Same – the land of Wapare

5000 Tshs to Same town

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Same looks like a small town without much activity and I’m always on transit past it to Tanga or Dar-es-salaam. It’s mountain ranges always draw my attention and captivate my imagination; I stare at them wondering what it’s like to be up there, how does the world look from above?

Main bus station at Same district, Kilimanjaro region.

Main bus station at Same district, Kilimanjaro region.

I have been putting off the Same expedition for a long while now but after a long week and bouts of low moods; I boarded a bus, sat for two hours waiting for it to fill up and headed for Same. I had a mental picture of where I would sleep, elephant motel just a kilometer from the bus station, I gathered as I was riding the bus to Tanga the other time that it would take me less than 15 minutes to get there; I had no idea what I would do for a whole day.

20,000Tshs for Bed & Break fast – trust a taxi driver

I arrived in Same before the sun had completely set so there was still enough light to walk down the road to elephant motel, along the road I saw other accommodation options but my mind was set; it would cost me 35,000Tshs for a night, it had better be more than average. After failing to locate it on foot, with darkness quickly approaching I went back to the bus station and boarded a taxi whose driver was young and welcoming.

From my past experiences, I knew that taxi drivers know accommodation options like the back of their hand so during the ride to elephant motel, I asked my driver about other hotels and lodges which are cheaper but decent and he suggested Nzoroko hotel which is the talk of the town at the moment and 5000 tshs cheaper; we ended up looking at 5 different hotels and lodges until I finally chose to sleep at Tumaini guest house. A decent bed and breakfast with clean rooms, a few minutes walk from the bus station, owned and managed by women.

Iris - my room at Tumaini guest house.

Iris – my room at Tumaini guest house.

All that bed hunting which cost me 6000 Tshs, the taxi driver and I developed mutual trust. After I settled in and went out for a 3000 Tshs dinner and back to my accommodation, I promised to contact him the next day should I need any transportation.
To this point I had spent 33,000 Tshs.

100, 000 Tshs to Mbaga and Mkomazi national park – A pare guide

Monkeys near Mkomazi national park admistration block

Even after they  ran from me, she was busy picking his fur.

The next day, I was true to my word and the taxi driver, Huseni became my guide. We toured around Same town documenting accomodation options and decent places to eat. We later met up with Mr Mshana of SasaKazi tourist information center to find out what I could about the touristic attractions Same had to offer. and continued on mapping out the logistics of traveling to them. By 10 o’clock, I knew what to do with my day. Since I’m a fan of culture than wildlife, I would go to Tona lodge at Mbaga mountains then head down to Mkomazi national park for game viewing.
Restricting my travels to weekends means that I’m always out of time, it would take several hours (upto 3hrs or more) wait for the public transport to Tona lodge  at a cost of 7000-8000 Tshs and several hours on the road, loading and off-loading. I couldn’t afford to waste time, after a long negotiation with Huseni, we agreed on a 100,000Tshs fee for a whole day trip to Mbaga mountains, cross Chome forest reserve and then down the hill to Kisiwani and eventually Mkomazi National Park. Being a solo traveler it would take me off budget but I had come all this way; I needed private transportation- a landcruiser would cost 140,000-150,000 Tshs and a motorbike wasn’t ideal.

Ujamaa and the pare people

I ended up giving ‘lifti’ to Huseni’s mother and on her and his account to 4 other people at different intervals. Apparently if they see his car and we don’t offer a lift to them, it would severe ties to himself and more importantly his family back at the village. I didn’t mind because interacting with more people opened up a learning channel and an understanding of Wapare. I learnt that the reason they all speak Pare when they meet each other is that it is considered pretentious to speak a foreign language and that even Swahili is considered foreign.

From the authority of Wapare themselves I learnt that they love drinking alcohol, are over occupied with ideas about witch craft,  everyone knows everyone and it is a social responsibility to help each other; people in a village have one relation or another to each other.

