MOSHI is one of the tourist towns in the Northern Tourist Circuit which has a long history that dates back to the 18th century. Many people come to Moshi for a vacation while others love the township for being the base for those wishing to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.
Recently I had a business trip to Moshi and decided to travel by bus as it is comfortable and makes a passenger view many things on the way. Next to my seat sat a European passenger who was busy reading a book.
As the bus left the Ubungo Bus Terminal in Dar es Salaam, the bus conductor turned on a television screen which entertained passengers.
I opened a newspaper I had bought at the bus terminal and sunk reading through some interesting news and articles.
I was so engrossed in reading the articles in the newspaper that I did not know where we had arrived until the passenger next to me asked our whereabout. I craned my neck to look which township or village we had arrived “oh, this is Chalinze”, I answered the European passenger. My neighbor spent this chance to take some pictures of the area and roadside sellers who were selling different items on each side of the bus.
Then the man asked again. “I want to climb the mountain. Is this bus going to Kilimanjaro?” with a broad smile on my face, I looked at the man and said “yes” without hesitation, the man stretched his hand to me and introduced himself that he was Adam from London in England.
From that moment Mr. Adam and I become friends he offered me some sweets and I asked him various questions about London, football teams like Manchester united, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool. Because land Rover is my favorite car, I asked him about its history.
To my surprise the Briton managed to answer most of my questions. Then he asked about the relationship between Mount Kilimanjaro and Moshi. Moshi, I told him, is a beautiful town which lies under the shadows of Mount Kilimanjaro. Internationally it’s not well known because of Arusha where most of tourist activities start and international meeting are held.
About a hundred years ago, Moshi was just a village full of trees and bananas, my grandfather had told me in his many stories that Moshi came later after Tanga and Arusha.
He said during times, he worked with European hunters in Arusha but when he lost his job and walked by foot all the way from Arusha to Tanga looking for employment.
On the other side, that was in the middle of August this year just after the long rains, the sun was shining to make that day very bright and warm. I asked myself a question of what to do with my ample time during my long holiday in Marangu.
Then one of my old friends came and took me for a visit around this mountainous area on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro. After visiting other interesting parts of the village, we went to the Moonjo River valley. We walked on its banks downwards until we came in front of a very beautiful waterfall called Kwamteshane.
Although I had known the waterfall from my childhood, but I did not know that it was very captivating.
While standing on one bank of the river enjoying the beautiful scenery, a group of local young boys accompanied by four European tourists arrived at the site.
The tourist started to take some pictures of the waterfall and then together with the boys went down to the pool where the water falls from about 35 meters.
After a brief explanation, a boy whom I assumed to be the main guide dived into the pool followed by others. They showed the visitors their ability of swimming for some minutes then together the boys shouted to the tourist to join them into the water.
To my surprise without any swimming gear the Europeans unclothed one after another and jumped into the water where they seemed very happy to be there.
For about an hour, this group of eight swimmers seemed to enjoy themselves while I enjoyed watching that spectacular scenario. One tourist came out from the water and lay down on one flat stone by the pool.
As she watched others playing in this natural swimming pool, the sound of the waterfall and birds singing from trees by the river sides entertained us. One of the boys climbed on to the top rock which stands high about meters from the water level, raised up his hands and dived into the water with his hands and head pointing into the water.
I was shocked to what the boy had done as I was not sure whether the water was that deep to dive into.
However, seconds later. I was bubbles from the point where he had dived and then he resurfaced while the rest of the group clapped their hands to congratulate him. The tourists did not try to jump from the highest rock instead they climbed from the water to cheer up and photograph the boys who were now diving one after another into the pool.
Then the whole group went to relax on zebra-like rocks found along this river for sun bathing.
A boy who introduced himself as Adam Joseph told me that Kwamteshane waterfall is very beautiful and capable of entertaining visitors but the major problem of the site was that it was not well known among the people who come to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.
Although there is a good path from the main road to the river, but the one going to the pool is not well developed or maintained and has no sign to show direction to the waterfall.
Swimming in the pool during the rainy season is dangerous. The waterfall is located very close to a local market of the area where tourists can visit before or after coming to the waterfall. Not, only that, on one side of the rock where the water falls, there is an opening which was used as a door to a cave by local people during civil wars about 400 years ago.
