Most people in East Africa have never heard of Mbeya. It’s a small city in Southern Tanzania surrounded by green mountains and cool weather. I thought Southern Tanzania was going to be a hot, malaria-infested wasteland that I’d want do flee from as soon as possible. I was wrong, even the drive down was beautiful and I was disappointed I couldn’t stay longer.
I was going to take it easy in Mbeya, catching up on some blogging/e-mails and sleep. Instead, a man introducing himself as “James Bond, but the bond is just for fun”, came up to me and enticed me into a half-day adventure in the mountains and I couldn’t resist. I chose Ngozi Crater, an hour-long hike through the jungle ending at a remote crater in a national park.
The way up was great. We took a minibus out and walked to the base of the mountain through farmland where we began the hike. After being in East Africa so long, I wasn’t expecting jungle. But it was lush, green jungle on all sides. In most places the brush had overgrown the trail so you had to fight your way through vegetation.
When we reached the top, we met a group of American doctors working in Mbeya. One even went to Azusa Pacific where I graduated! We could see the crater and lake below, but didn’t have enough time to hike down because it was getting late and we could see the clouds rolling in. On the way down it began to rain. Not just any rain, it was jungle rain. James Bond, true to his name, used his ingenuity and quickly made banana leaf umbrellas and we were good to go. I slipped once and laid out in the mud, but it only added to the adventure. All in all, it was a pretty awesome day of hiking and well worth the money spent.