I couldn’t help but notice that they were busy people; there is a small business after every 2 houses- a shop, a tailor, a vegetable stand etc. As you pass by, you see people occupied with one task or  another, not many are lazily sitting about and young boys of about 12 already have a well built upper body from their daily chores. It’s contrary to what I heard of them. Not all men are alike even when they are born of the same family but I think I can safely say that Wapare are hard-working money savers ( which may have lead to them being stereotyped as misers). Huseni is just 25 years old but has already built a 3 bedroom baked clay stone house at his village.

Streams flowing from the hill tops.

Streams flowing from the hill tops.

The ride up to Mbaga was invigorating, beautiful scenery of hill ranges, streams from the hill tops backed up with amazing weather which made me lose my guilt of having spent above my budget. Riding up to the hills I was humbled by the beauty of this land. The landscape is like a marriage between Rombo and Lushoto but it has it’s own unexplainable uniqueness; a combination of hills and plains, forests with plants like no other and a generally different  atmosphere .
By the time we reached Tona lodge, I spent a further 3000 Tshs to buy water and 4 packets of juice.
Tona lodge- brings the world to Africa to experience Pare culture for 15 USD a night

Sakiete cottage at Tona lodge, Mbaga

Sakiete cottage at Tona lodge, Mbaga

Founded by Elly Kimbwereza whose hard-work and dedication has made TONA (Tourism of new age) lodge  a popular tourisic spot receiving several tourists from different parts of the world each year. It is built on Mbaga Hills in the Southern Pare Mountains overlooking Mkomazi Game Reserve on the Savannah plains and Chome/Shengena forest reserve on the mountaintop the lodge itself may not be impressive to someone seeking luxuries but I was impressed.

It represents the true nature of the living standards of the average villager of Mbaga, from it’s exterior to it’s interior; no exaggeration. It’ a multi story buildings of baked clay stones and wood which is what you will see of the houses neighboruing it. The architecture in Mbaga village is unique in that houses are built on hill slopes, I think I haven’t seen more double story clay/wooden houses owned by less than/avarage income citizens in a village as there is in Mbaga. The furnishing in Tona lodge is a true depiction of what you would find in a real home of an average citizen in Tanzania. I see why it is popular among tourists who want to experience a different culture and ‘civilization’. Through Same Tourism Network the lodge also organizes cultural tours of up to 6 hours and charges a 5 USD community development fee per guest.

Mkomazi untraveled

After having lunch; this trip costed me a total of 132,000 Tshs; 32,000Tshs off budget. I wasn’t able to complete my tour of Mkomazi National Park because I ran out of time but it was great to meet it’s staff and I managed to spot a small bird I haven’t seen before. Mkomazi Nationa Park is marketed as the home of the black rhino but is also a home to giraffe, eland, hartebeest, zebra, buffalo and elephant. It is less  popular than Ngorongoro and Serengeti but being about 2hrs away from Moshi town and having species such as fringe – eared oryx, horned lesser kudu, gerenuk, cobalt – chested vulturine guineafowl, kori bustard, secretary bird, ground hornbill-  it is a destination worth your consideration.

Follow the green elephant to Zange gate.

Follow the green elephant to Zange gate.

A thought of the mind

Being civilized doesn’t mean that we have to abandon our culture. Speaking a vernacular language may be attributed to lack of education but I feel there is everything right in it! I don’t advocate that people should resist to learn new cultures or languages but I feel that our education system should expand to include our local languages and cultures.  Speaking different languages or having cultural differences doesn’t mean war just as much as speaking the same language doesn’t ensure peace. I hope that the educated among Wapare and other tribes which have managed to keep their identity  would find a way of documenting their language and culture in a away that it can be studied.

Our lives didn’t begin after colonization, we had a life.


  1. Pamoma press services, Beating drums for Southern Pare moutains, April 13 2013
  2. Phillip Briggs, The legacy of Jakob Dannholz, Tanzania. 2006


  1. Thank alot for ur effort to advertise shengena forest as a centre of tourism at Same District but is ur effort in cooperation with local peope to reduce forest distruction like forest fire,gold mines activities taking place,bauxite which existing at Chome as you know that all the above are destruction of the nature of the forest which is needed for tours!and for the lives of both flora and fauna.

    1. I’m also a conservation enthusiast but unfortunately I have a very busy lifestyle and haven’t come across any conservationist as yet. Do you know any organizations?

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