The Chagga who are natives of this area are known for digging long and deep caves which they used to hide their families and cattle from Maasai warrior’s ho used to raid this area for cattle.
The caves were capable of accommodating many families and stretched for about 350 meters with many openings located in different parts of the cave. The one which is close to the Kwamteshane waterfall belonged to Mr. Kyawaki, a name which the waterfall is sometimes called by older people. From that day I got interest of monitoring the waterfall.
During the long rains of March to June, the amount of water on the river increases but it starts to decrease with September recording the lowest amount of water falling from the waterfall.
Although the amount of the water decreases, the beauty of the waterfall remains as the rock divides the waterfall into two arms while the rock emerges as a human head leaning into the rivers pool.
Others say during this time; the rock becomes like a head of man whose head is being washed by water falling from the river.
The best time to visit the Kwamteshane waterfall is between August and November. Between December and January, the water falling on the rocks at the waterfall, increases but decreases between February and Mach.
Meanwhile, Moshi is strategically located lying about 40 miles to Arusha, 1229 miles to Nairobi, 140 miles to Ngorongoro Crater, 201 miles to Mombassa, 240 miles to Tanga and about 65 miles to both Mkomazi National park in Tanzania and Tsavo National park in Kenya. Historically, the town started in the late 1880s as a German garrison.
It all happened after 1886 when Queen Victoria of British offered the mountain to Kaiser William II of Germany as a birth day gift, the later being the nephew of the Queen.
After the handing over, a number of Germany explorers, missionaries and military personnel came to the area and setup garrison in an area in Old Moshi or Mochi as it was known in those days. In some history books it is said that Karl Peters made treaties with local chiefs to make the mountain and its surroundings to be under their control mostly after the Berlin Conference.
Early on 11th may 1848 Johannes Rebmann and his friend Johann Ludwig Krapf, under the guardian of Bwana Kheri, made the mountain known to the outside world after becoming the first Europeans to see the mountain. The two were German Missionaries.
The influence of the Germany become strong into the area leading in 1889 the summit of the Kilimanjaro being changed to Kaiser Wilhelm Peak. This happened after Hans Meyer Climbed to the summit, but after Tanganyika got her Independence in 1961, the name was later changed to Uhuru peak.
After the introduction of Arabica coffee into the area by Europeans in 1898 contributed to the growth of the town because in 1925 coffee farmers managed to harvest 100 tones which were auctioned in Moshi for the first time, then after the first World War, a British colonial district officer known as Charles Dundas promoted the cultivation of coffee by encouraging the Chagga people to form the first cooperative society in Tanganyika by then.
In 1933, the people of Kilimanjaro founded Kilimanjaro Native Cooperative Union (KNCU) with more than 60,000 members. KNCU contributed significantly to the growth of Moshi by erecting a modern building in heat of the town with offices, shops, hotel and restaurants.
Being one of the oldest cooperative societies in Africa, KNCU attracted investment from different part of the world in coffee cultivation, processing and marketing of the final product. This led into a rapid growth of other economic sectors in the town as more business opportunities were opening up in Moshi.
Livingstone Hotel was an example of the development in Moshi. At independence, Kilimanjaro was very far ahead from the rest of Tanganyika as Moshi town had tarmac roads, hospitals, schools, colleges and hotels such as Livingstone Hotel. Moshi, as the headquarters for Kilimanjaro Region, is a nice place to stay when one is on a holidays.
There are good hotels and restaurants from which visitors can have clear views of Mount Kilimanjaro. Good medical services and facilities are easily available at the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre (KCMC) which serves as the referral hospital for Kilimanjaro, Tanga, Manyara and Arusha regions.
Mawezi is regional hospital located within the town but for very complicated cases, a patient can be flown to Dar es Salaam or Nairobi for specialized attention.
According to many standards, Moshi is one of the cleanest towns in Tanzania. The town has won several awards for cleanliness. When in Moshi, be careful not to litter carelessly otherwise you will be penalized. Moshi has a low cost of living compared with other towns like Arusha and Dar es Salaam.
There is a variety of foods which are cheap and appetizing while traditional brew, mbege, is something to taste before leaving the township.
The township is well connected by air through two airports, one is located within the town area and Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) which is about 35 kilometers outside the town.
Roads from Moshi connect towards all major destinations in East Africa including Arusha, Dar es Salaam, Nairobi, Tanga, Mombasa, Juba and Kampala