We live in Mwanza, Tanzania, serving with Emmanuel International helping local churches in physical and spiritual ministry.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Rainforest Adventures in the Galapagos of Africa

Exploring the Udzungwa Mountains with the Dixon family was as much fun as we expected it would be! We had a really wonderful time with Pat and Ben and Matt, Amy, Elia and Finley. We were treated by Pat and Keith to the most amazing stay at Hondo Hondo, a tented camp in the Tanzanian rainforest. The location was just spectacular and the food was such a treat (bacon and sausages, steak and pizza!)

Walking the trail through the camp on the first day, we struggled to find the path, ending up in deep grasses over the kids heads, not too sure what we might be walking on. Listening to monkeys and birds calling, watching out for snakes and scorpions, we finally found the path and spotted the Strangler Fig tree. We looked unsuccessfully for the chameleons and then headed for the elephant trails supposedly marked by the smooth elephant rubbing posts and dung.
The following day we entered the National Park, and climbed up to the top of Sanje Falls, a spectacular 180m plunge overlooking the Kilombero plains.  We had Amini, our trusted guide to help and lead the way. The three older children did so well, relishing the adventure of such a huge climb, clamouring over rocks to cross over water and climbing rickety ladders and steps up steep slopes.

Several guys had gone ahead of us with a gas stove and huge pots of food to prepare lunch for us at the top. What a treat to get that instead of a warm, squashed sandwich! We sat on top of the waterfall, the top of a sheer drop with water powerfully gushing over its edge; the top of the world! And then we trekked to the bottom of the falls where some of us jumped in for a swim in the deafening pool. Amazing! It actually started to pour with rain while we were in the water, so it was then a job trying to get our wet bodies into sticky clothes in the rain. The mix of sweat , waterspray and rain in the humid temperatures was interesting as we carried on down the trail!
We saw all the different monkeys indigenous to the Udzungwa swinging in the trees: Sanje Mangeby, Red Colubus, Black and While Colubus.  We saw all kinds of amazing plants and trees with their roots, leaves or bark used for all kinds of medicinal purposes, and even one used for stuffing pillows and another for making lipstick (yes, we tried that one!)

Back at camp, the rainstorms were incredible! Heavy rainforest rains turned the paths into rivers! Who needs swimming pools?!

On Friday morning we had to say our goodbyes. But the adventure continued for us as we went on  to explore the rubber trees before we took the road home.  It was so fascinating to see the rubber process. The girls had a go at slicing a ridge in the bark of a rubber tree and watching the sap run out into a pot. We saw where it is dipped in acid and then dried and smoked and packed to export. Amisadai is writing up the process, so watch the girls’ blog to learn more and see the photos!

 We arrived home with lots of wet clothes; it's funny how hard it is to dry clothes in humidity of the rainforest! We also came back with some bits of rubber and rubber tree seeds (now planted in the garden), a teak leaf to make lipstick and a few peculiar rashes which soon disappeared. But best of all, some English Easter Eggs, treats brought out with Pat and Ben … and they survived the rainforest pretty well and are being devoured with delight!




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