close to the Rwandan border, there is a beautiful spot to visit. It has no legitimate name, but is absolutely gorgeous.
It is located further up the road from the Bweranyange Girls' Secondary School. Under the website section, I have posted Bweranyange School's web address for the sake of location.
Anyhow, it provides absolutely astounding views. If you are in the area, it's very much worth seeing. On a clear day, you can see Rwanda from this spot.
Ushongo is a remote part of Tanzania, little known and unspoiled and one of the countries best kept secrets. Glorious white sands fringed with coconut palms make up the quiet beach, there are places where the sand runs red from iron seeping out of the rocks. Lagoons and urchin free sea make this place idyllic.
Small villages and lovely locals add to the ambience of the area, mango's, pineapples, jack fruit and oranges grown freely, as do cashew and peanuts whilst sisal makes up a lot of the local farm area.
Ushongo is 60km south of Tanga and 15km from the old Arab town of Pangani, there is still evidence of days gone by in the old buildings.
Ushongo being fairly remote means it is a little more difficult to get to. There are about four small lodges but it remains untouched by major tourism development. It also makes a great alternative to Zanzibar and Kenyan beaches which are more commercialised.
Make sure you take all your required gear with you as the nearest shopping town is Tanga, an hours drive away and that is only if the ferry is running, to cross the Pangani river is the first leg of the trip. It can take a full day or at least three quarters of the day to do a round trip.
There is a new ferry being built at the moment, however, it is not just the machanics of the vehicle that stop it running, life in Africa is very slow paced and sometimes staff have 'better' things to do than go to work.
Mwera village has a small store and a disco, this is just a 20 min or so trip from Ushongo beach along dirt tracks.
Activities at Ushongo
swimming in Indian Ocean; snorkeling at nearby reefs; scuba diving; wind-surfing;
- fishing for tuna, bonito, mackerel, red snapper, wahoo; deep sea fishing for black marlin and sailfish (catch-and-release);
- dhow (jahazi) sailing in bay;
- beach walks; canoeing; cycling.
- sadaani national park (50km away)
Getting to Ushongo: There are daily flights from Zanzibar, there is a small airstrip for private flights into the area or there is the bus, about an 8 hour ride to Pangani from the airport, then it's another hour on a local bus or take a taxi. PLEASE READ TIP ON BUS TRIPS IN TANZANIA BEFORE EMBARKING ON THIS ROUTE.Related to:
- Diving and Snorkeling
Turtle Conservation At Ushongo Beach
The Tanzanian coastline is an unexplored and untouched area, it's where Kasa Divers, the first professional dive operation between Kenya and Dar es Salaam is based. It is also at Kasa Divers that the Maziwe turtles are being rescued and given a chance to relocate their nesting grounds.
Turtles return forever to the grounds they were born at to lay their own eggs, sadly in this vacinity, Maziwe (Swahili for Milk, it's sands are pure white) Island is an ancient nesting site that now becomes totally submerged at high tide, thus the turtle eggs are drowned. Kasadivers, over the last few years have established a conservation area and rescue the eggs.
It is possible to watch the eggs hatch and watch these tiny creatures make their run for the sea.Related to:
- Diving and Snorkeling
After a week on safari on the mainland we flew from Arusha to Zanzibar for the second week of our holiday. Zanzibar – just the sound of that name is magical. And the island lives up to the images that the names conjures up – not only in its sights and sounds but in the scent of exotic spices that hangs over the island, and indeed was the first thing to strike us as we stepped off our small plane on a warm evening.
We spent the first part of our stay among the atmospheric, crumbling buildings of the island’s capital, Zanzibar Town: staying in, and exploring, its historic centre, often known as Stone Town; and making excursions in the surrounding area both by land (visiting various spice plantations) and by sea.
Our remaining time was spent on the island’s east coast at a rather luxurious resort, Breezes – the perfect place in which to unwind after the dust of our safari drives and the heat and chaos of Stone Town. See my separate Zanzibar page to read more about our stay here.
Sun and sea in South Beach
If you are in the Dar es Salaam area but don't have enough money or time to visit Zanzibar, you can take a ferry and go to Kigamboni. There's a lot of resports right on the beach - South Beach resort, Kipepeo Resort or Sunrise Beach Resort.
Sunrise Beach has a restaurant that serves a very good curry and you can walk along the beach picking up shells. The water is warm and an amazing blue. You couls also take amazing pictures of the mangrove trees there.Related to:
- Budget Travel
Meet people up close!
If you want to meet adults and kids up close, see a school at work, experience a village and real hospitality, maybe even ve invited into their homes, go to Mbagala (about 10 miles south of Dar) and visit the non-profit Bibi Jann Children's Care Trust.
This includes an elementary school, small orphanage and communal housing for homeless grandmothers who are raising their AIDS-oprhaned grandkids. The darling school kids will sing and dance for you and you can take plenty of photos. Go on a Saturday morning, and you can see the women making batiks and other crafts.Related to:
- Study Abroad
- Women's Travel
- Arts and Culture
Picnic at Gong Rock
I don't know how far 'off the beaten track' this is, but we were the only ones there when we visited.
