The fifth day of our trip to Tanzania we woke up in the Tumaini Hotel in Lushoto and were happy to be able to wear a jumper for breakfast. At an elevation of 1200 metres Lushoto has a very gentle climate extremely pleasant for European visitors. We can understand why the German colonialists chose the Usambara mountains for their headquarters during the German occupation.
After another continental breakfast, a remains of British colonialism that sadly has survived until today, we walked to the market place where we met Christina, one of our tour guides working for Tupande Usambara.
Tupande is a “a local NGO that sees its mission in promoting sustainable local development and strengthening communities in order to improve the living conditions and quality of life for all people living in the area of Lushoto District” (www.tupandeusambara.wordpress.com).
The main objective of Tupande, which was founded in 2011, is to support local artists, farmers and women to “step out of poverty”. They function as a platform for producers to sell their products and organize workshops and tours for tourists that are run by local experts.
This creates job opportunities for a high number of people.
Tupande cooperates with an Austrian company called “Our home is our future” which places its orders with Tupande who organize the production and shipping in Lushoto.
If you want to find out more about Tupande please visit the above mentioned website.

Even though we had arrived on time for our tour some of us had forgotten to bring sun protection for our five hour walk through the Usambara mountains. Our teachers insisted everybody wore something on their head which is why they went shopping at the market and returned with beautiful little red scarves they wrapped around their heads.
In the meantime Christina informed those of us who were well covered about Tupande.
At 9.45 we finally took off towards Irente Viewpoint. Tupande had organized three guides who we really needed as we soon were three groups, according to enthusiasm and fitness.
At the beginning we passed many fertile small fields on which the farmers grow corn, potatoes, cabbage, pepper, beans, flowers, peaches, plums, bananas and many other plants we didn’t recognize.
Very soon we were introduced to one of the most famous inhabitants of the Usambara mountains – Kinyongia Tavetana – better known as the two-horned Usambara Chamaeleon.
Not only did we hold it in our hands but it also felt quite comfortable to crawl up our arms and necks. They were actually reluctant to let go when we wanted to move on. We were amazed to see how quickly the could change their colour when they found themselves in a new environment. This strategy helps them to survive as they are very hard to find by predators.

After about an hour and a half walking uphill through pleasant and shady hills passing small farm houses and people greeting us happily with a friendly “Jambo” and a broad smile we reached the rain forest. But before we climbed an extremely steep hill to enter it, we all bought fresh fruits offered by a dozen people along the road. We should realize very soon that this was a smart move as they helped us to cope with the physical strain ahead of us.

The rainforest was very dense and we followed our guides through the thicket. After an eternity we left the rain forest for a brief time walking through Pine and Eucalyptus forests imported and planted hundreds of years earlier. Especially the fast growing and deep rooting Eucalyptus threatens endemic plants as it consumes a large amount of water.
Finally, we reached our first stop at an elevation of roughly 1500 metres from where we had a fantastic view across the many different parts of Lushoto covering a very large area. This was where the Little Red Riding Hoods were captured by one of us.
From that first viewpoint we walked about another hour before reaching our destination for lunch,the Irente Farm, where we were served only products produced on the farm.The farm was founded by Germans during colonial times and is today run by the Lutheran Church of North-West Tanzania. We were ever so pleased to eat dark bread and drink fresh pineapple juice that we soon forgot about the strains of our journey.
With our batteries recharged we moved on to reach our final destination of the day – Irente Viewpoint. If you ever have he chance to visit the Usambara Mountains make sure you don’t miss out on this spectacular view.
The Viewpoint’s edge drops 1000 metres onto the Massai Plain. If it hadn’t been for our teachers who warned us not to approach the abyss to closely we would have probably all died
The long and exhausting walk didn’t stop some of us to play football with a group of young Tanzanian boys. It was impossible to say who came from the present world champion’s country and who didn’t.
Before returning to our hotel some of used used the chance to shop at the local market which was a very interesting experience.

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