Go tell it: Spending the holidays touring the slopes of Kilimanjaro
By The EastAfrican.
Kilimanjaro region in Northern Tanzania attracts tens of thousands of people to visit during Christmas and New Year, joining their families for the festivities.
Having been named among the top 28 leading tourist destinations in the world, Mount Kilimanjaro’s cool weather has attracted construction of modern lodges on its foothills, ready to accommodate large numbers of visitors looking to spend their holidays on the mountainside.
At the base of Mount Kilimanjaro, the villages, dotted with banana and coffee plants, and rich in flora and fauna, draw relatives home, many who live and work outside Tanzania.
On a recent visit to Kilimanjaro region, I observed families preparing to receive their family members.
I asked about fears of the Covid-19 pandemic, and many said it was not an issue. for them.
Their relatives come with gifts like money for school fees and other basic needs.
Despite Covid-19 pandemic, Christmas and New Year celebrations in Tanzania are normal. There are no warnings or restrictions from the government and health authorities, so revellers be free to choose where to visit. Plans for activities are well under way to attract visitors.
At the Rombo Cultural Tourism Enterprise (Rocte), on the eastern slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro, several trips have been organised for Christmas and New Year’s eve.
Rocte programme co-ordinator Nicholaus Joseph said there will be day-long and half-day trips to viewpoints of Mount Kilimanjaro, Lake Chala, natural and cultural heritage sites like underground trenches or boltholes dug to protect the local Chagga community during invasions by Maasai warriors.
The boltholes are up to 500 metres long, partitioned into different chambers to hide women and children, as well as for storing food and livestock. They also served as observation points to assess the progress of the battle.
Other tours include going to sites where there are panoramic views of Mount Kilimanjaro’s Mawenzi and Kibo peaks. There are visits to natural gardens, banana and coffee farms, montane forest and Lake Chala, which borders Kenya’s Tsavo West National Park.
Holidaymakers can participate in roasting, pounding and brewing fresh aromatic coffee, and take some home, Joseph said.
Kilemakyaro Mountain Lodge has also organised Christmas and New Year events.
The holiday activities include the Kyaro Chagga Tour, which started from December 18. Holidaymakers learn about the history and culture of the local people, and get to sample local foods and drinks prepared from bananas.
The local food is mostly green bananas cooked with beef and beans, and the local drink is a brew made with ripe bananas with finger millet malt.
Lucy Minde, one of the organisers of the Kyaro Chagga Tour, said the event was expected to attract both local visitors and foreign tourists visiting northern Tanzania, mostly Mount Kilimanjaro climbers.
The cost for each package entailing a three-day tour and two nights full-board accommodation is Tsh491,000 ($212) including breakfast, lunch and dinner for two people sharing a room.
Children below five years are free of charge, while those between five and 12 years pay half, Minde said.
At the lodge, lunch or dinner is provided at a cost of Tsh40,000 ($17.2) per person.
The Kyaro Chagga Tours will also take visitors to the Materuni waterfalls, to coffee farms and to the Old Moshi Village where the famous Chagga leader, Chief Meli, was hanged by Germans in the public square 120 years ago.
A documentary on Chief Meli will be screened at Kilemakyaro. It shows the history of anti-colonial campaigns and the history of the Kilimanjaro region and its people.