I recently ventured into Tanzania, to try change my ways of being the neighbour who just peeps over the fence to say hi. I decided that the best way to strengthen our friendship was to actually spend more time visiting, learning and engaging with my neighbour, while inside his compound. The last two times that I had stretched my hand and physically greeted my neighbour, was when I successfully climbed to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro and when I became a friend of Tanga Beach Resort. This last visit reminded me that our friendship had been dwindling and I had limited information about who my neighbour really was and how much he had to offer.I was going to change this unfortunate situation and create adequate time and opportunities for us to engage more.
That my dear people is how a few months later, I ended up travelling solo from Nairobi to Tanga via bus, a ride that took almost twelve hours and required I change buses enroute. I wanted to wipe off the smirk on his face, to demystify the mysterious twinkle he had in his eye when he said, “Hey stranger, we should hang out again sometime, I know you will like me more.” My first stop was Tanga Beach Resort, my new home while in Tanga and the place I knew I could get insider information on how best to engage and learn more about him. After a good night sleep, early next morning, they told me about Tangas soft spot, a place called Magoroto Forest Estate. I called up a friend called Mwinyi, whom I had met on my last visit there and whom everyone said was one of his closest friends, to guide me and give me more insider information.
The ride from Muheza to Magoroto Forest Estate is not for the faint hearted. It is located atop a hill and the road leading there is a rough road that is very narrow. If you take the narrow bends wrongly, you have a very high chance of tumbling down the very steep hill thus drive very slowly and carefully.The view however of the green valleys below, the aerial view of Muheza is a beauty, teasing one on what more you are about to experience.
Once we arrived and signed in at the reception, we were offered a designate guide, who would showcase Magoroto Forest Estate to us. I came to learn that the estate covers about 591hectares and is made up of The Magoroto Forest which is a rainforest, a waterfall, a beautiful man-made lake, a spice farm as well as being home to an array of fauna and flora. This place offers any adventurer, nature lover, conservationist, culinerian, fitness enthusiast, thinker etal. a great experience.
First up, we did the mini hike to the waterfall, which took about 30-45minutes through the rainforest. As we walked in between the trees, I was awed by the diversity in the fauna and flora. Here, I got to see and learn that in yester years, the estate was a major palm oil plantation. I was educated on the various plant and animal life in the forest and also got lessons from the guide on the various birds that sang and flew around us. We even got the privilege to see a type of chameleon whose body is shaped like a pod.
However, the smooth hike soon changed into a sport that involved both my upper and lower limbs. We navigated in between trees, having to hold on to tree trunks for us to go lower and deeper into the forest. Soon after we were holding onto roots and each other, to lift ourselves onto higher ground before we came face to face with this beautiful waterfall. The waterfall was such a welcome sight, calling out my name, seducing me to move closer and take a dip, even with my clothes on -I willingly obliged.
Thereafter, we proceeded to the manmade lake and upon my first glance at it, it took my breath away. Imagine looking at a lake surrounded all around by a myriad of neatly arranged trees. The picturesque look of the trees acting as a background to the lake at first makes one feel like they are looking at a very proffesionally done picture.
I sat on the ground for a while, to slowly engrave every small detail of what I was looking at, in my mind. The lake I was told, is about 12m deep at its deepest and extends for several kilometers in various directions. The green waters which at first glance would make one think the water is dirty or filled with algae, is actually very clean and clear and the green is a reflection of the trees surrounding it. Therefore, feel free to not only enjoy looking at it, but also engage in the various water experiences it offer.
First up, take a boat ride around the lake like us. The captain of the boat slowly moved the oar from side to side, slicing softly through the waters, creating small splashes while at it. As he continued to row, I was awed by the beautiful array of trees lined up on the edges.
The leaves on some of the trees bent in our direction as if in salutation to our visit. Others seemed to stretch backwards and outwards, releasing various fragrances that will appease your senses. Others however stood still, looking majestic, unbowed and seeming to be the protectors of the land. It seemed like they enjoyed watching us enjoying the experience , yet in their own way, silently seeking to ask humanity not to ever destroy them and the habitat.
As we moved further and further from the shores, seeming to get deeper into the lake and forest, the beauty of the place, the serenity of the views were so overwhelming, we all sat in silence, in awe, in deep thought. I silently thanked the Amboni Group, Tanga and Tanzania, for preserving and conserving this place at a time when Forests, Lakes, Fauna, Flora and humanity are under threat. I hope this conservation and more will continue.
Next up, I opted to venture out on my own, on a raft, so that I could have uninterrupted time with the area. As I rowed away, my eyes fixated on the organized trees before me and the long stretch of waters before me, I felt elated, calm, at peace and one with nature.
I eventually stopped rowing, allowing the silent, slow winds to slowly move me as I sat in awe of what lay before me, behind me and around me. I enjoyed the me time, with nature, with myself and God.
This lake however was not done with me, even as I disembarked from the boat. We went to the mini pier so that I could enjoy a better view of the sunset, as it sunk behind the trees. It seemed to notice me looking at it and seemed to actually halt setting. We eyed each other like long lost friends, the reflection of its rays sparkling on the waters, its rays playing hide and seek between the trees.
The shimmering on the water started to seem like a dance and eventually, it seemed to ask me to join in the dance. I love to dance and this invitation via the shimmering reflection of its rays on the water, had me standing at the edge of the board and eventually jumping into the welcoming arms of Magoroto Forest Lake. Here we danced for a long time, slowly, gracefully, in sync with each others moves as if we were long term dance partners.
Magorot Forest Estate, the Amboni, The Tanga people and government and the Tanzanian government, Thank you for preserving such a beautiful place and allowing us the opportunity to eng’age and experience. I laud you for the stand you have taken to protect and conserve Magoroto Forest and its environs, so that current and future generations may experience it. This truly is playing a positive role in slowing down the negative effects of climate change, brought about to an extent via deforestation.
I truly urge all of you to make a date to visit this place and ensure you arrive willing to allow the area to seduce you.I will definitely be back as I still need to explore more of Magoroto Forest Estate from the spices, to the forest, to the lake and more. Let me know if you would like to join me on my return trip soon or like a similar experience planned for you and/or your friends and family. I accept, I not only like you better neighbour, I believe you and I are going to be very great friends. I can’t wait to see what more of yourself, you will share with me.