Weekend travel challenge: a picnic with nature

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Ngare sero forest reserve.

A friend of mine has been asking for one day getaway suggestions to help him get off routine but with a ‘no sleep over’ condition attached. From my traveling experience around the nothern zone; I knew a one day get away had to be a picnic. But my adventurous nature wanted to make it physical so I added forest hikes or lake boat rides. My thoughts revolved around four locations that would give me that kind of adventure; Mt. Kilimanjaro national park, Marangu waterfalls, Lake Duluti national park and Ngare sero.

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Can you guess where this is?

Even though I have been to these places, I couldn’t provide the how-to or cost because I was either not sure about the current entrance fees or bus fares; it’s been about two years since I went to any of those places and I have mostly gone by private car. So last weekend I embarked on a challenge to find the how-to, costs and what to do besides eat.

Rombo, Tarakea: Did Kenyatta really want to extend his borders?

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A flower by the road, Tarakea.

My challenge started on Saturday with a road trip to Rombo, Tarakea. I was lucky to have a ride up there however one can get there for 6000 Tshs by Rombo-Tarakea vans. It still hasn’t suffered from extensive industrialization so it’s forests are intact, they provide a nice hiking atmosphere at the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro and finding a picnic spot isn’t soo hard in the calm, quiet villages. The locals claim that after the east african community break up, Jomo Kenyatta wished to extend hos borders through Tarakea to include Mt Kilimanjaro and gave up when his counterpart, Julius Nyerere agreed on condition that the new border extends on a straight line that would result to Mombasa being part of Tanzania. Well, I don’t think there was such a negotiation but the story is a good ice breaker.
It’s definitely a place cultural enthusiasts would love; from the women dorminated saturday market to the “no man’s land” are sights to delight your senses. But the lack of registered cultural tourism programs makes this a somewhat inconvenient venture for someone who is unfamiliar with the area.

Unforgettable memories of Mt. Kilimanjaro’s flora and fauna.

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I had to go down marangu road to mt Kilimanjaro national park. I had not been there in a decade but the memories of our hike 10 years ago is still burning brightly. The UNESCO world heritage site is home to several plants and birds that are indegenious to the mountain. 
It costs 2000-2500Tshs to get there by public transport via Marangu. Alight at Marangu bus stop and hike up for about 2.5 km or take a motorbike or taxi.
It’s free to sit at the lounge area where you can set your picnic but you have to pay 1500 Tshs per adult older than 15 years to enter the park; the hut costs 2000 Ths per night and rescue fee is 2000Tshs. The park facilities are well maintained, with clean toilets and memorabilia stores  Making this my 5* recommendation for a budget traveller looking for adventure. For a one day getaway, you have to start early enough to be at the park by around 8-9am to give you enough time to hike up through the forest to Mandara hut and be back at the gate for lunch (3 hours up and 2 hours down).

Mt Meru’s neighbours: the sound of zen

Ngare sero mountain lodge is the custodian of ngare sero forest reserve. Besides offering semi-luxury accommodation, the ecolodge management have cared for the surrounding forest reserve through a sustainable project. The downside is that isolates it from the general public because it costs 10,000 Tshs per person to visit the forest reserve. It is home to colobus monkeys and seasonal birds.

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Ngare sero lodge

It takes 2500Tshs to get to USA by public transport and about an hour hike up to the lodge. Bringing the total cost for two to 30,000 Tshs making it my least recommended option for someone on a budget but it is an absolute delight to be at if money isn’t an obstacle. It is like experiencing the tunes of tropical marshland in real life.

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Colobus monkey in the trees at Ngare sero.

If you really want a lake view then my recommendation is Lake Duluti. Get off ‘sanksi’ in Tengeru and hike for about 1 hour to the reserve. It costs 3000 Tshs per person to enter the forest. The magnificent Colobus monkeys don’t live there but it is home to two interestung monkey species and hundreds of birds plus the bonus knowledgeable tour guides. The reserve has installed sitting facilities and allows visitors to have a picnic within the forest. The Duluti campsite nearby which charges no fee. They offer convenient dining after a hike and great view of the lake.

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View of Duluti campsite from the forest.

Unfortunately swimming in the lake is not allowed.
I tried not to over expose these places so you can find your own description of the experience. But trust me, they are a haven for those in love with nature.

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Lake Duluti Cormorants drying off.

Have you been to any of our featured places?

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