Waterfalls and Hot Springs at the foothills of Kilimanjaro

The sight of the majestic Kilimanjaro mountain upon our arrival at the tiny little airport of Arusha was absolutely breathtaking. We disembarked from our small airplane and walked over to the arrival hall while still admiring the beautiful view surrounding us. An endless blue sky, white cottoncandy like clouds spread across it and Mount Kilimanjaro throning in the flatlands like a Queen reigning over her kingdom. Our suitcases were delivered by hand in two big trolleys and being able to see your belongings being taken out of the airplane manually and rolled over to your – seeing that entire process – somehow made travelling feel so much more “authentic” and human. Having grabbed our suitcases we made our way to “More than A Drop” our Airbnb accommodation, passing by lovely little homes, churches and the stunning landscape of Northern Tanzania.

Our Aibnb “home” was a beatiful house built in old colonial style, decorated lovingly with traditional masks and wooden art and upgraded to become a school for girls. With its own organic vegetable and herb garden and the large green trees and lush grass around it, the house felt like a little island of peace. The guards that opened up the gates for us were all Maasai – Maasai men are known for their excellent skills in this area. Dressed in traditionnal red garments, they welcomed us with wam smiles and introduced themselves by their names. I immediately loved where were decided to stay. The girls who were staying here for school came running to us and excitedly asked for our names, where we were from and grabbed our suitcases, bags and cameras, running upstairs, eager to show us our room.

During our time at “More than A Drop” we met Edmund, a friend of our hosts and incredibly friendly and kind cab driver. After we took the cab with him once we immediately knew that we could simply not ride a cab with anyone else in Moshi again. With his stories, his gentleness and his patience, Edmund quickly became a good friend and mini-tourguide. We shared dinner, personal stories and adventures with him and every single place he took us to was breathtaking and special in its own way.

One one of our days, Edmund took us to a waterfall, roughly 30 minutes away from where we stayed. We walked down narrow path thatwas winding down its way with wooden markers through the lush forest. After this mini-hike we finally reached the waterfall that announced its presence with coils of vaporous mist enwrapping the shaggy heads of the trees. They writhed around them like a milky smoke, with an aura of exquisiteness enhanced by the sunlight that was lancing to the lush, green backdrop.

The water was tumbling down the hillside in a continuous stream, forming a pool at the bottom that was seperated into two levels of elevation by the rocks that were covered in soft carpets of dark green moss. The sunrays that were falling through the trees were giving the waterfall a mystical atmosphere and tinkled in an almost laughing sort of way and I felt catapulted back into my childhood, where I would daydream for most of the afternoons. This was the sort of places I always imagined fairies might live in.

After a few failed and later on successful attempts at taking photos and slipping on the rocks, our hair clung to our heads and around our faces, but neither that nor the freezing temperature of the water could not dampen our spirits and we stood in awe of the beautiful scenery around us. I would give anything right now to have a day off and simply sit on the rocks admiring the waterfalls. Now, looking back at it, it was as if the cascades of water conjured cascades of equally powerful emotions in my brain and it quite took my breath away. It was simply spectacular, the most magnificent sight I had seen in a long time.

On our last day Edmund took us on a long cab ride through the rough and dusty plains of Cheamka village visit the Kikuletwa hot springs about 45 minutes outside of Moshi. We passed small villages, endless fields of rugged rocks and small shrubs, ad watched as our car disappeared in clouds of brown dust. In my head, the image of a small spring with bubbling warm water amidst the dry rocks had formed by that time, however when we arrived at Kikuletwa, an entirely different spectacle expected us. In the most unassuming place, just out dry and rocky landscape was a large and dense patch of lush, green vegetation. Once Edmund had parked, we hopped out of the car in excitement, heading directly into the middle of the oasis he had brought us to. We were greeted with the stunning site of tree branches reaching down to a pool of turquoise blue clear water that was framed by the intricate roots of mangroves and palm trees. The sun was shining through small patches of the green roof above us, giving the entire scene a magic glow. We took our clothes off and jumped into the water, letting our bodies glide in the slow-flowing streams.

The water was comfortably warm and so clear, that you could see every single little rock at the bottom. I wished that I would never have to leave the springs again and a little part of me secretly considered the idea of selling everything and spending the next few years of my life exploring the beauty of the worlds waters – the oceans, lakes, rivers, springs… I am very sure that I will turn that dream into reality at some point in my life. When I do and if this blog still exists by then, I guarantee that you will know 😉

The Kikuletwa hot springs were simply serene and we could not have asked for a better and more relaxing way to spend our last day in Tanzania and capture another glimpse of the country’s beauty. Little Garra Rufa fish would start nibbling on our feet every time we came closer to the less deep waters and at the end of the day it felt like we had treated ourselves to a tickly fish spa. 😀 Meanwhile, Edmund was sitting back and relaxed by sitting on one of the thick branches, sharing his delicious samosas and Tanzanian treats with us. We managed to convince him to join us in the water and found out that he had never been in waters that were deep enough for him not to be able to stand in them! I promised Edmund that I would not let him drown and once he had placed enough trust in me, slowly took him to the deeper end of the spring. With Edmund’s bravery, the help of a swimming ring and lots of laughter we spent the remaining hour swimming back and forth.

The drive back to Moshi felt too short and leaving the Airbnb place that had slowly started to feel like home with packed bags felt strange. After a last dinner together Edmund took us to the airport where we had to all go our separate ways, a thought that manifested itself in long hugs and tears. Kwaheri, kwaheri, rafiki yangu!

A heartfelt “thank you” or Asante sana, to you, Edmund, for being such a wonderful friend and asante sana, to you, Connor, for initiating this unforgettably beautiful trip to the Eastern coast of the beautiful African continent. I will come back and next time I am there, I will hopefully be able to share photos of the fascinating Maasai culture and post-trekking photos from the peak of Kilimanjaro with you! 🙂