My base camp for the first part of my trip to Tanzania was Moshi, a city located about 1 hour from Mt. Kilimanjaro’s Machame Gate. Moshi was a great city to start my Tanzanian adventure. It was within a few hours of some really great day trips while also being a fun destination in itself. After driving through Arusha I decided that I liked the vibe of Moshi better and would recommend going there if you’ve got a Kilimanjaro climb planned.
Our hotel for most of our time in Moshi was the Kilimanjaro Wonders Hotel. This was probably the nicest hotel in Moshi and I highly recommend it. Mostly because it had a nice pool and when I was evacuated early I spent most of my first day off the mountain recovering on one of the pool chairs. They also had an outdoor restaurant that had pretty good food. Breakfast was an okay buffet but it was included in the price which helped keep food costs down. Most of the time we were paying around $75 per night (but splitting the cost with a roommate). The rooms were comfy but didn’t have the best wifi, although none of my hotel rooms in Tanzania ever did so make sure to lower your wifi expectations.
On my first day in Moshi some people in our group decided to pay a local taxi driver, David, to drive us around and give us a morning tour. He took us to a few trusted souvenir shops as well as an ATM and a money exchange. After running those errands, he took us to a local market, a rooftop bar that had views of the whole city, a coffee shop, and the old train station. It was the perfect intro to Moshi! I highly recommend checking out these spots if you’ve got someone who knows the area.
Before our climb most of our group wanted to visit a Maasai village. I went along on the tour even though I was worried it would feel like a “human zoo” experience. I barely took any photos on this excursion because I felt uncomfortable photographing people like they were a tourist attraction, but I did enjoy learning more about the way that the Maasai people live (especially now in modern society). I think the most fun portion was when the women of the tribe dressed us in Maasai clothing and invited us into the dance circle. After watching the men do their traditional dances (and their signature high jumps), we were invited to dance with them which was a lot of fun! I’m not sure if I would personally recommend taking a tour like this, but I know a lot of girls on our trip loved the experience.
After I was evacuated off Kilimanjaro I had a few extra days in Moshi and I decided that I needed to fill them with adventures so that I wouldn’t have time to think about not being up on the mountain. My first adventure was a trip to Materuni. The first part of the tour was a hike to the Materuni waterfall, which was more of a “walk” along dirt roads and muddy hiking trails through the jungle. Footing was slippery due to the muddy surface and I was glad to have my hiking boots.
I was really excited to do this hike because the guide that Trek 2 Kili provided for this tour was Hussein – the same guide that evacuated me off the mountain! He kept telling me that I looked a lot better when I wasn’t at altitude and that I was so much happier off the mountain. I definitely agreed.
After hiking to the waterfall and back, we headed over to the Materuni coffee plantation. We picked coffee off a bush and then learned how they dry the beans. Our guide gave us a basket of dried beans and we were responsible for helping them turn those beans into coffee. We shelled the beans, roasted them, ground them up, and then boiled the grounds into coffee. In true Tanzanian fashion they had songs they sang for each part of this process which made it way more fun. The coffee was delicious and I definitely drank two cups in a row. No regrets. I also bought beans that I brought home to Alaska!
My final adventure in Moshi was a trip to the Chemka Hot Springs. This was a 2 hour drive from Moshi and most of it was on dirt roads and through random dirt fields that didn’t look like roads at all. I have no idea how you would find this place without a guide. It was a true oasis in the middle of dry dirt fields. When we arrived around 10 am there was only one other group there, so we basically had the place to ourselves for a while.
The water isn’t technically “hot”, which is actually great because it’s super hot in Moshi anyways and I didn’t mind swimming in warm water instead. There is one main swimming area with a few ladders to help you enter the water, as well as a rope swing. You can also swim to another small lagoon but you have to swim against a current so it takes some energy to get there. There’s definitely a current in all areas of the hot springs so you have to keep kicking/paddling to stay in one place. There are also lots of little fish in the water that like to nibble on your feet if you ever do stay still in the water!
We spent around 4 hours here and I loved it. We laid out fabric on the ground in the shade and spent most of the time relaxing, people watching, and eating chips mayai (a local yummy snack). We also tried out the rope swing a few times!
Overall, I loved my time in Moshi and it definitely has a special place in my heart. I’m sure there were a lot more day trips we could have taken if we’d stayed there longer, and if I ever go back I’d love to continue exploring the area.
Have you ever made your own coffee or swam in a hot spring?