Muda Mrefu


We had a long, long Christmas holiday this year.  Three and a half weeks.  Samantha and I were excited just to be around Sofia.  No other plans.  Sofia was 5 months old and three and half weeks with her represented a considerable portion of her whole life up until now.  We ended up taking 2 safaris  (a safari in Kiswahili is a trip of any kind, not necessarily dressed in kaki shorts with wide brimmed hats pointing at wild animals).  First we went up to Marangu, a small town pretty high up on the slopes of Kilimanjaro.  It is as far as you can go without paying the $60 per day park fees.  It is also where my great grandfather settled in 1902.  We relaxed, looked at the ruins of one of Nonno Giuglio’s houses, and of course played with Sofia.

  Great Grandfather Giuglio’s house in Marangu.    

With two and a half weeks of holiday under our belts we decided to head off to Lushoto. I am writing from up in the forests of the West Usambara Mountains (old school, pen and paper). one night before we return to Arusha.  Being in  Lushoto gives you the feeling that you are up somewhere in the highest of the highlands, when truth be told the elevation is the same as it is in Arusha.  The people here are the MSambaa, and of course, the language is therefore KiSambaa (Maasai, Kimaasai, MChagga, KiChagga etc.).  At the turn of the century (last) the germans came up to Lushoto, and enchanted as they were by the cool weather, the dense hardwood forests, and the incredible abundance of bird and wild life, they settled.  They established Lushoto as their mountain retreat from the oppressive heat of the coast.  The birds and the weather are still here.  There are small patches of “protected” forest around, but on our hike through the forest we saw plenty of cleared areas and men sawing down trees.

logging camp  

We stayed at Muller’s Mountain Lodge, and old two story German house.  It was run by a group of young Tanzanians, who answered to a mysterious leader that no-one saw for as long as we were there.  Mullers is outside Lushoto, and is nestled on a hillside, peaceful and beautiful.  The grounds are filled with an endless variety of plants, flowers and trees.  During the day we were often interrupted by the goat-like braying of pairs of silvery cheeked hornbills as they dipped and looped their way across the valley, back and forth all day long.  For their size and prehistoric look they have such an effortless and hypnotizing flight. Walking through the forests Samantha felt the beauty of what was around us. I felt an even stronger sense of what this place must have been like only 50 years ago.  Our forest guide, Francis, a 5 foot tall, wiry, fit, 72 year old MSambaa, told us about the forests when he was a child.  “so think that you could not see the sun.  It was dangerous to walk in the forest.  Snakes, buffalo, leopards.”  Those days are gone.  Zamani sana.



February 4, 2008 - Posted by | tunaenda safari


  1. Nice places I know. I went to school in Lushoto (Kifungilo). In those days, we “half-cast” (i.e. mixed) went to that school. Today, it is one of the best girls’ school in TZ. You can find all types of fruits which grow in Europe (peaches, pears,…). Thanks for this reminder of my roots. Blessings to Sophia.

    Comment by Theresia | February 5, 2008 | Reply

  2. I lived and worked in Magamba just above Lushoto in the late 1950s , it was a paradise on earth with vast forests wonderful climate together with leopards ,snakes ,monkeys (especially colobus) and all the fresh fruit and vegatables you could imagine. The weekend market in Lushoto was a kalaidescope of colour.

    Comment by david adam | May 17, 2008 | Reply

  3. I stayed in Kifungilo for almost half a year in 1985/86. I enjoyed that time very much. May be somene remembers me as “Mr.Johannes”, the white one, who lived in Fr. Scholtens home. I often went up to the school to see Fr. Scholten, Sr. Moinca and Sr. Fidesta.

    Comment by Johannes Soika | July 6, 2008 | Reply

  4. I just returned from a vacation in Tansania, including a few days in the Usambara mountains. Guess where we stayed? Muellers Lodge. Guess who was our local guide? Francis. Still alive and kicking.

    Comment by ajdotnet | August 23, 2008 | Reply

  5. i av just returned from my honeymoon, believe it not we enjoyed at mullers mountain lodge i dint wanna come back home. birds singing early in the morning, breathing fresh air, i mean real fresh air.. the ever green environment. l like apples i had plenty of them…. trust me im retiring at Lushoto.
    God bless Sophia

    Comment by Fatma Hassan | February 19, 2012 | Reply

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