Lushoto was a place I instantly loved. Set in a valley surrounded on all sides by steep hills covered in banana trees and rainforest and the vibe relaxed. As soon as we stepped off the bus some touts surrounded us trying to take us to the best hotels but as soon as we explained we were tired and hungry they left us alone…well, except one. The Rough Guide recommended Safari Inn for food but it was awful and no one spoke English so the tout took us to The Tumaini Hostel. Their restaurant was clean and presentable so we decided to eat there. While my boyfriend went off to smoke a cigarette I asked the girl behind the counter if she had any rooms vacant, I thought we may as well take a look at their rooms before heading to a lodge where we were planning on staying. She told me to go out the back door of the restaurant and cross the courtyard to the other building and ask there. I crossed the most amazing courtyard, it had palm trees and orchids and other exotic flowers. A boy was behind the desk and I asked him for the most beautiful room he had. I wasn’t going to settle for just okay while in Lushoto. He led me to room 118 and that was it, I was in love with Lushoto and instantly decided to stay the whole week. The room was amazing with its own balcony looking towards the hills, everything was perfect.
Through the week I did see the other places to stay in Lushoto which were listed in the guidebook and none came anywhere near the perfection of Tumaini. It is also central while the other places seemed either run down or too far out of Lushoto.
So that was it, the start of the most amazing week we had in Africa surrounded by mountains and cool air. We hired a jeep as there was no way we were ever going to step inside an African bus again if we could help it. We were interested in two organizations who ran Cultural Tourism Programmes in the mountains. One was a posh organization with a glossy brochure and the other was a badly photocopied A4 bit of paper by an organization called Tayodea – run by unemployed youths. Ofcourse we chose Tayodea, anything to help unemployed kids. Our guide was called Amani, a really nice soft spoken guy whose job it was to sit in the jeep and tell us which roads to take to the villages we wanted to see. The mountain people are the sweetest most polite people I have ever met, they seem shy. I’m very impressed with the people of Tanzania, they are proud of their country and want to show off it’s best features and they are aware that they all are ambassadors for their nation. I love the Usambara Mountains and the Shambaa peoples who live there.