The Amani Nature Reserve
The mountain has a special charm, there is a peace that is rarely found in other places. If you are looking for solitude and meditation, a trip to the mountains is ideal and the Tanzanian mountains offer beautiful views. The Usambara are very ancient and hide unique ecosystems in the world. Could we give up taking a ride? Obviously not! 😃
We went up from the East part, that is to say from Muheza, on the Tanga-Korogwe road. We wanted to reach the Amani Nature Reserve, where the Germans who had occupied Tanzania spent their holidays in ancient times.
The road is spectacular to say the least, both in a positive and a negative sense. It is, of course, a dirt road overhanging the side of the mountain, with holes that seem more chasms and a mud that is difficult to deal with. A few bridges and some hairpin bends with an idea of flooring helped the most dramatic moments. We couldn’t have done it without the Land Cuiser. From the valley to the top it took us three hours and we left some pieces of back and other body parts on the way🙄, but upon arrival we had no more doubts: it was worth it!!
The Amani Nature Reserve view is incredible: thick vegetation and a myriad of birds welcome you.
The Usambara are rich in plants and animals endemic to the area, so much so that they are one of the places with the most biodiversity in the world.
We didn’t have a lot of time available, so we made a choice of what we could see and started with a night trip to look for chameleons. We left when it was already dark and we had no idea that the path crept into the forest, between intrusive branches and tiny paths. At one point it started to rain. The guide didn’t fret too much and found a number of wonders for us: female and male chameleons (with horns), frogs🐸, giant moths🦋, snails🐌, spiders🕷 and other various and strange insects. But the rain did not stop, on the contrary, it increased in intensity and so we took a shortcut back to the lodge, climbing up slippery paths. On arrival, despite the jackets, we were soaked and cold, but very happy.
We went to rest between damp sheets and blankets, with heavy pajamas and ski socks.😃
The morning of the following day, John, the guide, took us on another excursion, this time botanical, in search of African violets. The African violet has a small, deep purple flower, and climbs the mountain walls. Very impressive as a plant and with a truly unique color.
In addition to violet, we admired strangling trees, apparently trivial plants with detergent properties and once used to wash clothes, cloves and a tree with strange external roots and a very unique history. The inhabitants of the area believe that within these roots reside the ancestors and, in the case of anniversaries or other special needs, they bring offerings that they place inside the plant to propitiate the goodwill of the ancestors themselves and get good help.
Among the cracks in the mountain there are often crosses: these are also votive posts that are used to make offers and requests of all kinds.
A different trip, a place that is not very accessible, but which is worth visiting for a lot of reasons, first of all biodiversity.
The return was as tiring as the first leg, always on the dirt road, but this time even more dangerous because it went downhill and because the previous night’s rain had made the route more slippery than ever.
Between one bend and the next, exactly as it happens in the plains, villages follow one another, clinging to the mountain and consisting of a few houses and a few small shops for basic necessities.
It is incredible to think that these people can live in such a harsh and apparently inhospitable environment, but if you think about it, there are also aspects that should not be underestimated, such as a life in contact with nature and a cool or more than cool climate.
Arriving on the paved road, we headed towards the coast, where we were planning to make another stop and we slept in Pangani, whose story you will find in the next article.😜😜