Udzungwa Forest Camp, Hondo Hondo
22-25 July 2018
We had 3 nights booked here, and I could have easily stayed longer. Hondo Hondo is located on the edge of the Udzungwa National Park, with various agricultural enterprises around it and the village on it’s doorstep, so to speak. The accommodation offered is camping in a beautiful grassed campsite, or mud style Bandas which are very comfortable – outside loo and 2 mostly cold water showers to share between the Bandas, and then the tented camp style tents dotted around the property under beautiful tropical forest trees.
One can self cater using the campsite facilities or opt to eat in the restaurant…you need to prebook. Pete and Sally camped, we stayed in a Banda, but we ate breakfast and supper in the restaurant. The restaurant is outdoors, roofed, with a well-stocked bar, and an incredible view up to the mountains. Sun loungers are dotted on the large lawn to enjoy the view, and if you are up at the right time you are able to watch the colobus monkeys and yellow baboons in the camp and forest edge. Really special.
On arrival we settled in to our Banda, had a refreshing shower and headed to the restaurant for a much needed G&T and a delicious dinner.
Early to bed listening to the tree hyraxes barking and all the various insect noises. We woke to the troop of baboons playing on the roofs of the Bandas, loo and shower, naughtily pulling out the thatch grass. At least these baboons are not aggressive.
At breakfast we saw them…the gorgeous Udzungwa Red Colobus monkeys foraging high in the trees next to the lawn. What a treat. Today is a chill day…catch up with the blog, handed I. A huge pile of laundry, route planning, shelling peas we had bought a week ago, and a short walk in the forest and camp edge. We saw the Colobus monkeys again as well as the Blue monkey.
Hondo Hondo is an example of a sustainable tourism project in Tanzania, and support the local farmers as much as possible. One aspect of reducing human-elephant conflict is the use of beehive fences…ellie’s don’t like bees, so hives are strung at intervals along a single strand wire fence. This is one of 5 areas, I think, that is implementing this system to prevent ellies eating and trampling crops.
Richard, Pete and Sally went for a guided walk through the village, and got to taste some interesting banana wine and other fermented drinks…resulting in Richard having to visit the loo a few times during the night! I relaxed in the loungers posting blogs with a G&T in hand.
Up early for a walk to Sanje Waterfall. One drives to the park entrance about 1km from Hondo Hondo, pay park fees and pick up a guide. Our guide, Arnold, was from the Kilimanjaro region, tall and wiry, and soft spoken. He first explained about the biodiversity and geography of the area, using informative posters as well as a newly constructed information centre. Really well done and gives a balanced look at the problems facing the conservation of these Eastern Arc forests and the Udzungwa biodiversity hotspot.
We drove back past Hondo Hondo and parked around some houses at the base of the trail. The industrious people said they would wash our vehicles while we were in the mountains, and also rented us walking sticks for the day…thank goodness for those sticks!
We headed up slowly (pole pole) up the narrow, red-earth, winding path….wow, are these mountains steep, into the forest. Various trees along the way are labeled with some basic information about them, which Arnold explained in much more detail. He read us well and despite the fact that he does this hike sometimes twice a day, he patiently let us enjoy the hike instead of dying of heat and exhaustion.
Our first view of the bottom third of the falls was breathtaking!
Another 2,1 km almost straight up to pretty much the top of the falls…so the hike distance is not long, but the steepness makes it long. Poor Richard loathes hiking, and again, Arnold managed to gently encourage Rich to keep the group together and walk to the top. It was so worth it. Some parts were pretty scary for me with my height phobia, but standing on the top of the falls looking over the plains below….you can see all the way to Selous, was breath taking. Sanje Falls are approximately 300m in height, and there are 3 sections to the falls.
After a delicious packed lunch from Hondo Hondo, we headed back down…again, thank goodness for our walking sticks, to the lowest part of the falls for a bracing swim.
Soothed the aching muscles and energized us for the last of the steep descent to the shiniest cleanest vehicles in Tanzania! We returned our walking sticks and shared some refreshing coconut water out of a freshly opened coconut…best after such a hike. We drove Arnold back to the park entrance…such a gentleman, and so proud of what he does and the nature that Tanzania has to offer.
A refreshing shower, a G&T and delicious dinner courtesy of the Hondo Hondo chefs, we had a good night’s sleep, ready to leave early the next morning…to the sea!