Gong rock is situated in the Serengeti National Park, and is literally a big, isolated outcrop of rock. It is called Gong Rock because, if you stick the rock in certain places, it resounds like a gong. This is apparently due to the metal content of the rock. Our safari company took us to the rock just before sunset. We had champagne and snacks, sat on top of the rock and watched the sun go down. Lovely!Related to:
Selous Game Reserve
Selous Game Reserve is the largest protected area in the country and one of the biggest in the world. There are one or two days safaris organised from Zanzibar, but it is so large that longer stays are recommended.
Very few visitors reach the Southern and Eastern parts of the country, where the Great Lakes are located. Neither did we. It will have to wait until our next visit, as there are also plenty of natural park and landscapes to be discovered.
going local style
3 weeks of experiencing what it is like living in Tanzania with locals. If you go around Christmas, expect water rationings and maybe electric rationings. A good local dish is called Zeggy (chip omelette with jalapeños), very nice. But for the best chicken you have ever eaten check out Natasha’s in Dar es Salaam, they do the best chicken and madras chips on the planet. (well chicken for sure). There is one in the city and another just outside at the new cinema complex.
The country is trying to encourage the local’s to use its tourist economy by giving them very good prices, i.e. 2/3 discount on most things. So if you know a local ask them to get the tickets. Works on flights, you will have to be more discrete around hotels.
While I was out there we decided to go on safari for 5 days. I found the best safari deal you are best going to where all the tour guides hang out and book it there, everyone else are trying to make to much money out of you. So from the airport catch an intern flight to Arusha (45 min flight) and be greeted by a bunch of people willing to be your scoffer. or take a coach (13 hours or something), recommend the Scandinavia express, they are the best coach company in Tanzania, looking at the others it is easy to see why. Taking the coach you will see some amazing scenery.
Once at Arusha we walked up the main street and came across sunny safaris, the other main group seemed to be leopard tours. I got a deal for I think $660 was 5 days, 4 nights 5 star accommaton and all other expenses such as national park passes etc.
oh deer.. 00:29 bed time....
To Be continued....Related to:
- Budget Travel
the best way to go to pemba its from zanzibar, there are three boats a week (amazing how many people can fit in one of them), it seems a smaller island than zanzibar but its exactly the same size, but less roads, less hostels, less beaches, but the paradise...Misali island, it should be compulsory for catholic people who speaks about heaven, to go to Misali to see heaven on earth. the place to stay in chake chake its swahili divers, the manager (english guy) its a little bit thick, but its the nicest place to be, youll meet a lot of people and you can pay in credit cards, they have this dog the smelliest dog on earth, he sits everyvhere.
rent a motobike from the first guy you see in the street and explore the whole island, there are only three beaches (the rest are mangroves) but how amazing and beatifull is, head up north the roads finishes soon but the paths are ok for bikesRelated to:
- Budget Travel
The Maasai are normally wearing red clothes. But they only do this after they have reached manhood.
These young men haven't, yet.
To become a real man, a Maasai has to live away from his poeple, family and tribe for one year.
They must survive at themselves.
When they come back after that year, there is a big celebration (probably with the classical Maasai drin: cow blood and milk) and after that they are allowed to wear the red.
Nowadays the Maasai (very proud people) make you pay, if you want to take pictures of them. These here were very happy with some apples we had.
I found an interesting Website about Maasai from a Maasai on the web. Have a look there.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
- Road Trip
YO, free ride.
The best part of the game drive around Lake Manyara was the baboons!
They were in a huge group constantly active, fighting and doing other less appropriate stuff...ahem....to others and to them selves.
Lake Manyara, north of Tanzania, has been my greatest experience with animals.
Untop of that the surroundings were absolutely beautiful.
Great fun I must say!Related to:
- National/State Park
Lushoto: great hiking and a lot of backpackers
Lushoto (1500m) is a former hill station and the common base for exploring the Usambara Mountains, that are well known for their biodiversity. A nice retreat from the heat on the plains that is reached by a breathtaking road through the hills.
Lushoto is a popular backpackers destination since it's highlighted in the Lonely Planet guides and the hikingtours around are therefore some of the most popular from the community based Cultural Tourism Programme in the whole of Tanzania.
On the first day I hiked with a local guide from the Programme through the Magamba Forest Reserve to a fantastic viewpoint at about 2000m.
On the 2nd morning I walked to Irente Viewpoint, providing superb views on the plains below, without a guide and that was pretty OK, although it was hard to reject dozens of wanna be guides along the way. One sent me even the wrong way on purpose!!
I was unlucky with my choice of guesthouse - sandwiched between 3 noisy local bars- and
didn't enjoy the town very much so I decided to try Usangi in the Northern Pare Mountains - which was much more my place.Related to:
- Hiking and Walking
- Budget Travel
Cultural Tourism programs
There are several opportunities to participate in cultural tourism programs - be choosy. Many of them are "put on" for tourists. I was lucky and chose one where you hiked and toured a village which was more like walking until I was tired. I was the only tourist around in a rural area. People were friendly and children came to speak with me.
Ng'iresi Village - the people were originally from the Maasai tribe but are no longer nomadic but keep many of the customs.
Over the Top.
Here we were are far over 6000 meters. The air gets thin and when you go up this quickly you can get sick due to low oxygen.
But the view is breathtaking, literal, haha, don't you think so? I would go right again!Related to:
- Mountain Climbing
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