Nature, Travel

A few weeks ago we had a three-day weekend due to Mashujaa Day (Heroes’ Day), so my buddy and I decided to go to Tanzania for a bit of fun, food and sightseeing. I’ve been to Tanzania a handful of times before, and I like it more and more every time I go back.

Culturally, Tanzania is very similar to Kenya — food, language, dress, transportation, etc will all be very familiar for anyone who has spent time in Kenya (and East Africa in general). For the backpacker, Tanzania is more interesting than Kenya because it’s cheaper, but part of that might just be because I’m used to Nairobi prices!


Tanzania’s cheap and easy to get around. I jotted down some notes about what my buddy and I spent over the three-day weekend as we wandered around Arusha and Moshi. Part of that was because I bet him that we could do it for less than 5,000 Kenyan shillings (~$58), but it’s also nice for future travelers to be able to see how we did it, so they can plan their routes and wallets ;).

Prices in Tanzanian Shillings unless noted KES:

  • NBO to Namanga: 500 KES
  • Namanga to Arusha: 7000
  • Arusha hostel: 7500
  • Chipsi mayai: 2000
  • Khan’s chicken: 8500
  • Chai and vitumbura (fried rice thing): 1000
  • Arusha to Moshi: 2500
  • Hostel 12500
  • Chipsi mayai and Coke: 2500
  • Moshi to Marangu: 2000 (overpaid) Marangu to park gate in shared taxi 1000
  • Back down in taxi: 1000
  • Chai: 400
  • Marangu to Moshi: 1500
  • Chipsi mayai and Swahili pizza and Pineapple soda 3000
  • Coffee Shop house coffee 2000
  • Moshi to Arusha: 3000
  • Chipsi mayai and Mirinda mweusi: 2500
  • Arusha to Namanga: 7000
  • Namanga to NBO: 500 KES

As you can see Tanzania’s very cheap, and you don’t have to skimp too much. For a seasoned backpacker, wandering around Tanzania on the cheap is very easy! The most costly items are for transportation.

Getting to Kilimanjaro

It’s super easy to get to Mount Kilimanjaro, but it’s not entirely obvious. While the town of Moshi is sitting right at the base of the mountain, the national park entrance is on the other side, just up the hill from a town called Marangu. A matatu from the Moshi bus stage takes ~1.5 hours to get to Marangu, and will cost you 1,500 shillings.

Once you’re in Marangu, you can get a shared taxi to the park gates for 1,000 shillings, or around 10,000 if you don’t want to share/wait. After that you’re free to wander around the village, talk to people, and even enter the park gates to look at signs and stuff.

Beautiful View From Marangu

From Marangu village, just below the park gates. Nice and green!

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Kenya, Nature, Rants

First, there is no such thing as “lawn mowing” in Kenya (gotcha!). Second, unless you’re the the President of Kenya or the US Ambassador (they live in mansions with big lawns), there aren’t even any lawns to speak of. That’s not to say we don’t have grass. My goodness, there is grass for days and days! Forget Southern California, where strip malls and concrete effectively form one huge, 200-mile-long city; This is Kenya, bwana (“man”)! We have plenty of open space and it’s allllll grass (and sand, but that’s for another time)!

A cartoon lawn mowerI had an epiphany the other day while walking home through an empty field. It had rained a bit so there was mud all over the place. I remember thinking it was good the grass was low because it allowed me to avoid the mud. The funny thing is, I’ve never seen one lawn mower in Kenya. I don’t even think the two words “lawn mower” have entered my brain once at the same time in the last two years… The only place I’ve ever seen anyone cutting grass is in my backyard and on the college compound, and they do it by hand.
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Kenya, Nature, Pictures

I went to Thompson Falls in Nyahururu the other day with a friend from Tala. It’s about three hours drive from Nairobi, which itself is an hour and a half from Tala. We left a bit early in the morning and were there around lunch time. Other than some dudes dressed up for the tourists and some sweet monkeys, we had the whole place to ourselves, so we sat and chatted about nature, religion, and Kenyan politics for a few hours. By the time we got back to Tala it was late and we were tiiiiired! Enjoy the pictures…