Although our intentions were to visit Udzungwa Mountains National Park, we followed some cleverly placed signs to Udzungwa Falls Lodge, which we later learned isn’t actually part of the national park (typical). Regardless, I really have no complaints. We were still able to hike through the Udzungwa Mountains to a beautiful waterfall and lookout. I recommend this place to anyone visiting Tanzania.
If you are planning on driving there, be sure to have a high-clearance vehicle. The roads are made of dirt and potholes that can get pretty muddy in the rain. Also, you’ll stop seeing signs and think you’re lost at some point… just keep driving. You’ll get there eventually.
When you arrive at the lodge, you can pay for a hiking guide at the front desk. You do not need to be a guest of the hotel to do this (we weren’t), but the hotel is beautiful and I even think we’ll stay there next time (I’ll talk about that tomorrow). I’ve never paid for a hiking guide before, but I think it was worth it. It was very inexpensive and he took us through paths I probably would have missed or avoided if hiking without him.
On that note, the hike is not for beginners. Well, the hike to the actual waterfall is pretty quick; but if you want to hike to the lookout and the watering hole you’re in for a workout. The entire hike is basically a set of the most muddy, slippery “stairs” ever. You’re constantly either going up or down. There were parts of the hike where one slip could send you tumbling down at about a 70 degree angle. What’s funny is that when we got to the lookout (the second point of interest on the hike), we were debating whether or not we should continue on to the watering hole or head back to the lodge. I asked the guide whether the last leg (which was about 30 more minutes) would be any easier than the first two legs. “Yes, much easier,” he said. HAH. While I was huffing and puffing chatting with him on the last leg, he told me he just moved here 5 months ago… from Kilimanjaro… where he was a guide… and hiked the mountain over SIXTY times. I’m pretty sure that disqualifies him from saying any hike is easy.
It was worth it, though. The little waterfall leading to the natural swimming pool was beautiful, and it was nice to jump in and wash off some of the poison oak (or whatever was making my legs itch like no other). Evita loved playing by the stream. It was much to cold for her to swim, but she sat at the edge and threw rocks into it, and dipped her little face in it a few times. We saw a few monkeys but they seemed to be hiding from us. Our guide spotted a snake, which I’m so glad I didn’t see because the snakes are crazy out here. I never had to worry about snakes in Hawaii (there are no snakes there), but there are snakes here that can kill you in 3-5 minutes with one bite. Pretty gnarly. I think most of them take off when they hear people coming too, though. And they’re nocturnal. At least I like to tell myself those two things.